Project Clarification

Hey I just wanted to clarify something for everyone. For the work I am currently doing, I am utilizing the Caustic Android app on two platforms. I am currently using it on Android when I am out of the apartment, but when I am in I am using the ported version for Windows.

Why? Well for some reason the keyboard is not connecting properly to my Kindle Fire. I would love to do it all on my Kindle as the pure Android Caustic build is more stable, but for some reason the two devices just don’t agree. Generally I have to press 2 keys at the same time for the tablet to register any Midi signals. When it does register one key at a time, the notes won’t turn off.

I am hoping this issue will be solved when I get my new tablet, but in the meantime I can’t honestly say if cheap keyboards with cheap Midi adapters work on tablets. Researching the subject I found that Midi keyboards need to have “standard midi interface” meaning they don’t require additional drivers for windows.

I am going to try and make it to a local music shop to try out some “completely compliant” keyboards with my Kindle. Hopefully that will narrow down whether it’s my tablet or the keyboard.

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Second Track

Started working on another project last night. I’ve given up on chopping track samples for now, but will come back to it eventually. Anyway for those that are interested in the process I took to get the bare bones of what I have now, here it is.

First I decided on a lead instrument. As mentioned I am doing some online piano lessons and decided to use a nice piano PCMSynth preset from the Single Cell Software forums. I then hooked up my Midi Keyboard and started playing random notes and chords in different octaves until I found combinations that sounded interesting. I would then click the triggers to input the notes into Caustic. If a note didn’t sound right I would delete the trigger, then use the keyboard to sound out different notes in it’s place in real time.

Following finding a nice melody, I added a simple beat with beat box just to get a better feel of what I was working with.

Of course this is far from over. Right now it is just the beginning Piano lead and one beat box pattern. Eventually I will add more instrumewnts, FX etc.

I think it already sounds 100% better than the final product of my first track.

Format Changes?

The more I research Midi controllers, PC DAW’s etc. the more I feel like I need to change the format of this blog. While waiting for my Midi converter to show up so I can start doing those online piano lessons, I have concluded that I have come to a bit of a road block regarding android music production.

Therefore I am beginning to realize that my blog should probably be less Android focused and more “Learning Music Production on the Cheap”

I have all sorts of articles I could start writing about pertaining to powerful free Virtual Instruments, links on how to use powerful, yet inexpensive PC/MAC DAWs like Reaper. I also believe that by doing this I could reach out to a larger audience.

We will see what happens, but I expect to start doing mixed articles on Inexpensive Android and PC production shortly.

For everyone following my blog and people that are just visiting, feel free to comment on what you think about me doing this. Thanks y’all.

Scratch that. Frank Malm from Musical Android made some very good points in the nice comment that he left. Expect this to remain an Android Based Production Blog.

Making it Easier

As time has progressed over the past three weeks I have come to realize that even regarding basic hip hop production, it is very difficult to produce anything without some sort of musical training. So while I continue to experiment and post stuff on here I will also be learning to play piano (pretty sure I mentioned that earlier).

Since I don’t really know what I am doing I have decided that teaching myself out of a book or off of youtube might be a little difficult. So after a little research I found an interesting computer product called “Piano Marvel.”

Piano Marvel is an online music teaching program set up with a subscription fee and requiring a Midi enabled keyboard controller. From what I have read online it is a fairly viable way to learn the basics. The Midi component allows the program to track errors you are making and provide you with dependable feedback. It costs about $12 or $15 a month and allows you to take unlimited lessons while subscribed. I have the link to the website below as well as a nice review I found on it. Have a look, I’m going to at least try out the free demo month to see how it works.

http://www.pianomarvel.com/

The following link is the review website. Note it also includes how it stacks up to other computer based music learning programs.

http://piano-lesson-software-review.toptenreviews.com/piano-marvel-review.html

55513-piano-marvel-box

Synthesizer vs Midi Controller

I apologize for the lack of updates. I had a job interview today which went well. I have also decided I will not be working on the blog/any projects during my wife’s days off.

I still wanted to throw something up today, so I decided I would talk about an alternative to purchasing expensive midi keyboard controllers.

Just in case you don’t know the difference (as I did not) between a midi controller and a synthesizer, here they are.

Midi Controllers

Midi controllers generally do not play their own sounds. They include a number of programmable sliders and nobs to streamline your DAW, and require you to utilize sound generating VST plugins (virtual instruments) in your DAW to generate sound. Many of them include USB to USB contacts so that you can plug the controller (keyboard) directly into your laptop. Controllers also tend to be more compact as they don’t need room for tone generators and internal speakers.

Synthesizers

On the other hand there are synthesizers. Synthesizers have the ability to generate their own sounds (not very nice sounding unless you drop some cash) and can have “analog” Midi ports adding Midi Controller functionality. These are going to be a LOT larger due to the tone generating components and speakers.

The Point

Now where am I going with this? Often times you can find large older Synthesizers with Midi Controlling capabilities that are FAR less expensive than buying a new (or used) slim line Midi Controller Keyboards. I have found older, decent, entry level synths with Midi controlling capabilities going second hand for about $50, that have 61 full sized keys. Second hand 25 micro key controllers can go for as little as $60 and 49 micro key controllers seem to go for as little as $100.

A lot of people have the opinion that older synth keybeds can feel nicer than modern controllers, but you lose the portability and sliders/nob functionality.

I know that I would like to learn music theory, which requires me to have more than 49 keys. I am also more concerned about price than having programmable nobs and sliders (especially since this is an android based blog and I plan on using TouchDAW anyway). I also have a bed frame tall enough to slide a large keyboard under when I am not using it. Therefore I think a cheap synth with midi control is the best option.

Finally, do remember if you decide to go with an old synthesizer, you need to purchase an Analog to USB midi converter and download appropriate drivers for your computer. The converters seem to run $20-$30 in stores, but you can get them for closer to $6 on ebay.

Here are some visuals on the difference between a controller and a synth.

ph_ctk700

This is an old Casio 61 key CTK-700 Synthesizer. Works as a Midi Controller and goes for about $50 second hand.

korg 25
This is Korg 25 Key Midi Controller. Notice it is more slim lines and has programmable buttons. Retails new around $75