~ .: SAKHAL MUSIC STUDIO :. ~
.: INTRODUCTION :.
Here I will show the most important music software that I use for my works. This software can be classified into three different categories: instruments, sequencers and audio editors.
All these programs that I will mention have been and are being upgraded to newest versions, as every software product is, but there is no real necessity to own the latest releases for achieving good results. You can achieve the most by simply learning by means of practice the software that you own.
I have to admit that although I can compose melodies, I never developed the ability to play an instrument. I never was interested in that. My interest in music production came too late in my life. But that would not prevent me to do what I really wanted to do, which was to compose my own music and experiment with the many aspects of sound.
Being one of many manifestations of art, music is an abstract form of art; and while I am not really a musician, I always liked to draw and paint, and in the field of visual arts I never liked abstract art. But with music, it is a different thing. I like music a lot and I think music is a great way of expression. The expression of a emotion. The expression of a concept.
I will explain briefly the process that I usually follow to create a musical theme. It has not much mystery, after all.
The first step is to compose the melodies. For such matter, I usually would use my modest Yamaha electronic keyboard. With the assistance of some documentation about music theory, I will choose a musical key, determining wether a major key or a minor key is more suitable for my composition, depending on the mood that I intend to give to it. Then, it is just a matter of seeking note combinations within that musical key that are pleasing for me, or what is the same, getting some amount of melodic phrases to work with.
These melodic phrases have to be arranged in a complete and definitive musical estructure or composition. This work is easily made in the sequencer of our choice; I always use a piano roll sequencer for arranging.
In this stage of creation we will also add any chords or any other type of harmony or ornaments that we could desire into the melodic line.
When the melodic structure is done, it is time to add drum kit or bass tracks; for such tasks I use the same piano roll sequencer.
Choosing the right sounds can be a very delicate task. As each melody has its own personality, the same applies for all the possible sound patches that a melody can use. So we have to try to find the most suitable sound for the mood that we want to transmit.
When all the work of composing and arranging is done, then it is time to export the result as an audio file. This audio has to be processed as a masterization. Possibly it could be necessary to try to remove the possibly present audible disturbances of the audio track, consisting these in any kind of noise, hiss or even clicks.
Adding delay effects such as reverb or chorus can be interesting, but they will blurry somewhat the audio definition; we will have to check when it is worthy to trade the one for the other.
Some other touches could be the possible equalization of the audio to give preponderance to any audio frequency stratum that we want, or we could use a harmonic generator to increase the brightness of the audio if it became blurry.
Another option is the use of a compressor unit to level the volume differences in the audio track, so the sound can be more regular in volume intensity along the track and therefore the overall sound will be louder.
The last step should be the normalization of the audio track. It is usual to normalize it to 0 db or some db less. I use always 0 db. Since simple normalization only attends to volume peaks, if the audio volume peaks in the tracks are quite irregular, this can make some tracks sounding overall lower than others. This could be fixed by using a compressor, as stated above.
To store the music files, the perfect audio quality will be given by the WAV format; however, this format demands a lot of data space, so using instead a high quality MP3 format could be more appropriate.
Now I will introduce two good music production sequencers, FL Studio in its fifth version and Vocaloid in its Miriam version.
FL Studio 5
The FL Studio franchise is maybe the most widely used virtual studio software. This software contains a pattern arranger and sequencer, a piano roll sequencer, a mixer unit and support for VST and DX instruments and effects. So you have the choice to use it as a pattern sequencer or a piano roll sequencer, and you can generate the sound by using both samples or synthesized sound. I use it as a piano roll sequencer, since this kind of sequencers were the first ones that I used and learned.
This program comes with many nice built-in plugins, both sound generators (instruments) and sound processors (effects) for immediate use out of the box. Some synthesizers, an integrated sampler, a crude speech synthesizer, the typical delay effects as reverb, chorus, flanger... are just some examples of what is present here. Also is worthy to mention that despite its fancy interface this program is not specially difficult to use and it has a very good stability. I don't remember it to get stuck or crashed ever.
The created work can be exported directly into audio files, WAV or MP3, and MIDI files. This program is a virtual studio, so it is designed for being capable of the complete creation of a musical theme, from conception to masterization.
So I usually create my works with FL Studio, because it is easier to manipulate and far more stable than any other software that I used.
Cool Edit Pro 2Cool Edit Pro 2 is a very good audio editor, with many functions and effects for the manipulation of audio tracks, including support for DX plugins. In addition to the single wave editor it has a multitrack wave sequencer or arranger.
This program is easy to use and fairly stable, though it crashes sometimes; this is not much a problem, since it has automatic session saving when the program crashes, so usually a software crash doesn't ruin our work.
The built-in audio processors and effects are numerous and complete, and some ot them also quite complex. You can use DX plugins as well, as a complement of the built-in functions. Some of these plugins, however, tend to crash the program.
Audio editing is very important in music production. Although a music theme can be mixed and masterized directly from a virtual studio application, audio editing software will give the musician a much better control over the sound, since in addition to hearing the sound, the sound can also be seen as a clear graphical representation.
For such task, Cool Edit Pro 2 has a gorgeous waveform viewer, with spectrographic capabilities. This will make any task related with audio manipulation, as for example artifact cleaning, harmonic generation or frequency manipulation, easier to accomplish.
The spectrographic view is very useful to show at a glance the harmonical quality of the audio track.
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