Why Creating Music is “Hard”?
Word Count – 1382
Time to read – 00:05:31
Music is nothing but a noise that is pleasant sounding to the ears. That’s why it is bad to some and good noise to some. Not everyone I know enjoys heavy metal, and I know those who like the heavy-metal genre – do not necessarily like soft music. The tastes vary across listeners.
Music has been known for generations. From the beats of the jungle drums, wood and cymbals to the modern electronic music. Making music is at everyone’s fingertips. If one wanted, they could do with minimal investment.
However, just because you can does not make you a music producer. Even if you make music it does make you a good music producer.
Since childhood, one is listening to music or songs in the form of lullabies. Then on, we grow to develop our tastes in music. From traditional TV to satellite TV and now the internet has shrunk the world. Music is consumed almost instantly via mobile devices. Have you wondered how easy or difficult is it to create music?
Despite having a vast number of listeners, it is no wonder that not all good listeners can create good music! It goes to show that music is like any other art. There are listeners and creators.
The thing about music:
Music does not require any language to understand. The listener gets accustomed to different genres of music over time, tastes change, and one becomes a loyal fan of the genre. He or she understands and favours certain genres like reggae, electronic music and so on whichever suits their tastes.
Unlike me, I do not follow any particular genre. As a music producer, I must keep an open mind toward other genres.
However, the thing about music is that creating isn’t always that easy. It may be easy for music graduates but not for people like me. People like me took up music as a career much later (due to unavoidable circumstances). Lack of guidance is one attribute why people generally do this.
At times the difficulty gets wide that I have pondered if I made the right choice. You will, too – at some point, ask yourself that. In the end, persistence perseveres!
When I decided to take up music production seriously, I did not know where to start. My eyes lit up when I heard the idea of a “home music studio” around 5-8 years ago. My quest for research began. I looked for information on how to develop the simplest studio cost-effectively!
I am not there yet, since the matter of finance arrives at this point. But, I have patience and God-willing having a steadfast resolve helps.
When making music, there is no such thing as right or wrong. The only fundamental rule is it must sound good. Some artists can do that with ease. Others take time to develop the requisite skill sets and others who come from no music background attempt to break the barrier.
I fall in the latter category trying to make my mark. How am I doing so far? I am pacing myself, giving time as and when I can. My biggest challenge is the inability to get more time for my projects.
The music-making process:
Many mainstream and independent artists have their methods of creating music. Although it may be the same across the same genres, others may get it done in their unique ways. It varies from person to person.
For example, some artists can conjure music in their heads and produce results early. Others make musical notes and then proceed toward the results.
Another example I would like to highlight is the legendary late Michael Jackson. He would beatbox to showcase his idea and then bring it to the fore.
Just like one makes notes in their diary, one does similar for music as well. I don’t stress about it too much because of the difficulty of translating it from thought to reality. More on this later.
Every artist and music producer has a different approach to making music.
I start by using a scratchpad. The piano roll on my DAW works just as fine. Then I begin by scribbling random notes of varying tones, semitones and halftones. The scribbling goes on the same scale until I am pleased with the melody.
It must sound good – otherwise, it would not make any sense. The choice of the musical instrument is always the problem initially. What may sound good on one VST instrument – may not sound the same on the other. So, choosing the correct sounding synth matters immensely. The alternative I came up with is using the piano as the primary instrument and then replacing it with other synth sounds.
I prefer to get some music going but not make too many changes to invite confusion. It is better to stick to a minimal number of instruments and not complicate the process.
I have a lot of challenges when creating music. First off, I am not a trained music producer. I do not have any background in music, music theory or basic understanding when I started. I knew from the start that it will be treading along a stony path.
I haven’t met other like-minded artists to share what I am doing. But, my partial unfamiliarity and low confidence might be the reason. I don’t know.
The first idea of music-making comes to mind, the sound, the melody, the hum, the situation – imagination is the limit. As long as you can imagine, you can make it.
However, I believe that initially, not everyone can mimic their mental rehearsal directly into their DAW. I can do so with beats but not with melody.
What goes on in my mind – I cannot produce the same results. It may be due to the fact I have a lot to learn. In time I should be able to do it with ease. Until then, besides making a beat – I cannot produce a melody with the same accuracy. Several weeks ago I took a quiz and realised that creating a melody is not as easy. It still maintains a formidable challenge.
I find it easy to create chords, and even chord progression does not seem that hard. It is a learning process, and the speed will depend on the time I can give it.
Speaking of time – it is the biggest challenge I have. I need to make enough time to fit music-making into my schedule. So I picked up something and decided to jumpstart my novel writing project.
Little by little, I will give time to it. For example, I did not create a goal of writing a fixed or more number of words every day – that was next to impossible! However, I decided to write something. Keep writing something until the one-fine day, I would have come a long way. That long way will result in the completion of my book.
I pursue the same idea in music. I create the chords, beats, melodies and sound designing, little by little. You must have realised it is an extremely lengthy process, and you are right. A guy like me has a 9 to 5 job. I must look at my other needs as well, besides giving time to my mom, wife and 1.9-year-old daughter. Not to mention the time I spend at work and to-and-fro travelling to the office and back.
Sound design is another aspect where attention is needed. Every artist out there produces unique sounds. These sound designs become like an identifier for that artist. For example, how many of you were aware of the Shakuhachi Flute popularised by Engima? I guess not many of you were, I wasn’t. Enigma popularised the slow decay of the ensuing flute sound making it unique, and soon other artists followed suit!
Early on, I would recommend not to concentrate on developing unique sounds – as the time for that will come later. The challenge here is not the sound design but reducing the time it takes for creating the whole track.
The word “hard” means different to different artists and music producers. The most important thing is to keep going. Keep learning and implement what you have learnt in your work. The learning should never stop.