|Switch It On: A Juno 106 Synthesizer|
Various software and hardware products are available that you can easily use to create and produce your own music. In fact, anyone with a PC or Mac at home already has the basics for a music studio.
From making your own CDs to podcasting to creating personal ringtones, industry stalwarts such as
Similarly to how desktop publishing opened up the print business, digital music tools mark the dawn of individual composing.
Now a composer can use software, even without a specialized musical background -- rather than using paper and pencil to write music, the composer uses digital inputs, and can instantly hear what has been created.
If you can play a little guitar or piano (or already read music), various software and hardware can turn your ditty into a full-fledged orchestral opus. And even if all you can do is click and drag a mouse, you'll still be in the game.
A PrimerI've been a professional composer-arranger for many years, arranging and orchestrating for entertainers such as George Benson, John Denver and the "Rat Pack" (Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin) in addition to my own band. As I've learned, if you're going to get involved in digital music, you'll need to understand a few basic concepts first. MIDI, invented in 1983, stands for musical instrument digital interface. It is a computer communications standard that allows electronic instruments to send and receive data in real time. What this means to musicians is that synthesizers and other instruments from different vendors can be connected together and all be played at the same time. Pretty much every PC or Mac made today has a sound card built in; if you get serious about digital music, you'll want to buy a specialized digital audio card, such as those made by
Composition SoftwareA simple choice for Mac users is Apple's
Notation SoftwareFor centuries, composers used lined manuscript paper and a pencil to write out parts for each instrument. Not all instruments play the same notes at the same time, and not all instruments are in the same key, so each part had to be written by hand.
|In The Days Before Digital|
|Photo: Wendy Carlos|