Composer Wanabe: need advice


New member
i want to be like vangelis & Jean Micheal jarre (synthesizer instrumental music greats)...

but i'm clueless to wat software & gear hardware to get ... any adivce especially on price ??

thankx for replies... also i don't read sheet music wat is best software to get? :oops:
don't worry, I don't read sheet music as well, although I'm heading college specifically to learn that shit! lol.

Anyway, 2 VERY core things you need to think about first.

Are you interested in it because you want to be these composers, or do you really just have that burning desire to create similiar music inspired by those composers?

Profession or hobby?

Either way;

Your best bet would definitely be like a Korg Triton Studio or Extreme, depending on your usage for the number of keys. I would go for a Korg over a Yamaha Motif anytime, although overtime you'd be adding other sound modules to your arsenal.

There are a number of multitracking recording programs, like Nuendo, Cubase, Logic Pro, Pro Tools.

You're going to be mixing everything on your computer for starters budget. If you can, get one of the better workhorse stations, Pentium 4, 2G ram, or AMD (any of the later models), 2G ram, or if you're fucking rich, go for a Mac G5.

Next, you'll need a professional audio soundcard. No, not creative soundblaster. That's consumer level. Something like M-audio, Echo, Terratec, RME. You could get that from Team108 Audio or Sinamex. The soundcard is for reduced latency as well as you can play alot more tracks in your software simultaneously in general.

If you do not have money to get a pair of cheap monitor speakers, you can in fact actually use a decent consumer pair you have. Just make sure to turn off ALL enhancements; like mega bass, equalizers, etc. Your speakers have to sound as neutral and plain as possible. Of course different speakers have their own characteristics and all that crap, but eventually you'll have to start producing stuff no matter how. So just live with what you have for now and start working.

If you find that you're more towards a profession;

Now since u're just starting off, I must warn you; many people when they first get into this, they eventually turn into studio-gear enthusiasts. In other words, they spend alot of time checking out, debating, discussing, and lusting for studio equipment. But they don't really churn out anything much music-wise. There's nothing wrong with being an enthusiast for sure, but if you're not rich, this is one REALLY expensive hobby.

If you concentrate on the music you'd love to make instead of often OVER-gazing at other established composers' studios and the latest products, you'll never get anywhere. That's a very very common trend I see everywhere, specially in Singapore.

Now, if you just wanna be like those composers, being drawn rather to a tradition and fame than doing music regardless whatever for yourself, chances are it might eventually turn out into a gear hobby. If that's so....

Enjoy the wonderful world of the studio! It is indeed very fascinating. I'm an avid gear-luster myself, although at the end of the day I pull myself back down to earth again to work on my chops. :p

Good luck!!


::Audivarius Studio::
I'm a minimalist. I believe great music can be achieved with minimal number of gears. I used to have a number of gears - until I sold almost all of them and kept what I have to a minimum. Then I went on to try to prove that I can still produce music even with the little I have. I even sold my monitor speakers and reverted back to head-phones!

The key to composition is not the gears - those are only the tools. In the end, it is the skill. And skills need to be - 1. learned, 2. developed. If you want to grow more, good thing to learn to read music. Otherwise your compositional skills will stagnant after reaching a limit. Of course there are exceptionals like Hans Zimmer who had no training - but those are the prodigies. Even for him, he has got a group of orchestrators that work for him - and he gets the credit.

Since your question is gearing (no pun intended) towards gears, and you're interested in synth music, then get a synth. Yamaha S08 or S03 should suffice. I always feel using PC to sequence is easier and faster than on-board sequencers. If you're not going to use too many VST plug-ins and effects, 1GB of RAM is sufficient although the more the merrier. Soundcard-wise - go for M-audio's Audiophile 2496 or Echo's Miamidi (reasonably priced). RME is too expensive (albeit powerful). Software - Sonar came out lately with their Sonar Home Studio ver 4 which is quite reasonably priced. Otherwise can get the free softwares.

This has been discussed many times elsewhere - do a search on the forum for similar topics.
I think the selling of monitor speakers was not neccesary lol.. i mean its really important in the industry now.. some gears are a must-have.
For me , Monitor speakers are a must have for LIVE recording where you need to pick up certain hidden sounds that the normal speakers can't pick up but not for MIDI recording...
Monitor speakers are important if you're going to be doing post-production stuffs, mastering etc. When doing music within a PC (softsamplers, keyboards etc), I think I can still mix-down quite effectively without the monitors. If I record live, then I will need them.

I did contemplate a long time before I sold them. But I looked back in all the mix-down I did and realised that the purpose of the monitors is just to make my home studio look complete and "nice".

I guess it is weighing of priorities - me no soundman nor recording person. I mainly compose. So it's sufficient. If I need more help, I get somebody to do it for me. I found that the music I did with monitors and those that I did with headphones had not much differences. Of course, one will need good headphones. And believe it or not, I find lousy speakers more important. I usually run my music through lousy speakers - if it sounds good on it, then it should sound good to most people. After all, people listen to music in cars, stereos at home etc. Few use monitor speakers to listen to music (I mean the general population). Again, I'm not talking about live recording...
If you're on a budget, look for Fruity Loops 5.
You don't have to get the top of line; the USD$100 version will do fine for a beginner. It comes with software synths.
You could order it over the net and not pay GST :lol:

You could add software and hardware synths slowly over time.

The best soundcard for under $200 is the EMU 0404; however, if you want more sounds, you could purchase the EMU Proteus X for <$300 which includes the complete sound library of the EMU Proteus 2000 hardware synth. * if you are not too picky and Proteus X comes with Cubasis VST 4 - but I think this lacks step recording which may be important to you.

Lastly get a controller keyboard. You don't to get a synth keyboard if you are on a budget.Examples are those from M-audio, Edirol.

A simple pair of computer speakers eg Creative, Altec Lansing would allow you to listen to your work as you compose. There is no need to get excellent speakers since you are just fleshing out ideas and NOT recording the final mix for a CD/radio/etc.

If you shop around, you should be able to get the whole setup for ~$1k.
to be a composer

Yeah man, Teo!! Absolutely well said.

I would also like to add on to Teo's reply to konsandy

Play with the piano more often. Mess around with it. Play with intervals and see what colours you can get out from it. Know the relationships of intervals from a Root. For eg, C-D, C-E, on.

Learning some functional harmony would be very helpful and will strengthen your ability to harmonize or re-harmonize your tune to your liking.

for you, konsandy, you can start to write tunes using an existing harmony of a tune you like, OR just write a Imaj7 VIm7 IIm7 V7 tune to start your melody writing.

Hi Cheez, probably your speakers are now with me...
Anyway, I just want to add, mixing and hearing with headphones
for long hours might do harm to your ears. I indeed experience some slight pain and tireness after using phones for more than 2 hours.

I advise it is better to use speakers, active or passive.

I use an old alesis point 7 passive monitors and yamaha ms202 speakers
sold to me by softie friend Cheez.

Hi ALL, I must add that I'm a fan of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis too!!!

All I can say it's good to start with a workstation, otherwise with the current modern setup of laptop, software synth and a midi controller.

Wow! after reading through TEO's advice, I must agree that gear lust did
infected me when I started out my little home studio. Yes, it is better to
optimize your gear with what they can do than what are the best.

Start small and then when you are good, expand the setup; just like a small business.

Anyway, TEO's website is very impressive and wonder how old is he ???
He can go Shanghai play Er-hu ??? Must be a super music freak !!!
Hats down to you, Teo !!!
For my view. I had a very simple setup. Or rather, not even the standard home studio. Given the small place in my room. I cant afford to have wide range of gears in it.

I just own keyboard with interface connected to pc. A rather cheap headphone mic. Altec lansing speaker with woofer. Though i listen through headphone. Well i had two headphone haha.

Plus audio recording sw i used.

I believe what important are the skills in composing and arranging.

Currently, still a peanuts to arranging music. But i had develope sensitive ears to tune which is good.

The chord progression and relationship interval are what i will need to be strong on to get on the creative path to music arrangement.

Had compose many pop songs due to it. Just go lalala if without lyrics.

If needed. Visit studio and do the job there for a demo. Pay additional $ for music arrangement and mixing...Had frens who will help in the vocal. :p

Though would love to have more basic home studio setup. I think i gonna start a thread..LOL
btw i'm a composer visit my website:

i've composer 26 guitar songs check out my website hehe

i hope to compose more songs using the sythn & computer after i figure out how to

thanx for the advice ... if there's more do post replies... :D
thanx for all the software/hardware advice... but where do i get al these stuff?

Sim Lim Sq , Funan, or internet?? anybody here want to sell their stuff cheap cheap?? haha :oops:
sythnesis music i still feel the best bang for the buck you should get thing is nord lead 3, its comes with 8 X 128 sounds preset. ALL OF WHICH WERE AMAZING. plus it acts as a MIDI controller too. i will bet korg dosent have good enough analogue sounds to challenge the nord lead 3 HOWEVER its my opinion only : )
sythnesis music i still feel the best bang for the buck you should get thing is nord lead 3, its comes with 8 X 128 sounds preset. ALL OF WHICH WERE AMAZING. plus it acts as a MIDI controller too. i will bet korg dosent have good enough analogue sounds to challenge the nord lead 3 HOWEVER its my opinion only : )