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snazzypadgett

Novice sequencer needing to take it up a notch

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I consider myself a ready and able composer and am used to writing out music for ensembles to play, but I have realized that...I don't have a studio orchestra or even any means of recording my friends play my music :) And I need to learn to make a real product, not just notes on a page, lol.

I need to start investing a lot of time and interest in sequencing my music, which I used to do with pure MIDI + Reason 3. But now I'm in a different boat. I want to literally input the exact notes I have written out for a chamber group into a program, have convincing samples play them, and come out with a professional product. LoLz yes, I'm joining the bandwagon.

I am reasonably experienced with sequencing/MIDI, but not very with live audio. I don't think I will even need live audio experience to pursue this aspect of what I'm doing. Lemme just ask some basic questions.

1) What program should I use for OS X? I only have Reason, which only uses refills. I think it's time to use professional samples, so what software uses VSTs/digital instruments? Does Logic Express? Or should I go with ProTools LE? Or Cubase? Or something else?

2) Is my methodology correct? I used to just throw in instrument parts with my keyboard and my ear, but now I'm planning on having full scores written out and just inputting them into the software. Then tweaking to make it sounds correct.

3) As for that "tweaking"...I know that's a serious field of study. Any recommended books for me to understanding mixing and mastering better?

Thanks everyone!

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First of all this belongs in the remixing forum, but I digress..

as a fellow OS X user, I would say for MIDI you want either Cubase or Logic Express/Pro. I've also heard a few OS X users say they really enjoy Digital Performer.

Logic only uses Audio Units (AU) which some plug-ins are not available as and many freeware plug-ins do not come as AU either (though most "professional" plug-ins and large companies will provide AU versions)

Cubase can use VST but not AU.

Logic and Cubase are able to competently handle MIDI and real audio in the same environment which is very useful. Also, Logic has lots of features like the Scoring Editor to help you actually layout the MIDI as sheet music a la Sibelius/Finale/etc.

Logic also uses ReWire, which allows you to route MIDI data from Reason into Logic, which in your situation, may be very helpful.

ProTools is (from my experience) quite poor with MIDI and is generally only used for audio editing. As I've said before, Logic and Cubase can do both very well in the same environment. That being said, ProTools has a lot of nice features for audio editing that are better than they are in Logic and Cubase.

Logic carries a much heftier price tag than ProTools LE or Cubase but it also does a bit more than either of them. In the end, it really comes down to personal tastes. I prefer Logic because of the multi-function capability of it's environment, but others swear by ProTools audio editing or Cubase's plug-in versatility.

hope that helped a little.

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I suggest you start with learning garageband (should have come with your mac), and then once you are comfortable, upgrade to logic. all of your old project files will be compatible, and it's really nice to have a program that can act as (pretty powerful) trainign wheels for the high end stuff.

Also, Cerrax has some great advice.

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Indeed some very helpful advice...thanks for outlining the differences in those two programs, Cerrax. Fortunately those two programs were the ones I was most considering. Now that I know about the different formats of samples, I can read up on the topic. Thanks!

As for Garageband, I am pretty fluent with it, at least before it went crazy with features like the audition mode or whatever...lol. But yeah, I know how to use garageband, it's pretty straightforward. Logic is....not. Hahaha. But you're right, they're related and it would help me to practice up with GB before buying Logic if I decide on it.

Another question--regarding Finale, I know you can substitute the garritan orchestra that comes with it your own sample library. Would that actually sound decent? I'm betting it's a better idea to let Finale do its thing with notation, and use another real program like Logic/Cubase for the audio product.

Also--thanks for eliminating ProTools for me. I didn't wanna go there :)

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The toughest part about sequencing a MIDI orchestra is that the way it appears on sheet music is not how it will work in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). There's two major problems with writing in Finale and moving to Logic/Cubase/whatever.

1) Using Garritan or some other sample library with Finale is pretty basic and it will end up sounding like a very elaborate MIDI tune instead of a flourishing orchestra. Finale does not allow fine tuning of the actual playing of the instruments, it merely guesses which samples to use for the articulations. It sounds quite unnatural most of the time.

2) Writing a tune in Finale and then making a MIDI of it and sending it to Logic/Cubase can work, but often times, methods used in Finale do not translate well into a generic MIDI and thus some of the writing can be lost in translation.

Your best bet if you're dead set on using a DAW is to get familiar with it's scoring/piano roll/matrix editor/whatever (every company has a different name for the damn thing) and the sample library you intend to use. A convincing MIDI orchestra comes from knowing how to write the phrases correctly and utilizing the samples to their greatest potential.

Truly if you already have a handle on GarageBand, it should be adequate for your needs. I've done many many tunes in GB that sound quite good. If you have some money for some nice samples like Garritan or EWQLSO (Apple's own Symphonic Orchestra JamPack isn't too bad either for the price), they do work with GarageBand.

on that note: http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?t=26911

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Logic is only $500... Cubase is $300, but comes with not nearly as many samples and synths as Logic. Logic Express is only about $150, and you can get a student license for Logic for $150 as well. I would however recommend trying out Garageband first, then moving to Logic once you're comfortable with that. You can definitely find AU versions of any worthwhile plugin, so don't worry about that.

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Finale and Sibelius talk a good game about their sample capabilities, but their realizations will never sound as good as a competently-programmed DAW realization. Finale and Sibelius are targeting the person who doesn't have the time/knowledge to do things in a DAW, and unfortunately, they (or Finale, at least) have focused on sample libraries far too much in their recent release cycles.

I find Finale MIDIs to provide a good starting point for DAW realizations, but the MIDIs definitely aren't usable without a lot of tweaking. I generally prefer to do this tweaking than to play/draw things in from scratch.

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My thoughts exactly. My friends and I call Finale's playback the "hobbit orchestra" for a reason :)

So maybe the GPO library I have isn't actually that bad, it's just Finale's inhuman playback? I'll try to work with the GPO in garageband, just playing in the notes and playing with articulations, and if it's at all better than Finale, I'll be on a good start. From there I need to learn to use Cubase/Logic. I think you guys have given me the info I need to go out and learn a lot. Thanks!

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GPO isn't a very powerful library even in its own sequencer. I'd go so far as to say it's the weakest commercial orchestral library. QLSO, VSL and even Kirk Hunter are all better choices.

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You should get FL Studio and talk to a guy named "Nutritious" on here.

One of his remixes (Step into the light) uses entirely free orchestral sounds (His Fruityloops orchestral template. Ask him about that).

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No one man on Earth can say enough good about Nutritious.

I'll throw my vote in for Logic too. I played with that at the studio back at school and we got some pretty awesome stuff out of it. I played Motoi Sakuraba's "Requiem for a Predicament" on the keyboard and we remixed it with vocal samples we did and a bunch of other shit and we had a fucking awesome track in like 20 minutes.

Logic can be kinda daunting, at least it was to me since I've only ever used Fruity Loops, but $500 for it can be a great starter-intermediate way for you to get things done.

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