2018-11-05 14:12:18 (edited by grryfindore 2018-11-05 14:23:38)

Hi,
so ehh, the subject maybe a little wague, as I am a bit wague on the entire thing hence the topic.
All I know about playing music in general is just a little bit of piano, I.E I can listen to something, and hopefully be able to play the melody? if that's the right term minus the cords. I have trouble telling my brain to do both at the same time, that is play melody with one hand and the cords with the other. not that I know how to play cords, even if I could make my hands listen big_smile
and not much at all besides that. no terms nothing. now that that's out of the way...

I have been wanting to learn music for a while now, and I have been reading terms such as VSTS Doors (not the right spelling perhaps, but sounds right...)etc across the forum in various topics, digetel music production such as creating backing tracks for songs or soundtrack type music, and I am curious to learn how that is done. what I'd like to do is learn the whole of it, as like I said, right now all I have are wague little details gained from reading different topics that discuss musics and related things.
a few questions that  I have or can think of right now.
1. I know that a midi keyboard is a piano like instrument that you connect to your pc and are then able to press keys on the keyboard and have the sounds come out of the pc speakers. that of different musical instruments like voices on a piano keyboard as long as you have the VST on your pc and a door? like reper or logic pro on the mac, my question is if all I want to do is to play and here those VSTS not recording and other audio editting stuff, how would I go about doing so? and am I actually correct so far in my asumtions?
2. related to first. if I am correct that all I need is  vst, for playing and a software like reper, where would I obtain them? free would be prefered to begin with? and yes I would need a midi keyboard, I guess I'll grab one off of amazon.
3. If I want to learn more, such as say learning to play cords, or adding multiple tracks together and or how to play other musical instruments along with the terminology, what would be a good starting point?
Thanks and cheers for any information at all!
Grryf

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.
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2018-11-05 16:13:42 (edited by musicalman 2018-11-05 16:22:54)

Hey there,
There are probably people here who could be of more help, but I will do my best to clearly answer your questions to correlate with my own experience, and I hope it'll help you.

grryfindore wrote:

1. I know that a midi keyboard is a piano like instrument that you connect to your pc and are then able to press keys on the keyboard and have the sounds come out of the pc speakers. that of different musical instruments like voices on a piano keyboard as long as you have the VST on your pc and a door? like reper or logic pro on the mac, my question is if all I want to do is to play and here those VSTS not recording and other audio editting stuff, how would I go about doing so? and am I actually correct so far in my asumtions?

I just want to nitpick on one minor thing, the term is DAW (D A W, short for digital audio workstation) not door. This is an important term used in this field so I thought you should be aware of it and what it stands for.
That out of the way, you have the right idea. ?Strictly speaking, a midi keyboard sends messages saying, "I played this note" and "I pressed it this hard" and "I moved this wheel/slider" or whatever. These messages it sends are called midi messages and they go to wherever your DAW is directing them.

Most DAWs such as Reaper, Logic etc. can use plug-ins of some sort. On Windows, VST (virtual studio technology) plug-ins are often used, I think on Mac the format is called AU (audio unit), though I think? they support VST as well, I dont' use Mac so I wouldn't know. While the two formats are different, they have similar functionality, it's just different standards they use, so far as I know.

But DAWs don't just have to use plug-ins, they can also direct other hardware. For instance, I have a Korg synthesizer with no keyboard, it's literally just a box I hook up to my computer which can play different sounds. So it's not too useful on its own, but I can use my midi keyboard to play the sounds.

All keyboards these days are going to be midi compatible unless you get a toddler's toy. So no matter what keyboard you get, you will be able to do what you're asking about, and in many cases, more. But some keyboards have their own built-in sounds. With these keyboards, you can still use sounds from VST plug-ins and other hardware as I said above, but in addition you can use the keyboard's own built-in sounds to create your tracks. For me, this is how I prefer to work, and if you can afford a keyboard with high quality sounds you enjoy to work with, then it's a worthwhile investment. Keyboards with their own built-in sounds range in price from a couple hundred bucks for entry levels, to $5000 and beyond for the most professional keyboards, and due to their popularity they are getting better all the time as new models are made. Granted, keyboards with their own built-in sounds are still more expensive than a strait-up midi keyboard that doesn't have any sounds on it. The latter tend to run pretty cheap, so if you don't care so much about built-in sounds and functions, a midi keyboard would be better for you. I don't have experience with these types of keyboards though, so I can't recommend a favorable one.

I don't expect you to perfectly understand what I am saying. I have purposefully kept it vague and generalized. What I am basically trying to tell you is that all keyboards send midi messages, and all synthesizers and plug-ins can work with these messages in at least some basic way. These things are pretty standard, so once you learn the basics, your knowledge will carry over into your new endeavors. As for specific methods for doing x y and z, I won't go into that right now as I find those kinds of explanations difficult to understand unless someone is trying to help you with your specific setup.

grryfindore wrote:

2. related to first. if I am correct that all I need is  vst, for playing and a software like reper, where would I obtain them? free would be prefered to begin with? and yes I would need a midi keyboard, I guess I'll grab one off of amazon.

See above for answer.
Also a few points specifically about Reaper and VSTs. Reaper is technically free, it is a 60-day trial but will just constantly nag you afterward to purchase. It won't restrict your usage though. That said, the price is very reasonable, (around $60 iirc). I would also highly recommend the free Osara add-on, as it allows you to use many functions in Reaper which are very difficult to use otherwise.

If you're on a Mac, you could still use Reaper but I've been told that Osara for Mac isn't nearly as efficient as it is on Windows. And if you're going to go the Logic route, I've been told Logic accessibility is workable but the impression I am getting is that you have to have  the patience to know its qwirky rules, and that it's not perfect. I could be wrong, however. As I say, I have no Mac experience.

VSTs range in price too, from free to a few hundred dollars. But there are plenty of free ones out there, especially if you are into electronic stuff. The free stuff for acoustic instruments is a pretty mixed bag though, and when you deal with acoustic instruments it tends to get more complicated anyway since you sometimes have to load large files containing the instrument data into the plug-in. This introduces some accessibility hurdles, depending on what you're trying to use.

grryfindore wrote:

3. If I want to learn more, such as say learning to play cords, or adding multiple tracks together and or how to play other musical instruments along with the terminology, what would be a good starting point?

Sounds like you are asking two different things here: How do I learn more about playing music, and How do I learn about using a DAW? These are two different bags I'm afraid. If you want to improve your keyboard skills, or learn to play other instruments, piano lessons or lessons on other instruments may be a good option. You could try some Youtube tutorials on various topics you are interested in. They can be a good start if you find good ones. I listen to them myself sometimes when I am curious about some aspect of an instrument.

There are some audio fundamentals courses for blind Reaper users. They aim to familiarize you with Reaper workflow, and just getting you familiar with audio in general. I haven't really scoured the net for these courses. Furthermore I don't know how many of them actually cover making music as you want to do; most of them deal with audio production for podcasts and the like. Also, for me at least, making music is kinda complicated since I don't find Reaper intuitive for making the music. I end up linking to another program (QWS) for handling the midi data and using Reaper just to make the sounds available to it. But that's a different topic for a different day I think.

Sorry I've thrown all this at you and made it sound so complicated! It doesn't necessarily have to be, there is such a thing as keeping things relatively simple. But I don't know exactly what you want to do, so I'm throwing a big bulk out there. Also I've tried to pave my own road when working with this stuff so not many perople had the patience to teach me, so it's kind of a mess for me to sort out and try to explain. Hopefully I have helped you a little though, and I am available if you want to talk about these things.

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2018-11-05 19:00:18 (edited by UltraLeetJ 2018-11-05 19:01:53)

agree with everything post 2 says. As for having many software instruments...
you will definitely need hard drive space (some of them do take a significant bit of storage) and ram, ram ram so that your computer can keep all of the notes that it needs there, ready for you to use them on demand, and I know you know that music is a realtime deal, if you do not have enough of any, you will hear glitches and stutters in the audio all the time because it has to go back to the hard drive, read the sounds, put them in ram, discard the ones used, rinse and repeat, even when exporting your audio and that is the last thing you'd want. This is a tricky business, because For example you would say that a piano has 88 keys, thus 88 notes, but that is never the case with big, professional sounding instruments. IN addition to the 88 notes, you have 88 more recorded at soft volume, 88 at medium, and 88 at really high volume as if someone was pounding on the keys. Add the same amount to the ones recorded with the sustain pedal down, and suddenly its about 528 notes. As for what this is called, recording at different volumes is called velocity layers. The more velocity layers an instrument has, the better is its expressiveness. Granted, this piano sound is rather dull,boring and difficult to work with. Most really start at 8 layers so you can imagine that is about 1408 wave files, add some noises to make it sound more realistic like the player's movement, or the sounds of the pedal pressing and depressing and its effectively 1500 wave files. Each one of those takes about 50 mb in size or so, because the note is normally recorded until its very end. So you can imagine how much that would be. Lamentably I have not found a solo piano instrument that really gets my attention, I can always tell for some reason when the piano is totally virtual as opposed to real. i have found a few that work very well in band situations though. So running several virtual instruments at once does need a lot of computing power. And also preferably, a disk which is separated from your system disk. What I have that has worked well for me is a solid disk for the system and installed program stuff, and a big mechanical, normal hard drive for the samples and so on. I do have 16 gigs of ram which has worked well for medium sized projects, though I do also tend to record real musicians most of the time. I export my audio to that disk and record to it without any problems.
Sorry to bring this back up with so much detail but it is a very important point that will save you lots of trouble later on.
If you want to save on ram or computer upgrades you can always get a high end synthesizer or workstation as they are called, which has some high quality sounds and you can record the audio from that.

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2018-11-05 20:14:51

This is specifically for UltraLeatJ, as you brought up some points that I am curious about.
In regards to virtual pianos, have you checked out the Vi Labs stuff? I have purchased all of their pianos and I like them a lot. I can still tell they're virtual in some ways, and they don't quite have the tone I like, but the playability I think is excellent. They load quickly with the UVI platform and I hardly ever get dropped notes even if I play right after loading, so they got that part right. Only real issue with them usage wise is that UVI is about as opposite of accessible as one can get. I had to have a lot of sighted help to set things up the way I like. I did assign the piano's controls to automation though so I can use them completely autonomously now. And Vi Labs responded informatively to my request for information on how to make the pianos usable for me, which ultimately made me purchase them.

One thing I am always picky about with pianos is how staccato notes sound, and with the Vi Labs stuff, staccato playing is very responsive, but also carries considerable weight and resonance in the bass register like a real concert grand would. A lot of virtual pianos just can't carry that. I find many pianos good for temp tracks or some ballad/sustained stuff, but in places where the piano has to stick out, especially in sharp staccato or just soloist passages in general, a lot of virtual pianos give themselves away as being virtual. I've only heard a few that would interest me for such work.
I also have 16 GB of ram which is probably more than I'll ever need since I'm not really serious into production yet. I have a lot of knowledge but am a little intimidated when trying to put it all together. Plus I'm not really well-acquainted enough with reaper and mixing technique to do anything serious at this point, and am a little afraid that I'll never really be good since my ears don't catch a lot of details that most people do. It goes the other way too, like I notice things in sounds that other people don't seem to care at all about. But I'm not so good at the conventional mixing/mastering stuff.

One thing that stumps me a lot, and I don't know if you'll be able to help with this but I think it's worth bringing up in this thread, is that my CPU usage in a DAW can never really make my system hang when it is pushed hard enough. The audio begins buffering and stuttering far before. In Reaper for instance, on my AMD 8-core processor, once CPU usage hits around 13 percent the audio begins to stutter. This leads me to believe that Reaper can really only use 1 core. Switching between Wave Out, Wasapi and Asio will help manage the CPU usage particularly on the latter two options because I think they are more suited for audio, but even then, they just lower the CPU usage. Once it goes above 12 or 13 percent or somewhere around there, my audio is stuttering waaay before my system seems to be under any real stress. I have tried most of the tricks in the book to optimize Windows 10 for audio production, but can not figure out what's really happening.

I did manage to stress it out pretty hard by turning buffers to insane amounts, like a 5-second buffer for instance. And I did read on the Reaper forums that a CPU thread is dedicated to rendering the audio so if that can't keep up, everything will crash from there. So I assume my AMD processor is struggling with this part of the task more than anything else. I dunno.

I've also heard that AMD wasn't the best for serious production. Admittedly I'm not doing serious production. The limitations I am running into are just annoying rather than inconvenient. There are only a few times where I am truly hindered; most of the time I don't run into this, but I don't do much with multitrack production projects either.

I also have a laptop with an Intel I5, but I do not know how it will behave since I haven't given it a proper stress test. I've read that Intel is better for serious stuff and AMD is not, but have also read that it really doesn't matter.

When I posted about this on the Reaper forums I think I made the situation way more complicated than it needed to be because I was going on a lot of false information and overinterpreting it. So I'm trying to step back and ask where I should start in determining what I need to know to learn more about this problem, or indeed how big of a problem it really is.

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2018-11-06 01:31:17

I would need to check out the pianos you mentioned, so thank you for them.
In regards to your processor, I honestly have no clue, changing the buffering and using asio is the only thing I would recommend at this point. Beware that some effects when they use some algorithms such as elastique soloist and so on can cause a lot of CPU overhead, and some reverbs too. Ideally your DAW computer should be isolated from the internet and such, but for recording smaller stuff I have not had this issue with my laptop which is an intel one though. What you mention in the forum is pretty remarkable, I would need to look it up because the reper folk can get pretty technical and serious even over the most insignificant little bit, and that really grabs my interest because even if the discussion gets somewhat stuck or pointless you still learn a whole lot.

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2018-11-06 15:01:49 (edited by grryfindore 2018-11-06 18:47:58)

Hi,
Thank you musicalman and UltraLeetJ.
  Daw, I will keep that in mind. smile I did think that was something wrong with the spelling, but there isnt much difference between door and daw when I read with my tts. smile
I dont really know right now how seriously I want to go into all the digitel musical stuff or non digetel music, but I know I would like to putter around, dip a toe and all that.
If I cant really do anything but be able to play music that is via midi using whatever other software, as long as it sounds good, I am good. I mainly want to do it because I know that thats one thing I enjoy, that is play on the keyboard whatever suits my fancy and just as with proper meells, the better the sound the more fun it is.
And of course being a bit limited in the funds department is why I ask for free vsts,although I do realise that payed stuff is likely to be better.
My thanks for all your information.
What free vsts if any would you guys recommend? to start out with?
@UltraLeetJ, thank you and you do bring up some interesting points. as I am in the process of araingeing parts for my new pc, your advice could not have been more opportune.
Do you think 16gb ram would be enough? for hobby music playing and learning, and perhaps if I want to wade into slightly proffessional waters.
My pc build should look something like the
following
a fellow forumite recommended most of it, but your ram comments and how CPU intensive all this turns out to be makes me ask.
as an aside, god but those ram prices are seriously crazy.

As to my very last question and musicalmans answer, yes indeed I was asking for both things there, as in learning the basic terminology, some good resources that could be of help to a complete newbie like me with very wague knowledge and perhaps some good places to learn musical instruments or I guess lets limit ourselves to just the keyboard/ piano right now. smile
Thanks again to the both of you, your information is certainly very helpful.
Grryf

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.
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2018-11-06 17:44:23

well, the page you gave was pretty much blank, as in, choose what you want, but 16gb of ram should be good to go assuming you are not using probably no more than 10 virtual instruments  at the same time, depends of course on size or quality but I am being a bit conservative here.
As for free vsts.. there is a lot to choose from and unfortunately I have not that many recommendations but you can try this one for free modern or retro synth sounds
You should also try getting a hold of the sforzando plug-in which is a very advanced and in depth sampler but some good instruments have been made for it, like this piano for example. here you will find quite a vast collection of everything, including scripts to make things accessible, and reports of some famous plug-ins people have been using. In fact, that wiki is your one stop resource for many things related to reaper (maintained by yours truly) including the official user guide, articles by others on specific tasks, and (now free) courses on using reaper with a screen reader.

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2018-11-06 18:50:19

Hi,
Link updated. sorry about that...
Thank you, I will check out the links that you posted.
and yes, I think at least if I am understanding the term vertual instruments rightly, 10 should be more than what I need smile
That wiki looks great, Ig uess I will have a read around, and hopefully that will get me started.
Grryf

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2018-11-06 21:36:06

VST4free is a great resource for some free stuff, but what I tend to do is just google "Free ___ VST" when I want something specific.  I found a really good harp and electric piano that way, but I'll just warn you now if you want any decent sounding strings, you'll want to put some money into buying the VSTs.  2  inexspensive and accessible VSTs are Pianissimo from Mixcraft, and SonniVox orchestra strings - but the strings take up a decent amount of space.  Everything else was already said by Musicman, I'd suggest just downloading Reaper, plugging your keyboard into the USB port on your comp and giving it a whirl - though I find doing all of my midi editing in Reaper to be the best option, I pretty much do everything in Reaper due to Osara being so amazing with it's accessibility.

If you want some audio production stuff geared towards music, I highly suggest watching the YouTube channel Recording Revolution.  It has a lot of stuff about making music easily, they use protools but the tips can be applied to any DAW.  As far as learning music, I read Music Theory for Dummies to get me started lol.  But once again, YouTube is your friend there!  I just watch videos about music theory in relation to what I like, aka video game music theory channels.  So just hunt around and learn gradually, I know it's daunting at first but it's all in the steps we take big_smile

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2018-11-07 07:28:02 (edited by grryfindore 2018-11-07 07:29:09)

Hi,
Thank you CrystalD.
A midi keyboard or a decent sounding keyboard with midi should be my next purchase after I am done getting the new pc, then. smile
you are correct in that nothing beats doing stuff practicly and so getting a midi keyboard, reeper and vsts if I can figure how and what to get and how to load that into reper would be the best thing to be done.
I guess if I can connect a midi keyboard to ios, garageband could be one I could play around with, at least the playing part as it has decent instrument voices. or I do believe I downloaded thumbjam years ago so it should be around somewhere in my purchases, hopefully.
lem go and search if there are any midi keyboards that can connect to iphone without costing me my house. big_smile
Grryf

Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.
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2018-11-09 04:01:01

Hi,

Are you using a windows computer or a mac?

Windows has a little bit of issues with vitrual music. I grew up on a windows, so when I learned about midi, I started off on this midi only sequencer called QWS, stands for quick windows sequencer, developed by a blind man, so naturally very accessible, but also rather old. It does not work with vst, only soundfonts. Also it is not a fully fledged daw because it does not support audio. In order to get my hands on a daw so I could have vst's and sforzando stuff, I tried reaper. But reaper gave me a delay of almost a full second. So I asked around, and people said to get the Acio4All driver, which basically tries to emulate an acio soundcard thus reducing laightency. Well I got acio4all, and i don't know what i changed, but I screwed up something so that any time I launched reaper, or anything else running that acio driver, all audio stopped. I uninstalled reaper, but the driver wouldn't let me uninstall it, so I couldn't get a new install of the driver. Also apart from my troubles with acio, I found reaper waaaaaaaay technical. I didn't even quite know how to change virtual instruments. I switched to mac and purchased logic pro, which, I keep reading about how it's so hard to work with, but it was much less jargonistic than reaper, especially if you try starting with the mac's free garageband first. If you have or are getting windows, make sure you get some specific instructions on that driver, or else make sure you can have an acio soundcard, although I don't know if they sell those for laptops. You'll need one or the other. If you have or are getting a mac, play for at least two or three months with garageband for mac. Then when the price, and the time, is right, get logic. You don't even need plugins for it to work, it already has many instruments of its own. And if you do go that route you can ask me, I'll give you the resources for learning it. There are resources for reaper I can point you to as well from the old days, lol, but I'd have to look them up and I didn't get help fixing the driver from any of them.
I don't mean this to be discouraging, on the contrary, I want anyone who can to do this. In fact more power to you and I'm going to ask you for tips if you can get this running smoothly on a windows. I just want you to be aware that there is parril in the direction you have been pointed, proceed with caution, and if you have a mac, don't proceed that way lol. Also, whether you use reaper or logic, a good place to ask general midi and virtual instrument and audio production questions is Midimag-X. I think if you google that it'll give you the exact address.

Good luck.

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2018-11-10 09:08:19 (edited by UltraLeetJ 2018-11-10 09:19:51)

post 11..
Uh, well, I would like to point out that reaper has its own, dedicated big group and it has definitely come a long way forward.
It sucks that you had issues with the audio and latency as you described, but getting an asio based sound card or better yet, a pro audio interface to record was only part of the issue (see post 3 of this topic for a reasonable explanation)
Also, as far as reaper is concerned, we are actually needing help in the mac area of things, windows is getting all the love lately
I hope you reconsider reaper, since it allows us to do things which were dreams only years ago, things simply not available in other accessible programs,  and more because its now possible practically for free. Things like this or even this, or even more impressively, this!
Right, I assume vip audio access declared bankruptcy or something, and sadly qws has not had updates in years now. Fortunately, reapers editing abilities are just on par a bit trickier but definitely possible. And I promise here there is no overly technical language.
And I totally recommend you join the group. Not only they are a super helpful and experienced bunch, I am the wiki maintainer and have written most of the documentation, even tried to make the manual accessible (slowly but surely getting there) they will also hear you and work with you to resolve any issues you might have.

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