[Getting started] Sound/Music advice thread

edited in Tutorials

This is a thread where we discuss sound and music design, hopefully giving useful advice. Just getting started?
Excellent, we hope you will find information here that will be useful to you. Still didn't find anything? Well then ask away!

A summary of important links:

Pixel prospectors big list of sound and music creation software. Below are links to items not in the list, or items that are very popular (they get a double mention)!

Procedural music generators: Sound effects: Websites for free Sound/Music: Sound/music creation tools: Sample Libraries/Vst's: Tutorials: The discussion that spawned this thread.


  • I'll start with what I normally put on the bottom of the Sound Challenges introduction.

    So here is a handy list from pixel prospector for music software.
    Procedural music generators like Otomata and January are really cool, so you could try make some music with them!
    For sound effects I would recommend bfxr or sourcing sounds from freesound.
  • Awesome thread. Will be useful for everyone, beginner to advanced :D

    Thanks @creative630 :D
  • Bosca Ceoil is really cool and free and pretty extensive for stringing together loops:

    And other than that I'm keen to explore the above stuff, procedural music generation! What! :)

    One thing I learned from making Dead Run is that you can't just pick out a bunch of stuff and say to yourself "this is it" - get it into your game/prototype ASAP - what you thought sounded great could sound like crap, and vice versa, VERY easily.

    So this goes with every other prototyping lessons - don't imagine it - put it in! Test it properly!

    Also, remember the power of pitch/tone variations. The same effect in a game can be repetitive. Repetitive. Repetitive. Varying the pitch just ever so slightly randomly between different iterations of the same effect can give your game awesome depth. You can do this programatically or by making different sound files. The former is best if you can get it right.
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  • Cool, reposting what I'd replied to @Tim_Harbour

    (In response to query about cost of well known library called EWQL symphonic orchestra) The EW symphonic orchestra is a fairly old product (roughly 10 years) so the pricing is not too bad, currently at $145 on Amazon which is a lot cheaper than newer orchestral offerings, but you'll also find every now and then the various sample library guys (such as Soundiron and 8Dio) will have special discount drives so it might help to sign up to newsletters to catch those deals.

    It's still a lot of money to spend if you're unsure and want to be able to experiment with a virtual orchestra first, so rather try out the Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra (http://sso.mattiaswestlund.net/) which is free and very basic but still provides a decent library of sounds that cover a full orchestra and gives you a starting point.

    Similarly Native Instruments has some good discounted packages to 'try out' their bigger offerings, but are still substantial libraries in their own rights. For example check out their Komplete Elements bundle for $49

    Finally (or rather firstly) check out your DAW of choice and try out the included instruments - for example Ableton has some decent built-in options under Instrument Rack.
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  • I think I'll add a link to Ableton Live, just because it seems to be really popular and its not in the pixel prospector list.

    Also I will add Plogues chipsounds vst, its what I use but it aint free. It seems to emulate a hell of a lot of chips in one vst, so that's why I choose to use it.

    I also just started using Superior drummer as my druming vst. Although the samples that come with Ableton aren't that horrible. I also use the Metal foundry preset expansion, because its metal...
  • I use these a lot. http://www.tweakbench.com/

    Awesome and free 8 bit samples...very legit sounding.

    @creative630 do you use EZDrummer ever? It's got such a cool metal kit. This track I did using Drum Kit from Hell (that's the plugin) https://soundcloud.com/milk-fed-gimp/haunting-the-graves-of-the (Skip in to where the song start, quite a long intro. Also not mastered so might need to turn it up a bit :P)

    will you post some stuff you did with the Metal Foundary expansion then I can check it out...I've never used any other drum's but this one :D

    Loving this thread!
  • Thanks so much for this, I was unaware of many of the options that were shared here. I really need to gear up my sound/music skills I think.
  • edited
    http://boyinaband.com gives 7 day tutorials on music production
  • I've mentioned this on the forums before but it seems appropriate to do it here again :)

    There's a free program called Linux Multimedia Studio (LMMS):
    The funny thing is that it works on Windows too :P

    While it's not as advanced as commercial software, it's really not bad at all. Just save often.
    It's similar to FL Studio in a way.

    Website: http://lmms.sourceforge.net/

    Worth a try!
  • edited
    Thanks for the links everyone! The first post's summary has been updated.

    @Tim_Harbour I have only started messing around with superior drummer recently and I used EZDrummer years ago. Its sure as hell more complicated than its younger sibling EZDrummer but the overall sound I find to be a little better (with far more options in terms of mic setup etc.). I'll upload a track for you to listen to as soon as I have finished it :)
  • For additional info on music production and the business side of things, here's a guy from Durban (David Campos) who provides free advice & video tutorials on these and related topics: http://www.ecomputerrecordingsoftware.com/

    Also a pretty handy pic from his Facebook page of the basic steps involved:

  • Some sample library groups to add to the list:

    Note these libraries generally need a sampler like Kontakt (some, but not all, are also compatible with the free Konktakt Player, both available from Native Instruments)

    Soundiron - an offshoot of a previous group called Tonehammer, these guys have a wide range of unusual instruments and choirs, and are often running seasonal discount deals. Their Micropak is an affordable way of trying out percussion and choirs ($52 for $74 worth of libraries, though a large number of them are just for fun like the Elvish Choir and Snack the Cat)

    Native Instruments - NI are the creators of Kontakt, the sampler that the majority of libraries require or are compatible with, as well as Guitar Rig (amps, cabinets etc.) and Reaktor (for synths). Check out their Komplete Elements bundle for a really cheap ($49) introduction to their samplers and libraries, or they also have a free version of Komplete Elements which mostly focuses on the samplers

    Cinematique - Cinematique focus on interesting and unusual instruments, at an affordable price. Also includes some cool free stuff and lots of bundle options. Their Downbeat Box (25 Euros) is great for atmospheric and rhythmic backing

    Hollow Sun - Specialise in vintage electrical and electronic music instruments. Lots of free synth instruments for Kontakt available for download

    Precision Sound - Well priced and good range of traditional and unusual instruments, along with a rotating list of special offers and some free libraries (including a free grand piano)
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  • Here is a fantastic free synth library that I use in Ableton, designed to be a tester of a full product but despite that it provides over 200 synth instruments in a 1gb sample library: http://www.camelaudio.com/AlchemyPlayer.php

    Alchemy Player acts as a standalone plugin/VST that goes straight into Ableton or other DAWs i.e. it doesn't require Kontakt or other samplers to run. It also loads any other SFZ sound library so you can for example run the free Sonatina orchestra library through Alchemy. Watch the video for a good idea of how to use this plugin.

    Some other music creation tools to add to the list:

    Cubase: http://www.steinberg.net/en/products/cubase/start.html

    Reason: http://www.propellerheads.se/products/reason/
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  • These are really cool resources thanks!
    I found this and thought it was pretty cool : http://famitracker.com/
    It's not as easy as writing midi in logic or garage band, but makes legit 8bit sound without needing plugins.

  • @Pomb - cool stuff, I was about to say it sounds similar to MadTracker but I see it is actually based on MadTracker anyway, but with a focus on NES/Famicom
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