Welcome to a Brief Explanation of the Composing Process - according to my predilections. Here’s a fairly recent photo of my computer system layout when I put on my composing hat. I compose music using what might be considered a minimalist configuration. These days I have few musical instruments at my disposal, nor do I need them. Back in my 20s I used to play the guitar extensively. Most of my compositions are created directly on the monitor screen using either a mouse or WACOM tablet. On rare occasion I resort to recording melodies on a keyboard using Sonar software connected via MIDI or USB. The photo to the left shows a former dual monitor system. Sonar software is loaded and displayed on the monitors. I have since incorporated a third HD monitor. I’m considering replacing one or two HD monitors with a 4K Ultra- Definition monitor. 4K monitors tend to take up a lot more real estate. I would have to rearrange the physical layout of my desk and shelves and fork out some bucks for a better graphics card. As of 2015 4k monitors cost about 3 - 4 times more than a decent 23” HD monitor. On the other hand a single 4k monitor quadruples the screen resolution of a typical HD monitor. Who knows. Perhaps Santa will be generous this year. Whatever the cost, I won’t trade in our cat, Charm. While composing I use TANOY monitor speakers and well-used Audio-Technica monitor head phones to maintain audio balance. Later, when I want to hear the big sound and rattle a few windows I switch over to some Cerwin-Vega ReSeries speakers. The primary composition software I currently use is Cakewalk’s, Sonar Producer Edition series. I tend to upgrade to the latest version every two or three years. Upgrading can be a hassle, so I try to minimize the process.  It’s my understanding that Avid’s Pro Tools package is the preferred (industry standard) software that serious composers use. I’ll pass for now. Cakewalk’s flagship package does pretty much everything that Pro Tools does, and does it a lot cheaper. I’ve also been using Cakewalk software products for more than fifteen years and  have grown accustomed to most of its quirky little peccadilloes. When I’m composing the two primary software synths I use are Dimension II Pro (wave table generation) and Z3TA+2 (wave modeling). Both packages are extremely sophisticated. Trying to hunt through respective documentation for both of these packages is daunting. Most colleagues I’ve spoken to who have attempted to use both of these synths tend to give me the impression that they have only scratched the surface of what both of these synths can do. Cakewalk is now advertising a new updated synth, Rapture (Pro) which seems incorporate both Dimension’s Wave Table generation and Z3TA’s wave modeling algorithms, all under a single software synth. While it is tempting I need to stick with what I got for now.  What follows are some screen shots of the Sonar Software: I find that I go back to composing music when I need a serious break from other brain demanding activities, aka OD’d on too much computer coding. Curiously, excessive painting within the digital realm can also drain me to a point that need to switch over to composing. Its as if I  need to give the graphic centres of mly brain an R&R rest.  I consider myself fortunate that I have three diverse (and affordable) vices at my disposal that I can play with. It is my hope that some listeners will find solace and happiness listening to a few of these compositions. The composing process has certainly given me important refuge at times when I needed it. - Steven Vincent Johnson
Audio  Home The Composing Process
Computer configuration Sonar Main Track Screen Sonar Main Track Screen Piano Roll Piano Roll Where notes are placed on the screen. Dimension Pro Software Synth Dimension Pro Software Synth Z3TA+2 Software Synth Z3TA+2 Software Synth
that was zen
this is tao