Turn it up to 11!

Proper volume

So it’s my turn to post something nifty on the blog and as usual the preparations have been perfect. Initially I had an idea of writing something cool about a new tech or a fancy implementation (I’m a programmer after all) but then life happened and time ran short. So I’m going to write a bit about my main hobby interest (besides from hanging around Plattan), which is to make noise in a somewhat rhythmic pattern.

I don’t remember exactly when it started but from around the age of 12 years old I have had a slight fascination of music and instruments. I remember playing around with horribly crappy music software such as NRJ Dance Ejay (uck!) but I never really embraced it fully. That is, until I started at university, where I was asked to play bass in a kickass band named Laxkrutong (Salmon Crouton).

My former band.. we had an awesome drummer (top right)

We were playing covers of awesome tunes such as Judas Priest – Breaking the Law, Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon, The Clash – White Riot, etc. Those were really fun days and we had a lot of groupies back then. I don’t remember much but I do remember that I practiced playing on an old floorball stick to try to nail the riff in Saxon – Dogs of War. Oh the glamorous life of a rock star.

My first electric bass guitar

Anyway, from then on I started to get more and more involved with making music and I eventually purchased my own bass, a guitar and an amp and started learning some tunes. Included with my guitar package came a software called Tracktion, which is a digital audio workstation (DAW), and with it I started to record a couple of tunes. I’d lay out a simple drum beat and then plug in my guitar and bass into my computer’s sound card and I started shredding to some Mega Man tunes. Since 2010 I’ve more or less actively been doing some simple music for small commercial games, mostly Flash and iOS/Android.

I’m sure a lot of people are secretly interested in trying to compose a few simple melodies for themselves, either by just experimenting to figure out what all the fuss is about or by adding some simple music to their hobby projects. Therefore I shall list a few tools and sites that I’ve found helpful in learning and producing. Bear in mind that I don’t have any formal music training, I’ve only been reading a few tutorials and then experimenting (stealing) and figuring out things together with friends and on my own. This is not rocket surgery.

First of all I’d like to recommend Reaper, which is an excellent DAW. It is very flexible and has a generous license model (and doesn’t afraid of anything). This tool will let you create and structure your tracks, mix it all up and it also comes with some nice plugins for various effects as well as tools for mastering. Now that you have your foundation set up, you’ll need to fill it with some virtual instruments (VSTs). VSTs come in all kinds of shapes and forms, from the free synth plugs to the super expensive Vienna orchestra sample libraries. A good place to start out is to go to vst4free and try them all out. If you have a guitar you can for example try virtuAMP to create some heavy riff sounds or soothing bluesy wails.

Reaper will help you reap the profits

A few great sites to check out and keep track of are:

AudioTuts – A news site where you can get great tips on just about anything.
MusicTheory – Contains a few lessons and exercises on music theory.
TIG – TIG has a nice forum for game audio, and they very often have people looking for composers to create music for their games.
Dwelling of Duels – Monthly game music competition.
SceneCompos – Another game & scene music competition.

When you have composed and finished your tunes you probably want to add them somewhere for other people to enjoy, the two best sites that I’ve found are SoundCloud and Bandcamp.

Here are some tracks that I’ve managed to create over the years:

Chipstyle – My first tune ever!
Let’s go to the mall – A wannabe summer hit
Dynamic Realtime Steam – Classic
Murderers – John Frusciante cover
gsCEPT show reel

That’s it, now you’re ready to take over the stage and wreak havoc in hotel rooms!