Besides Tutorials or Perusing the Manual
I've always been 100% on my own with the former underground hip-hop mission (now through personal divine revelation reestablished as Jump Music), begun in 1992 when I was 12, and naturally the biggest barrier and worst cause of frustration prior to all of the audio production software tools was attaining the financial means to fund the operation (and lacking development of serious skills). The sense of purpose was there. My purposes as an artist were always product-oriented, not customer-oriented, though I was still seriously driven by the business sense, realizing that there is money to be made.
I started out mixing and scratching records, and looping beats. Beat-boxing is something I learned in the early 80's, and in my teenage years and early adulthood I came up with some beats that were funky and inspired me when I finally did get a drum machine and a Roland XP-80 Music Workstation (Roland's flagship music workstation keyboard, now discontinued).
For years I kept coming up with original drum and percussion patterns, and for years I also would sit down at the keyboard, press record, and then do whatever comes to mind for a couple hours. Afterward, I would listen to the slop and extract sound patterns, which I kept organized mainly by 1 measure, 2 measure, 4 measure, and 8 measure samples. The Roland had a floppy disk drive and I ended up with shoeboxes full of disks. Then for all of my groove patterns the next step was to ascribe synth sounds to them. This is the first area where making quality beats gets challenging. I had to learn how to use all of the different envelopes for creating synth sounds, such as the pitch envelope, the filter envelope, the volume envelope, and the LFO (low-frequency oscillators) envelope. At that point, I was in way over my head. Since I was creating patterns by pressing keys in a random manner, I still have trouble finding the right pitch for my notes. Another thing that stumps me is that the keyboard itself has a master pitch tune that sets the semi-tone values for each key thus changing the vibe of the music compared to when all keys are set at 0.
Buttons, not keys, on the keyboard started to go bad from heavy daily use, and having learned a minor bit about MIDI (from using the MIDI sequencer clock), I felt an urgent to transfer all of my note data from the Roland keyboard to an audio software program. I chose Reason, and it has been a little over 6 years since I started with it. I spent probably that first year getting all of my note data transferred to Reason, experimenting with its devices, and looking for sounds online to download. I was able to download more than I could ever know what to do with.
So, I have all of my note data organized into .rns files, I have a ton of patches, and a ton of other samples, so it shouldn't be hard to make a quality track, right? Well, I still can't get a sound from my 'songs' that I would consider to be music, but only an 'idea.' Anyone out there who can diagnose the situation an offer some easy remedies? Buy Pro Tools is not the kind of advice I'm looking for, but any advice as long as it's helpful would be appreciated. Anybody with some useful .rns file templates for the getting a great sound from some of the devices? I just can't seem to get my music to sound 'spacious,' panning sounds just doesn't do the trick. Also, I tend to use really deep humming bass that I produce using the SubTractor. However, when I play it on car stereo's it seems like it totally damages the speakers because despite all my efforts with the compressors, the EQ's, and the stereo imager, I can't get it sound good and tight.