Ninten Junky

Super beginner question: Is it okay to start with midi files?

Recommended Posts

Yes.

Looking at MIDI files, sheet music or guitar tabs is a great way to learn about arrangement, voicing, harmonies etc. (assuming they're properly transcribed)

However, if you're going beyond that (sound design, production, recording), you'll need a lot more. Tutorials, videos, and lots of trial&error.

 

Just copying a MIDI, replacing all instruments and calling it your own song is not the way to go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Ninten Junky said:

 If I want to remix a song, is it okay to start by loading a midi file from vgmusic.com into my DAW

Absolutely

1 hour ago, Ninten Junky said:

is that plagiarism?

Only if you do next to nothing with the original song and pass it off as your own work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ninten Junky said:

I'm not great at transcribing things by ear.  If I want to remix a song, is it okay to start by loading a midi file from vgmusic.com into my DAW, or is that plagiarism?

I've personally only done that once, and I felt it limited the creativity that would have come about if I had just listened to the song and thought about how I wanted to transcribe it by ear. I get that not everyone has the knack for doing that, but it's a great skill to learn.

It's OK to use a MIDI, but you should personalize the track by writing your own notes, making it substantially different from the original. If it's too close, it's not exactly plagiarism, but it's still unoriginal. Loosely speaking, it's basically copyright infringement if you try to sell it as-is, or plagiarism if you claim it's yours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Just copying a MIDI, replacing all instruments and calling it your own song is not the way to go.

 

I definitely wasn't planning on doing that.  I was thinking more along the lines of, for example importing the midi with a melody and bassline, then add chords, drums, ect. Basically as an alternative to learning the song from sheet music or transcribing by ear and then putting it in manually note-by-note.  In the end it would be a full remix, I just didn't want to get in trouble at some point for using an already done midi as the foundation.

 

Quote

I've personally only done that once, and I felt it limited the creativity that would have come about if I had just listened to the song and thought about how I wanted to transcribe it by ear. I get that not everyone has the knack for doing that, but it's a great skill to learn.

Of course.  I'm working on that, but I'm still a long ways off from being proficient at it and I don't see why I shouldn't do other aspects of remixing and arranging in the meantime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just adding chords, drums, etc. isn't enough to make something a remix by OCR standards, more like a cover.  If you're lousy at transcription, 1) practice, but 2) it's OK to start with the MIDI as long as you plan to chop it up and shift things around like crazy.  I strongly recommend keeping only the melody; if you keep both the melody and bass and/or other accompaniment, it'll be too directly obvious.

I strongly recommend competitions for both aspects.  MnP allows straight MIDI rips, though they're not OCR-legal, so you can do exactly what you're describing here.  But the mashup competitions (like the currently-recruiting rRPC) force you to not use a MIDI straight out of the box and get practice being more creative.  And since there's a time crunch, many of your competitors will be starting with MIDIs as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But if the end result is a song that's up tonOCR standards (or not, if I just wanted to do a cover), nobody's going to care if I started with a midi file from the Internet or did it all by hand, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion, MIDI files can help when making something slightly different (and still following the basis of the original) out of already existing compositions such as remixes especially for a beginner such as i for one am. I have used MIDI files for help on my remix tracks as following = Muse - plug in a baby, undisclosed desires, Queen - Bohemia Rhapsody, Walking in the Air, HP Hedwig's theme and Two steps From Hell Heart of Courage.  And i did download a MIDI file to help me make the upcoming Terranigma remix on which i should work on more, i just have gotten really excited about the new violin Kontakt instrument i have so i've been trying my own stuff with it

edit. the midi file of the Terranigma compositions is so incredibly complex that it is basically way easier to find the right chords compared to the actual audio file myself. So in this case for example, the ready mid file is basically useless

But it truly does make it maybe too easy to just replace the original instruments for example with some other stuff so improvising even if you use MIDI file, it is good practice to get to know what sounds off-key and what doesn't. And if you have time and patience, it still is better to try to make the midi yourself.  Especially for example if your making different own composition chords or notes around some vocals such as i have on my participation to Spinnin' Records remix contest. On both of them although i haven't "release" the second one yet.

IF making remakes on the other hand you should not use MIDI file and then just load up similar instrument and call it out that you made a remake out of a song. I never have done as such as it is really good practice to try to hear the chords and sounds and then follow them on piano roll for example most recent Lindsey Stirling's Crystallize remake which is still unfinished though.

But still, all and all, in my opinion, creativity dies even when making remixes, remakes or covers or whatever, so making entirely own compositions is the best way to get entirely new music out there apart from having some amount of inspiration from listening music and the limitations of what you can compose and design with the kontakt libraries and other plugins you have and also current skills. DAW producing luckily does make composing rather easy as you can actually hear the sounds you compose while composing rather than writing them on sheet. Getting off-topic again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Ninten Junky said:

But if the end result is a song that's up tonOCR standards (or not, if I just wanted to do a cover), nobody's going to care if I started with a midi file from the Internet or did it all by hand, right?

Right; if it's a passable mix, then no one ought to criticize you for using a MIDI to start it. I might find it a bit harder to work off of a MIDI than to simply think up the remix, while still personalizing the remix enough, but it doesn't go that way for everyone.

We all work with music in the way that works best for us at the time, so if you feel like working with a MIDI to improve your non-transcription skills is helpful to you, by all means do it. It can help get you part of the way to making the full song, so that you can work on something like sound design more easily, for instance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Piggybacking off this, how do you guys normally get a hold of the melodies and basslines and whatnot for a song? Are you guys recognizing the key by ear and recognizing the patterns and transposing it, or is there a general sheet music compendium for stuff like this, or are there certified midis lying around? Are most DIY midis you find on the internet pretty accurate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, WT_Neptune said:

Piggybacking off this, how do you guys normally get a hold of the melodies and basslines and whatnot for a song? Are you guys recognizing the key by ear and recognizing the patterns and transposing it

Yes. At least that's how I do it. Most people I know here do it by ear too.

1 hour ago, WT_Neptune said:

is there a general sheet music compendium for stuff like this

No.

1 hour ago, WT_Neptune said:

or are there certified midis lying around?

No.

1 hour ago, WT_Neptune said:

Are most DIY midis you find on the internet pretty accurate?

No.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 5/5/2016 at 3:48 PM, Ninten Junky said:

But if the end result is a song that's up tonOCR standards (or not, if I just wanted to do a cover), nobody's going to care if I started with a midi file from the Internet or did it all by hand, right?

If you want to write a remix for OCR, I suggest not using a MIDI, because here's the thing: that's not your work. The transcription and sequencing was done by someone else. Plus by using the MIDI, you're essentially circumventing the entire sequencing process. There's a lot more to sequencing than the notes; there's velocity, timing, and everything that goes into creating expressive lines.

If you want to be a composer/arranger, you have to train your ear. You have to get better at figuring things out by listening to them. The way to do this is to practice. Ear training is incredibly important. How are you supposed to write anything original if you can't translate what you hear in your head to your DAW?

If you use an existing MIDI, are we gonna know? Maybe, maybe not. We've figured it out before.

I've always been a proponent of ear training and doing things by ear. MIDIs are a helpful tool when you're starting out but they quickly become shortcuts, crutches, and ultimately hinderances to your artistic growth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The thing you could do is remove every track but the melody. The melody is the one that maintains the song, so you pretty much are ok to copy that, though if it's an NES track you're gonna have to get creative. Would help you as a guide as you figure out new rhythms and chord progressions. Though if you read music, just export the MIDI to sheet music and read that way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.