Composing Music with a MIDI Instrument | Misici | Skillshare

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Composing Music with a MIDI Instrument

teacher avatar Misici, Music Composer & Producer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Working with the Maschine


    • 3.

      Laying Down Drums: Step Mode


    • 4.

      Building Chords: Chord Mode


    • 5.

      Melody & Arpeggiator: Pad Mode


    • 6.

      Transitioning to Ableton


    • 7.

      From Loop to Track


    • 8.

      Keep Performing!


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About This Class

Have you always been curious about MIDI instruments? Maybe you've dabbled with MIDI keyboards in the past, but having seen all the interesting new styles of instruments in recent years, your curiosity has increased?

In this class, we're going to explore composing an original track using a Maschine Mikro MK3. We will build our drumline, chords, and melody within the software Maschine 2 using our instrument, then transition our loop into Ableton Live 11 for final production and arrangement.

This is for anyone who is curious about how MIDI instruments aid in the composition process. For those taking this class, any type of MIDI instrument and DAW can be used to follow along. But even if you don't have an instrument yet, this class may help you in your decision to buy one. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Music Composer & Producer


Hi! I'm Jordan, I also go by Misici.

I'm a composer & producer from Australia, having studied music at the University of New England. I also teach music and performing arts from my base in Shanghai as well as in partnership with institutions in other cities on request.

I score projects on a freelance basis for animation, video games, and film. I also produce lofi and dance tracks for Spotify and YouTuber clients. I fell in love with music production while rocking out to the Doctor Who soundtrack in my car with my best friend as a teen. Since then I've been obsessed with finding and creating the perfect leitmotif.

My favourite style of class is short, sharp, and focused on creating and refining a single track that's applicable for a focused purpose. I don'... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: In this class, we are going to be composing music using a midi instrument. In the case of what I use, it is the Messina Mach three micro. As little. It is very useful. It's got everything that I need on it. Really quick and easy to use. Very intuitive instrument. And today we're going to use it to make a track. Midi instruments are very great resources, especially for performers who are composing music. Because performers, the way that performance think is with their hands and while they're playing, they would need to create new music. They can have a lot of hot, they can have a lot of difficulty sitting at a computer, drawing in notes and feeling inspired, feeling the music come to them, that it's not so easy. But if they're playing, it comes to the music comes to them and it gets recorded in. And the great thing about an instruments such as this is that it loops and new sounds over old sounds. So that before too long, you've got to track and it's yours forever and it's composed. Hi, I'm Jordan. I'm a composer and producer. And today we're going to use a midi instrument to make a new track. For those who are curious about midi instruments and trying to wondering is it for them? So I've got mine. Let's get started. Let's make some music. 2. Working with the Maschine: So the way that I do it is a little bit unusual because I am not someone that needs the midi instrument to think of new ideas for music. I am the type of person that can draw in notes in a door DAW and feel inspired from that. I can create music from scratch that way. Using the midi instrument isn't something that is something that I need for my process, but I do enjoy it. It's a lot of fun to work out how the track will sound from playing, from experimenting. We obviously have a limited amount of time to experiment with today. Why not going to put in the full amount of playing and practicing and jamming that you would necessarily need to do to create a really great sound using a midi instrument. So don't use the amount of time less spending today as an example of how much time you should actually spend. If you're trying to create a great sound for a new track. For this class today, I need to spend a very short amount of time and try to work out a sound as fast as possible and go with whatever sound comes to me naturally in the moment. You don't need to be doing that when you're practicing with your midi instrument and you're playing, please keep going and don't use the first instrument that you try. You might want to use the tanh or more instruments before you come across one that really not only gives you the inspiration that you need, but it, it sounds good. It gives you the inspiration. But also it's something that it's gonna give you the idea for the next instrument. That's what's most important. You need a sound that it's not just great on its own. It's great because all you know what pairs with this, this instrument then that played together and you've got it looping and all you know, what would sound right with this, this instrument, that's what you want. You want that building inspiration. We didn't have a lot of time for that today. I'm going to just play with whatever instruments I pick and sound okay in the moment and allow a track to materialize that way. Because it is such, it is so quick today. I'm going to create a sound that sounds most okay, and then get it over to Ableton, where I will probably swap sounds out. I feel more comfortable in Ableton. So that's probably the biggest way that this will feel unusual. A lot of performative composers will create the whole thing with their instrument. Create the whole thing within the software that works with this instrument, and export a full track that way. They work with scenes, which is how the software for the instrument breaks up different parts of the song and put all the saints together and export, I finished track. I am a little bit weird and that I don't do that, I don't work with scenes. I create a loop using the instrument. And then I export that loop to Ableton and then from that terminal loop into a track in Ableton. So I'll show you the way that I do it. This isn't the way this isn't there is no the way everyone does it differently. This is just the way that I like to do it. As someone who would not consider myself a performer. I would consider myself a producer, composer primarily. So I perform just enough with this to get the feel and the sound that I Jan really want and create a loop that works for me and I can build off of, get that over to Ableton and expand the link from there using the instruments and the synthesisers that I have enabled him to change the sounds and make them more what I want. So with that in mind, let's start working with the instrument. It's gonna be all about jamming and making something that sounds great. And, or okay, and then knowing the greatest coming, knowing that great as possible. And you can see me and how I use the machinery, the way that I use the instrument is pretty basic. So if you want further instruction, I encourage you to look for that or to just play with your own instrument and figure out what more I can do. It can do a lot more. So keep working, keep practicing. Alright, let's get started on that track today. 3. Laying Down Drums: Step Mode: We are working today with Machina micro three. Mach three. And we're going to use it to make our lo-fi beats. We have our pads here on which we play our instruments. We have four modes that we're going to use. We have Pad mode, keyboard mode, code mode, and step mode. Each is useful for different reasons. First, we need to choose a kit. So let's see which case we want to say from. Now, you don't have to do it this way. You can drag-and-drop individual instruments onto these onto the pads. You can, like I said, you have your own drum set, your own keys, and you want to drag and drop one at a time. You literally grab the file and drop it here and it will populate the appropriate pad. I really love to work with entire kits, mostly because I do end up changing the sound once I get the song out of machine as hardware, software. So I will make the song in machine is software. And if I liked the sound enough from the sounds that machine or has provided, I'll use them, or I will drag them over to Ableton and change them. But not always. Oh, I might mix and match. Okay, So let's see what sounds are working with. So in Pad mode, I'm just going to touch each pad and I will hear the corresponding instrument according to where it lines up into software. So we have it right now so that it's on velocity, which just means if I push it hard, it'll read hard or soft. So it's going to react to the velocity that I hit it. Now, some people really loved that. I don't, I, changing velocity when I hit, it's very rarely intentional. If I want to change the the gain of the sounds, I'm going to do that after making the, making the sound. I'm not going to do that while, while I'm making this sound, I'll do it in editing. Now this is unique to everyone. It kind of depends on you, more of a performer or more of a producer. That's just my argument. Performance tend to be all about the field. They feel it. And so they want to feel the gain in the push reaction of the instrument. And you know, they want to push out the velocity that they want to push that. That's just not me. So I will turn that off by pushing fixed philosophy. And you can change the velocity that it fixes that right here in your settings. I'm going to keep aware it is going to kick my snare. Alright, cool. So that's how I kinda key sound. Nice clap. Now. Now I actually loved making drums and I hello, finger drumming. I think it's really amazing that people are such incredible finger dramas. So here in Pad mode is where people will draw them their hearts out. This is the place to do it. This isn't the place I'm gonna do it. I'm going to use step mode. So in Step mode, I can arrange the johns how I want. And it's just going to go according to the baby. So the last pad that I touch is going to what's gonna get carried over to step mode. Let's arrange the cake like that so that it happens. Let's play it. You can hear what I'm in. Great. So we can pull the Johnson from here so I can touch a different one until loader. And then move back over to the step mode. Alright, cool. Once I have a sound that I like, I can record it. Alright. So it's recorded. Now, you'll notice the way that I recorded it. You can just hit record if you want to. I always like to shift record. And the reason is is did you hear that if I Shift record, shift puts everything down into whatever is written underneath the headlines. So we've got that, the headline here and then a sub line here. Whatever is written underneath, is only accessible when you hit Shift. So you can use this button to tap your, your BPM. But if you hold Shift and touch it, it's going to turn on the metronome instead because it's TAP is first and I mentioned Metro is underneath. Here. We've got record and then underneath record we've caught counting. So I go shift to touch it and it's gonna give me a nice 1234 and then start recording. You can extend that once again in the settings so that accounts in eight times instead of four times. Totally Yoko. We've started off with a core drum sound, which we achieved with Step mode. That way it didn't require any kind of drumming at all, which is very nice. So I go back to pad mode and then we can keep going with our keys sound. 4. Building Chords: Chord Mode: Okay. So I remember the key sellers. Yeah. Okay. So what do I do? I've lost the last sound that I taught. It's just like with the step count out, the last sound that you touch is what's going to carry over to another mode. So I touched it. Now I go over to keyboard. Alright, so in keyboard mode, it is going to automatically transpose that sound across the chromatic scale. And you can change the scale right here. Right now, it's on S3 as our base note, as our root node. Say three is of course, middle C on the keyboard of a piano. C3 is here, and it's a root note. You'll notice that it's lit more brightly. And so is this one, which means that this is c4, exactly one octave higher. So within this range, we have our Octave to play with. Now. Within here, we can play out a melody or we can play our codes. But a better way of playing chords is of course, code mode. Within code mode, it is going to make codes, however we choose. It's going to make triad codes automatically, but you can change that, of course. In the settings, you can scroll across between major and minor chords and of course, various types of minus, of course, and even various scales. Pentatonic scale, major scale, a minor scale, all the scales. You can just change it. I'm just leaving it how it is. We've got our C3, we've got our triads. And so here I've just got to make a chord progression and it's easy as pressing a button. Standard chord progressions four parts. So is there another sound? Maybe, maybe I want to, I want a different keyboard sentence. I'm going to go into the software and see what we have in here. I like that. So I'm going to drag it in just like I said before, what am I not using? Let's drag them into 11. Okay. It's quite nice. Alright. Okay, so let's record that chord progression. I'm going to adjust the length of our loop. So I'm going to go into pattern because you are, you create music within patterns and then you can arrange patterns within scenes. I don't usually make patterns and themes because I don't do everything within machine as software. I create a loop that I'm happy with and then drag that into Ableton and then I continue from there. So I just dragged it out so that the entire thing is four bars long. And then I'll get out of pattern. And I'm back here on my codes mode. Other people may be different to me and may find that they can do absolutely everything within the software. I think it is made to be let's I wouldn't call it a full door, although some people would I would call a door adjacent. You can work it within Ableton. I prefer not to. I prefer to work with it on its own and then drag everything across to Ableton. 5. Melody & Arpeggiator: Pad Mode: Alright, so time for a melody. Let's choose a melody sounds. This could be cool. Let's try that. All right, let me just like arrange that for a hot second. Just to move things slightly. I just arranged them so that they're all identical to each other. And now it sounds like this. Cool, sorry. That's nice. That's a cool loop. Okay, so what can we put over top of that loop? Probably a clap. Now what I'm gonna do is I'm going to use this Note Repeat button when I push that down and something else at the same time, it's going to repeat the note for me like this. Like that. It's holding it. Repeat down, hold that down. If I hold Shift N, Note repeat, it, changes it down to are the arpeggiator. Which is awesome. My use that to, alright, so let's put this clap over what we have so far. Clap a little bit further forward. Yeah. Just like that. This one stuck because I did I did the repeat too late and I put one here by accident groups. So yeah, let's use the arpeggiator next with like a cookie sound. Okay, One last thing, we'll use the arpeggiator. So let me just try to grab it. Like a key sounds. So interesting. Interesting. I started with a kit and then I just revised the **** out of it. Never stuck with what I got automatically. Yes. I don't know what the point of that was. Okay. So let me show you the arpeggiator. So the notes were bouncing between the notes and you can edit the right over here and the re and how fast it goes and how it relates. You can have it so that just goes straight up. Just go straight down, bounces between. Alright, let's give that a try. O a little bit late. Alright, cool. I just moved everything so that it's right and its place. Let's see how that sounds. Cool. What this is in desperate need of is arrangement. Now what you need, What's awesome is we've got a bunch of layers here which have the potential for greatness. I want to arrange them in Ableton, get them looking good, play with them, change the instruments, do whatever I want. So let's do that. 6. Transitioning to Ableton: Here I am in Ableton session view and here is machine as software. What am I going to do? I need to get those amides across so that I can start working on them in Ableton. Well, very easy. We have two buttons here and Midea one and wave. If I wanted to bring across a sound, is a wave form. I can. And the advantage of doing that is that it's already done. And I keep the instrument. If I have done it with, with, if I've played it with velocity, if I fingered, drummed it, if I've made it awesome, I can bring across the wave file and not have to risk losing what I've made. However, otherwise, if I want to change anything, I'm going to bring across as midi. So I'm just going to grab the middle icon here, drag it across like this. Bam. Yes, I will bring across that details. There we go. So that's my iPad, Apigee apogee. Goodness. I just need to do the same for the other files too. And just like a range or amides. So let's grab all those amides. I've dragged everything across to Ableton, the drums I dragged across as WAV files so that they're done. I don't have to assign new drums to them. They are exactly as we played them. But the chords, melody, and arpeggiation jagged over as many files so that I can assign instruments to them and make a new sound as I see fit. So if I play it right now, all I hear is the jumps. Cool. So we need to choose instruments for all of these chords. Gosh, I think I'm thinking synthesized. So I'm going to drag serum into here. Now, if you don't have any idea about how to synthesize urine sounds. I have a class right here on Skillshare that is just for synthesising, just for making your own synthesized sounds. So go check that one out. It is called sound design, synthesis. Something like that. The thumbnail has a big word that says synthesis. So it's not, it's not hard to, hard to say. Two sounds. I think. The second one can have multiple sounds with slide detuning going to just cut down that leveling. Going to filter it with a low-pass filter where the cutoff about here, maybe less than the attack. Oh, I know. I'll bring the cutoff up as it goes on. Yeah, That would be cool. That would be really cool. Let's see how that sounds. A lower this. So that it happens maybe two bars. That's typical of a jump for me. It's less than that jump. Maybe previous slide Champ de. Half, a slight jump again. Not the most ambitious codes. He G. And then be. A fourth one's a bit gross because it's out of it's not in C, D. I must have really, I must have moved at why don't we were still in Machina. Hey, I'm pretty good. I'm pretty good with that. I'm happy with that. So we have synthesized cause right here. Malady. Maybe we can use an existing sounds. Perhaps we will use Spitfire labs. Everything I have from Spitfire labs is free. So if you like the sound of it, you can grab it for yourself at no cost to download the Spitfire Labs app and then just grab all the instruments that you want. Let's grab the mandolin. Right? How does that sound? No. What about a piano? Now, I'm not happy. I'm gonna make a sound. Back to serum. Alright, it's going to need to be more offensive. So let's stick with this triangle waveform, but then soften that up at the second oscillator. Yeah, so now it's nice and soft. I will keep the level quite high. Maybe add a couple more instruments just on the second oscillator. They're still filter up, but not as much and not have it alternate. Why haven't I lipsticks already? Gosh. Okay. There we go. What are the arpeggiator? That could be a piano. Let's bring labs back into the conversation. Maybe add them. Maybe the glass grand. Isn't that weird? What if we did an eight bit sound? Triangle noise? Little bit of attack to k less. Okay, what does that sound like? Gosh. We just got to line up. What, what notes there on? We are doing. Half F sharp. Why? Actually that was interesting. F, F sharp, G, F sharp. Let's drag these into line. We've got C sharp, E, F, F sharp, G down, again, F sharp. Just trying to think of ways that I can make it a bit more exciting, tell us, and j are a bit harder, not easier. Listen to. Yeah. I didn't know I was having fun with the arpeggiator bad enough. That belongs in there in the final version. 7. From Loop to Track: Maybe if this arpeggiation weren't arpeggiated, maybe if it were drawn out. I just make them larger and spread them out. In a way that's interesting. Just like, okay, pull that up. Maybe put the piano it back on here. At such an experiment, just constantly changing sounds until something feels. Something feels alright. That's interesting. Maybe if they became, now, I could put a little bit of reverb on. Now, going to use Valhalla supermassive. It's a free plugin. I liked that a lot more, a lot more. Alright, now the rule of sum creation, which is to take loops, copy them a bunch of times, and then change where who gets to play at what time. So I just copy my loops, paste, paste, copy my leaves, paste, paste till I get sung length. Let's say three minutes. Where song length. So how do we want the song to begin? We just cut away and allow the song to build. Maybe get the cards in there. Yeah, yeah. Okay, I think I'm going to copy and paste the chords down here. And just take them up an octave. It's just about creating that layered sound so that it's the same thing. But it sounds interesting because it's layered over something else. Going to have to get serum back in here. Recreate that sound. What did I do? Oh, I remember. Kind of get that basic shape. Got this bad boy. It's just like the other one, but it's a little bit of Harsha. I think I want that one. Cut that cut off. I will have the attack. But maybe I won't have a buildup so much. Or I'll have a buildup quicker manner that would not be interesting. It's too loud. Okay, and hold off on this lats. Let's have the germs taper off. Before we let this melody in here. I can ensure. No. Keep that in there. Alright, this, What is with this starts on the F, G, a, on a white rum. What? Sorry, I mean, this. When did this start? F as well? It's an F sharp here. I think I liked this and now I don't think it's because it's now the only thing outside of G major. So it doesn't feel right. Yeah, I gotta keep it in C major. A. Look. Some people are creative and awesome and liked to work outside of the k. I always feel like I'm that guy until I do it. And then I'm outside the k and I feel lonely and sad. And then I find myself back home again. Okay, and then we cut this off. Maybe kicked a drum. Let's edit it so that it sounds a little bit weird. This one is emptied on here. So I'm going to drag it down to here, make two of them. And I'm going to distort it using rift. Rift is a plugin and you can fiddle with the settings a lot, or you can just use some of these automatic kind of things that will change the automatic settings, that will change it for you. Oh, I didn't put Riyadh and I didn't make a sound for it yet. I think that's what I did. I think it has a slight attack to it. It's pretty interesting. That's because of rift, by the way. Maybe I'll keep it going. Maybe just the last part. And then I think it's a good, it's a good end. Delete all of these. I think it's a good place to end. Maybe I bring in this 1.52 here. That's how we kinda taper it off. Maybe we let this drum for an NDA. We let this drum have a big reverb on the end. So instead it here, put Valhalla on it, give it a reverb tail. Slushy. Might be too extreme. Something smaller. Much better. Hey guy. 2.5 minute track at a very simple melody. Simple build, and then a midsection where it gets really weird. And then the witness carries across sex. We build up the drums built into a melody, play the melody out, make the melody weird as a midpoint, and then bring everything back with the weird melody and then let it taper out. And then that's the cell. 8. Keep Performing!: We did it. We made the check. I have no idea what that track would be useful for. Gosh, maybe scoring some kind of potty track or in the background of an interview for a crazy person, I have no idea. It's a very unique track, but the most important element of making any kind of music is that we get better at making music the more we make it. So just by making the music, we have improved our ability to make music in the future. So that's grant. If you are, I perform a naturally, you're going to find that you really gravitate towards midi instruments. And you'll probably going to find yourself not feeling very fulfilled. Drawing notes into DAW or door software, you're going to find a lot more fulfillment in playing. Playing an instrument. Midi keyboards suddenly something that they used to be very popular. But these types of instruments, such as the Mishnah and other ones that have a lot of those gummy buttons are getting much more popular these days. So if you feel intrigued, there are some inexpensive funds in the market. This one that I've just used the machine micro is not very expensive. Neither is the launchpad. The Novation Launchpad is also not very expensive under $250. So if that sounds like something that would excite you, get started practice and make music. If you find that you make music more efficient, more efficiently by literally playing something, then that's a good thing. And you should explore that. If you are confused by certain musical language such as notes, chords, and keys, things like that. I do have a theory class here on Skillshare. If you are confused by the synthesising, I have a Skillshare on that too. And I have other stuff such as composing, fulfill other things. I've also just recently linked my Spotify to my Skillshare. If you'd like to hit the relaxing lo-fi tracks that I enjoy making. You can access. That is, alright, thank you so much for joining me and I hope to see you at the next one very soon. See, yeah.