Daniel has been creating digital media for over 25 years. He has won numerous awards, and is very excited to be sharing this content!
Introduction and Tough Love...
I am going to discuss how I start computer music composition with GarageBand, and then finish it off in Adobe Audition software.
To be clear, this is NOT a tutorial on the software. If you want to learn how to use it (and this goes advice goes for any software package), invent a project, and then dive into the software, struggle, and learn how to create whatever it is you are after. That's how I learned.
I have been composing music for over twenty years, and have worked in the field of digital media for much longer than that. I have created music for the Virgin company, for a magic show that they were having, as well as many other forms
If you like, please look me up - Daniel L Rappaport - in any of the popular music streaming services, to sample my work. It is greatly appreciated.
With that nonsense out of the way.... First off.... I just want to say that there is, absolutely, no magic button for anything in digital media. Just as Microsoft Word won't write anything for you, neither will any audio, graphic design, photography, website development, etc... program create anything for you either.
Sure. There are tricks, tips and shortcuts. The software is only there to help you along your way. You need to bring the creativity. Yes. I know. A.I. It's horrible, at the moment, and only serves as an assistant, especially in audio.
Anything that is out there, that might do something for you, costs a lot of money.
But, if you want something super specific, you need to do it yourself.
What I would do is, first off, amass yourself a good amount of music loops. You can find them for free, all over the internet. At one time, Apple had a bunch of libraries of them, for a really great price. Today, you can download a ton of them, directly through GarageBand for free.
How I Start My Pieces...
I like to start out by first, coming up with a concept for whatever music it is I am about to compose. Is it jazz? Classical? Rock? Etc... (And, yes. For the record, I HAVE composed in MANY different styles, in a professional manner and with great success).
I then start to craft the tune. I dive into the loop library, and start to audition. I also try and think about some key instrumentation, when beginning. Is it a violin? Clarinet? Drum? Etc... What instrument, or group of instruments is "leading the charge", as it were?
During this time (as is a part of a personal mission of mine, and what I am adding to the space), I do like to think about how different styles might possibly fit together, if (and ONLY if) it serves the piece. I like to think about different sounds, from around the world, and from different time periods.
Does this sound complicated? It can be. The key is (much like an excellent plate of food) to create a driving melody and then have the rest of your instrumentation support that.
More Amazing Tips...
Don't forget to use your volume rubber bands (aka keyframes) to properly balance what it is you are doing.
As you go through, another key is to prevent a train wreck, lol. You don't want a cacophonous mess. As with most things in the art world, it's really easy to screw up. You really need to control yourself, to be pleasing the ear.
Okay. After am finished auditioning, and favoriting whatever loops I want to put into the timeline, I then just start to lay stuff down as well as start to layer tracks.
Another key point is, as you are going along composing and putting together different musical ideas, you DEFINITELY want to start your playhead back at the beginning, to give it a run through. Little things, pops, inconsistencies, etc... always tend to come up. Fix them on the fly or take note, and do so in one big batch, when you are finished.
If it's appropriate, take a lesson from the great John Williams.
Further Refinement and Decisions...
How long should your piece be? Thirty seconds? One minute? Three? Five? Ten? Are you doing an opera? This is entirely dependent upon its use case. How long do you honestly think someone will be able to sit through whatever it is you are putting into the program?
How long do you truly need, to develop your idea? Of course, if you are scoring to a film, you have time constraints. Which actually brings me to a great point, here. How DO you score to a film?
I would start immediately upon receiving a script in hand. Start to develop musical ideas. Bring them back to the director. Keep going back and forth, until you have something cohesive. When it's time to look at footage, throw it into GarageBand, and edit as you and the director see fit.
If it's appropriate, take a lesson from the great John Williams. Try to come up with themes for the different characters, and have those drive your score. This is just, yet, another idea, and layer to some of my suggestions above.
Finishing It Off...
After you have something useable, throw it into Adobe Audition. There, I might apply any necessary graphic equalization, potential effects (but use them sparingly. Please. You don't want to sacrifice artistic intent for a bad reverb, or something.), and my personal favorite... Surround sound!
Adobe Audition makes this super duper easy. I won't go into it too much here. Look it up. Just know that it doesn't take a lot of clicks, to go from stereo to 5.1.
This is about all, and is, I believe, a really great overview of how I go about composing my stuff.