“Electronic music is, in my opinion, the most popular music amongst the younger generation of today. Electronic music is often heard in our clubs, bars, parties, and pretty much almost any social event we go to. Nowadays it is easy for someone to download a trial version of FL Studio, Ableton Live, or any other DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), and learn how to produce music. Everybody wants to be the next deadmau5 or Skrillex. But where and how do people learn proper music production? If you cannot afford professional training there are many alternative ways to learn how to produce music. One of the most common places people learn how to produce music is through YouTube. YouTube users offer many different tutorials that teach basic music production for any DAW. The most popular DAW people teach is FL Studio. FL Studio is a very user-friendly DAW that features a lot of free samples and built-in VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology), such as equalizers, limiters, basic mastering tools, and other tools that people learning audio production will find very useful. Ableton Live and other DAWs offer the same thing as well. Really, it all boils down to personal preference.
It seems like nowadays people have the mentality that the louder the track is the better it is. This is not always the case. When people first start out producing music they have problems with their audio levels. Their first instinct is to crank up the volume as loud as they possibly can so they are able to hear their music. There is just one problem with that: you run the risk of distorting the audio and going over 0.0dbs. Why is it bad if your track goes above that? Because like I said, it will cause distortion and it will not sound good at all. An example of what a track looks like when it peaks is shown below:
Instead, it should look something like this:
To help prevent your audio from peaking, I highly recommend you use a limiter. Typically I make sure a song doesn’t go over -0.4 or -0.2dbs, just to leave some head room for speakers and headphones.
I see this one a lot when I teach audio production. This is one of the main reasons why a song peaks. Some people will have their tracks look something like this:
As you can clearly see, it is just a mess. A music producer does not typically do this. And like I said, the audio is peaking making the sound very distorted and nasty. This is what a typical mixer should look like when you are mixing:
Usually it is a good idea to make the sound levels even. Notice how I attempted to make the lines on the bars as even as possible. Considering this was only an example, I really did not try that hard.
This is yet another common mistake I have noticed amongst new music producers. I often get asked, “Why does my song sound off? The drum pattern sounds perfect alone.” Allow me to demonstrate a common mistake people do when they are making a drum pattern.
1). Beats per pattern are not set correctly:
In order for it to loop properly, you must count: 4, 8, 16, etc. I will show you why.
4 beats per bar:
8 beats per bar:
16 beats per bar:
But how do you make your drum pattern on-beat? I will show you just how to do that.
The example shown uses 4 beats per bar. This is a typical 4×4 drum pattern you hear in most dance songs:
Once you learn more about the different time signatures you will be able to vary this up a bit. But that will be covered at a later date.
2). The drum pattern itself is not on beat:
I noticed a lot of new producers attempt to use their MIDI keyboards to record drum patterns. Considering they are still new to music production I do not recommend doing this. Even if you had a proper drum pad, I still would not recommend doing it until you have learned more about staying on time. Instead, do it manually. It may seem like it would take forever but there are shortcuts within every DAW to make the process go by quicker. Here is what a drum pattern may look like to someone who just started out producing music:
If you are having a hard time trying to figure out how to make your drum pattern on-beat, just count:
And as shown above, a typical 4×4 pattern follows that. If you need help just use the image I created as a template. It will make your drum patterns sound much better.
This may sound obvious, but it happens a lot. When I first started out producing music I used FL Studio’s built-in loops to “create” my songs. Sound packs that you buy online usually have pre-made loops for musicians to use. Be warned, however, sometimes the license prohibits you from using these in your songs. Always make sure you read the licences of everything you purchase. You don’t want this happening to you.
If you are learning how to produce music for the first time then I highly recommend you do not get reference monitors. There is no need for you to spend a bunch of money on equipment you do not need just yet. However, if you are finally able to develop a nice sound then I highly recommend you purchase reference monitors. Producing with normal-everyday headphones will not give you the proper audio levels reference monitors give you. Granted there are reference-monitor headphones, I would recommend you purchase reference monitors. I use M-Audio CX5′s:
If you are having a hard time finding the right monitors for you, ask your local music store. They will be able to point you in the right direction.
Do not feel bad if you are guilty of doing one or more of these. I remember when I first started out learning how to produce music and I did all of these things and more. Not having someone teach you is the hardest thing ever. I hope this article was able to help you in any way. If you have any questions that are not answered in this article please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org”
This guest post was written by John Montoya from http://ayotom.com/
Be sure to check out his stuff!