Should I get a cheap midi controller keyboard?

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  • Hello!

    So yeah, am an artist by trade, but since I'm wanting to do my chosen game by myself as much as possible, I've been doing my best to learn other area's as I've gone along. To try avoid any really nasty project stopper problems that might crop up down the line.

    Anyways, since the one I'm making was originally known, not only for it's stunning graphics at the time, but also it's music, it's been on my mind from the beginning about how to deal with that somewhat important issue. Now I've always wanted to make music, but never really have. Way back I'd tinker with trackers on the Amiga, but not doing anything I would consider "serious".

    So with that in mind, my plan A is to get a decent experienced musician to create all the music in the game, BUT failing that. I don't want to end up without any music at all, or using some midi downloaded from the net, or the original tracks (since that wouldn't quite feel right for what I have planned), so figured I'd have a go myself, make sure I've got a plan B and if the worst comes to the worst, I can do my own music.

    So, for the past 48 hours I'd say, I've been practicing as often as I could. Practically working from scratch, did a few tests which seemed to work out well for the most part, and then asked in chat a couple of hours ago if anyone wanted a newbie music guy to make something for them (jokingly of course!), and Davo mentioned a construct theme. K, this would make for a fun challenge regardless of what I'd end up with.

    So I had a go Download (mp3)

    I guess it's somewhat inspired by working on things late, finding bugs you don't want, and having a murderous migraine on top of it (like I have for the past day grr), or as Davo said..

    [quote:20htqc0s]Listening to this music makes me think Construct is going to hurt me

    Haha, ok.. I admit it, it does not make you immediately think of construct at all. I just got a bit carried away I suppose, heh.

    But anyhoo.. based on this admittedly basic and newbish, yet my first ever original (which I'm proud of) attempt, after only a short time actually learning things. Would you say I should invest in a nice relatively cheap midi controller? I found one on Amazon, nothing special but I figure I don't need anything too fancy. Just something to make it a little easier.

    And no, I wont post the earlier tests, not in public anyways.

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  • Hehe, love the idea of a Construct theme I bought a nice synth recently, which has some really impressive sounds. I might have a shot! I've thought about using it to do my own music for games as well.

    I think you can't really go wrong with buying a MIDI keyboard for a PC, if you do music on a PC it's pretty much an essential. You can also look in to downloading some software synthesisers to get more interesting sounds, and control them with the MIDI keyboard. I would say, though, don't buy the very cheapest - it might be annoying/hard to play, and cheap ones tend to have annoying velocity responses (eg. pressing the key hard vs. soft doesn't make much volume difference). Spending ?50-?60 might be a good idea to get an OK one. M-Audio are a good brand though, and you could also look in to Korg, Roland/Edirol and Yamaha. If you're in the UK, I've used http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk several times before and they've been good, and cheaper than amazon, who tend to rip you off big time on postage, which makes it more expensive even though their per-product prices might be less. Try both and go as far as checkout and compare prices there.

    Also, if you want to get in to music, have a look at some music theory too. Learn scales, chords, chord sequences, rhythms like triplets, and so on. It helps tonnes with composing.

  • I'd say it helps, but it's not totally essential. Old school game music is mostly sequenced, so the keyboard mostly helps with trying out different chord sequences and melodies. What you should really try to get is good music software. Trackers are really tedious, but a program with a good note laying system makes creating game melodies much easier. For about a year and a half I didn't have a keyboard, only recently have I picked up a wire which allows me to use my old Casio on my pc. I can say it helps a lot with piano type themes and instrumentals, but for anything oldschool it's much better to lay it out by hand, since game music is often in perfect sync with the musical timeline.

  • Don't forget the cables, and you might want to make sure your card has midi input.

    Hehe, love the idea of a Construct theme

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/666516/ctheme.ogg

  • newt you don't need midi input, they sell midi to usb cables. There's one on amazon for like 5$ that I just bought, it's like 25$ cheaper than any other brand

  • I like Newt's theme, except for the bit where it crashed Winamp :s

    Edit: For a jingle though, it should be even shorter. Like half of that.

    LostMyKeys' theme would be more suited to The Killing Engine

    That said, I do like it. Can you help me with music for a horror game? I've always wanted to do one

  • Construct theme ey?

    Something like this?

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1289341/ConsTheme.mp3

  • By the looks of it with others submitting their own, a construct theme thread could be popular hehe.

    Hehe, love the idea of a Construct theme I bought a nice synth recently, which has some really impressive sounds. I might have a shot! I've thought about using it to do my own music for games as well.

    I think you can't really go wrong with buying a MIDI keyboard for a PC, if you do music on a PC it's pretty much an essential. You can also look in to downloading some software synthesisers to get more interesting sounds, and control them with the MIDI keyboard. I would say, though, don't buy the very cheapest - it might be annoying/hard to play, and cheap ones tend to have annoying velocity responses (eg. pressing the key hard vs. soft doesn't make much volume difference). Spending ?50-?60 might be a good idea to get an OK one. M-Audio are a good brand though, and you could also look in to Korg, Roland/Edirol and Yamaha. If you're in the UK, I've used http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk several times before and they've been good, and cheaper than amazon, who tend to rip you off big time on postage, which makes it more expensive even though their per-product prices might be less. Try both and go as far as checkout and compare prices there.

    Also, if you want to get in to music, have a look at some music theory too. Learn scales, chords, chord sequences, rhythms like triplets, and so on. It helps tonnes with composing.

    That's a good idea, about looking into scales, chords etc. I know of them but not enough right now so will definately be looking into that

    I'll check out that site too, cheaper is good

    I'd say it helps, but it's not totally essential. Old school game music is mostly sequenced, so the keyboard mostly helps with trying out different chord sequences and melodies. What you should really try to get is good music software. Trackers are really tedious, but a program with a good note laying system makes creating game melodies much easier. For about a year and a half I didn't have a keyboard, only recently have I picked up a wire which allows me to use my old Casio on my pc. I can say it helps a lot with piano type themes and instrumentals, but for anything oldschool it's much better to lay it out by hand, since game music is often in perfect sync with the musical timeline.

    I don't mind the trackers so much, I think just cause I'd used them back then. But I admit they're probably not the easiest to use these days.

    I don't think I'd be going with much oldschool style, could be interesting to try as a challenge, but I think I'd be happier doing the themes and instrumental kinds.

    I like Newt's theme, except for the bit where it crashed Winamp :s

    Edit: For a jingle though, it should be even shorter. Like half of that.

    LostMyKeys' theme would be more suited to The Killing Engine

    That said, I do like it. Can you help me with music for a horror game? I've always wanted to do one

    Heh I could always give it a try I suppose, be good practice, mention it next time in chat. Minor challenged me to do a horror one from youtube, only got the start bit done, but it got us thinking about a great little retro zombie survival game hehe.

  • Construct theme ey?

    Something like this?

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1289341/ConsTheme.mp3

    This.

    I'd be in for a survival game, only if its not retro. I like new things =)

  • Hey chiptunes are the newest craze

    EDIT: For some reason I read that as you didn't like my tune cause it was retro! I should have got more sleep...

  • This is what works for me...

    I am not an expert at all and there are zillions of people better at making music than me... but I've made music for professional environments, for a few small time games that are currently in development, in games I've used for competitions during my extended stay at the university, and for a hobby (I'm an OverClocked Remixer) and let me be completely honest... my piano/keyboard knowledge is basic AT BEST, and I don't use a midi controller for any of my music endeavors. I exclusively use my PC and a mouse for music, and I just use a sequencer (FL Studio combined with good VSTs and Soundfonts), though I cater to a more electronic style. I'm not an expert by any means, but I just wanted to chime in and say that it certainly is do-able not to have a Midi controller to make decent music.

    If you want a real sound get realistic samples. If you want chiptunes, then get an oscillator. Midi controllers are great, but you don't really need one. A knowledge of chords is more important, imo, which you'll develop naturally after messing around and copying your favorite song. You'll start seeing patterns and learning to hear the right thing. Studying in a formal setting never hurts either.

    With the synthesizers and VSTs that are available now you can make music without any gear and just a computer and get a professional sound out of it. Live instruments are great, don't get me wrong, they have a real sound that you cannot reproduce, that said, if you're aiming for midi controller and want to make music that way, you could go with FL Studio and handful of soundfonts and VSTs.

    But yeah, just wanted to chime in as a gaming sequencer. While you won't get a live instrument quality like you might with a midi controller for a select few instruments... like piano and guitar, which is important... but for strings ... might as well sequence them anyway. After a little studying and messing around with chords you can pin down most anything after a few weeks.... and then you can get an almost authentic sound from sequencing.

    http://www.strike911.net/Music/STRIKE91 ... ce%20I.mp3

    If you want to make an 8-bit sound or anything in between, you can get that heavily time based sound too...

    http://www.jasonkoohi.com/lol_jason_likes_nes.mp3

    That kind of stuff you would most likely have to tweak after inputting your midi data anyway...

    Things that are difficult to reproduce though in my experience are acoustic guitars and electric guitars, though the VSTs they have out now, like GuitarRig, combined with something like FLStudio's Slayer plugin give you an almost real sounding electric guitar. Really cool stuff they have coming out now. AGain, nothing beats the real thing if you're going for that; the emotions from a real musician playing an instrument is just far more emotional... but for me, its been ideal to be a jack of all trades and I could only do that by knowing how to sequence (or I could become a one man band but I'm just not that talented).

    Midi controllers are great for a lot of people, but not vital. What matters is whether or not you are able to make music more effectively (and efficiently) with a midi controller... which you'll know. IF you can get your note data into the computer easily one way then go for it.

    So yeah, if you feel the Midi controller is more ideal for you then I say go for it, but in the end you're going to need software experience anyway to tweak the sound and use the right instruments anyway. And a knowledge of sequencing will have to come with that.

    Also... if you ever need a generic musician, wink wink nudge nudge. lol.

    (I apologize for the shameless plugs) but one more:

    video game remixes, originals, and more...

    http://www.strike911.net

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