Introduction to Music Production #1
I have met many people who are interested in music production and always ask me to teach them but if I was to conduct a one-on-one tutorial for each of them, I wouldn’t produce any music myself.
Therefore, i have decided to create this series and teach Music Production Basics.
Note: I use FL Studio, Nuendo and Reason Daws for music production but fir this series I will be using FL Studio to teach as it is the most popular and easiest to get.
What is Music Production anyway?
A song or composition is made up of different parts i.e. the instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and so on) and the vocals. These are called ‘tracks’ and the job of the music producer is simply to get the sounds together for each track, arrange them, mix them together and make them sound ‘professional’.
The device that enables all of this – and which has become the heart of the 21st century studio – is the humble computer: a Mac, PC or increasingly, portable devices like tablets and iPads.
Now, let’s talk about the things you need to become a music Producer.
This is the software that the computer runs that turns it in to a music production powerhouse. This software enables the recording, mixing and mastering of music tracks and is called a ‘sequencer’ or the rather grander-sounding ‘Digital Audio Workstation’ (DAW).
Sequencers vary in price from free to thousand of Naira and, combined with today’s powerful computers, can often allow unlimited tracks of music to be arranged together. You want an orchestra of thousands? You’ve got it…
Anytime you open a sequencer, you will usually be greeted with silence and any music you will produce will be formed by you. And to do this you have to mix sounds.
So, where do the sounds come from and how do you get them together within your computer?
There are two places to get sounds and they are ‘internal’ and ‘external’ within the context of your desktop environment. You can record ‘external sounds’ – guitars, vocals, acoustic instruments such as pianos and violins, or electronic keyboards like synthesizers – and arrange them together in your sequencer.
These are ‘digital audio’ tracks – no need to worry too much about the name just now, but it does become important later. They contain the actual audio information, the recorded waveform of the external instrument.
Now to the internal sounds, sounds generated within your DAW. Most sequencers have what are called ‘virtual instruments’ that recreate, for example, drum kits, keyboards or guitars for you to play or strum with your mouse or a connected keyboard.
These are known as MIDI tracks. Again you don’t need to worry too much about semantics here but the data within a MIDI track is more about the note information (which notes are played, how hard and for how long). These notes can be moved around and edited after being recorded simply by using the sequencer’s editor, clicking on them and dragging them around on screen.
The second type of internal sound is called a sample. Again these are audio, so digital recordings of real sound but they are especially-created riffs, melodies, drum patterns (loops), or vocal parts produced by third party manufacturers. You can buy collections of these and simply drop them on different tracks to build up a tune.
To be continued….