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Beginners guide for eletronic music production!

Kitnam
Mantik

Started Topics :  110
Posts :  1151
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 02:03:58
New to Studio? Here is a (kind of different) beginners guide for eletronic music production!


But you are not a beginner?
You are not? I screw the knobs in a homestudio since I am 15 (I am 27 now). I released some songs on small trance/house/techno - labels, nothing big. I worked together with other people in the studio and alone, my studiogear has grown to something you could call a small but powerfull homelineup after many many years. I am not a pro by myself, I am still new to many things, there is so much out there to learn and there are many things I still discover every day at my daw. I am at the point now, where things are going more stable, where I know what I have to do, to make my sound and know what I have to do with it. After so many time, I feel realy comfortable with me today and beeing thankfull to the world, I want to share with you what I have learned about beeing a "bedroom-producer" so far, which might help someone out there and because I sometimes need to write down a part of my mind into paper.

1. Gear
There will be no electronic music without electronic maschines. You need some kind of stuff and I will try to explain you what is important. It is possible to make good sound where people gonna talk about with the very crappiest setup in the world. I once made a song on a damaged and therefore heavily unbalanced home hifi, with an absolute crappy pc where you could hardly run more than 16 audiotracks without crashing, not to mention using effects. This song somehow got into the hands of a nice Dj and I listened to this track on Voov (realy big festival) later together with thousands of other people. So, it is possible to do music if you have a lucky day on a crappy setup but generelly this is just luck. It is pure luck when your mix will fit together if you mix it on a broken hifi. You will need some money to get yourself some stuff. Face it. I am not talking about beeing a casual homemusican forever, I am talking to you, if you want to make your sound going people crazy about it, constantly. Means: You want to improve and getting better.

1.1 Do not:
1.1.1 Buy not something "blind". Read reviews about the gear you want to have - the internet is full of them, ask people, test it if you can. Thoose maschine eat a lot of money. Choose wisely. Dont get crazy because of some good marketing. Many maschines out there are just useless. And only very small percent of them will fit to your personal setup and needs realy! Choose wisely what is optimal for you. Every niche and every need has a lot of stuff to offer.

1.1.2 Not do get yourself 10.000 dollars and spend it into 6 maschines instantly because you have heared good things about them, thinking you have a killer homestudio and therefore you would make great sound. You will fail only. Dont even buy 2 maschines together. You can do that if you are experienced after many years and exactly know what to do. If you get all this stuff as an beginner you wont understand anything about how they work. It would be just too much.
Learning what a compressor does takes 5 minutes. Learning how to use it technically correct may take a few days. Learning how to mix creative with a compressor takes maybe a year. But learning how to tweak the compression magically takes a whole lifetime. If you get 5 different maschines at one time, you will not able to learn the proper usage of them, you will just get stressed by it and someday you gonna sell this stuff without one finished track (this is by the way nothing realy unusuall and happend many people). Dont not overload your learning process.
Buy one thing, learn it. Get the even best out of it. Be it, live it! If you fully understand one maschine, then you can get the next one maybe. As more you focus on one component of your studio as sooner you will deeply understand and therefore do the correct things with it. At the end you will got more out of everything! You will be amazed how much you can make out of the even "crapiest setup" out there if you know, what to do with it.

1.2 Do:
1.2.1 As allready mentioned: Learn your maschines deeply. Dream from it. Go into bed with it. Look through it. Feel it. Then one day you will exactly know, what they do. And then - and only then - you will now what they can not do for you. Then you will now what is going to be your next improvement. You will get a perfectly suited setup for your individual needs and advantages then. The studio needs to grow with you. And it will make pleasent gifts for you If you take your time to melt it together with you. Choose wisely!

1.2.2 You can be sure that you want to sell maschines sometimes to get yourself another one. Always keep that in mind. Dont crash them, they are something like a capital for your next investments. They also have a very stable second-hand prices usually and some of them are even getting more and more valuable as time passes! Be good to them!

1.3 What to buy first?
Somehow you want to make electronic music. Maybe you allready got a daw like cubase a nice PC with an audiointerface and some freaky plugins. This is allready a lot. If you want to make realy cool music at home, yeah... buy what ever you want. But if you want to get serious, get yourself monitors. And I mean goooooood monitors. This is maybe a point where many people would disargue, but in my deepest opinion monitors are the most important things in studiosetup.

Why?

You cannot hear without a brain, the brain cannot interpret signals without an ear, the ear cannot listen to music without monitors. Hopefully your brain isnt damaged, your ear is not damaged, and hopefully you got good monitors otherwise the best mix and song will go to hell because you will never hear that it is good. You can have the best maschines out there, you will simple not gonna hear what they do. You can have a very crappy mix out of your 10.000 dollar maschines , and consider it to be great because your bad monitors tells your good brain that this song is a killer. Yes. it might be a very good song. But no one can hear it, because on every other soundsystem it sounds totally different, no one will hear your superb century song. On good monitors your songs will sound exactly the same on every different soundsystem. Ok the sound itself will differ with the system, but the overall picture will constantly stay! On good monitors you will learn how to mix fast, and mixing is very important today, Since composing and mixing is nearly one procedure in electronic music. Trust me, get yourself monitors at first if you want to spend the money into something after your PC/DAW with audiointerface.

And dont buy cheap ones! Good monitors from my experiences are made by Dynaudio, Genelec and maybe Yamaha (NS10 is a classic). Ask the community! There are monitors at round about 300-600 EUR, but its still hard to make right decisions about bass-frequences on them (bass is important for our music!). You should aim for a pair for about 800-1000 EUR or more. This sounds heavy, I know. But besides of that and a daw with a few plugins your gate will be open to make world hits then. You maximize your full potential. You hear what you do. Your will be in advantage compared to many others who spend tons of money into the craziest maschines but mix on medium or even crappy monitors. They go for the luck only. Sounds hard, but put their tunes out of the studio into your car/ his car/ hifi /ghettoblaster /party pa. The sound will differ like crazy. Its like playing roulette. You want the label and all the people to hear you mix exactly like you did it!

1.4 What to buy second.
Nothing. Until you realy need something where you are 100% sure it will fit perfectly with your workflow. Choose wisely! Basic components you want to get are:
Monitors, PC/Mac with a Daw or Music Software, Audiointerface, Midi-Interface, maybe Midi-Controller, some cables. Next step is maybe a hardware-synthesizer (they are always worth it!)
Some tips about midi controllers: Should have a keyboard, some knobs to screw, mabye some faders. Edirol makes great and cheap ones. Midi-Interface: I made good experiences with M-Audio others with Motu, also cheap and stable. But there are many other very good companies out there. Ask the community!
Kitnam
Mantik

Started Topics :  110
Posts :  1151
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 02:04
2. Learning

2.1 Vocabulary
Someone said we are not here to learn, but to remember. In a less esoteric view, you need to learn many things if you want to be good someday. Everywhere you have this strange cryptic parameters called: Attack, ADHSR, Envelope, Saw, Pitch, Time, Treshhold or ATC, REL, SUS, SAW,... the list goes on. The community is using words like: Comp, Tut, Hats, 1176, NY, daw, bottom-end,... etc. p.p.
I can say you, there are all not as much as they look like at the beginning. They are all repeating each other. Very Often its all about waves and their shape, since many effects and sources are time-based and are using a kind of wave-based application. So learning all of this names and their meanings is not realy hard. Read the manuals, read the internet, ask the community! There are answers to every question everywhere. And everything is repeating each other: a Compressor is a limitier is a brickwall is an enveloper is an expander is a transienshaper is a multiband for example. You can get an overview very quikly, take your time for it. You will be learn what the maschines do very quikly then.

2.2 The internet is a great
There are tons of community-sites out there. Forums are great! On Youtube there are tons of video tutorials for every kind of technic or trick and even inspiration. Just search for it, you will find answers for everything. And read the manuals of your maschines by the way, you will wonder what functions you would miss even if you are a superpro.

2.3 Where to focus on
Since electronic music is often made by people which doesnt know anything about musictheory. An even bigger part goes to mixing and audioengineering. There are good books out there and DVDs which teach you a very professional way of working at home. Mixing theory is very important! A lot of Books/DVDs are made by people who got big through rock-music-mixing, like Rob Katz, Bobby Owsinsky, Charles Dye to mention a few very famous ones. You will often find yourself a lot about guitar mixing or vocals. There can be many informations which are usefull and others can be useless for you. But you will get a lot of many important things you need to know, there can be nothing wrong to learn how a rock-mix is build.
You will learn what is important for rock only and what is important for every genre. You will also be able to find secrets and tricks which doesnt fit with your style, but can work amazingly if you modify concepts on your own. For example they do a lot of autofading in rock mixing. In electronic music, many productions are very stable and therefore a bit roboticlike within their makro-dynamics. More autofading adds live to your sound, not many people do that. Many of the very best ones do it a lot. The NY-compression is found and described by a lot of rock-engineers and is matching great at percussiveintensive electronic dancemusic. So, if you read that stuff about guitars and vocals etc. get used to it - its the basic school.
Go out and collect everything you can get, see what works for you - throw the rest away. And often you gonna pick it up again later.
I find myself reading the same tutorial twice a few years after the first time. I often learn something from a source I had considered to by useless for me before. But after all this, the best teacher is yourself. Practice, practice, practice. In germany we use to say: Practice makes the master! This is true. Talent and theory is maybe 20% only. The rest is experience through a lot of work.

2.4 Finish the Track
On Practice the best way to learn things is finishing a track. Finish it! Do you know how many homeproducers spend tons of money and tons of time into their work and all they have is a harddisc full of 2 minutes-jamsessions and NOT ONE finished track? Bet my grandmother that I hit a lot of peoples heads with that point. Just make yourself a nice big step into the only true direction: Finish your tracks. I could write letters what you will learn then, but you need find it out by yourself.

Kitnam
Mantik

Started Topics :  110
Posts :  1151
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 02:04
3. Psychology

3.1Getting Social
If you know people which share your need to make music. Connect with them, help each other. Meet often. You will learn a lot from each one of them, even they from you. Everyone has his own niche where he is the best. One is better in mixing, the other one is better in making killer basslines. You can learn from everyone. And you will always have an advantage if you are going to SHARE ALL you know with everyone, because it will make people socialising with you and around you. Its like energy sent in, sent back. Record and play. Humans are crowds. Humans are not one-man-heros. Every big musician out there is just the peak point of a big team, a big network of inspiration and progression of music and creativity. No one is alone. Understanding this rule, beeing just a part of all who are a part of music will just kick you far more ahead than anyone who wants to do anything just on their own, sharing nothing. There is no great human in this world who did anything great alone only! Together you will be far more stronger, you doesnt need to produce with them, just share, take and communicate. Share the plans and the goals, work together!

3.2 Two Devils inside
Making music especially at the beginning is often frustrating and hard. You just have to go through it. Every superstar musician has gone trough it. There are 2 big thinks which you will face like everyone else once faced. After a few years of experience its easy for you to deal with that, but its better you know what is going to happen to you.

]3.2.1 The frustration: Your sound is pure crap, a waste of time. You are just to silly to make good sound. Everytime you put your favourite band into desk, your song can never stay against it. All the money that was spend was wasted. Since 2 weeks you search for that kick, and it wont come out of your monitors. Forget about all that. Just go on, search a half year for your kick if it needs to, but go on. You can use this kick for the next 10 years if necessary because it is so good. Tweak the synthesizer to hell, go go. Never give up. Behind the dark clouds of hard work, is the light, always, sooner or later. You will learn things, many things. Keep in mind: Most of the homeproducers who have given up, where punched down by this! Just go through it, its realy easy. Keep on working, this is the only trick.

3.2.2. The illusion: Your sound is the very best stuff out there which has ever made. This mindset is a bit tricky, generelly it is very good. If your sound is going to burn and you know it - then there is nothing wrong about it. It is by the way ok to say: My sound is great. Do not be too shy if you know that. It is ok to love. It is ok to love the world and other people, and offcourse its ok to love what you do by yourself and say that - You will be very successfull if you start to trust in yourself.
But sometimes if the human minds discovers to much frustration, it will become a bit crazy and wants to believe things which are not there. Be carefull for that mindset, it overcomes you after frustration sometimes, you will think a bad sounding element is "ok" or "great" but deep inside of you know that it does not, but your mind doesnt wants to face it because it doesnt wants to see more frustration or even hard work. Just be carefull of that, its a realy big trap sometimes. When I start to dance behind my daw, then I know - its going to be real.
Through the working you often become crossideas from your mind. There is a moment where you think "oh that hihat there is nothing realy good at this bar." Its easy to put this hint from your mind just away and go on. But: Listen to it. Making great music is often eleminating details that you dont like. Listen carefully. On the other side listen to small ideas which pop up sometimes, even if the are totally different. Do not ignore them, use them! This is your inner expression which comes to the working flow. It sometimes has a very quit noise, but it is there, you just have to listen to yourself.

3.3 Style
At the beginning just copy your favourite artists, learn their technics, apply it by yourself. Reproduce it. Its a realy great fundament to learn how to make music. You always know where you have to go and what is wrong. Later if you are good at what you do enough. Try to be yourself, every human is different. Make experiments, express what is within you. Do no try to be what others want from you. Be yourself, because you can be yourself only AND you are the best in it. This doenst mean that you need to create your own totally new style of music. This means that you add your flavour, your special note, your own experience and tricks to the world. Some musicians have totally switched genres as they had come to that point of self-expression and they didnt followed what their label, friends, fans said what they have to do. Bob Dylan for example was one of them. Listen to Jimmy Hendrix solos, this is pure "letting it all out". Get this feeling, let out whats within.

3.4 Open your mind
Listen to other genres. Even if you dont like thim that much. You can get a massive input and ideas you can modify to your own style. Listening the same over and over again doesnt leads to new ideas. Look outside of the window. Be open minded. If you are not, try to be. Listen to the music in the supermarket you hate. Try to catch which element the engineer mixed dominantly to stick out of the supermarkets-background noise. Listen how he did it. Listen to the piano in the bar which notes lead to this special mood. Listen to how much more dynamic and alive every song played by instruments sounds compared to electronic music. Try to find out why. Make the solution improving your music.

Kitnam
Mantik

Started Topics :  110
Posts :  1151
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 02:05
4. Sending demos

4.1 Sending demos to where?
Things are changing. A label today differs from a label like before 10 years. Maybe in 10 years labels doesnt exist anymore. The internet is getting very important. Djs are getting more important than labels anyway compared to earlier times. Sending demos to a dj is never a bad idea. Your track can be a world hit within very short time in the hand of the right dj - as long as it has the potential. This can offer you new important contacts for your career. Sometimes you even dont need to send a demo, a myspace account and things can go automaticly sometimes. A good track can make realy crazy ways around the globe, its the best promotion for you and gives you peoples attention.

4.2 Preparing your demo
Today there is a lot going via scype etc. Sending demos if you allready have your contacts is not more like burning a cd and going to the post office and then hoping for an answer. You have them in your scype and upload a fresh 320-mp3 thats it. But if you dont have this contacts and have to jump into business, I have a little guidline for you:
- Sending a CD with Artist sheet: A nice picture from you and a little text about your projects, style history etc. + Adress/Email/Scype/Phone etc.
- Only finished good sounding music
- If the sound is compressed on the mainbus, make some hints on the artistsheet, that you used it. This will prevent the labelmanager to send the CD directly to mastering if he totally freaks out to your super sound.


4.3 Money & Business
Forget about money. Take what you can get but focus on promotion with releases not on making money. Money comes later or from somewhere else. Then: Play gigs maybe. Make the electromusic community a gift and try to be truly live as possible for you, please!
About business: Always try to be fair. Dont promise one track 2 different persons. Always play with open cards. Good partnership comes from trust and loyality, this includes both sides. But if you think something goes wrong, dont by too shy to make a cut. But stay fair, allways.

Hope this helps, I think for some it will do. Was a nice write down anyway and remember: Never give up!

The author:
myspace.com/mantikmusic

Kitnam
Mantik

Started Topics :  110
Posts :  1151
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 02:06
feedback would be nice, thx!
Alex Roudos
IsraTrance Junior Member

Started Topics :  33
Posts :  411
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 02:31
Man i admire your courage to do this!!!!! You are so absolutely right.

This should be a Sticky for sure.

Respect,
Alex.           A friend told me once that the biggest mistake we make is that we believe we live, when in reality we are sleeping in the waiting room of life.
xrust
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  63
Posts :  1742
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 03:19
i agree with alex,and also agree with you man in all the parts.nice words,and helpfull           Signature:



0hz
IsraTrance Junior Member

Started Topics :  10
Posts :  261
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 04:48
respect man.
you said it as it is.
aXis
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  116
Posts :  2562
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 05:47
wicked read !!! but hey a little negatie
Freeflow
IsraTrance Full Member

Started Topics :  60
Posts :  3708
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 13:14
Kudos!

Great stuff
bandarlog
Bandarlog

Started Topics :  44
Posts :  809
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 16:33
Very noble of you!           http://www.soundcloud.com/bandarlog
http://www.ektoplazm.com/free-music/bandarlog-memoirs-of-the-moment
Medea
Aedem/Medea

Started Topics :  127
Posts :  1132
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 19:00
Very nice text, agree with everything.

I would add one sentence that could be very usable for beginners -

To quick-start writing electronic music you have to install:

1) multitrack sequencer
2) VST plugins (synthesizers and effects)

That was not evident for me some years ago


          http://soundcloud.com/aedem
INFINITY


Started Topics :  2
Posts :  19
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 20:16
mmm..... Didnt read all that but a bit, and i can say for those who dont know, but after 8 years of music creation and tons of money spent (str8 to hell
I came to one conclusion :

1. in 9 of 10 cases stuff that have this ugly label on the back that says Made In China, are stuff that will make your sound worse

2. there are just a few GOOD machines in this jungle and they are ACCESS- VIRUS,
CLAVIA- NORD LEAD 2,3,WAVE
MOOG- VOYAGER, LITTLE PHATTY
WALDORF (ALL OF THEM)
ANALOGUE SOLUTIONS -TBX303, LEIPZIG
AND SOME GOOD OLDIES!

Dont buy something that the saler in the shop
recomends, he just want to get ridd of it!!


orange
Fat Data

Started Topics :  154
Posts :  3918
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 21:35
well... thats not true infinity.
when someone comes to me and says he wants a synth to play on stage folk music i want sell him a clavia nord modular.. i would suggest him a triton/phantom.

many equipment made in china are made there cos of cheaper work hands and not lesser quality. usually this goes to massively produced products mosto for consumer use.
all the brands u reffer on ur post are not made by millions.. maybe a couple of thousands so no need to do that in china its better to be able to made this equipment where the company feels better that the product will fullfill the quality of the price u pay!
          http://www.landmark-recordings.com/
http://soundcloud.com/kymamusic
maxime959

Started Topics :  0
Posts :  3
Posted : Apr 16, 2008 21:52
Very nice text indeed!
I agree with Medea, add maybe a few lines about softwares (daw, plugin format, soft synth, FX ) and audio interfaces
but that's maybe not the scope of the text

and is the scype/skype typo intended?
Trance Forum  Forum  Production & Music Making - Beginners guide for eletronic music production!

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