Creative music community?

Hi guys,
I’m getting a bit discouraged when it comes to finishing music in a reasonable amount of time and also keeping a fresh perspective of my own material. It seems the longer I work on a piece the more disconnected I get from it. I have to take long breaks from it to know if what I’m doing is any good or not. Because of this it takes for ever to finish a piece of music. I was looking creative music community but not sure where to start. Since this forum is really to support Steinberg products I don’t think this is the place for collaboration and idea bouncing.

If what I’m doing is crap then I would stop. I don’t think it’s crap but I find that I’m super critical about my own stuff. When I say that I don’t mean consciously. I mean it’s how I really feel. It’s not really and “over thinking” thing. I start off like a ball of fire but the more I work on it I only get bits and pieces of “ahh that works!” only to listen to it the next day and not feel the way I did when I first created

I recal being music related back in the 90s but as I recal they are about A&R and users of original music not supporting the creative side of music. Thinkspace Education seems closer to what I’m looking for but it’s more for film, games and TV composers than singer/song writer.

I have so much stuff I would like to ask and get opinion on but not sure where to do this. Do any of you have any such outlet for stuff like this?
Thanks guys

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Hello C.F.Christopher, I hope you don’t mind if I move your post to the Lounge - it actually is a place where people are sharing compositions and recordings, and giving feedback. Have a look at the tag: Topics tagged made-with-steinberg


Take a look at the Lounge area of the forum. Folks post pieces over there all the time - both finished stuff and also work in progress to get feedback. Actually that would have been a better place for this post too. You might be able to edit the title of this post & move it there (or not, I’ve never tried).

Maybe flip that around & use it to your advantage. Someone over in the Lounge was doing a complete song each week (if I recall right) for a long time as a challenge. For me, purposely introducing an arbitrary constraint does wonders creatively.

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Oh thanks guys. I haven’t looked at any other portion of the forum other than this one. Sorry about that and thank you for your input.

Hi Chris,

Welcome to the forum!

The things you describe are about the most common struggles that most composers are dealing with. Some composers create easily and finalize and release there creation just as easily as it was created. Others struggle for every note and have a hard time finalizing anything and after that can’t decide on how the mix should sound. And we all know about spending hours/days/weeks on trying to get it better and eventually get caught in a loop that never seems to end!

If you have doubts about if your music is any good then a good thing might be to share it here or anywhere else to get feedback from listeners. That way you can see how others react to your music and you will learn from that. Musicians can give you feedback on content or on how it’s mixed and what you can try to get it better.

Life is too precious and short to waste it on doubts and indecision. If you feel your music is worth listening to than share it and see how it develops from there.

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Hey Nickeldome.
Thank you for your encouraging words. You want to hang out, have a beer and talk music?! lol
Honestly it’s almost always been this way. Brutal. I have no short if ideas that really make me feel something and no shortage of vocal phrasing to go with the music passages. I think I have songs that actually mean something too but getting into the details ruins it for me.

The most troublesome part of being a one man band is the emulation of instruments you don’t play. I think this is at least half of the efforts and stress. I hear on hundreds of videos, including some done by pros 'do this to get a more realistic sound from your (strings, drums, brass, etc.). It’s true the best samples in the world can only do so much to convince me and others that the instument was played by another musician and not a sample played on a keyboard. The truth is I wasn’t going to attempt emulating of any critical instrument. By critical instrument I mean any instrument that plays a vital roll in the music. Some instruments are easier to emulate than others. Often the way the samples are made lend the play to doing things that the instrument they are trying to emulate simple can’t do. Things like the wrong articulation for string or the ability to play an instrument way out of it’s natural range…stuff like this. This also goes for drums too. This in itself is vitally important to making anything we are creating to sound real.

I’ve been doing this since the 90s and I don’t feel like my drum work is any better down than back then. The one thing I was going to “sub out” is the tenor sax. Again the quality of the sample is vital but learning how to emulate the sax on a keyboard isn’t easy…well not to make it convincing anyway. I recently purchase SWAM Saxaphones V3. This is by far the best “samples” of a sax I’ve heard yet. Combining this with a breath controller that offers controller over expression, vibrato, growl and other important control…along with tones of practice make it the best I’ve heard of emulating a sax but wow is it a tone of work.

The music and ideas I have lots of but I tend to get bogged down in the details even though I’m aware of getting bogged down in the details. I can’t afford to sub everything out so I have to try and do a lot of this stuff myself. I have a good ear I think. I did work in a studio in the late 90s and the audio engineer wanted me there during mixing because I tend to hear any imperfection in a song but this very trait is killing my progress right now. I think I’m way too close to this music because it mine. I think I’ll need to have somebody else mix and master it.

And yes…spending huge amounts of time trying to make it better is “a thing” for sure. Many times I get feel like I’ve fixed a problem and a day later when I listen to it again the issue is still there. My ear get “tired” after a while. I have to get away from it but how the heck can anyone be production with all this crap going on. It should be a fun and creative process but my mind has kind of ruined this outlook.

In regards to sharing for other opinions - I do think this is vital but family and friends don’t work as I’m sure you know. I could burb into an SM58 with some reverb and they would say it sounds great. Years and years of this make the sharing a mix feeling kind of thing. I know the kind of music I want to create. I truly appreciate good music and can make immediate decision and recommendations when I hear somebody’s music…but with my own - wow I’m not sure it’s possible. Setting deadlines to things I don’t think will help. Sure it will get done but if I don’t feel like it’s going smoothly or doesn’t feel right or whatever what am I doing this for in the first place?

I’ve always been concerned with sharing non-copywrite music could be stolen and used by somebody else in the industry…somebody that has a much deeper connection with the music industry than I do. How do you share your stuff with others and not get ripped off?

Sorry for the mind dump guys… All of this stuff is just overwhelming.

I would also suggest joining us on the “Made with Steinberg” sub-forum. It’s not always as active as I’d like, so if you submit something, you really should take the time as well to comment on others’ work.

I would say that the experience level in that forum varies widely, and you should have thick skin. But I’ve had a lot of help from people in that forum over the years, and I’ve tried to return the favor. I don’t think anyone has jumped from that forum into a record contract, but most of us just want some feedback on what we’re doing to help us get better at it. We would all recognize your remarks on this subject. That said, I’ve heard people develop from beginners to really good writers and mixers over the years.

Concerning sampled instruments, I think keyboard and drum instruments work the best, but all instruments are getting better and better. In my own stuff, I do all the guitars and basses, because I can, and the samples just aren’t good enough. Sampled orchestras are so good nowadays that people can be easily fooled. Sometimes the regular contributors to Made with Cubase help each other just for fun; for example, I’ve played guitar on other people’s tracks several times.

About your concern that your music might get stolen, I’d say if it happened to me after all these years, it would be a compliment. I’ve never heard of an incident within the forum community.


Thanks for you input. I can’t seem to find the “Made with Steinberg” part of the forum. Is it within the Cubase section?
Well in regards to the samples; it’s not just about the quality of the sound but the articulations and as important, the players ability to emulate the instrument they are trying to play. One might think that bass is easy to emulate but unless the same has well done Legato most sampled basses sound like they were played on keyboard but most lack the smooth transitions between notes.

Bass is just a basic and necessary part of any tune that an intuitive solution must be found. I know now there are some seriously good bass VSTs but right now I’ve been using an Alesis NanoBass. The sounds are good. But like I said that’s only part of the equation to a good bass performance. Player ability to emulate the sound correctly is a big part to making any emulated instrument sound convincing. The truth is, if it’s not convincing then what’s the point?

Like I said bass is a tiny part of this issue. I guess it depends on the type of music that we are writing also. If it’s electronic music I don’t see this emulation thing being as much of a problem but with other types of music I think it’s important to get it right.

Drums…same thing. Playing drums on a keyboard works but it takes a crap load of practice to get this right and make it a convincing performance. This sort of takes away from the flow and creative vib you get before you start getting into the details of the tune.

@C.F.Christopher, as I linked in my original reply:

I think this is becoming a bit of a dated view. Technology has been moving forward rapidly in assisting us in creating convincing performances. And by this I don’t mean just randomizing some parameters but creating tools to facilitate the task. AI is even coming into play - looking at how real musicians create & use variation.

Take a look at Soniccouture’s Moonkits. I can build a pattern that shows the basic groove I want and then the VSTi will take and generate realtime variations on that which are musically appropriate. None of which requires anyone to play a part just right on a keyboard - which I agree is difficult and needs a lot of practice.

Or Jamstix: it has styles and drummers. It can generate grooves or complete songs using elements of the style and the way a determined drummer plays. If you don’t like the sounds of the software, you can trigger another library, but use Jamstix for generating the groove. If you already have a groove, you can load it into JS to let play over it, transforming it in the rhythm the drummer would play with it. For example I can load a standard kick-snare-kick-snare rock groove and let it play by Charly or by Neil. The results will be different.

The key on JS is the intelligence to generate the groove.

It is for PC. There is a version for Mac, but it still doesn’t work well, until I know.

Hmm. Thanks for the link. I’m torn a bit to using drum loops or pattern building software but I guess it’s either learn to do it well manually or go in that direction.

I do drum parts by playing kick and snare on the keyboard first, and then I go back and overlay hi-hats and cymbals. I quantize, and then I edit the midi to do fills, ghost notes, and such. I’m not able to play all the parts at once, but I don’t need to.

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Hmm great idea. I think fills and ghost notes are the hardest. Well the hardest to be convincing anyway. It’s the subtlety that are hard on a keyboard but I would rather play them then rely on a special plugin to play them for me…ya know?

I realized decades ago that I’d never get acceptable results trying to play MIDI drums on a keyboard. So I mostly used commercial MIDI Loops adding tweaks or built my own (with marginal results). Then I took a video class by Eli Krantzberg on how to think like a drummer when programing MIDI that totally changed everything for me. Overnight I was writing much better parts & a year later writing drum parts had gone from being a major weakness to one of my strongest skills. I always just manually enter it in the Drum Editor - or more often the equivalent in BFD3.

The central thing that Eli stressed is to always think in terms of left & right hand sticking patterns or rudiments. So now I can halfway air drum a move and then just know where to put it on the grid (quantize off of course) - maybe put a snare hit a smidgen later than normal because that hand is coming from the hats. And then a bit after that hit put in a ghost rim-shot so it sounds like the tip of the stick is hitting the drum head while the rest of the stick rocks down until making contact with the rim.

If you focus on rudiments the parts will also be more idiomatically correct. One feature the BFD3 Drum Editor offers that Cubase does not is that you can draw rudiments directly into a part. Which is a bit like drawing in Chords in the Key Editor rather than individual Notes.

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Thanks man! That’s exactly what I was thinking. Since I don’t play drums it’s rather difficult to emulate them when I don’t actually play them. Of course, if I did play drums…I wouldn’t be playing them on a keyboard in the first place.
Learning how to think like a drummer is really what I would rather do as other VST loop plugins really feel like I’m cheating.
Thanks Raino for the link. I’ll definitely look into this.

But why? Most of us use spell check without a second thought - is that cheating on spelling. I have 2 basic issues with using loops. 1) Lots of times you end up with loops that are an OK, but not a great fit to the song. So it ‘works’ in the piece but doesn’t enhance it. 2) The lack of variation. This is of course genre dependent & the repetition can be a big plus for some styles.

But the newer generative tools behave more like a real musician. If you had a person playing drums you wouldn’t tell them where to put each individual hit. Instead you might slap your hands on a table top to give them an idea of the groove you want and maybe suggest pushing it a bit on the choruses - at which point the drummer is thinking, “who’s this fool trying to tell me how to play my kit.”

I only recently got the Moonkits VSTi, and mostly for the brush sounds. It can be used exactly like any other drum package out there. But it also has these generative tools that I wanted to explore in the piece below. I began the same as my regular drum writing process by creating a 1 or 2 bar part with the basic groove for the song. What I’d normally do next would be to replicate that part a bunch of times and create variations from those. But instead I just played with the various generative settings to adjust what kinds of variations I wanted it to use and how frequently to use them - which was both a lot less actual work and also more like exploring various options. To my ear the results sound very convincing.

The Knock Turn

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I think you have to come to terms with the fact that you can’t excel at every instrument you are trying to create on a keyboard! Most musicians are already happy to excel on their own instrument. That also goes for keyboard players.

Just because you play keyboards doesn’t necessarily mean you should be able to ‘imitate’ any instrument on the planet in real time!

You need to ask yourself what it is you actually want to accomplish?

Do you want to go on stage and show people how good you can play ‘any’ instrument on your keyboard?

Or do you want to get good at creating songs that use synthesized sounds at a level that they are almost indistinguishable from the real thing?

For the latter you really don’t have to master every single instrument to a level where you can play them real time on your keyboard. You just need to have good ears and know how an instrument should sound and know what vsti’s or Kontakt libraries to use and how to edit them in your daw.

The same goes for drums. If you’re not destined to be a drummer you shouldn’t force yourself into thinking how a real drummer thinks! For one, you’ll never succeed because you obviously are not a drummer by nature! Thinking like a drummer doesn’t mean you should be able to hit the keys on your keyboard like a real drummer hits his kit! So forget about this and move on!

What you need to do is to select the ‘tools’ you need that can create the drums you need to fit your song.

And this is no cheating! Like Raino said, use the tools that fit you and your song. Get the feel you need and edit them where needed.

I’m also not a drummer and I mainly use BFD 3 and Superior Drummer 3. What I do is, I look for a groove that closely matches what I’m looking for. I copy it over to a track on Cubase as a midi track. From there I listen/edit/listen/edit and again…until it matches my music.

I don’t need to force myself into thinking as a drummer. I just need to use my musical ear and focus on how the groove sounds with my music and need to focus on where I need to make edits until it’s completely to my satisfaction throughout the entire song. And a lot of times I find myself using my keyboard to insert fills or additions to this groove. Just adding or subtracting until I ‘hear’ what I want! It takes time and effort, but eventually I get to something that is close or almost Indistinguishable from the real thing.

What matters is that in the end you’ll get your song to sound the way you intended to be! It doesn’t matter how you got there. What matters is that you get there, one way or the other!

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Very cool piece @Raino, very intriguing feeling. I like that, I feel like I’m only hearing an extract. I would love to hear the whole piece. The sound and feel of the drums suits this atmosphere perfectly.

Hmm very good points being made here. You’re right. I starting looking into Jamstix and Sun Drums. Too early to tell what direction I’m going to go on but you guys are right. You can be great at everything…and with the amount of time that goes into drums AND the fact that I’m never happy with playing them on a keyboard it’s not worth it.
Jamstix so far seem good but I don’t feel as of right now that I have much control with it but again, it’s too early to tell. I think I would like to try Sun Drums rather than the brush sticks of Moon Drums. I’ll have to watch some tutorials on all of these to see what works with my flow. Thank you guys very much for your input.