Music Production: Moving from Novice to Beginner
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The most important criteria for easing your music-making process is the music theory – having little to some knowledge of it makes it easier to understand the genres. I started my music production process with little knowledge of music theory.
Basics of Novice Music Production:
There are many DAWs out there, and choosing the right one often gets confusing. My advice – start with the one which helps build the foundation for making music. It would mean anything that you can get your hands on. If you can, try them all out to see which one suits your taste.
I started with LMMS and fell under the wrong impression that it was the only free DAW out there during the initial days. I chose – Cakewalk by Bandlab – surprisingly free – was also a full-featured DAW, albeit complicated.
Some would argue that LMMS is the most complex one, but after using Cakewalk – I beg to differ.
When you initiate the process of music-making, using a free DAW is equally important to being full-featured. Why using a demo version is the best to avoid is that the demo version serves the purpose of learning. You will learn how to use that software, but it won’t help you with the long-term music-making.
Demo and Trial versions software are free because the makers want you to understand how their interface works. When it is right to buy it, you are accustomed to using it.
When I decided to take music production seriously, I had to understand two things – learning music theory and learning how to make music on LMMS. It makes me a novice – inexperienced and lacking guidance.
As a novice, I learned as much as I could. Using YouTube for video tutorials and Googling for information.
What should you do if you are in your 20s and have time? Do your best to harness the power of a certificate course in music production. If not, then read on.
Start with the basics of music theory – scales, chords, notes, etc. Choose your DAW. I recommend Cakewalk.
Build a proper foundation for music theory, how to make chords, the key of a song, etc. The best part about music theory – rules can be bent but not broken. Learn to play a musical instrument as it helps immensely to create music. I haven’t yet learnt to play a musical instrument as of yet. But do plan to do so in the future.
At the same time, ‘play’ with you DAW. During this novice process, your DAW is your best friend. Play with it and respect it for what it is. As you grow, it will become your bread and butter.
My first DAW LMMS – (sort of) betrayed me by not working. The ‘Declipper’ stopped working, and after a few days, the TDR Nova parametric equaliser stopped working too! This explains my switch to Cakewalk. Luckily my ancient PC managed to accommodate it.
That’s why it is important to choose the right DAW even if it’s a paid one.
The novice level also sets the stage for little to no confidence in making some music. I did not know the layering of pads in some genres of electronic music is called ‘atmosphere’. The layering of different pads was new to me. I had not known they were called pads. What is leads, plucks and strings in electronic music?
It all forms part of the learning process when you are a novice.
Now, let’s get into the genre of music. Electronic music is not easy to create as compared to acoustic instruments.
In acoustics, you may have a maximum of three guitars including bass and drum kit. The music is very straightforward. Such a set-up requires vocals as well. In electronic music, vocals are optional.
Electronic music requires drum kits and synths. The number of synths is varied. The layering may require 3-5 strings or pads – it all depends on how complex-sounding you want it. Three is considered apt.
In my opinion, music producers find it easier to create music in this genre because of the lack of vocals. Adding vocals require lyrics and singers. Both of which are resource-intensive in terms of money and time.
Moving into beginner mode:
The beginner level sets the stage when you have adequate knowledge and are ready to take the plunge. You are not thorough with music theory but have some practical knowledge on how things work – including your DAW as well.
It is important to transition from knowledge to the application of that knowledge.Nephoellym
Have you noticed that you are watching lesser video tutorials online? If you have observed that behaviour, then you are well into the beginner level. I am a beginner and comfortable with the music-making process, although it is still time-consuming for me due to several reasons. One of them is time.
Since I am not a full-time music producer, I am not able to shorten my learning process from Beginner to Intermediate. It may take longer than I can anticipate. This process differs from producer to producer.
Music-making is not the only thing that I am focussed on. Youtubing & blogging are other things that I do regularly. There’s also some me-time when I want to break away from everything. This is called pacing, which I learnt from a renowned YouTuber coach – Nick Nimmin.
In this phase, understanding the genre you are attempting to break into takes shape. The process of understanding is similar to writing a book – you must read enough of it and continue to read and not just write to hone your skill.
Similarly, in music-making, listening to and following artists in that genre helps immensely. So, in such things, you should not be left behind. You also should constantly update yourself with the latest trends in the genre of music you wish to break into.
This understanding will gradually build your base from the ground up.
The time-consuming process also shortens. For example, if you initially took 50 hours to create music as a novice. Then as a beginner, you should take 25 hours or less. The time mentioned is only an example and not true to scale and varies from producer to producer.
What I am conveying here is when you have adequate knowledge in hand. That helps you speed up the process, thereby reducing the time taken.
The same goes for the DAW that you use. The interface varies from software to software, so with the plugins. At first, it is overwhelming. Then, with the tutorials – you will learn.
Over several usages, you would need some specific information and not the tutorial as a whole. This is how your learning process will fill the circle. It also transforms you from a novice to a beginner.