help & advice

While reading your FAQ, i came upon a question asking what music programs are good, and you had replied with “Garageband” Do you know if Garageband is usable for Windows XP? or is it just a MAC thing. i asked almosed everyone i know, but they’re all clueless. I really enjoy using Garageband and it’s the only music program that i know how to use (besides Dance EJ)
Garageband was originally part of the ilife package from Apple. Currently, this program is only available to users of Apple systems. However, it’s very closely related to ACID from Sony (formerly Sonic Foundry) Both of these programs are similar in nature and are easy enough for cross users to figure out.

I have these songs i created in my head, but im not very musicly oriented, but I would like to get them out in hard copy form (out of my head and actually being played), do you have any suggestions?
You aren’t alone! There are several people with the exact scenario you are describing. What I would suggest is “hum” your ideas into an audio recorder of some kind. I would then confront a producer (maybe you have a friend who likes to make music) and ask for help nicely! Maybe they can bring your ideas to life and hopefully into a song. Hope this helps!
Upon a recent trip to the local music store, a salesman showed me the computer program by propellerhead ‘REASON’. He gave me the impression that ‘all i need is REASON and a MIDI controller’ is this true?
Reason is a very impressive sequencer. You can create entire tracks and base a studio with a power sequencer like this! Naturally, i would play around with the software and see if your mind makes the connection with the tools. It’s always good to be compatible with your tools! Other sequencers that people typically use (Check these out also): 1) Fruityloops Studio 2) Acid Pro 3) Orion 4) Digital Performer 5) Logic (Logic Audio) 6) Ableton Live 7) Garage Band Any of these tools can be used. Obviously, you should give them a run through to figure out which one best fits your needs & work flow. Hope this helps!

I have been looking at buying the Korg microKORG as my first hard synth. I have been able to demo it at the local music store. Being that a microKORG is part of your studio, do you think that it is a solid starter synth, or would you recommend something else?
I can say that this syth is a VERY good start for a beginner. It’s a very solid synth with an easy to understand engine. Great presets to get you started too! My biggest complaint with the microkorg is actually the keys. It’s very difficult to play if you have large hands. (this can be solved by connecting a midi controller via midi) I would also suggest looking at the new Roland sh-201. This is probably one of the best starter synths I’ve seen recently. It’s even on my list of synths to acquire eventually. Also; be sure to check out the new microkorg killer, the R3!

What exactly is a vst synth, how does it work, and are they worthwhile?
YES! I believe this technology is changing the way the music industry thinks & works everyday. I can thank tools like FM7 for replacing my needs for a very large Yamaha DX7 synth! :) (VST) Virtual Studio Technology and its acronym VST refer to an interface standard for connecting audio synthesizer and effect plugins to audio editors and hard-disk recording systems. VST and similar technologies allow the replacement of traditional recording studio hardware with software counterparts. (from wikipedia)

Being the Electronic Music Genius(or EMG for short) that you are, what software could you recommend to beginners who want to venture into electronic music composition, but don’t have the luxury of all the fancy gizmos and hardwares that you have access to?
Software is continuously being updated and becoming easier then ever to use. I always recommend people start with one of my old friends Rebirth. Rebirth is a classic emulator that hosts: 2 303′s, an 808, and a 909 drum machine. Check it out here: Rebirth After you’ve seen Rebirth and feel you are ready for more, I would check out a very user friendly program called Fruityloops. Fruity loops is very easy to learn and can be a very powerful tool if you feed it with the right. You can find further information about Fruityloops here: Fruityloops hope this helps!

What do you think the job outlook is like for people wanting to be a music producer?
The market is always looking for fresh new music producers! If you stop to think about it, it’s a very small market. There are just not that many people who are able to handle all the stress and workload of producing your own creative material.
Now that technology advances, it’s very easy for anyone to make music. But what’s the catch? Just because anyone can music doesn’t necessarily make that good music. To be able to succeed in todays market; you MUST have a style of your own. This is the trademark “sound” for people to want to hear your material and keep coming back.
Songwriting is a very difficult craft that shouldn’t be taken for granted. A lot of people work their whole entire life trying to come up with that single “hit” song that people enjoy. (I know because I’m one of them) :)
Also remember that songwriters rarely get recognised by the public. Generally, a song writer will write a song and then pitch it to a popular artist to perform. Most of the time, it’s the performer that will then be associated with that popular song… The true song writer will often be unnoticed by many people. They are the true behind the scenes people!
Next time you get that new CD album, look in the CD credits for the song writer. Most lot of the time you’ll notice that it isn’t the same artist of the CD.

Do you have any words for aspiring DJ’s?
Yes. With the power of computer and the internet. everyone can make music now. You certainly don’t need to be a rocket scientist or super geek to make a good song.
With all that said, it’s very hard to make a good good sounding song with style that grabs people. If you don’t have this style people like; why would they come back to hear your work anymore? Why not listen to trance from a major artist instead? (that is if you are making trance of course) :)
Many people forget that it actually takes a signature for people to want to hear your work. Anyone can make a “4 on the floor” beat with a supersaw lead now.

When recording audio from my Korg TR, I find that sound quality is greatly diminished, especially with bass frequencies, compared to when I run the audio straight from my keyboard to my speakers. I’m recording to my computer by running a quarter-inch to eighth-inch plug cable from my Korg’s audio output ports to my computer’s mic recorder input, and usually through a mono to stereo converter (although removing this has made no difference in sound quality/fullness). Have you encountered such difficulties in recording audio from your keyboards? If so, how have you circumvented them? Or perhaps you have some advice for recording audio from a keyboard in general?
Here are a couple of things that come to mind – When you use a converter (like you are currently using) you can be subject to “phase cancellation”. When you mix a stereo image into a mono signal. You’d be better of using 1/2 of the stereo image and only engage the L part of a L/R image. (hope that makes sense to you) Another possible problem would be your A/D conversion. Are you using internal A/D (analog to digital converter) from your computer? Built in sound? If possible, you might try an entry level I/O device like the M-audio audiophile 24/96 card or USB/Firewire interface. Hope this helps!

I am having trouble with my 2nd generation ipod shuffle. can you suggest how to fix it so i can charge it and put songs on it again.
Have you tried the guys with the red phone at the Apple stores? They might be a better resource then me! Here is a site that I frequent for iPod support. Hope this helps!

So for us new music producers, what is (in your opinion) the single most important piece of advice to want to tell us?
Have a vision and/or style you can call your own! As I mentioned in a previous answer; “It’s very easy to produce music with all the prosumer gear available to people now”. However, it’s very tough to create music that keeps an audience coming back for more. Have a style, keep interests high. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and try something new & innovative.

How do you make your 8-bitty sounds?
Typically with a microkorg or other simple synthesis engine. Most 8bit sounds can easily be simulated with a series of square/triangle waves and additional white noise. With some research on google, you should be able to find some simple presets. Hope this helps!

When trying to create a song, I usually find the melody that I want with almost no trouble, however, the percussion is a different story. I can’t seem to come up with a good drumbeat to save my life. I think of the melody as the filling in a song, and the percussion as the outline and base…and without that, the rest of it just kind of melts away. Got any advice for me?
I know exactly what you are going through. A small case of music writers block eh? The funny thing about this? Sometimes the situation will change from song to song. I often change up my composing methods to help aide me in future situations. IE (try adjusting your starting methods differently. Start with different parts of the song etc…) My advice to you? Check out some of the songs you enjoy listening to. It’s always nice to compare/contrast and be inspired by something. You can use loops as templates and other examples. (Also a good way to audition a particular feel/sound before you commit to it) Bottom line? If you get lost with something, feel free to compare or use other works to inspire you along the way.

I’m a new electronic musician, and I was wondering where i could put my music/links to my music so that people can listen and review it.
There are a lot of great sites to help get you started. Every musician has to start somewhere right? Here is a list of potential “community sites” that would be a good start for you. Acid Planet Audio Street Sound Click Garage Band Broad Jam Hope this helps. Good luck with your music!

In one of my songs, one of the parts sounds fine through my mixing headphones, but on some other speaker systems, it sounds a bit flat (tonally). Do you have any idea why that is and/or how to fix it?
When mastering & mixing audio, I suggest trying several types of speaker and/or environments. The biggest challenge is getting a song to sound good at multiple levels. Speakers respond differently; and this is something that can be compensated for. Try mixing a few versions with EQ cut’s to problematic frequencies. Be sure to collect all of them and take notes while listening on different speakers. Maybe do some compare and contrasting? Get out those old speakers that might not sound as good. Maybe you can make your song sound good on them? They might serve as a good reference point!
Always mix your audio with speakers. Headphones will typically portray an incorrect stereo image; and also not providing a flat frequency response. Hope this helps!

Do you know of any kind of music software that lets you write in sheet-music format?
I would recommend that you check out a software package known as: “Finale”. Currently, it still has one of the best “music score” interfaces that I know of. Hope this help!

Do you think a micro korg is a good controller for garage band and can i make my own loops in garage band.
The Microkorg is a great gear for the price. (You just can’t beat it’s incredible bonus synth features)
My only problem with the microkorg is it’s very tiny keys! This can be a problems for live playing via the keyboard.
For alternative controllers, I’d check out M-audio’s Axiom series and Edirols PCR-300. Both of these models are extreme quality controllers for the price.

I recently got a microKORG. Seeing as it was part of your studio lineup, I was wondering if you could help me. I want to hook my microKORG to my speakers so I can hear it off of them. I believe I bought the correct cord but i’m not sure how to connect it. Any information on how to plug it in or a certain cord you prefer, this would be most appreciated. Keep up the good work and thanks in advance!
It’s very easy to hookup a Microkorg to an audio preamp. (You’ll want to hook up to an amplifier to enjoy it at full volume) You have a few options:
The most common cables to use is 2 1/4 inch (mono) cables to a mixer or amplifier input. Naturally, you can also use 1/4 to RCA adapters for consumer equipment.
Another options is a Y cable that is 2 1/4 inch mono to 1 1/8 inch (stereo) for use with a common computer line input.
It is also common for people to use a (stereo) 1/4 inch cable to 2 RCA (mono) or 1 1/8 (stereo). For this you would use the headphone output out of the microkorg.
You should be able to find all these cables at a local Radioshack or Guitar Center.
Hope this helps!

Hi, I’ve been learning Garageband recently and I really like it, the biggest problem I’m having right now is using the software instruments on a computer keyboard. What is a good entry level controller that you would suggest?
Probably the best known “beginner” midi controller would be the Oxygen 8 from M-Audio
However, I’d recommend checking out a local music store for seasonal deals on controllers. You can find many controllers being blown out on sales all the time. I highly recommend EMU, M-Audio, and Novation controllers.

If i want to make a custom marathons i gotta do it manually in a CSS file. Then i gotta test it all the time and it takes ages. Is there a program where it does that all for me?
Currently, the only way to make a custom Marathon course (inspired by the ITG series) is to edit times & effects manually via a text editor. This includes Notepad and word pad. I like to use a program called Notepad ++ This is basically a very high end txt editor with many great features for coding type(s) of work.
Currently (as of 4-16-2008), I do not know of a program that is user friendly with Stepmania/ITG Marathon scripting.

Hi, i purchased a microkorg and am recently began writing electronic music. I want to record my microkorg directly into my computer, with its onboard sound being recorded, not the sound of a software synth. I have read that i need a “Y” cable and that this plugs directly into my computer’s soundcard input. Is this true? Are these available at most music stores? I just dont wanna buy the wrong cable
This is a very simple process. All that is needed is a 1/4 to 1/8 Y cable. The cable has two 1/4 inch mono connectors for the stereo image of the Left/Right signal. The 1/8 inch connector combines these connection to form a single 1/8 stereo output for your soundcard input. You can find this very common cable anywhere these days!

My korg r3 is make white noise and a weird popping noise. how can i stop that?
Have you tried resetting the synth to software defaults? I suggest checking your patch number and making sure it’s “dialed in” correctly to the 1st preset. Be sure to check the manual for additional instructions. Sorry, I can’t be more of a help on this one without more details! :-)

I wanted to buy the music from the sci player on the side of the screen. stuff like when machines dream and i cant find it on the downloads. how do i get the songs that arent downloadable? are they all on itunes or something?
You can locate MOST SCI music releases on Itunes or in the SCI Music store located here:
I hope this helps!

Hey there. I read your gear list and i have to say you have a great set up! im an aspiring producer mostly in the drum n’ bass, hip hop genre. i really like the clear sound you get. i still trying to find that sound. im using an mpc2000xl through an interface into logic 8. however, once i record into logic it sounds washy, somewhat weak and not as clear as it was before on the mpc. there must be software or hardware that help boost up the sound. well once again great tunes man.
Thank you for the nice comments about my music. Naturally, I’m glad you connected with my page and left me some feedback. Generally you must go through extra steps to “sweet’n” your audio after you have recorded it. I’d say that you might want to research audio compressors and how they can help emphasize certain elements of your music. If you have additional question, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. Goodluck with your future projects!

Hey I Have a Microkorg and i was wondering if i could use both the Left and Right outputs at the same time?
Yes. Obviously the synth is designed for this… :-)

I’ve been having trouble lately with fruity loops when I record my vocals. I’ve been hearing white noise when I play it back. Could you give me some advice on how to fix this problem?
Have you checked your recording levels? It’s possible that your volume is attenuated and that you are boosting the signal with bad recording level. This is the 2nd most common problem after being too distorted from having too much level. Make sure your levels are below and as close to 0db as possible when you record. Hope this helps!