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WELCOME IN THE STUDIO

In this section you can find things that will assist you in your own computer-based musical productions. There's a lot of original Dubroom material which you can use, but also third party material. There's much more than "just" sampled material, as you can find some little pieces of software, presets and other things as well. Everything in this section is, like all stuff in the Dubroom by the way, legal and -a lot of times- absolutely free of charge. Definitely worth a visit, for novice to veteran.

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ABOUT CHAPTER 9

The previous chapter was an introduction to yet another section in this series of articles about creating Dub with the computers. First I explained some of the basics of the reggae riddims. And in Chapter 9, an introduction was written, both audio and midi were introduced as the two different ways in which you can use a computer in the music making process. 

Midi, as explained in the previous chapter, is a protocol which is used for digital devices to  communicate with another. Audio, is the recording of sound.

Midi is necessary for the creations of riddims, and audio is vital in the production of Dub music, because Dub, in essence, is the art of changing sounds.

THE SAMPLER

The SoundBlaster has an onboard sampler, of which I have expressed my enthusiasm. Why? Well, the sampler allows me to create my own instruments based on Sound Samples. For example, I can record a hit on a snare drum, and put it in the sampler. I can program a drum rhythm, using the recorded snaredrum sample. Where most synthesizers have their own electronic drum sounds, a sampler will let me use the sounds or real instruments and play it using midi. I can sample the sounds of a piano and then use the sampled sounds to play chords or whatever.

MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - CHAPTER 10: MIDI (1) - INTRODUCTION

In the previous Chapter I left the Midi subject with the reminder, that midi records notes and other information, not the sounds. Midi lets the computer record the notes and play it back, optionally after processing the notes in various ways. I also came up with the word "Sequencer". In the next chapters you can read much more about the subject. To start, this chapter contains a short history of my early years with computerized dub, a time before I came online and started the Dubroom in 1997, as well as a more detailed description of the Sequencer and other basic MIDI knowledge. 

For a long time, midi was the only way I could use my computer. I had two soundcards, Soundblasters 1.0, that both had one output. The funny things of these soundcards was, that they had a little synthesizer chip, a very cheap synthesizer onboard, which could be played by midi. Now what did that mean, especially having two? I used the FM-Chip on one SoundBlaster to play a drum and bass part, and the other card played some chords. The sounds were terrible, those of you who remember the early 1990's surely know about it. It's the sound you get in very cheap children's keyboards. 

I had a line with bass and drum, and another with the chords, which I connected to my mixing table. The only effect I had was a tape recorder, which I used for echo creations. I used midi to create the riddims. Now what exactly did I use for that?

SEQUENCER

As you probably know, in a studio you have multi-track recording devices. Instruments are all recorded on a different track, and the complete song is mixed over a mixing board and recorded to a two track (stereo, left and right) master tape. Although this is all audio (sound recording), midi uses a similar kind of technology. The multi track device is a Sequencer. Sequencer software (there is also hardware, but I will not discuss that here) has different tracks. You can assign this track to a certain instrument, and then you can start recording or programming notes, which can later be played back together with other tracks and instruments. 

CHANNELS

As you might remember, I wrote earlier I used one SoundBlaster 1.0 for drum and bass, and the other one for chords, the skanks. One SoundBlaster can play different instruments at the same time. In the sequencer you can record the different instruments apart from each other, and mix them to the stereo line-out of the Soundcard. Every SoundBlaster had 16 different channels, so in principal I could use 16 different instruments out of a bank of 127 and an equal amount of percussion instruments. I had a lot of limitations back then, but almost every MIDI device has different channels, in order to "be" different instruments. But I used two channels on the first Soundcard, and three on the other one. Then how did the computer know which notes he had to send to which soundcard?

PORTS

A sequencer doesn't only assign instruments to a certain MIDI Channel, it also possible to assign PORT numbers. You can connect different MIDI devices to your computer, and your sequencer can play a song (a midifile) using all connected devices. The drums would be played by a drum computer on one port, while there are also different synthesizers and sound modules (keyboards without keyboard, only the sounds) play on different ports. Every port can have 16 MIDI channels. Most of the time, your computer will let you connect only one MIDI device for input (usually a keyboard to play notes on), and one for output, and therefore you only use 2 ports most of the time. So you would have only two instruments available for playback: the midi synthesizer/sampler on your soundcard, and an external device, such as a sound module. There are devices that will enable you to control more different ports over one computer, but to keep it simple I will stick to the most common configuration. It is still possible to connect more external devices through just the one midi out that your soundcard will give you, you'll have to assign them all with different channels and chain-connect them. But that's also getting to deep for now, so I will leave it like this.

BASIC CONFIGURATION

For the next Chapters, I will use the next basic configuration: A computer, an external midi keyboard and one SoundBlaster Live! 1024. It has a midi sampler on it, and a midi out, as well as a midi in for recording notes. In principal, this is all you need to create a reasonable Dub, especially when you're just starting. I am grateful to know that I have created Dub only with a SoundBlaster (then still the AWE, but that is comparable to the Live), so it is possible. I use the SoundBlaster Live, because it has a sampler (look left for deeper explanation), but you can use almost any contemporary soundcard with an onboard synth. 

<<<PREVIOUS CHAPTER<<< - MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - >>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>

This tutorial is in an unfinished stage, but it does contain the basics to get yourself equipped to use just about any DAW or even hardware studio in order to make DUB from Reggae Music in the authentic and original way. When you have a question or comment you'd like to see addressed, feel free to use the Dubroom Contact pages or join YUKU.com and post your words publicly on the Studio Forum. Click here to read about the latest updates to this tutorial.

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