Tools For Music Making

Alright, here’s the thing:
A 14 year old girl in my family is going to start making music on the PC, and her dad will let her buy whichever gear and PC she wants. A laptop preferably. What are the stats she should be looking at in a laptop, and do you guys think Renoise would be a good/easy enough tool for someone just starting out?

Me I started with FT2 when I was 14 myself. Although FT2 was a little easier.

Any tips?

In short: yes, Renoise, yes yes yes, and don’t worry about “too complicated”, that’s just the self defense of us slow, obsolete adults, let’s face it :D Seriously though, you can’t go wrong with the demo, can you? A computer suited for Renoise is also going to be usable for other audio apps, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much, it’s not like the kid isn’t hopefully going to try out gazillions of audio apps anyway ^_^

I have no specific hardware advice, just general thoughts. Firewire and plenty USB ports is good, RAM is good, not having a crazy loud fan is good, onboard sound tends to be crap but maybe you can find a laptop with onboard sound that rocks (?) which would be neat, although for super-serious recording etc. you prolly’d end up with an external sound card anyway (?)

Renoise is definately “good” enough. Regarding “easy”: there are many programs that are easier, but also vastly more limited! The Renoise GUI is great, there’s tooltips everywhere and configurable shortcuts for everything, and then there’s the documentation, too. You can’t get much easier than that without limiting potential.

What’s important is that you can get first results quick (and that’s the case with Renoise, at least in combination with a short tutorial), because having to read and experiment for weeks before you get some minor gratification is no fun.

What’s also important is that there are many many songs that can be inspected and remixed. I know this is true for Renoise. I’m not sure how common it is outside of tracking (this would interest me… do for example Fruity Loops users tend to share their creations?).

And then there’s this huge legacy of awe inspiring .mod’s and .xm’s, if even just 10% of the most kickass tunes load well into Renoise that would be a lot to dissect and learn from.

Pack of samples, some basic VSTi’s, demosongs … I remember that searching for samples to work with was the hardest part for me back then. Make sure the Laptop has enough RAM.

Apart from that : Great thing ! I love when kids want to do music on their own, especially girls. Go for it ! :)

Lucky lucky lucky her… I remember the day I ‘decided’ I wanted to make music… I told my parents and they laughed and sayd: GOOD LUCK, CHUM!!

had to plunder my savings to buy PC speakers and a soundcard back in the day… I stole a computer from my previous school, because they had it coming, downloaded FT2 and loads of XM’s for samples…

kids are spoiled these days. I suggest getting low budget equipment, because you could spend 2000 euros on stuff she won’t be touching anymore next month… Get her a Renoise Demo and see if that is what she wants.

you go out and buy firewire external soundcards and monitor speakers and mixers when she sold her soul to the HEX herself. my humble humble opinion, although I DO think parents should be encouraging their kids to create ofcourse, but you don’t necessarily need cash to do that.

And a midi-keyboard (assuming she had piano-lessons or something).

I myself composed my first tunes on FT2 PC Speaker mode, cause the old crap 486 PC I got didn’t even have a sound card built in. About year later I got my first Soundblaster 16. Which rocked my socks off. :) Now I could actually hear notes other than high-pitched crackling!

Probably yeah. Buying high end stuff for tracker use won’t give the right feeling to get into it. Just ask this question: How many oldsceners started off with top of the line equipment which they got for free?

It can be considered a “fire-proof”. You have to go through some bad times to get where you wanna go. This removes those who didn’t have enough passion, and gives those who did extra motivation.

Along with all above, encourage her to improve her musical knowledge. Make obvious for her that renoise or any other software is just a tool, and this is her creativity that matters. There are many good sources to expand musical theory for children.

Don’t make her dependant on a certain tool, guarantee her further success by emphasizing on the principles. Can she compose anything on any musical instrument already?

I’ve started when I was 15 using Startrekker on Amiga. Yes, early trackers were much simpler, but also we had no manuals, no tutorials, no Internet, no support…

also, trackers are complicated only if you have already spent years learning sheets and using piano rolls, so yes, I would show her what she could do with a tracker, and assist here in the first steps.

she still don’t know how lucky she is going to be! :)

I think renoise is certainly easy enough. I picked it up quickly, and making the transition to a tracker is alot harder than going from a more ‘traditional’ horizontal based sequencer.

As for hardware, you can make great music regardless of how much money.

Well if her rich daddy is willing to buy gear… I’d say a laptop with Renoise, Reason, Reaktor, etc… give her everything she needs softwarewise… and perhaps a few midi controllers on top of it.

… but to be completely honest, if I knew a 14 year old who wanted to make electronic music, I’d give them a demo copy of Renoise, a link to a few sample & free VST sites, and a lesson on googling.

101% agreed

I think that we all agree that money doesn’t buy passion.
And we probably all agree you don’t need cash to make music.

There’s more than one way to motivate someone.

Wow,I post a topic in the morning, when I get home I have 10 replies already!

Yes, she is already composing songs. I think that Reason4 or something similar (cubase) would just demotivate her. She would probably get lost in all the options.

I’ll introduce Renoise to her and see what she can make of the demo. And yeah she is lucky. Wish I had Renoise as a 14 year old!

do not show her reason. never. reason is stupid and made for people who once owned an entire studio made of hardware. If you never had one then reason is useless because the whole idea is obsolete. And I have yet to hear an album made with reason that sounds good. Honestly.

and about the money thing : I think it’s great ! That’s one way for a dad to show support, much better than buying her a horse or something. Also there is a german proverb that goes something like “You won’t learn carpenting with a cheap cepillo (? got that from an online dictionary)”. The point being : you can’t start without a proper set of tools. Which does not mean that it has to be best stuff around, but there is a certain line you need to cross to really get into it. Like you won’t learn drumming with some chopsticks and some kitchen-pots.

i honestly think that a piano roll is much easier to compose with for someone with no experience.
renoise is awesome and i love it more than any other instrument but unless she’s gonna do breakbeat it is not that necessary.
i’d go with a mac laptop with Garageband as it is the simplest way to compose music (and you don’t need to pay for it)
if she gets better buy her a sample pack - if even better logic or ableton live…

at the same time she can use renoise demo too. see if she gets it, it took me a good amount of time but im in my 20s.

If you’re aiming at being a jazz drummer though, a Cepillo is actually a fine learning tool. It’d be like learning to drive a car wearing moonboots, or learning to swim with bricks around your neck. Recommended.

oh also:

i don’t think its good to buy a child the best instruments before you know she can use them.

when you start playing guitar you don’t go and buy a les paul…
also the cheaper tends to be simpler and therefore you learn more faster…

If going into the piano roll sequencer type, I would try Energy XT which is cheap and easy enough to start doing things. Also features a powerful arpeggiator and some synthesizer for more advanced steps.

Give her an Amiga 600 with ProTracker, a handful of MODs to pilfer samples from and a really crap TV.



if she looses interest in algorithmic composition, learning renoise will be simple!

Do I smell jealousy in this thread ? She just has the perk of being born later … :D