So, hopefully someone finds some good out of this wall of text. Nothing fancy other than basic music stuff I’ve learned. I definitely have much to learn if I want to take this seriously, but I am very occupied!
So, for this bonus feature, I’ll be covering what a Sound Font is, midis, and DAWs.
It’s really the overview of what I use, and partially how I use them.
I’m probably the worst source of information available, but whatever!
This helps me reflect on things I’ve learned over the many years.
I really like music, and after typing somethin’ else up here, I decided to make another one to follow it, something I can feel actually passionate about, and share my basic knowledge.
Makin’ music? Generally speaking, it’s sequencing.
You’re creating a sequence. Playing a bunch of notes is a sequence.
Sequences can be considered an entire song, the process, or even a loop.
What is a loop?
A loop is basically a repetitive sector/sequence.
If you’ve played PSO2, the BGM there is made up entirely of loops.
As the name suggests, it loops.
So, if you cut a portion of it and played it on, let’s say, Winamp, with repeat on, it’ll always play without any interference, a perfect loop.
Simple explanation : It’s a circle, but with notes.
In RPG Maker MV/etc, there are ways to get it to loop since RPGMV actually reads the metadata of a .ogg. If the data includes proper values and offsets based on it’s playtime, it will loop at that selected point. This is akin to how, for example, Final Fantasy battle music never starts from the beginning again. Although one can also make the battle intro the music cue/jingle, so there’s plenty of cheat-space. I can also run down on that later, if anyone actually needs, but there’s a guide covering the how-to of it on the net as it were.
Now, not all songs are made with looping completely in mind, but for some songs, you can have fun with either creating your own loops out of them, for somethin’ like mobile stuff, like ringtones and whatnot.
I shall provide an example on how Megaman Battle Network 6’s main theme can be looped in portions, or looped as a whole.
Granted, it’s not very effective/efficient if you can’t hear it…
I’d make a video or a SoundCloud special if anyone asked, and I’d do it in a heartbeat if they loved music, too!
What to note here is segment 1, the beginning part of the song.
The first 6 seconds. It’s crude to cut it like this, but I love BN6’s theme, and the fact is, it’s a great example on looping, because even if it wasn’t intended, boy, does it loop!
So, if we go from the actual GBA game, the game will continue to play from the actual loop point, from either A or B, until you start the game or the intro/demo plays.
All songs are different, and made with different minds. Some could easily opt for, let’s say, Actual Loop Point A, so it plays more repetitively, or B, for some unknown reason.
Or, they could even choose to begin from Loop Point 1, rather than Actual Loop Point A/B.
I realized I could’ve just said Loop Point 1, 2, A, B. Oh well.
However, this example is a general pattern for the older games. I actually don’t remember which is the case for BN6 as I don’t have a rom on hand, ironically I did want to buy it. But, GameStop. They stopped selling anything you’d actually want, throwing things away to increase demand. Greed, yay!
I only know that the point where the game actually loops, or rather, that’s one part that is guaranteed to be heard again.
Sound Fonts –
General playback of a midi/game format uses a type of file that either is, or resembles a sound font. Sound fonts is basically, fonts, but for music.
The instruments of said Fire Emblem on the GBA can be taken from the actual games, and reassembled, or even bluntly, taking a Sound Font file from the game.
This is ironically my process on obtaining official midis.
In gaming history… I’ll pick a PS2 since I likes the musics of the libraries.
The PS2 actually had sequenced (same as everything above, just fancier sounding.) music. In an example, the music of Atelier Iris 1 and 2 are easily extracted with programs, and the soundfont also being rippable. In some cases, ripping the soundfont won’t actually be a soundfont file format, but .wav files containing notes.
The GameCube also has such a system.
Pretty much everything from the… I dunno-era, into the middle PS2.
Of course, from the CD era, games also had music on the disc, a la .mp3 and then some. This is also relevant to the Sega Saturn’s Redbook Audio feature, where they had arranged music playing rather than typical chips/soundfonts.
I don’t actually know if the Redbook Audio stuff is soundfonts, because I know nothing of the Saturn.
The reason why they’re called chiptunes, is because they’re tunes that are played as if processed by a sound chip. Like if I used the Genesis soundfont, it’d be as if the notes/track was sent through the genesis soundchip. Or somethin’. Chips, tunes.
I don’t know for sure, even though I’ve read up on it all before.
I’m too lazy to re-learn right now.
What stops being chiptune? Typically, anything with a CD/the CD games Era.
Soundfont does not equate to chiptunes.
Midis are essentially a container with tracks that either call to a general soundfont, or come with their own soundfont per song.
Playback of midi files gets complicated to explain, but generally it goes like this : If it’s made with Track 1 as Piano, general midi playback will make it play a cheap synthetic piano. This is what we have with Windows by default.
It’s like an .mp3, but with actual notes, waiting to be rendered into an actual/full song.
Music notations like C D E F G A B, including #C #D #F #G #A.
Octaves is essentially where C begins and B ends, split into generally 7 to 8. So, C7 is C in octave 7.
Music is much like writing. In fact, there are ways to actually write music.
Depending on how you do it, or even dictate it, a simple sample is, ceae#d. This means C, E, A, E, and #D.
An example of this is in Mabinogi’s MML, a music media language that lets you play notes in the game through the Playing Instrument ability, and also in MapleStory 2, apparently. I hear that it’s amazing in MapleStory 2, probably due to high quality wave files, and a more efficient language/etc. Mabinogi’s old.
More examples of possible use.
If the file name is “Harp B”, then the harp instrument, when told to play B, will call that file. So, in Mabinogi, you’re actually playing a bunch of .wav files in an order.
That’s actually exactly how it works when using a DAW.
In fact, Kontakt has a free program that lets you create your own nki/kontakt container (it’s like soundfonts, but requires Kontakt Free/Paid to use), I haven’t gotten to it, and I really should get to making some at some point. I’m so lazy, though.
It’s not like I’m an actual composer or anything, anyways.
Yeah. I can type all this and know all this, but the actual application, damn it all, man.
There are also means of making soundfonts with soundfont making programs, I used to have a very good one! I forgot what it’s even called!
Soundfonts desirability over wav/nki/etc plug ins and so forth?
1 – There’s actually a number of reasons why soundfonts are still popular and relevant in this modern day world. For starters, it isn’t resource heavy/intensive. I actually need to use FL Studio’s 4GB extension or else it won’t work. Granted, I do things like an amateur and very sloppily.
2 – They’re easy to have old-school sounds available in, like gbfont, one of the most popular GameBoy soundfonts available.
3 – They’re small, compact. They’re compressed, rather than using pure waves. Of course, there is some quality disparity between them, but more often it’s minor.
Some keyboards and synthesizers with soundfont support can run them, making it easier or more unique.
4 – They’re also very stable. Modern sound technology/software can crash quite easily, or break quite easily.
This is also how one makes a soundboard. C will play cat meow, etc. Click here to play that sound. That’s literally music in a nutshell, if you dumb it down to the most simplest extent.
DAW / Digital Audio Workstation – You can find plenty of these, from free to premium paid.
I’m a filthy pirate, so I shouldn’t speak much more about my end.
because I’d pay for a hobby that already runs risks because I work with midi files from copyrighted games and then some.
I’m not getting any fame, popularity, or anything out of it.
I do it in case someone stumbles onto it and wants to hear something new, or also known as, my boy. He likes it.
Besides, it sure as hell is better than stealing random midis off the net, discarding all credit, and then taking credit of making the song by posting it in a generic chiptune format on YouTube. I hate that crap.
I’ll never take full credit, and I barely even accept partial credit for what I’ve touched!
I’m trying to expand my territory into actual compositions, but that’s not going too well.
Here’s where rendering the song comes into play. The final and finished product.
This is also relevant to how a studio does a recording process. You can record a song for playback, and then add other instruments/touch ups to the song in said DAW, or by any other means.
In said DAW, you render the song. It’s generally as easy as clicking a button and waiting.
It may seem “lazy”, but it’s the only easy part anyone’s allowed!
In 3D/CGI movies, the rendering process requires super computers, and clusters of them. It’s actually absurd and amazing at how much money is needed to make a computer just for movies, and to make a cluster of them, to boot. They also generally get networked into each other, or dependently, into a super computer.
It can take a long time, or it can be really fast. Depends on what you’re working with and how you’re doing it.
I’d guess it’d be safe to say rendering a song is basically recording and transcribing it into an .mp3, ogg, wav, or whatever, file.
I don’t actually know much, other than making educated guesses.
Or, in a dumb way, if we use a recorded guitar playing, it’s basically placing stickers on top of a clear track.
All also ties into using something like Audacity, which is the same thing. Audacity doesn’t work well as a DAW, but it’s great for anything else audio. Only free example I’ve relied on for years.
Of course, things are also important to consider, whether it’s for a game or for a CD.
We have notable file formats like wav, ogg, mp3, midi.
Midi being redundant if you’re already using one, for, duh reasons.
Of course, there are also rendering settings, blah blah blah, there’s bluntly no point in going over those since… well, they don’t matter, because if you’re already using them, they’re already covered. If you’re new, you’d learn since it’s fairly straightforward.
It’s fortunately not rocket science
A core to DAWs.
Plug ins here are essentially, either effects, or audio processing.
I don’t know how to describe or talk about effects, but effects are vast.
For example, a guitar amplifier is considered an effect in a DAW.
In the real world… a guitar amp is genuinely a plug-in.
(I’ve applied it to almost everything to get completely stupid sounding unique sounds!)
Plug ins have multiple functions, like loading a program that processes/handles tracks input/output, like Kontakt, which is souped up soundfont-ing.
There are also instruments people make that are in the form of plug-ins, in case one would rather use a plugin than a manager like Kontakt.
Effects are also a part of the plug in library, in which you can do things like equalize, change volume, reverb, so on, so forth.
Many effects are very basic, and are more or less, included everywhere.
Even in Audacity, you can pull off professional effects with basic free/included plug-ins!
I definitely have the least knowledge in this part, but in general, it’s basically a piano/keyboard that’s usually portable, complete with all sorts of knobs/settings.
Generally, they can record notes. It’s basically portable music making. I have a KORG on the 3DS, and well, it’s pretty straightforward, it’s just a different type of DAW.
KORG is a well-known brand that has existed for… a really long time.
*Google says 1962, and they’re based in Japan. Ironically, very musical.
They make many types of music equipment.
I actually feel happy knowing I have it on my 3DS and can actually use it in some form/to a minor extent. Though, I’m ashamed I pirated the -other- KORG. Can’t afford both, and for a hobby that is going nowhere? Jesus, that would be super entitlement!
I’m already entitled enough, you know.
I have no idea what else I want to add/address. I mean, where do I begin?!
Honestly, I wanted to say more/do more, but I can’t really think of how.
I’m just too much of an amateur with not enough knowledge.
I guess doing this also shares my process with my boy, and tells me what I should know about myself. Apparently, I know quite a bit, compared to my past self of 5+ years ago.
It feels good.