...I've been trained to make beats that would make a billy goat puke.


And the "Starting More Blogs Than He Can Possibly Keep Up With" Award goes tooooooooo-

UGH! Sorry I have had nothing to say lately, but I have some exciting news! I wanted to wait until there was a decent amount of material posted, but I figure it's about time I unveil the brand-spanking-new AudibleNinja Audio Blog!
Of course, I love Blogger, but BLOGGER BLOWS AT AUDIO FILES. Tumblr handles them well, and I have a better quota there than at the (vastly superior interface-wise) Soundcloud.

So I hope you'll check it out. I hardly have anything to blog about, but I always have new music to vomit onto the interet!


Get started making music on your PC...NOW.

Nick, a great friend of mine, recently asked me how he should go about getting started making music on his computer. I figured that I get this question enough to warrant an awesome blog post about it, so HERE WE GO!

Step 1 - Find the right DAW (digital audio workstation) for you. There's about a billion of them out there, each with their own awesome features (even ones that have barely any features are fun too!) and it can be intimidating to try to find the right one. Truthfully, this is one of the least important steps in your journey, because most decent DAWs have a huge community to draw knowledge from. A bunch of them cost a CRAPLOAD, so try out a bunch of demos, and if one feels better than the others, play with it some more. Here are some links to sites where you can find some of the more popular DAWs, their price (multiple prices for different packages), and a demo version:

[images taken from product websites - click to enlarge]

FLStudio (Windows Only) - $49/$99/$199
I won't lie, I am extremely partial to FLStudio, and it's probably because I've been using it for about a decade now. It's easy to learn and it has just as many features as some of the more expensive DAWs. The soundset that it comes packaged with it is notoriously crappy, but most my favorite sounds have come from other sources like Sample Packs (samples are tiny [usually] clips of audio that you can magle, deconstruct, layer and sequence to make new sounds) downloaded from the internet or VST's (more on them later). Another GREAT thing about FLStudio is that if you purchase it online, you get LIFETIME UPDATES. I bought a copy of version 6, and I am currently enjoying 9 right now. Also cool - if you purchase from the link provided, you will get 10% off, and I will get 20% commission. How neato is that?
Download a Demo of FLStudio | Purchase FLStudio


Ableton Live (Windows/Mac) - $99/$499/$699
Ableton Live is a great tool that was coded for cross-platform performance, and has become well known for its ability to be used as a live music workhorse, from looping and pseudo-DJing to
improv electronic music, but it works great as a studio DAW as well. If you plan on making loop-based electronic music, you should definitely check this out, and if you're not, then download the demo anyway, because the workflow is interesting and it may fit you like a glove!


Cubase (Windows/Mac) - $149/$299/$499

Cubase has been around for a while. Made by Steinberg (invented VST's - I swear, more on those later), Cubase is an extremely well rounded DAW that is used by professionals around the world. I don't want to say that it is better quality-wise than the others, but I will say that if you decide to go this route, it won't hurt in the long run, because you will be comfortable in other traditional vertical sequencing and tracking environments that are used in professional studios worldwide.
(No Demo Available)* | Click to see distributor list and find retailers
*I have heard that many retailers will have a demo CD of Cubase, but I've never checked!


Reason (Windows/Mac) - $499
Reason is a great all-in-one package. This is, however, its biggest flaw - that's all there is. There's no support for VST's (I SWEAR IT'S COMING) and that's a HUGE flaw. That being said, there are a bajillion Reason users that don't mind. Reason's sound quality is great, and it's set up for more hands-on musicians, giving the user a virtual Rack to set up their virtual studio environment. I haven't used it that much, but I know plenty of people that swear by it. Oh, and that huge flaw with the no VST support is easily bypassed with Reason's Rewiring capabilities, which allows you to use another DAW (with VST support hopefully) in tandem with Reason.

Renoise (Windows/Mac/Linux!) - $75
Last -but certainly not least- on the list is Renoise. Renoise is a Vertical Tracker, and the thing about vertical trackers is that some people love 'em and the rest of the world hates them. I happen to love them, but my relationship with them was definitely one that I had to grow into. There are also about ten billion free trackers out there, but Renoise is certainly among the best, and, if you're comfortable with the interface, well worth the $75 price tag. Renoise also has an almost fully-featured Demo version, so check it out!!
Download a Demo of Renoise | Purchase Renoise

In addition to these, here are a bunch of other free DAWs listed at kvraudio.com
Try some out! They're Free!!

Step 2 - Play Around. I know this sounds like a lame step, and you were expecting me to tell you what exactly is the secret to getting your voice to sound like T-Pain or something (not in this article, btw), but just playing around will give you insight to how to mess around inside the program. If you can't figure ANYTHING out (don't worry, these things aren't simple), check out a demo track that most likely came bundled with the software, check out some youtube videos about the software. Play around for a few days with some different software as well, allow yourself to be open to a program that will CLICK with you. I was naturally VERY AWESOME with FLStudio, and understood the basics within 10 minutes, but I still don't know my way around Ableton Live very well, while other people pick it up off the bat.

Step 3 - Join a Community. Once you're confident that you've found a DAW you're comfortable with and would love to know more, find a community (forum) suitable for your needs. I cannot stress enough how much being a part of one when I was first learning electronic music production was a HUGE help. Once you've joined, be polite and read the rules, introduce yourself, and check to see if there's any topics being posted that are relevant to your situation. Usually people new to music production will flood a community with questions that have been asked a hundred times without checking to use the forum's search function. Keep in mind that there are responsibilities involved in joining a community, don't just view it as somewhere to go when you need help. When you begin to learn more, check around for people who need help that you might be able to assist, be active in discussions you enjoy, and try to make some friends. It's a win-win scenario where you can have fun and learn a lot. Here are some forums that I've had the pleasure of dealing with:
  • Serious Sounds - a spiritual continuation of a message board I used to frequent, I know a bunch of people that post here, and they're all awesome, nice and very helpful.
  • IDMForums - this forum is geared towards IDM, and has a very active user base filled with smart folks who are eager to help people who ask nicely.
  • Dogs On Acid (The Grid) - an enormous repository of drum and bass knowledge, filled with both active users who are very smart and non active users who are sometimes not too smart.
In the process of joining a community, it's pretty common for new users to feel like they're being bullied, but in my experience, if you follow these rules, usually they will treat you with respect and courtesy:
  1. Be polite. These places aren't the place to espouse negative comments and opinions.
  2. Follow the Rules. They might seem arbitrary at times, but they are there for a reason.
  3. Search before asking. I cannot tell you how many times I read topics with the title "How do I sound like Kanye?"
  4. If you find yourself in an argument, step back. Take the high ground and apologize, these places function like a real community, and drama will stick with you. If things get worse, you can always report the other user to a Moderator.
  5. Participate. While the users might not mind answering various questions, they also like talking about music, movies and politics (WARNING KEEP RULES 1 AND 4 IN MIND when discussing politics), and would also love for some new users to take up some slack in the 'helping others' department.
Step 4 - Keep Playing Around. At this point, you should be somewhat familiar with your DAW of choice. You may have even been able to make some tunes (good for you!), but the more you play around, the more things will become second nature. Also ask around your community for recommendations for samples and VST's to expand your sonic palette.

Step 4.5 - VST's (TOLD YOU it was coming). VST's (VST = Virtual Studio Technology) are plugins that most DAW's support. They are split into two distinct categories, VST's and VSTi's, the first being used primarily for effects (i.e. reverb, distortion, EQ) and the latter being VSTi(nstruments), used primarily for sound generators (i.e. Software synthesizers, Instrument Emulations, etc.). There are a JILLION of them out there, and there's no easy way to sift through them to the awesome ones. That's why you've joined a community and made lots of friends, so that you can find all the threads they've started about their favorite VST's, you go out there and buy/download them, and then you chat on AIM about all the horrible Presets that came bundled with it that sound like cats dying. Also at this point, you'll probably wonder "Why did I wait until step 4 to get this awesome sounding software?! Will, you are a dick!" Let me tell you this. There are sample packs out there, and software as well, that will make you sound like a total pro and require absolutely no effort on your part. BUT THAT'S NOT FUN. Develop your own style, innovate, do things wrong and make new sounds and make them sound right.

Here is a link to KVRAudio, a site that will be invaluable to you when you're knee deep in a million VST's and you're starting to wonder why they all sound the same, but for some reason that $500 one makes you feel so much better about yourself. Check out the Plug-in database (you can filter by type, free/commercial, etc.), the Forum (great community!) and the wiki (especially the Audio Lexicon)!

Step 4.5.1 - The Great Morality Play of Software. I need to say that at this point in the game, you will probably be faced with a moral dilemma: Software costs money, software is pirated, software is expensive. What does a man do in this situation? I'm not going to preach about how piracy is or isn't a problem, but I will say that if you do decide to pirate software, check out free alternatives, and only download from sources that are verified (i.e. blogs with active users that comment on posts with useful info like "DON'T DOWNLOAD, VIRUS" or "Checked, works great!") because otherwise your computer WILL get AIDS.

Step 5 - (re)Educate Yourself. So by now, you've got a decent handle on your craft. You probably have a good idea of what your niche is, you've developed a style of your own. But after everything you've learned, there's SO MUCH MORE. If you hit a wall, learn a new program. If you feel cramped, learn a new style. If you feel like you've learned all that you need to learn, or you're tired of learning, or you don't know what to go to learn anything new, then it's time for you to INVENT. And in the process, I guarantee you'll learn something new.

This process can take years, so stay positive, remember that having fun is just as much of a good result as a good track, and sometimes bad tracks can be hilarious, so just have a good time.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I might be able to help.



Grand Theft Auto - Florence

Usually I get so psyched about game sequels. Unlike movies, games have the unique opportunity of upgrading a franchise rather than ruining it. When a studio makes a sequel to a good movie, they run the chance of taking a closed and independent storyline and adding something unnecessary to it. When a studio makes a sequel to a game, they can review the original game, other games of the same genre, and create something new and innovative that makes fans of the original rejoice. Case in point, the Metal Gear franchise. Each new installation feels like a Metal Gear game, and adds so much to the story, the features, the controls, etc. without being apologetic and catering to industry expectations. Kojima and company ran with their vision and created a product so refined that, although it doesn't appeal to everyone, fans of the series are hard pressed to find a better game.
Several years ago, a game called Assassin's Creed was released. It's a stealth-action game that highlights a historically accurate (for videogames) conflict between the mystical Assassin (Hashasheen) clan and the Knight Templars in 1191. It received a decent reception, lacking greatness due to what some people would describe as flaws. Here is a list of the complaints that I saw the most of:
  1. Repetitiveness. People complained that elements of the game were repetitive, such as side-missions and assassinations. I never thought of these as repetitive, because you could approach these things from different angles, and they furthered a very interesting plot.
  2. No upgrades. People complained that throughout the game, the player could never upgrade his skills or weapons. This complaint was the most confusing to me, because you do upgrade your skills and weapons after every assassination. I really don't know where anyone got this impression of never upgrading.
  3. Horrible interaction in "Desmond Mode." People complained a lot about the gameplay when the character takes control of Desmond Miles, a descendant of the assassin that you control for the rest of the game. When I played, it was one of my favorite parts of the game, incorporating oldschool point-and-click adventure gameplay that allows the player to immerse themselves even further into the game's storyline.
Now, I'm guessing that Ubisoft decided to address these points in the new installment of the series, Assassin's Creed 2. It's a normal reaction to criticism, but here's where I COME IN.
The problem I'm having with this new game isn't that it's a bad game. It looks fun, it looks good, the design is great, the new features are well rounded, but to me, it doesn't feel like a spiritual successor to the original game. In Assassin's Creed 2, you play as Ezio, a jerkass rich douchebag kid who ruins Terracotta while gallivanting around town with his douchebag rich friends getting in fights. In the story, Ezio's dad gets imprisoned by mysterious forces, giving Ezio the opportunity to steal his dad's shit and pretend to be awesome. I've watched about 200 hours of gameplay, and I haven't seen any other aspects of the story, so I'm not sure what the rest of the game is about.
I have, however, seen plenty of cooool new features! There's the ability to dye your clothes, buy different weapons, steal money from dead people, upgrade your pad, beat up cheating husbands, hire whores, outrun the fuzz by first evading their line-of-sight and then maneuvering your way out of a circular area displayed on your map- wait.
I think the guys at Ubisoft got mixed up halfway through the game and thought they were supposed to make the next GTA.

Oh well. I still have high hopes for Assassin's Creed 3!

PS: Here are a few other bones that I had fresh for picking.
  • Assassin's Creed: Freerunning abilities cheapened by the guard's abilities to do the same. Assassin's Creed 2: Freerunning abilities have absolutely nothing to do with being an assassin, totally ruined by having the ability solely because you're a rich kid with no respect for other people's property.
  • Lucy Stillman, perfect portrayal of the "cute girl at work/slutty idiot at home" paradox that I've always despised:
  • Assassin's Creed 1 side missions, relevant to story, apparently too repetitive. Assassin's Creed 2 side missions, totally irrelevant, can't continue game until completed, about five billion of them to do, apparently JUST RIGHT.