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IDDQDtheCacodemon

How can I start making MIDIs???

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Hello again! It's been a looong time since I posted here, this time I have another question and that is that I am considering quite the idea of starting to create MIDI music, so, any tips to get started?

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Sekaiju is an awesome program, but (again, assuming you're on Windows) Guitar Pro 5 and its open source cousin TuxGuitar are also awesome for writing your MIDI files as tabs. GP5 was the first program I used to make "real" MIDIs. I tried before then but never got too far.

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While we're at it... any tutorial that explains to a complete beginner the ropes of the actual technical process of creating a MIDI? I have the musical side covered but, aside for some MaxMsp I never touched recording software in my whole life.

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6 hours ago, Doomkid said:

Sekaiju is an awesome program, but (again, assuming you're on Windows) Guitar Pro 5 and its open source cousin TuxGuitar are also awesome for writing your MIDI files as tabs. GP5 was the first program I used to make "real" MIDIs. I tried before then but never got too far.

Ok, I have the program, now some tips before I start creating the music itself? I'm thinking of start with some covers, then gradually making certain arrangements and when I have enough experience, start making my own original works. 

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That’s how I started - I transcribed some of the songs by my favourite bands which helped me understand how they fit together, and used that to write my own stuff

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What about anvil studio? When I was searching for programs to make MIDIs myself, the 13 year old threads kept recommending anvil studio, is it still relevant to this day, or is other stuff better in all ways?

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39 minutes ago, Melemesh said:

What about anvil studio? When I was searching for programs to make MIDIs myself, the 13 year old threads kept recommending anvil studio, is it still relevant to this day, or is other stuff better in all ways?


I used to use Anvil Studio, but as of a few years ago the program felt a bit out dated, plus many of the midi features were locked behind a paywall. That doesn't mean its bad, but I felt Sekaiju and Aria Maestosa had more features and were more use friendly. Don't let that discourage you as Anvil Studio might just click with you. Another program that people like but wasn't mention is SynthFont0.

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If you're using Sekaiju, the single biggest tip I can offer you is to select the first measure on the Track List window, open the Edit menu, select "Modify Event's Time", and move the selection two beats back, as demonstrated in Dragonfly's video here. Frankly, watch that video, which also demonstrates how to get your track to loop properly.

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3 hours ago, IDDQDtheCacodemon said:

Ok, I have the program, now some tips before I start creating the music itself? I'm thinking of start with some covers, then gradually making certain arrangements and when I have enough experience, start making my own original works. 

Definitely look into music theory if you haven't already. You can put in "music theory cheatsheet" and find some pretty useful information right out the gate. Learning the keys is a very overlooked thing. If you can hum a few notes, put them into your editor, and say "this is in the key of E flat minor", then it'll make the transcribing process a whole lot easier. Learning common chord progressions is also very helpful. I'd start with Bobby Prince's tried and true 12-bar blues progression first to get immediate Doom-sounding results.

 

9 hours ago, Thelokk said:

While we're at it... any tutorial that explains to a complete beginner the ropes of the actual technical process of creating a MIDI? I have the musical side covered but, aside for some MaxMsp I never touched recording software in my whole life.

A MIDI is just any file that contains data including note pitch, length, and velocity. Pretty much any music software will create a MIDI or something that can be converted into one. Specific information such as preset numbers and bank numbers fall into the General MIDI standard. You'll need this GM information in order to create something that can be played back in Doom, otherwise it'll all default to piano sounds (even the drums).

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52 minutes ago, I Drink Lava said:

You'll need this GM information in order to create something that can be played back in Doom, otherwise it'll all default to piano sounds (even the drums).

 

That's exactly the problem I've been having - made a bitchin' ambient piece yesterday and in Doom it sounded like a racoon having a stroke on a Steinway. Can't say I am very clear on the process of how to avoid that, but at least I got a starting point now. 

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Ok, looked into it and I still don't get it. Once I got my MIDI file, what steps do I have to take so that it doesn't sound like zombie Liszt, and like actual instruments instead?

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6 hours ago, Thelokk said:

  That's exactly the problem I've been having - made a bitchin' ambient piece yesterday and in Doom it sounded like a racoon having a stroke on a Steinway. Can't say I am very clear on the process of how to avoid that, but at least I got a starting point now. 

Ah yes, the joys of making Doom MIDI in a modern DAW. Modern DAWs require you to program everything in manually onto the MIDI region/clip itself. No matter what you do to the faders, pan pots or plugins, exporting as .mid will ignore anything you've set up on your tracks and only playback the info stored in the midi regions.

 

DAWs like Logic, Cubase, Reaper, Cakewalk and FL Studio allow you to manually add GM parameters (some are more limited than others), and each one has a different way to actually put the data you want into each clip. Usually you can do this by finding the MIDI region's automation section (Not track automation, region/clip automation), and add an automation point to the beginning of the region/clip.

 

There are a few bare minimum parameters that should be present: Program change, what channel the notes in each clip are using (Drums will only play properly through channel 10), volume and pan (even if they're static). Other things like pitch bend, modulation, expression and MSB/LSB/bank messages are nice to have, and if they aren't in a descriptive list (Pro Tools, I'm looking at you) the numeric values can usually be found online or by using another program like Sekaiju. For example, the GM value for volume is 7.

 

An imperfect, but potentially useful way to find info about using GM parameters in your DAW is to search <DAW name> "general midi", making sure the term general midi is in quotes because searching midi on its own will absolutely not be useful for GM, as it will usually yield info about connecting a MIDI keyboard to your DAW, or VSTi related madness.

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@Lippeth thanks for taking the time to explain. I won't pretend I understood all (or even most), I'm just your average dumb concertist, but I'll sit down and try to dissect what I'm exactly doing wrong, or not doing at all. I started out with Anvil, but it's my understanding that Sekaiju might make my life a bit easier?

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3 minutes ago, Thelokk said:

I started out with Anvil, but it's my understanding that Sekaiju might make my life a bit easier?

In that case almost none of what I've said will apply. I'm not that familiar with Anvil, but I believe it's closer to Sekaiju than a full on DAW. Sekaiju does all the technical stuff for you, and like with anything, the more you play around and experiment, the more proficient you'll become. Click/right click every option, change every number, you won't break anything but you will eventually get a handle on it.

 

Usually I assume that a modern DAW is used when encountering the "Oops, all pianos" issue, but I was wrong in this case. But the info is still relevant should someone accidentally get into MIDI using a popular DAW.

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21 hours ago, I Drink Lava said:

Definitely look into music theory if you haven't already. You can put in "music theory cheatsheet" and find some pretty useful information right out the gate. Learning the keys is a very overlooked thing. If you can hum a few notes, put them into your editor, and say "this is in the key of E flat minor", then it'll make the transcribing process a whole lot easier. Learning common chord progressions is also very helpful. I'd start with Bobby Prince's tried and true 12-bar blues progression first to get immediate Doom-sounding results.

I would only add to this, if you're learning music from a very basic level, that you should learn music theory, but you shouldn't treat it as a strict set of rules by which music elevates itself. Rigid adherence to theoretical doctrine can result in dull music obviously made by formula. 

 

The music theory that applies to Western court/church music of the 17th and 18th centuries, which is what a lot of music-theory textbooks focus on because of its beautiful clarity and complexity, as well as its longstanding prestige, often only bears a glancing relationship to Shawn's Got the Shotgun, video game music, or pop music more generally. If the theory you're reading doesn't match what your ear tells you about the music you hear, then you've found an opportunity to dig deeper and formulate your own idea of what makes a piece of music work, or else an opportunity to learn about a different genre's approach to music theory. Treat it as a description, not a prescription.

 

I like the Open Music Theory online textbook as a free resource for amateurs. But at the basic level, definitely learn which notes are in which scales, the differences between major and minor scales, the differences among natural, harmonic, and melodic minor scales, and how to construct diatonic chords from scales.

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Well, I just want to throw in that my knowledge of music theory, while not "incredibly robust", was 100% the fundamental pillar to me being able to come up with way more complex riffs while playing guitar. I haven't got the skill to transcribe them "well" (which is why most of my midis are just basic rock and metal riffs), but knowing my major from my minor and my lydian mode from my dorian mode has absolutely provided me with a way stronger basis for potential songwriting, so I agree very, very strongly with your last paragraph there.

 

Learning that foundational music theory knowledge is sort of like the equivalent of someone learning "addition, subtraction, multiplication, division" if they want to get into mathematics.

 

It's not so much that western music theory doesn't resemble songs like Shawn's Got the Shotgun, video game music, and pop music - to continue the mathematics allegory, writing music like that is akin to solving 2+2 when you know how to to complex calculus. You don't need the extra knowledge, but it certainly doesn't hurt and isn't incompatible. (But, for the time being - stick with learning what a 4:4 time signature is, and what major and minor scales are. Once you get that stuff down you'll have enough knowledge to write basic music that sounds good, and then you can delve into the deeper steps!)

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Yeah, sorry for getting way ahead of my skis there. "You shouldn't learn music theory because it gets in the way of your natural musicality, maaaan" is a pernicious attitude, creating more obstacles than it clears away, and that's not what I meant to say at all. I meant more to caution against another pernicious attitude, the misreading of music theory as The Rules of Good Music and the treatment of any music that doesn't match those rules as inherently inferior. I think it's important to say this because so much theory instruction focuses on classical music from the common practice period, and if you're digging through this more advanced material on your own, it can be easy to lose sight of the theory's relationship to the music you listen to and the music you want to make.

 

Sorry for the tangent! I expect the OP will actually be a practiced pianist or something, and will have already encountered this whole problem, lol

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3 hours ago, Mr. Alexander said:

Yeah, sorry for getting way ahead of my skis there.

Not at all, I thought both of your posts were interesting. I just hope we haven't distracted IDDQDtheCacodemon too much with our rants at this point, lol. I totally agree that music theory should be treated as more of a "rock-solid set of guidelines" rather than hard and fast rules - I mean hell, any Zappa fan has to like unconventional music that breaks the rules at least a little bit..

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Learning from covers and then trying to create your own stuff is a good way to go, IMO.

 

Music theory also helps a lot too, although you can create really nice stuff with a very basic knowledge. Actually most popular music is really really simple regarding that. On other hand, my knowledge in music theory is very basic too, so take that with a grain of salt :P

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