Will be interviewing the creators of this soundtrack soon. Should be posted in the near future.
This one goes out to the video game developer/media rage king Phil Fish. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
Everybody on the dance floor! (or if you are playing GTA 4: The Ballad of Gay Tony do the Bus Stop).
So there are many of you out there who want to compose your own music at home. Many of you are also probably wondering where you should begin. In this article, I will explore some of the options available to you for home composition, as I am a composer myself. While it can sometimes be a task to compose on the computer, it really is the way composers do things nowadays. Most composers are expected to be fluent in various composition programs, and really this is a good thing. While the learning curve for some of these programs can be steep, and sometimes you can face bugs and glitches, once you have a handle on them your creativity will expand greatly. So let us begin.
If you are going to be a composer that uses electronic sources, your first order of business is finding the notation software that is right for you. These programs allow you to enter notes in a very precise format, saving you from musician confusion (which can happen with hand-written scores). It is also essential to have a handle on writing with these systems if you plan to study composition in college (your professors will most likely require it). There are two major programs that most composers use; Finale and Sibelius. Finale (found at http://www.finalemusic.com) is a program that has a bit of a learning curve (I know since I use it myself), but once you are used to the software it is an extremely effective interface. The system contains all the instruments used in a symphony orchestra, as well as marching percussion, harpsichord, organ, and modern electric instruments such as synthesizer. What makes Finale great is that numerous versions exist in varying price ranges (I personally use PrintMusic which is cost-effective for anybody looking to compose without breaking the bank). Such versions include products for professional composers, educators, students, songwriters, and much more. Finale is a wonderful tool as it allows you (as does Sibelius which I will go into next) to hear your ideas back. This is great if your piano skills aren’t wonderful enough to play back that complex vivace string quartet, or if you simply need to hear what the actual instrument sounds playing the music.
Sibelius (www.sibelius.com) is the other major music notation program, and it is sometimes the choice of music departments and their composition programs. Sibelius has the same idea going for it that Finale does, although I will be honest and say that Finale offers a wider range of specialized products. Sibelius is equal in price to the professional version of Finale (600 dollars), and is a very smooth interface to work on. If you have the cash for the full version of either Sibelius or Finale, it really in some ways is like choosing between Coke and Pepsi. Both will satisfy you, and really it boils down to you downloading a free trial and seeing which one gives you the most joy as a composer.
Next in home composition, one should look at virtual instrument libraries. In the process of composition, you may notice your notation software may not always give you the best audio. Sometimes the piano may sound like a 3 year old is hitting the strings with a hammer, or the flutist is getting a continuous electric-shock when trilling. When you realize that playback is not as authentic as you would like, and you cannot afford (who can?) to hire a private orchestra, enter virtual instruments. There are numerous choices, but I will look at a few. First off there is Garritan Libraries. Garritan is an extremely cost effective option that has libraries for full orchestra, non-western instruments, pipe organ, harp, jazz and big band, and marching band. This is one I personally recommend as it is cheaper than all other virtual libraries, and is of good audio quality (you can listen to audio samples on Garritan’s website www.garritan.com). The next is EastWest libraries (found at www.soundsonline.com), which are more expensive and are for professional composers. James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, and Brian Tyler all have used EastWest, and if you can afford it, it will take your audio to another level. The nice thing about EastWest is that there are cheaper versions of its product which sound great, and will get you most likely where you need to be with playback (not to mention they have discounted bundles). The best of all virtual libraries though is 8dio (found at www.8dio.com). It is extremely pricey (1000 dollars and above usually as many intruments are sold individually which requires you to purchase multiple software), but it has the widest range of sounds that are constantly being updated (i.e. they have heavy metal and dubstep libraries). All of the virtual libraries can be used in conjunction with notation software to take your compositions to the next level.
I really have scratched the surface here, but hopefully you can take the information I have given you and make some really awesome music. Until next time, get out there and write!