Musical Instrument/Software for Composition/Arrangement


New member
Hi guyz,

I am looking for a Instrument (Keyboard/Synthesizer/...) for doing arrangement (orchestra,pop,instrumental...), produce it thru that instrument & save it as wave file.

Currently I doing it by solely using FINALE notation software (ie. enter the note for each track for each individual instrument and then convert it to wave file).
I find it very troublesome & the MIDI music not sound nice.

I am looking for a keybord/synthesizer/sequencer which able to:-
-have produce very nice(reallike) sounds of various musical instruments eg piano, Guitar, Harp flute, & other orchestra instruments...
-able to record while I played it & join/mix/edit/delete portion by portion.
-can record up to 16 tracks/layers (minimum) or more (so that I can one-man-show for playing all orchestra instruments sounds one-by-one from keyboard and then mixed all of it together to become an orchestra works).
-able to programme/sequence drum patterns.
-convert to score (optional).
-can produce chinese instruments sound (Optional).

I just wanna to do an one-man-show for compose,arrange and produce some songs/musics with PC and/or keyboard Intrument (keyboard/synthesizer/sequencer...).

Should I buy a keyboard? Synthesizer? or Sequencer? (can any of these instruments to the above functions?)
Any model to recommend?
Any additional Software required?
What is your budget? Do you have a notebook? How important is the quality of sounds (in terms of realism) to you? (which is more important - cost vs realism). Are you going to do it live or would you be pre-recording it?

You have many options available...
Budget wise should be below 1k (possible?) or 3k (max).
of course as low as possible as long as it meeting the minimum requirement of sound quality.

I have a notebook.

For the quality of sounds wise,
Must be better than MIDI files quality.
perharp similar to those we heard from some instrumental album without (or minimum) use of real instruments (like some of the Japanese/Korean Drama/Movie soundstracks or S.E.N.S. album).

I can't do it live as I do it alone.
Perharps that I can record one instruments sounds first, then one by one follow by others. (if i need 16 instruments sounds in that song, I will record 16 times which I play it individually on keyboard)
If the specs of your notebook is good, my suggestion is go into softsamplers.

The cheapest and best option would be:
1. Keyboard controller (88 key if you're a pianist and keys are important). M-audio Keystation 88Pro or the newer CME controllers are good choices. They are all under 1K.

2. Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO). For 249USD, it includes an extremely good orchestral sample set unmatched by any ROMpers or synths, Kontakt player (so you don't need to buy any softsamplers), Notation Program and Cubasis VST sequencer software.

3. Soundcard - Echo Indigo if you don't need to do any audio recordings. If you do, then the Indigo io.

4. Midi interface - M-audio's USB interfaces are OK. If you don't have extensive external midi modules, 1x1 is sufficient.

You should be able to squeeze all these under 2K.

Since sequencing is what you do often, software sequencing should be your option instead of hardware sequencers. It is faster and simpler - saves time sequencing. You may like to know that GPO also has a great Steinway Piano sample. The only thing lacking is Chinese instruments, which you mentioned is optional. What is the specs of your notebook?
mingguan, where are you getting the midi sound from currently? is it the General Midi from your soundcard? What soundcard are you using?
I bought my notebook 3 years ago.
It is a Twinhead Notebook with Pentium III,1GHz, 256RAM.
Soundcard wise i not so sure, as i always use headphone (for watch DVD/VCD, play games...).
I also used this notebook to do the notation input (composing/arranging/).
is these spec enough?

1.For Keyboard controller, any keyboard with MIDI interface will do? or do I need Synthesizer? or plainly use it to input notes?

2. For GPO, I saw the website annouced that it will be included in all versions of FINALE 2006. Will it cause the notation/sequence/MIDI file to sounds better? (BTW, I thought notation program & Sequencer software are the same?)

3. Audio recording means recored from keyboard?

4. "1 X 1" means?

Is the Software the main items to affect the the quality of sounds?
soft said:
mingguan, where are you getting the midi sound from currently? is it the General Midi from your soundcard? What soundcard are you using?

I using FINALE software to do the notation input. Not sure about the soundcard. But I remember I select "General MIDI" option and it play quite nice in either thru notebook's speaker or headphone.
mingguan said:
I bought my notebook 3 years ago.

1)your notebook specs are rather lacking, actually. it'll probably work, but possibly so slowly such that most ppl would not recommend it.

2)any midi keyboard with a touch that you are comfortable with will do. and of course, with ample controllers such as knobs, sliders, wheels and pedal inputs, esp if you'll be needing the expressiveness.

3)audio recording, in the context that Cheez was talking about, is basically recording from any source that has an audio output. yes, recording direct from synthesizers is an example of audio recording.

4) 1 x 1 could mean 1 port midi in and 1 port midi out, or 1 audio input bus and 1 audio output bus.

btw mingguan, notation software and sequencer software are two totally different things.
Iansoh is right. Your notebook isn't too great. You will need minimum of 512MB RAM to load sufficient instruments. If you're planning to upgrade your notebook, then great. If not, then you may not be able to go down the softsampler route. The other option is:

1. Midi controller keyboard.
2. Roland JV 1010 - gives you most of the sounds you'll need.
3. Sequencer software - if you're not doing much audio recording and mainly sequencing, don't need any high end ones. Protools has a free sequencer software but it is only for Windwos 98/ME. There are other free ones out there - you'll need to do a search. But I would get a better one for investment especially since you'll be heavily into sequencing - like Sonar Home Studio for example.

This may cost you slightly more than 2K, if I calculated correctly.

Another option would be to get a Yamaha S03, if number of keys and keyboard touch is not an issue with you. But Yamaha's orchestral sounds just does not cut it - far inferior to the Roland orchestral sound templates.

Sequencer software may have the notation function in it, or not. Most does. Notation software mainly does notations and perhaps playback midi. It does not have the other features of a sequencer software.

Bongman, please don't call me that!!!! :(
Since 512MB RAM is the minimum,
I will upgrade it.
(or if I set more virtual memory on it, will it be sufficient?)

Just browse the website for Roland JV 1010 & Yamaha S03 (& S08~still below my budget of SGD3k).
Roland's one is a Synthesizer Module, but Yamaha's one is a Synthesizer Keyboard.
Does it means that If I buy Yamaha S03/S08, i not need to buy midi controller keyboard & Synthesizer Module (ie. Roland JV 1010)?

Other than my notebook memory, Keyboard & Synthesizer, the remaining items that I required are only USB Midi interface (1 x 1?) & Sequencer Software. Any recomendation?

Just Curious,
I happened to saw YAMAHA MOTIF6 (but cost almost 4k...) in Yamaha website, I Seems to integrate all (keyboard/Sythesizer/Sequencer) into one.
Will it make the work (Arranging/Producing Music) simpler?

Does it means that I can do all the thing with the MOTIF & then use notebook to convert the thing to Wav file?
1. It will be better to have a faster CPU as well. Virtual memory will not help since the instruments in GPO is loaded directly into the physical RAM. The less RAM, the less instruments you can load.

2. Yes, JV1010 is a module - so need a midi controller. S03 is a synth - so don't need a midi controller. The price is also different.

3. You need a midi interface and also a soundcard if you are planning to go down the GPO pathway. If not, you'll need the soundcard only if plan to record. But if you already have a desktop with soundcard, you may be able to record with that.

Motif etc are workstations - incorporated everything inside including the sequencer. As I said before, I believe software sequencer will benefit you more IF sequencing is what you are going to do most of the time. The pros of using software as compared to hardware sequencers (as already discussed elsewhere) are: large screen vs small LCD screen, faster processor, mouse vs buttons and wheels (faster with mouse clicks), plug-ins, etc. With 4K, I can get better sounds, better midi controller, better software than just getting a workstation. Extra 1K, for example, can give you more powerful softsampler plug-ins that give you ultra-reaslistic instruments that no keyboard/synth can give. This is especially so when you use mainly orchestral instruments in your compositions.
mingguan, after listening to the audio demo on , how do you feel? Are these the kind of sound you are looking for?

you should also take a trip to some of the shops that are selling Korg(City Music), Roland(Swee Lee) and Yamaha(Plaza Singapura). Synthesizers have a good selection of bread and butter sound. individual brands also have some interesting sound, not instruments but stuff like pads and atmospheric stuff. can be used to inspire composition. you got to go and listen. hard to explain here.

Using the computer sequence has many advantages and I feel you should go in this direction.

If you give me a budget of $3k, i will buy a new computer + a Korg Triton LE.
Thanks guyz!!!

I think I should upgrade my notebook & go for software sequencer.

After listen to some samples in , I feel that some of it sounds very nice and reallike (ie. those competition winner) but some sounds so-so only (something similar to what I did with FINALE 2004/2005). Are they done by using same software (GPO)?
As GPO will be included in FINALE 2006, thus it make the file sounds better (like those competition winner piece mentioned above)?
mingguan, i hope when you said you will upgrade your notebook, you actually means getting a new one. he..he.e... upgrading in parts to match a new notebook is not really much cheaper.

did you check out the instrument list in the GPO website? mainly orchestra instrument huh?

take a listen to a Korg Triton's demo,

click on mp3 on the right side box. lots of song demo there.
Mingguan, the music that u cr8 with GPO also depends alot on your skills.. just plain using the samples without any technique may result in so-so sounding samples :).. i got GPO and im still learning how to really produce the best sh*t out of it ;)..
One of the good things of GPO is that it includes Cubase VST. So you don't have to buy another sequencer software. If you get a synth and still intend to sequence with a computer, you'll have to buy a sequencer software.

Also, Garritan is coming out with a Jazz and Big Band library soon - same low price as GPO. This will give you bass guitar, drums, various percussions, electric and acoustic guitars, saxophones etc.

For pad sounds, it is easy to get free VST plug-ins. Many out there that are pad and atmospheric like. Also can get loop/percussive type VST plug-ins free if that's the kind of music you want.

Triton Le is not a bad idea, provided that's the sound you are looking for. But for me, Korg is the furthest thing from "orchestral" one would like - Yamaha is even slightly better. But it is king if one is going for electronic music. So in the end, it is the type of music you are going to write.

Teraslasch is right in saying that sequencing ultimately depends on skill. I have heard people programming very old samples that sounds like the actual real thing, better than all the new samples out there. In fact, my samples are considered really old (GPO is a step ahead of my old Advanced Orchestra - hopefully to upgrade...). But I believe I can produce much better and realistic sounding music than some of the GPO demos - but with a lot of work and time.
Cheez said:
Teraslasch is right in saying that sequencing ultimately depends on skill..

yea but too bad im lazy :p... bought it for at least a yr but still cant really produce the right thing l0l.. :oops:
Don't worry. Sequencing skills doesn't develop overnight. As with all other instruments - practice, practice, practice!