Timidity ++ an old timer

As musicians, we all want to get a nice sound coming out from our musical composition. I just remember when I was younger. I was studying classical guitar and I always wanted to create my own music. At first I tried as the old timers did: Writing directly to a score sheet.

Later I realize it was a really hard task. Now I just can’t stop admiring Mozart, Beethoven and all great artists that wrote music in that way.

Today we have the power of computers. And for us, there is a wide range of tools available to get started. But for now I want to talk about the first piece of software that helped me to begin in the world of music composition.

Timidity++

Timidity++ is a tool for musicians and composers that converts regular MIDI files to audio files. Let me remember you that both files are not the same. A MIDI file contains only digital data regarding to notes, timing, instrument definition and a lot more information. These files can be read only by a computer based device. But they don’t contain audio data. This is why you can store score sheet information in them. And all music information stored on them can be read by a synthesizer. Also, MIDI files are really small compared to audio files.

On the other hand, an audio only contain audio data in form of waves (as the nature of sound). And these can’t be read by any music notation software unless the software has some sort of converter to import it.

A MIDI Render

 

Now in 2013, Timidity is really old and it’s piratically useless compared to others. However, it still is a good tool to get started with, because it is free.

How does it work?

Basically what it does is to interpret all data from the MIDI file and renders that data to an audio sound. Usually a .WAV sound. It also works as a player like winamp (run time MIDI render).

To work it uses sound patches. These sound patches can be SoundFont2 files or the EAWPATCHES.

To show you the power of timidity I’ll show you an example with a simple MIDI file and a file converted by Timidity:

This a composition made by me I named it “The Way”

Original MIDI file

Converted MP3 File Note: I converted the file to MP3 to decrease its size.

Timidity Download

Timidity is still available out there. You can find its home page here at SourceForge. The program is open source. However, what I could never find is the Eawpatches. Fortunately, I have them and I compiled a timidity installation with them:

You can download the program directly from here.

Timidity++ with Eawpatches

After downloading this file, I suggest you to follow the next tutorial that will guide you to use this amazing tool.

NOTE: During the installation you must set the path in your hard drive directory. For example, if your hard drive directory is C so the installation should go to C:\timidity.

After the installation, go and find Timidity main executable in the directory you installed it. Go to the installation directory and double-click on timw32g.exe. I suggest adding a direct access to this file to your desktop.

Timidity main Window

To open a MIDI file go to File menu – Open File(F)

Push the play button. The music should be played. Timidity is set up by default as a player. To set up the player as a direct WAV file converter, go to Config. Menu Preferences (P)

The next screen should be loaded

Go to the output TAB, at the output section where Windows Audio Driver is shown, select RIFF WAVE File.

Select an output filename.

Press the OK button, then load a MIDI file and click on the play button. No sound will be produced; the wave file will be rendered and saved to the hard drive. To set up Timidity as a player, just go to the config menu preferences, the output tab and select Windows Audio Driver.

Band In A box 2010 Review

Band In a Box 2010

Band-in-a-Box is a MIDI arranger and sequencer designed for Windows, and Mac OS by PG Music. Band-in-a-Box can create any musical background used in popular western music. It has the option for selecting multiple styles from a library which you can edit later.

Songs can be exported to MIDI files or common WAV audio files. Moreover, the software comes with the package RealDrums which allows adding drums and percussion to your songs, and RealTracks which adds realistic sounds of pianos, basses, guitars as well as soloist instruments such as saxophones. RealTracks combines the functionality of MIDI with quality audio recorded by elite musicians. This means music will sound as it were played by real musicians.

RealTracks has a limitation of the tempo feature, and it requires a huge amount of free hard drive space to store WAV or WMA files as well as a powerful computer for audio data processing. Other than that Band-in-a-Box is a quality product which I recommend.

Reason Propellerhead 5 Software Review

PropellerHead Synth

Reason is a software application developed for music creation. It was created by Propellerhead software. It emulates a rack of synths, signal processors, samplers and mixers, which can be connected freely. Reason can be used as a virtual studio or as a virtual instrument collection.

Actually, the last version, adds the mighty Kong drum designed, the versatile Dr. Octo Rex Loop Player, live sampling and more. Even though, since its first version, Reason maintains its structure of rack in which we can choose the following elements: Samplers, analog synths, graintable synths, vocoder, mixer, drum machines, arpeggiators, compressors, equalizers and effects.

Besides of the common rack, Reason includes a toggle rack command that able to turn the devices, so we can see their rear part. Hence, the user can set a new routing for the virtual audio from a device to another. In this functioning mode, it allows a complex set of chain effects, and it allows other devices modulate others.

Reason can’t record audio, hence it’s not considered as a fully working Digital Audio Workstation. Furthermore, it does not support external plug-ins, being one of the sequencers not supporting VST technology.

 

 

Basic Devices

 

Hardware Interface: It supports up to sixty-four separate outputs.

Mixer 14:2 : It is used to group numerous device outputs into a stereo output. It has fourteen stereo channels with level meters, fixed bass and treble EQ and four stereo auxiliary sends

Line Mixer 6:2 : Similar to the Mixer 14:2 but smaller.

Subtractor Analogue Synthesizer: It is a polyphonic synthesizer device based on subtractive synthesis, which is the method used in classic analog synthesizers.

Thor Polysonic Synthesizer: It is modular synthesizer with six filter and oscillator slots that let you load up three different filter modules and three different oscillator modules simultaneously, allowing you to dial in novel sounds.

Malström Graintable Synthesizer: The Malström device creates its sounds using Graintable technology. This technology is a cross between granular synthesis and wavetable synthesis.

Samplers

NN-19 Digital Sampler

NN-XT Advanced Sampler

 

Rhythm Sequencers

Dr. Octo REX Loop Player

Redrum Drum Computer: The Redrum device is a sample-playback drum module with a built in pattern sequencer.

 

 

 

Mastering

 

MClass Equalizer: It is a 4-band, professional level mastering EQ with low and high shelving bands, two peak filters and a low cut switch.

MClass Stereo Imager: It splits the incoming audio into low and high frequency bands, and lets you adjust each independently.

MClass Compressor: It is a single-band compressor with a side chain input for advanced compression.

MClass Maximizer: It is a tool designed to maximize the volume of your Reason tracks, without crushing them or introducing other unwanted artifacts.

Effects

RV7000 Advanced Reverb

Scream 4

BV512 Digital Vocoder: The BV-512 is a 4 to 512-band vocoder that can modulate sound in several ways.

Other Effects

 

Reason also features numerous simple effect devices.

 

  • RV-7 Digital Reverb
  • DDL-1 Digital Delay Line
  • D-11 Foldback Distortion
  • ECF-42 Envelope Controlled Filter
  • CF-101 Chorus/Flanger
  • PH-90 Phaser
  • UN-16 Unison
  • COMP-01 Compressor/Limiter
  • PEQ-2 Two Band Parametric EQ

Reason has many other effects and a ReFill System.

 

System Requirements

Windows
  • Intel Pentium 4/AMD Athlon or better (multiple cores highly recommended)
  • 1GB RAM
  • DVD drive
  • Windows XP SP3, Vista or Windows 7
  • 2 GB free hard disk space
  • Monitor with 1024×768 resolution or larger
  • A 16 bit Windows compatible audio card, preferably with an ASIO driver
  • A MIDI interface and a MIDI keyboard recommended
  • Requires any version of Reason or Record Reason Duo
Mac
  • Intel Mac (multiple cores highly recommended)
  • 1 GB RAM or more
  • DVD drive
  • Mac OS X 10.4 or later
  • 2 GB free hard disk space
  • Monitor with 1024×768 resolution or larger
  • CoreAudio compliant audio interface or built-in audio hardware
  • A MIDI interface and a MIDI keyboard recommended
  • Requires any version of Reason or Record Reason Duo

NOTION 3 Software Review

NOTION3

Product Features

  • It has a friendly user interface which is easy to use; no special training needed
  • It provides over 10 Gb of instrument sounds featuring London Symphony orchestra and popular instruments such as guitar and bass.
  • Studio compatibility with full Rewire integration.
  • Sequence Staff
  • Pro Audio Mixer allowing inserts and sends along with buses.

Creating a score sheet with Notion 3 is quite simple. It’s simple because you won’t have to do repetitive steps on every process. With this amazing software, all instrument options are given in a logical and transparent way. The writing process can be done with simple mouse clicks

Think of Notion 3 as the most organized musical tool in your hands. It is flexible and customizable. The GUI is pretty friendly.Most musical notation software in the market, have all options, well, this is good because you will have all resources to work, but this is not necessary. This is because you may get often confronted by many windows pop windows on your score and whole set of bach options. NOTION 3 was built to give you what you need.

 

NOTION 3 supports full ReWire functionality for both host and slave options. It also supports VST and VSTi technology; up to four inserts per track.

Through our integrated MusicXML import feature, you can use the power of NOTION3 with your existing Finale or Sibelius scores. Unlike other applications, NOTION3 comes with completely integrated MusicXML import and export, without requiring a third party plugin.

Notion 3 allows importing MIDI and MusicXML files. You can also save your projects as audio WAV files, MIDI and XML. Notion 3 has an enhanced MIDI functionality for handling all MIDI related task such as recording, exporting, importing and output as well as using notation and sequencer style staffs. In addition, the software provides the functionality of importing your own audio files directly into a score.

Summarizing, Notion 3 user interface is very friendly. It makes it easy to learn and easy to use. Some users have reported that the Lyric tool is tricky.

This program is great for someone starting out or the professional who needs multiple programs to pull something off.

Finale Print Music 2011

Finale Printing Music

Finale PrintMusic is a fast and easy way to bring your music to life with professional results.

  • Arrange full music work and extract individual parts.
  • Play your music with realistic and professional sounds
  • Share your music via MP3 file ready for iPod.

From the creators of Finale, I introduce you one of the leaders in music notation software: Finale PrintMusic. It was created with the purpose of satisfying the deepest needs of musical composers, teachers, arrangers, students, orchestra directors and other musicians.

Easy to install

Finale PrintMusic is easy to install and easy to configure. The setup wizard will help you to configure all keys, tempos and transpositions. You can personalize the style and appearance of your score sheets.

Easy to write

PrintMusic has many options for writing your music. In the simplest way, you can write your music notes using these flexible options:

  • With a simple mouse click, you can put notes and hear them while you are doing it.
  • Play your favorite MIDI instruments with a metronome and watch how the music appears in real time.
  • Write music step by step from your computer or MIDI instrument
  • Scan your score sheets with SmartScore Lite already included with the package.
  • Import your MIDI and MusicXML files
  • Play your favorite wind instrument with a microphone using the MicNotator system

Amazing Sounds

Your compositions will sound great with the advanced playback features.

  • 128 Software synthesizer with 128 instruments and marching percussions from Row-Loff
  • You can insert your VST plug-ins
  • The feature Human Playback gives nuance to your music, as it were, played by real musicians.
  • Band-in-a-Box Auto-Harmonizing adds harmonies to your melodies.
  • Save your music in audio files and burn them in a CD or in your iPod.
  • It has a powerful mixer for tuning your playback.
More
  • Create up to 24 staves and print your scores or part of them.
  • Unlimited lyrics. The lyrics are automatically spaced with Publisher-quality.
  • Transpose any instrument to any clef.
  • Add dynamics, tempos, percussion notation, chord symbols, guitar frets, tablatures and more.
  • Share your music with others using the version Finale reader who is free.
  • Quick launch videos for a quick start in your computer, and a quick reference guide for common tasks.

Sibelius 6 Notation Software Review

Sibelius 6Musical composition is an activity that has been greatly improved over the years. Sibelius software, which is one the most recognized music notation software you will ever find in the world of music development, has demonstrated these improvements. Now, Sibelius Software is presenting its latest version with even more features.

Sibelius 6 was developed by Avid, which is a renamed company in the environment of music software and hardware. They are also developers of the award winning Pro Tools software and owner of M-Audio products among other endless software packages such as Pinnacle Studio and Photo Score. In addition, Avid has a lot of presence in the entire word.

HINT: Sibelius developers named this software “Sibelius” in honor of Jean Sibelius which was a well known musical composer from the Romantic era. For more details, I invite you to read the full biography of Jean Sibelius.

Product Features

The latest version 6 of Sibelius includes all functions from its predecessor Sibelius 5 and some additional features.

Layout

Sibelius layout is pretty simple. It is very similar to a word processor but designed for music development. All staff and score sheets are shown in a MS Word sheet fashion style (See picture below). The design is pretty clean and user friendly. In addition, the main window has a simple tool bar with the most common functions. Furthermore, it gives several options to customize the toolbar.

Sibelius Layout

Writing music with Sibelius

I am a regular and devoted user of Cakewalk software since their first versions, so I am used to working with cakewalk products. When I just got started with Sibelius, I had some difficulties to understand how it worked. Later, I figured out it is very simple to use. Sibelius provides a floating tool bar named keypad.The keypad is mapped to the numeric pad of the computer keyboard. Hence, they are similar. Its main function is to select note time duration,silences and other additional symbols which are used for writing music.

Sibelius KeyPad

To write notes to the score sheet, we must press the key N and then left-mouse-click in the position where you want to place the note. This process of writing is pretty simple. Furthermore, this process gets even simpler using a midi instrument such as a midi keyboard.

Working with musical notation and Sibelius

Unlike other software I have tested, Sibelius comes with a fully integrated system for the interpretation of the most known symbols used in musical scores. Some of these symbols are: piano, mezzopiano, forte, mezzoforte, tied notes, slurs, comments, lyrics and all mayor note types. Commonly, most music notation software has this system. However, Avid has improved it greatly in Sibelius. Furthermore, Sibelius supports guitar TABS.

The Magnetic Layout Feature

The Magnetic Layout is a build in feature of Sibelius 6. It has the main purpose of fixing some writing issues commonly made when we record using a MIDI instrument. This makes clear writing and improves the experience of creating music. See picture for clarification.

Fixed Notes

Playback

During the early beginning of notation software, playback was performed by the default MIDI engine of the computer. Most software you may find out there still work in that way. The default sound set of the sound card MIDI engine sounds like an old ATARI computer game. So, the experience of writing software was not very pleasing. Today, Sibelius and other related software have implemented real-time playback realistic sounds.

Sibelius has a magnificent audio engine. Sibelius uses the VSTi and Audio Units(MAC Only) technology of MIDI virtual instruments, which improves greatly the process of writing music. In addition, all playbacks are performed in real-time by showing which notes are played while a cursor follows the sheet. Moreover, Sibelius includes a library of sound instruments. Furthermore, all this giving the additional option of adding your custom VST plug-ins.

Here is an example of playback using Sibelius:

Sibelius 6 includes a versatile mixing console in which the user can control volume levels, panning and adding additional effects such as equalizers, compressors or any other effect available in your computer.

Sibelius KeyPad

ReWire Feature

The ReWire feature, has the purpose of giving synchronization between other DAWs and Sibelius. For example, with this feature you can synchronize Sibelius playback with Pro Tools or any other DAW software. This is useful if the user uses Sibelius features enhanced with other DAW. Watch the video for more details.

Conduct your own music

By default, common notation software provides a fixed tempo. The Live Tempo feature allows the user conducting its own music in real time. This can be done by using a pedal or just typing a key of the keyboard. Watch the video below for more details.

Audio Scores

Sibelius allows recording audio tracks with the feature audio score. What makes these features really good is its feature of auto tune detection, which can help you improve your instrument playing skill.

Concluding Sibelius 6 Features

Sibelius 6 is a very complete software solution with amazing features for musicians. It has all required features for music writing, and it adds additional features that improves greatly the process of creating music.

Opinions and user comments

I have myself a copy of Sibelius 6, so I can validate all those features, and I can tell many of those features are really helpful to me, while others are not really necessary. In my case, the Audio Score feature is not really necessary neither the ReWire feature. However, I think both features are pretty useful.

Average, Sibelius 6 is highly recommended by most musical composers of the world. From many opinions I could found from different sources, no one has complained about the functioning neither for the features of the product.

Indeed Avid has done a great job here. Moreover, they provide a flawless technical support. From 50 opinions I read, no one have complained about any issue. However, it is a common comment saying this software is not for those people looking for easy and fast solutions. In other words, it is required some time to learn how to it. Let’s say compared with other software, Sibelius has an average learning rate. In my case, it took me about four hours to learn the most basic functions of Sibelius.

Analysis

As in all my reviews, I do a statistical analysis in search for any issue. However, I could not find any problem in Sibelius 6. So, rest assured this software will do its job without trouble.

System Requirements

I strongly recommend checking Sibelius 6 requirements before purchasing it or downloading the demo.

Prices and where to get it

Sibelius 6 is not cheap. The average price of this software goes from $440 to $699 U.S. Unfortunately, the highest price comes from Sibelius.com. However, I could find a best deal at Amazon for just $453 U.S. Furthermore,the educational version is also available and it is cheaper but has less features.

I would recommend giving a try before buying anything. There is a demo version available at Sibelius.com.

Conclusion

This is an excellent product I really recommend it. Rest assured you have a 99.99% of chance to get a good product.