Learn the ins and outs of music production from software, hardware to skills you need to start making music.
Music-making is a marvellous artistic way of expressing yourself, and it is entertaining! Before plunging into producing music, the two main problems people have are the fear they can’t afford it and their lack of understanding of music theory will prevent it.
Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a lot of money to start making amazing music, and you can keep studying the philosophy of music later. The most important thing is to keep your eyes open and view the making of music with an ambitious approach.
This 8 Steps guide will lead you through all tools and equipment that you need for your machine to start creating music. Don’t fret, when you can’t afford it all at once on this page. All you need to start is a computer and a digital audio workstation (DAW).
1. Download a digital audio workstation (DAW).
The type of program which is used to create music is a digital audio workstation or DAW. It seeks to include the capabilities of an analogue recording studio to record, produce, mix and master.
The music you hear can sound complex on the radio, but each track can be split into its various components. This principle is seen more easily when looking at live acoustic shows. You will record two tracks inside your DAW, one for the vocals, one for the guitar and one for the acoustic song like “Muscle Memory” by Lights.
This basic principle is still consistent, even when more components are added to an album. You have to record more tracks with audio. Bring Me The Horizon of “Drown” includes a piano track, a bass track, two vocal tracks, a keyboard, and a few tracks that are likely to activate the percussionist’s audio sample to the right of the recording.
Even apparently complex EDM tracks can be divided into individual components. “LEGEND” is an extremely intricate arrangement by tha trickaz that relies on tonnes, different samples and changing the sound design. At the end of the day, the same song as “Muscle Memory” by Lights has been built in a DAW, and more is happening.
Think of music as it is produced like a painting. You can only start with a rough drawing on a page, but you finish with a perfect piece of art by inserting more lines, and refining the picture; composing music works the same. Most people begin with a simple concept of chord progression or repeated sound, and one track at a time expands on their music. This simplifies the composing process and enables the development of songs of various layers.
Now it is clear that songs are built by combining sounds, but you need a DAW to do that. The big question is what DAW you can use, being a little more technical. No such DAW is better than anyone else; each has its own advantages and disadvantages. In reality, the best DAW is the one for which you can function more easily. Each DAW would allow you to do more or less the same thing, so it is vital to commit to and learn one DAW inside and out.
Demo versions of most DAWs covered in this article can be downloaded. The more expensive models provide more features. Some versions come in the form of separate variants. You should update to more comprehensive software versions as the needs grow over time.
FL STUDIO 20 : (Our Top Recommendation)
FL Studio (also known as Fruity Loops) is a favourite among hip-hop and electronic producers for its straightforward user interface that will get you started in making music right away.
It’s considered as the easiest way to go for starters and has an infinity of documentation and tutorials on the web thanks to a large community (the largest is it’s safe to say, shout out to FL Gang!) of producers using the program and sharing knowledge about it.
This DAW contains all the functionalities needed to produce music. Its fluid user experience makes it the program to create or recreate any audible sound, song or arrangement.
It comes standard with various native plugins, including synths, samplers and virtual effect units.
Logic Pro X (Very Affordable – For Mac Users Only)
If you’re using a Mac, Logic Pro X is an excellent option. As opposed to other DAWs, it is comparatively inexpensive and offers all of the features you might like. Its comp folders functionality is one of its strongest points, and it is a go-to DAW for recording instruments and vocals. It includes several powerful stock processing tools and a large library of Apple Loops, which are ideal for new music producers.
Ableton Live (Rapid Workflow)
Ableton Live is a popular digital audio workstation (DAW) for both Mac and Windows. It has a steep learning curve, so it takes some practice to master, but once you do, it offers an extremely quick workflow. This DAW excels in terms of ingenuity but falls short in terms of recording. If you want to produce live shows at some stage, Ableton Live provides a plethora of live routing options; it’s called Ableton Live for a reason. Another wonderful feature of this DAW is that, due to its fame, many people use it in their YouTube tutorials.
Studio One (Very Comprehensive)
Studio One is a popular digital audio workstation (DAW) available for Mac and Windows. Its design is awesome, and it works well with a wide range of hardware and software. It has some exciting advanced functionality, such as applying plugins to specific audio clips.
Pro Tools (Optimal for recording)
For years, Pro Tools has been recognized as the industry-standard DAW for Mac and Windows, but let me clarify what this requires before you purchase it. Through several years, it has become the industry norm DAW for recording studios. Pro Tools is an excellent choice if you want to record music exclusively. However, if most of your music will require the use of software synthesizers and samples, We believe any of the other DAWs already listed will work best for you.
Keep in mind that if you’ve mastered one DAW, jumping to another isn’t all that complicated. We don’t suggest flipping between DAWs all that much because it’s a time-consuming operation. However, if the DAW you’ve selected does not have the features you need, switching to another is an option. You are not obligated to use the DAW you originally want, so don’t worry about it. Download a trial version of at least one of these DAWs and begin playing with it.
2. Compose Your First Song
The only way to keep learning how to compose music is to strive to create original compositions and overcome technological obstacles when they arise. Most people who have never used a DAW need about a month of semi-regular practice to produce anything like music. Don’t be disheartened if it takes you a little longer; everybody learns at their own pace.
We suggest that your first track be completely composed of loops. A loop is an audio file that includes a sound or several sounds that, when replicated, can play back coherently. The goal here is to get used to dividing a song into pieces. Splice, for example, allows you to import royalty-free loops and other samples for use in your creations.
A song’s structure in many pop songs may consist of an intro, first verse, pre-chorus, chorus, interlude, second verse, pre-chorus, chorus, and then an outro. In EDM, this structure could include an intro, breakdown, buildup, drop, interlude, breakdown, buildup, drop, and then an outro. Try arranging loops in a way that results in something that develops over time. You won’t get lost in the micro specifics when viewing the method of making music on a macro level. Tangible results encourage you to make even more music and encourage you to do so.
The way you arrange a song is dependent on the kind of music that you want to create. When you listen to other tracks, you will recognise points at which song energy changes and arrange your own song in the same way. At first, it is one of the easiest ways to learn how to compose music while attempting to create something new.
If you’re new to music production, much of what you do will sound like junk for the first couple of weeks; that’s natural. Seeing another person works and copying what they do will speed up the method of learning.
3. Learn About Music Theory
Music theory is the science of music experience and potential. The techniques and principles used by composers to make music are concerned. You can continue to study music theory all over your life, but there’s a fundamental music theory that can help you write songs.
The majority of music you hear on radio is fairly easy with regard to theory, but you can get across a relatively simplistic interpretation of theory unless you attempt to construct classical music or jazz inside your DAW. This is great news, because the fundamental idea of music just doesn’t take too long.
We recommend reading Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt; it walks you through music theory from the ground up. This book made it into the list of “7 Essential Books Every Music Producer Must Read“.
4. Understand Sound Design
Sound design is the art and practice of creating sounds for various purposes. It consists of capturing and synthesizing sounds for songs, TV, movies, and computer games. Sound design is a whole industry, and many people work as sound designers professionally.
“The Beginner’s Guide for Audio Synthesis” is widely recommended. It goes through different synthesis forms and describes their functioning. With an overview of the synthesis, you can produce a customized sound inside your DAW.
At least one software synth of quality that you are acquainted with should be available. Computer synths are third-party integrative software for your DAW which provide common formats such as Virtual Studio (VST) and Audio Units (AU).
It will take some time to learn how to use a synth, but much like a DAW, it is easier to learn how to use one, if you know how to use one. Read “5 of the best plug-in synths on the market” for a step in the right direction, if you want some assistance in choosing a tech synth.
5. Learn About Mixing and Mastering
When you start to mix and master your songs, a formal video course would be your greatest friend. The Mixing Breakthroughs and Mastering Demystified with Justin Colletti are two excellent video courses worth trying out; they are not specific to a music genre. Matthew Weiss made many great videos that you might find useful through Mixthru when you’re searching for genre-specific tutorials.
Stock audio effects are fine, but third-party plugins can make mixing and mastering simpler.
Some plug-in packages to look at include the FabFilter Total Bundle, the iZotope Music Production Suite 2, Native Instruments Komplete Ultimate. If you click on some of the links, you’ll see how pricey those packages can be. You don’t need them to create professional songs, but owning them will make the process easier and easier.
6. Perform Your Arrangements
A MIDI keyboard is going to be your best mate whether you’re from a piano background or just want a more touching way to write melodies and chord progressions.MIDI instruments use a musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) standard to exchange information like pitch and velocity with other MIDI instruments, as well as computers. Playing melodies and chord progressions rather than programming them is an excellent way to humanize your music.
MIDI keyboards don’t actually produce sound. Instead of being sound sources, they allow you to trigger sounds inside your computer; they are controllers rather than sound sources. A MIDI keyboard, for example, may be used to play a multi-sampled drum kit like Addictive Drums 2 or a multi-sampled string instrument like RealGuitar. You may also use a MIDI keyboard to operate a synthesizer like Serum.
The Akai MPK Mini MKII is a common MIDI keyboard. It is cheap, lightweight, and offers various mappable MIDI keys, beat pads, knobs, and buttons. You could also record automation on your DAW with an X-Y joystick.
7. Explore Acoustic Treatment and Studio Monitors
The big speakers you see in music studios are the studio monitors. Compared with a pair of stereos you set up for casual listening in your living room, the studio monitors are always “disclosive.” They make problems (like harsh hi-hats) very clear, which allows you to recognize and fix these problems instead of coloring the sound they emit to increase the listening experience. Unfortunately, as young producers purchase their first pair of studios, they don’t always realize what they are doing, ensuring that they waste their money on overpriced items.
It’s rather simple connecting your device to a couple of studio monitors – you need a sound GUI. You can convert a digital signal to an analog signal using an audio interface such as the Scarlett 2i2 focuser and vice versa. It can record instrument-level signals, microphone-level signals, and line-level signals connected to your computer via a USB cable. It also allows users to play audio via professional studio monitors from your computer.
Effectively implementing a collection of studio monitors into your room requires the purchase of acoustic gear, which can be very costly. Tuning the acoustics of your room necessitates the use of a variety of absorption and diffusion materials. The aim is to reach a mixing position with a comparatively flat frequency response; achieving this would ensure that your mixes are colored as minimally as possible when playing back on other systems.
8. Establish an Effective Practice Routine
Since music production is a talent that can be mastered, it is in your best interest to practice regularly. This entails firing up the DAW and devoting a little time each day to making something different. You don’t have to create a whole song every day, but you should try to work on at least one album.
A simple rule of thumb is to devote 20% to learning and 80% to work. Applying what you’ve learned to the production process will help it stick with you and become a part of your routine. People who excel at music production have outstanding production routines. They’ve spent thousands of hours honing their craft and refining their workflow, allowing them to work efficiently and efficiently.
At first and, you want to devote your time to producing a great deal of work. Don’t worry about striving for perfection; it’s a waste of time, and you won’t have any of the necessary skills to put the thoughts into action because you’re only starting. Every time you finish a track, you’ll have learned something different, and the next song will be a little bit better. Only make sure you’re constantly looking for solutions to challenges you encounter when making music.
The method of learning how to make music is non-linear, and everyone learns at their own pace. There are several sub-topics to educate yourself on, such as music theory, sound design, recording, production, mixing, and mastering. You could devote one day to sound design and the next to mixing. You can see remarkable progress over time if you make it a point to learn something new every day.