5 years ago, I started on this journey of music production. I did it alone and during the few hours a day I get from work and family. For all of you aficionados of music production, I feel your frustration and pain. There are tons of websites and volumes of data and video that we have to go through to learn; and after doing all that, we are still performing the job of engineers and information system professionals.
I am here to tell you that the struggle is real. However, I am also here to tell you that there is a way to do this in a way that it’s easier to handle and fun. I’ve always loved making music. You see, I play guitar, piano, and do some decent drumming. I as always fascinated by the idea of writing, composing and arranging my own scores. It is so easy to compose a tune for. The problem: how do I get this beautiful stuff onot a media that can be played. Not only played and distributed, but produced well so that people don’t give me the usual “it sounds great, but…” A while back I had a animated argument with my brother about the modern composer. I used to tell him that for most of the problem is not the creation of melodies and connecting verses and chorus. The problem is not the inability to hum a tune of your own. The real problem and challenge is to produce what you have in your head quick enough to put onto something people can carry, distribute or download. That is, the real problem is for a lot of great musicians and great composers is how to produce the music.
…and so I began this journey. This is how I got started in the world of music production.
And what I mean by music production is more than just theory. I thought theory was the challenge. Not at all. You will become a little bit of a sound engineer and computer expert. So here are the steps to accomplishing this.
Music Theory and Intro
First, if you haven’t done so already, I suggest you begin with a bit of theory of music before you buy any music library, VST or DAW – i will explain these funny things later. Here are the things you will learn as far as music theory.
Number one – a good understanding of intervals. Basically, this is the study of the steps or distance between one note and the next. If you look at your piano, the distance from C to D is what we call a whole. This is because from C to the next black key (C#) it is considered half step. I have included some of the best videos and links on interval analysis. Next, you will learn about the relationship between chord and scales as it relates to time. After so many books and lectures, I can help you make music in one day. Yes, in one day you can be using the theory to add chords and make your own arrangements. Yes, it is that easy. All these years I feel like I wasted so much time buying and reading material that was just intended to slowly enrich one party and deplete the funds of another. There is a reason why we see many children playing songs for days while a seemingly enthusiastic music teacher says “good job, can’t wait to learn the next one.” Oh my god! I don’t know how many times I asked music students to add chords to a melody and they all looked at me funny. Even people who have been playing for over a year, have a hard time adding chords to their melodies. Anyway. After intervals and the relationship between chords and melody, I’d say you practice your new theory on a keyword or your fav instrument. However, the keyboard is a tremendous tool because you can visualize the theory – literally.
What’s next? Now it is that time to check your budget and study the ways in which your music makes it onto some sort of media, like mp3, wave file, video sound, or other data system. Enter the MIDI devices, DAWs and VSTs. haha. You are probably wondering “what in the world is all this?”
Real quick. Promise! A midi device is a keyboard, a board with sliders and knobs, or any other apparatus that has sliders and buttons. These midi devices send signals to your system, or tablets or whatever capturing thingy you have. Most of us have a computer. These midi devices range from a few dollars to thousands. Don’t be scared. My first keyboard was less that 120 dls. So, the midi communicates with your computer. Your computer then handle that information and translates it like this: user pressed a key, turns a knob, sends a chord… etc…
With a computer and midi device hooked up, then you need instruments. This is the VST thing I mentioned before. Don’t worry. I will give you the definition of these terms.
Midi sends a signal (chord, note, instruction for a slider or knob), computer receives and communicates this to a VST (music library of sounds, like strings, horns, drums etc…) After this, all this information appears onto the main screen of your DAW.
Midi to computer to Sound Library to DAW. So, everytime you press the keys on your MIDI piano, the chords appear on your screen, on the DAW. This DAW is like the virtual studio. Thisk of the DAW as a studio with all the mixers and effects. For example, you can have an equalizer in your DAW. You also have a recording function on your DAW. You also have multitracks like a real music recording studio. This is why I always tell my music production aficionados that a DAW is like the studio. The VSTs are the musicians. The MIDI is the tool that helps you tell exactly the VST musicians how to play the notes.
Everything is happening inside your DAW. The studio.
Now, plugins. Plugins are addons or software that either have effects or virtual instruments. Some plugins we call VSTs, and some we can call effects. For example, in your virtual studio,DAW, you can add an effect that emulates vinyl sound. You can also have an effect like delay, limiter, or something that can make you voice sound like you’re under water.
The market also calls VSTs plugins sometimes, which can be a bit misleading.
This is a good start if you are considering producing your own music.
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Cheers and don’t give up. Stay focused and positive. Music is a beautiful thing and we hope you produce as much as time allows.