Music Production: A Beginner's Guide
The way people approached music production about half a century ago is very different from today. The producer’s role has evolved over the years, and today saying you’re going to record professional-sounding music from your home does not sound absurd.
Thanks to technology, with just a computer or laptop and a cracked version of FL studio, you can produce a hit in the comfort of your living room.
If you’re a beginner in music production, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about music production.
The Starting Point
Instruments and vocals are the constituent parts of a song or composition. They’re the basics. Whether it’s drums, keyboards, guitar, or bass, these are the ‘tracks.’
Note: the core of the music production process is how you bring the sounds together for every track. It’s how you arrange and mix them, ultimately creating professional-sounding music.
Therefore, the starting point is to have the necessary equipment you need for the production. The bare minimum of the tools you need includes the following.
The computer is one device that makes it possible to produce professional-sounding music. In fact, it’s at the heart of music production in the modern era. Whether a PC, Mac, or a portable device such as laptops, iPads, or tablets, this is where all the magic happens.
A computer enables recording, editing, mixing, and mastering. However, you need to check that your computer is suitable for music production. Although most modern computers will do, at the minimum, the computer should have:
- Enough RAM
- Adequate internal storage
- A well-functioning processor (Intel Core 3 or higher)
Yes, a computer is an essential tool in music production, but it’s undoubtedly the software it runs that makes it the heart or powerhouse of modern music production.
Digital audio workstation (DAW) is the software that makes it possible to record, produce, mix, and master music tracks.
There are several types of DAWs, including those suitable for beginners. When choosing one, ensure it’s the best for you and your skill level. For example, some are good for Windows users, while others work best on a Mac.
Headphones are compulsory for music production. They’re the tools that help you stay on track while editing, mixing, and mastering.
While headphones aren’t necessarily costly, it’s advisable not to go for the cheapest pair you come across.
Ensure the headphones are noise-canceling and feature enough padding. While Bluetooth headphones get the job done, it’s better to get wired ones. You don’t want to need to charge it halfway through editing your song.
After some time, and for a better experience, you can invest in studio monitors.
A Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) keyboard is a device that helps you play and record any DAW software instruments you have. The device is also known as a MIDI controller. To use it, you just connect it with your PC or whichever computer device you’re using via USB.
With your DAW MIDI functions, you can even change recorded notes manually. With the keyboard, the editing and mixing process is more fun and much more manageable.
It doesn’t matter that you’re a beginner. Learning how to use a MIDI keyboard, acquiring, and starting to use it goes a long way in bringing endless benefits to the future of your music production.
What Comes After the Production Tools?
With electronic production, there are no genre boundaries. However, it’s good to have a goal. What do you want to be producing? That’s the question you need to answer as you plan the way forward in kickstarting your music production.
After setting your studio with all the necessary instruments, follow the following steps.
Compose/Write Your First Song
With everything you need for your music-making in place, it’s time to make your first song. Music writing involves several steps. These are:
- Songwriting: This involves putting musical ideas together to get a more comprehensive and more extensive structure of rhyming, rhythm, melody, and harmony.
- Arranging: This step involves selecting the instruments to play in every section of the song and how they build up to avoid repetitiveness.
- Tracking: Tracking is the process of recording the instruments you use to perform the song.
- Editing: The editing stage is the stage of songwriting where you insert, delete, or replace a section, to get a smooth flow.
- Mixing: This stage involves bringing the instruments together to form a stereo 2-track mix.
- Mastering: Mastering is the overall process of making all your songs sound coherent.
With these steps, you can create a song in any genre.
Learn Music Theory
Music theory refers to studying the possibilities and practices of music. It focuses on the concepts and methods that you or composers in general use when creating music.
While you can learn music theory throughout your life, it’s good to understand basic core music theory before writing songs. You can enroll in a music production course to learn it. If you’re a college student, your university may already offer a music theory course.
Understand Sound Design
Sound design is the practice and art of creating sound for different purposes. It revolves around recording and synthesizing sounds for television, video games, music, and films.
While it’s a unique field of study for anyone to go into, you can learn sound design to help you make your custom sounds using your DAW. It’s fun and exciting.
In addition, you’ll need third-party software programs (software synth) to integrate with DAW.
Study Mixing and Mastering
A music production course typically includes learning mixing and mastering. Besides high quality, mixing and mastering are necessary for music to sound original and radio-like.
Music production courses specialize in mixing and mastering, helping give songs that vital radio feel. With third-party plugins, the entire process gets even more accessible.
What does the singer sing? These are melodies. If your music is to have vocal contributions, you need to practice writing them.
Remember, to craft a perfect music masterpiece, you will have to fit melodies, harmonies, and rhythms together. Although your music may not be perfect initially, with practice, you will only get better.
Practice and Practice More
You must learn music production. The best way to learn and understand music production is to keep practicing.
Regular practice will help you understand your software better and the creative process as a whole. In addition, an effective practice routine will make you get used to working with rhythms.
Don’t get this wrong. It’s not about composing a song daily. It means you get down to work with your instruments and spend some time on your DAW. Even as little as 20 minutes every day will go a long way in building your music production skill.
Before You Go
Music production can seem daunting, but it gets easier within no time. In fact, contrary to what most beginners think, you don’t have to break the bank to start.
It can be a simple process, from writing your songs, arranging, tracking, editing, mixing, and mastering. Provided you have the right DAW or MIDI keyboard, you’re good to go.