Over the past few decades, electronic music and its respective genres have revolutionized the music industry by creating new styles of music that have evolved the aesthetics of the popular songs we hear today. The process of composing today’s music via a computer and software has become infinitely more efficient compared to traditional recording, which mainly uses acoustic instruments and “old-school hardware”. The process of composition has been stream-lined and revolutionized over the recent years, thus opening more doors for artists’ originality and creativity.
To learn the ropes of music production, one can learn to be a producer by attending recording or music school. However recording school is not for everyone, It can be too expensive for some and too “academic” for others. A music producer’s job can be as easy as sitting on the couch listening and nodding and as active as controlling the mixer as well as calibrating the equipment for a vocalist. Good music producers understand every aspect of studio production. They also have a very good ear and a well-rounded knowledge of how voices and instruments produce recordable sound.
One thing virtually all ‘computer generated’ music has in common is the use of samples. Samples are sound bytes, anywhere from really small blips to lengthy ambient noises, sometimes spanning the entire length of the song. The triggering of samples in an interesting way is what creates the rhythm and atmosphere of the song. Most electronic drum beats consist entirely of triggered samples. A sampler is a program or device which is used to record and trigger sound samples, usually included in the main production software.
These devices are the heart of today’s electronic music; they are the engines which produce the actual sounds you hear. Changing and manipulating sounds is the key to capturing the listener’s attention. Effects have always played a major role in not just electronic music, but across all genres. The difference is that with electronic music, the listener will usually accept more layers of background effects than as with other types of music. Effects are used to take basic sounds and variate them in an interesting and sonically enhancing manner.
Some of the common effects producers use include reverberation (reverb), echo, flange, chorus, and distortion. When you first start producing music, or even if you have been making music for decades, you will find that it is a challenge to turn one’s ideas directly into a song! (AllCrunchy 1) When it comes to what you physically need to be a music producer, a computer is naturally a must-have piece of hardware. One can produce a good sounding track with almost any kind of modern computer. A DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is also a requirement.
The DAW is a software environment in which you create and compose the music and it is one of the most essential components in one’s music studio. To put it simply, it’s music making software. VST (Virtual Studio Technology) synthesizers and effects are also a must if you’re going to start making music digitally with a computer. VSTi’s (VST instruments) are virtual synthesizers that produce different kind of sounds. You can use them just like you would use real hardware , only difference being that they’re software and you install them just like any other application, then open them within a DAW to compose melodies and make music.
The most common thing that prevents beginners from getting a full sounding song is not filling the “box” that is volume, panning, and frequency. The typical situation is this: as more and more sounds are layered together, the audio may start to “clip”. (Clipping is a form of waveform distortion that occurs when an amplifier is over-driven and attempts to deliver an output voltage or current beyond its maximum capability) Therefore, one would turn the gain down on the each channel of the mixer so it doesn’t clip. But then, it sounds quiet.
In order to fix this, compression and (EQ) equalization come in to play. Another issue novice producers may face is when too many conflicting frequencies are overlapping in a mix. As a result of overlapping sounds, the song may sound “muddy”. To prevent mud, you must consciously keep in mind what range of frequencies you are adding with each new part. Frequencies will overlap, no matter what instruments you choose. A lot of VST instrument plugins have presets that sound very good on their own, but when thrown together with other presets, they clash.
A lot of these presets are full sounding, filling up a lot of low and high end. Unless you carve out the clashing frequencies using EQ, you will get a muffled, muddy sound when throwing presets together. For example, two bass sounds on top of each other will interfere, resulting in a strange sounding phase effect. If you want to use two instruments that use up the same frequency spectrum, you’ll want to carve out the highs on one and carve out the lows on the other equalizer. The end result of adding equalization and modifying volume should add up to a track with a full, clear sound.