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I recently bought the Novation Mininova and now I would like to practise playing it. In my mind a synthesizer like this is hard to just play around with, without any other instruments playing. I would like some hints about how I can practise on my own (just using the synth and some headphones)...

I would like to utilize the fact that this is a synth (and not a keyboard or electrical piano) because my goal is to use this item to produce some great electronic music! So I already know that the keys are not weighted and such things...

Thanks!

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The Mininova specs indicate that it has an arpeggiator -- this should allow you to get at least a bass-loop going. –  Dave Aug 11 at 13:59
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@Dave: but you wouldn't be able to play anything over that bass loop, since the Mininova is monotimbral. –  leftaroundabout Aug 11 at 19:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The first thing I'd do is find a loop station. This will allow you to record various parts, and layer them, using all the various new sounds available from your synth. Most have rudimentary drum tracks if you need them, and if you mess up with the next layer of sound, you can delete it without losing anything else.

Another option is to use some of the backing tracks so readily available on Youtube, etc. Often produced with guitarists in mind, but what's wrong with adding synth noises instead ?

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Great suggestions. I'd add that the next step, eventually, will probably be to get some sort of sequencing software to build your own tracks with. I use Reason, which is also a full DAW and has many of its own synths you can control with your Minimova. Many other options like Ableton Live are also great. However, there are definitely much cheaper less full-featured options out there that might make for a better starting place. –  Pat Muchmore Aug 11 at 12:35
    
I go with this suggestion. I have set up Ableton Live to act as a loop station, works quite well! Thanks! –  theva Aug 13 at 12:14

In addition to loop suggestion, I'd also see if you can split the keys into different instruments.

This will allow you to play bass or percussion with one hand and melody with the other making for a full sounding performance without having to rely on recording layers.

In terms of backing tracks, check out the fantastic app iReal Pro

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Interesting suggestion! Do you know if that is possible to do with just the Mininova? –  theva Aug 12 at 16:39
    
Doesn't look like the synth supports this but you could easily set it up if you're playing through a DAW like Ableton. –  ioseph Aug 13 at 23:22

Take some introductory piano lessons to get the necessary minimum of knowledge that does not differ much between various keyboard instruments and is even similar between all instruments (music notation, chords, etc).

While keys may not be weighted, they layout is the same as for the piano keyboard, and between numerous voices of the synthesizer you should find a piano voice as well.

Or search for a teacher that would teach exactly synthesizer, it may also be possible to find. Maybe the shop or the manufacturer support would know and recommend.

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The next step is to add some kind of recording system, so that you can play some drum loops and record multiple keyboard tracks over them. As great as your synthesizer is by itself, it has a MIDI port that can integrate with a recording system and open up multitrack recording and many more sounds. What you want to do is start with some drum loops as a drum track, play a bass part over it, then play a melody part over it, and you’ll be making sophisticated music, not just playing one part alone. The key thing is you want to get 2 or 3 parts going at once, because then you get something that is bigger than the sum of its parts. And once you have some drums and bass going, you can jam for a long time and it is more educational than just playing alone as well.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can get an iRig MIDI interface for a fairly low price and hook your synthesizer into the iPhone or iPad and run the GarageBand software, which is either included on your iPhone or iPad, or is $5 extra. It’s very easy to choose some drum loops in GarageBand and play your synthesizer over top and record multiple tracks and make real music, even with no experience or training. GarageBand has drum loops built-in, all kinds of synthesizer sounds, and also guitars and basses and strings and other instruments.

The reason I recommend GarageBand on iPad or iPhone as a starter solution is you can just play music with it right away, without doing any kind of technical stuff. And also it is the cheapest and smallest solution. And if you move to something Mac-based later — like Logic or Ableton Live — the iPad or iPhone solution is still useful as a mobile rig. And the songs you create in GarageBand on iOS can be opened up on a Mac running Logic or GarageBand for mixing and publishing, either by you or by someone you hand the songs off to for them to mix for you. So even though you’re just getting started and may only be recording on an iPhone, there is no limit to what you can do.

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