Do you secretly dream of creating a hit song, but lack musical talent or singing ability, well MAGIX Music Maker 15 is for you. Just watch the video to see what I mean:
I was impressed with this sales pitch so I downloaded the free trial version. I’ve always wanted a Mac to play with GarageBand, but never wanted spend that much money on a computer. This program looked like a good substitute for GarageBand on the PC.
WARNING: This trial version has couple annoying obstacles keeping it from being a total breeze of a demo. I’m going to pass on some tips that should reduce the frustration. Shame on MAGIX for making such a clunky trial to such a fun program. My first recommendation is to watch the above video because it’s a good tutorial for getting started.
The trial version of Music Maker 15 installs the shell of the program without any synths or soundpackets, but pay attention to the opening welcome screen and click on “Download soundpackets.” Install this second download and restart the program. It’s disappointed that MAGIX just didn’t include the second download in the original download, because this is a stumbling block that will confuse many trial users. The other buttons on the welcome screen don’t work right unless you have this download installed, and the program itself will be empty of music to arrange.
When you get to the Welcome screen the second time, I suggest loading and play the two demo songs, especially the Chillout demo. Once a song is loaded, hit the play button icon in the middle of the screen. These standard cassette style control button icons are how you play, pause, stop, rewind, record, etc. Listen to the song and watch what’s happening in the various tracks. This is a lesson in music by itself. Songs are composed of tracks, each of which has an instrument or vocal. Notice how the Chillout song has tracks with blank spaces. That’s a key to composing with this program. Your drummer doesn’t need to play all the time, nor does your singer need to sing all the time.
After you have played the songs, it’s time to hit Start new arrangement. This is were the fun and work begins. I started with the Chillout style. You’ll see the trial version now has two styles to play with, Chillout vol. 3, and Techno Trance Vol. 11. When you buy the full version of the program you get a whole lot more. But these two are enough to get an idea of how the program works. By the way, if you click on the View option in the top menu, you’ll see we’re in EasyMode. You’ll want to stay in that mode, but if you turn it off, you’ll see a lot more options.
In the Soundpools section of your screen, you’ll see Styles, Instruments and a selector box showing all the instruments. Notice the little speaker icon by the Name of the instrument. If you click on it you’ll hear the instrument. Clicking the icon again stops it. The top part of the screen is your blank canvas where you edit your song. Just click on an instrument and drag it to a track location. Like I said before, study the video above for visual clues on how to do things.
I started with drums to imagine my first song. I figure the standard method is to lay down rhythm tracks first, and then solo instruments and finally vocal tracks. Basically I followed what the guy was doing in the video tutorial above. It’s easy to create 2, 4 and 8 bar segments of sounds, and combine other instruments on other track locations.
Before long I had a 30 second song with 6 tracks that sounded pretty good. After that, I just became addicted to rearranging the sound of my song. I bet a kid who has the ability to play a video game for hours could really work and enjoy this program, and develop a talent for music. This program makes creating songs easy enough that anyone can start, but educational enough to let users who have sticking power learn a lot about music, both composing and arranging.
Each time I added a new instrument segment I played the whole of my song so far. Just listening gave me inspiration of what to try next. I was now at a place where I was arranging a song with immediate results. I bet whenever I listen to a real song, I’m going to be mentally breaking it down into tracks of instruments and vocals. The basic version of Music Maker 15 has 64 tracks of workspace. At one time, studios had to record songs live, with all musicians and singers performing together. Then came 2 and 4 track recorders, and the concept has been expanding ever since. All the egos of a rock band no longer have to work together in the same studio room.
As a user of a computer song arranger, you can assemble songs from a library of sound loops, record your own performances and vocals, or get arrangements from other computer composers and create digital collaborations. This makes me want GarageBand all the more, because v. 5 allows you to buy music tutorials from famous musicians. I hope the same concept will come to Music Maker.
Back to the program. If you can get this far, where you can assemble sound loops and begin building a song, you’ll discover if you have the addiction or not. Learn to use the scissors icon to cut off segments you don’t like. It’s pretty easy to make a wall of sound that works, but it won’t be like real songs. At this point you are composing.
Just playing with this program for an hour quickly taught me a lot about musical composition, and already I feel the blanks in the tracks are the key to making the song sound more like real music. It’s extremely easy to experiment, and if you persist, the program does pay off fast. The demo is good for 7 days, with the option for a 30 day extension. I get the feeling I’m going to buy the full package though, which is $59.99 at the MAGIX site, but $48.99 at Amazon with free shipping.
If you go to YouTube and search on “Magix Music Maker,” you’ll find many songs budding composers have uploaded. Most aren’t that sophisticated, but I think this one shows real promise:
JWH – 7/26/9