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Tips on starting out in music production

hardware, software, tips and tricks
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Postby futures_untold » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:39 pm

What do I need to make music on a computer?

To get going quickly, you will need several things. A computer with speakers or headphones, and the right software designed with music production in mind.

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The Computer

All modern computers and laptops are powerful enough to run music production software today. (By modern, we're talking anything made in the last 5 or 6 years).

So long as your computer has some speakers or headphones, you're good to go! 8)

Mac vs PC

Regardless of what others tell you, it does not matter whether you use a Mac or PC. The majority of popular creative software is available on both platforms, and operate identically across both platforms too.

Which one you choose and use should be based on your understanding of the platform you know best. This will help you focus upon making music and not on the technical sides of computing systems. If you're on a Mac, stay with the Mac. If you're on a PC, stay with the PC.

It is a myth that Macs are better than PC's for creative tasks, they are simply different. Each platform has benefits and restrictions, thus, neither platform is better outright. Which platform is more suitable for you depends entirely on the purposes you need to use the computer for. It also depends on your general level of knowledge regarding using computers and your 'workflow' preferences.

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The Software

Music software ranges from simple audio recorders to 'modular' environments allowing multiple devices to be connected in complex ways. The majority of producers use 'sequencing' packages often refered to as 'DAWs' to record and arrange their music.

What is important is that you can understand how it works quickly and easily. By starting with simple programs you'll learn the basics quickly and have fun doing it. As soon as you're confident with the basics, it is easy to progress to more complex programs.

Sequencer packages and 'DAWs'

Sequencer packages today are generally refered to as 'DAWs', an acronym for 'Digital Audio Workstation'. They allow users to record and arrange audio, and to control to midi devices and 'plugins'.

Plugins are a type of software that add enhanced capabilities to a sequencer package, most often in the form of extra synthesisers or effects. While simpler music software packages won't always support plugins, almost all the advanced ones do. It is worth noting that plugins can often add a layer of complexity to using music software, so if you are just starting out, it may be prudent to stick to simpler programs that come with their own built in synths & effects.

Samples & File Formats

Music software can usually save two kinds of files, audio files and 'project' files. It is worth noting that there is a fundemental difference between audio files and project files.

Audio files contain audio data and are used to record and playback music or sound. They can be played upon digital players such as iTunes or Windows Media Player, and also on CD or DVD players once burnt to disk. Project files are the work files each program uses to save recording sessions for continuation at a later date. Project files can only be opened using the program that created them.

Most music sequencing programs can read and write the .wav format of audio file. More often than not, they can usually read and write other audio file formats such as .aiff, .mp3 and .flac too.

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Choosing the Right Software

When deciding which software to use, you should consider a few things first.

1> Your willingness to learn and to seek out new methods of creating music.
2> Your knowledge level regarding music and music production.
3> Your level of patience with computer programs.
4> Your visual preferences regarding the colour theme of a program and the layout of its controls. (Each program has its own visual style and workflow, and for most music producers this is the deciding factor in which programs they use regularly).

Easy-to-use Music Software

If you are completely new to making music on a computer, the following programs are a great place to start. They are fairly easy to learn and won't confuse you with unneccessary features. Many programs also come bundled with premade music loops and sound samples. This can be great for quickly building new tracks from scratch.

(The first 3 programs come bundled with many premade loops and sounds to get you going).

1> eJay
2> Music Maker
3> Garageband

4> Acid Pro
5> EnergyXT
6> Podium
7> Tracktion

Advanced Music Software

If you already have some experience in creating music, you may prefer to choose a more advanced program from the outset. The following programs all share very similar capabilities. The main differences between the following programs are in the layout of the Graphics User Interface and the methods used to perform various production tasks. As we all have a different sense of asthetic and logic, you may find one program is easier to use than the others. It is really important to try for yourself as many programs as possible, this way, you'll discover quickly which one is the right one for you.

Reaper
Logic
Ableton Live
Reason/Record
FL Studio
Cubase
Sonar
Pro Tools
Digital Performer
Samplitude
Audition
Renoise

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More Resources

01 - A completely free music studio that runs off a USB stick and has everything you need to make music quickly
02 - Discussion on the best DAW to get started with
03 - Discussion about starting out in general
04 - More about what software is good for starting out with
05 - Discussion on different programs
06 - Recommendations on Soft Synths
07 - More talk about Soft Synths
08 - Discussion about who uses what software
09 - What is the best music software to use?

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As ever, if you have your own tips to share or any suggestions on improving this article, post 'em below! :)

Patrick
Last edited by futures_untold on Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Dropkick_Kid » Thu Jul 15, 2010 1:07 am

Very informative and a good basis for anyone just starting out, heads up on this one bro! :mrgreen:

Oh, and check out tutorials appropriate to your daw of choice regardless if it has anything to do with your chosen genre or not.
This way you will learn more techniques to apply to your own music.
Although I tend to see my tracks as a song, not a genre.
Bass is love.
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Postby maxbroman » Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:06 pm

Are there any free DAWs?
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Postby Filthzilla » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:37 pm

maxbroman wrote:Are there any free DAWs?


There's Reaper.
Can't say I've ever used it, but apparently it's workable.
Could be wrong...
See for yourself!
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Postby Ongelegen » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:40 pm

Filthzilla wrote:
maxbroman wrote:Are there any free DAWs?


There's Reaper.
Can't say I've ever used it, but apparently it's workable.
Could be wrong...
See for yourself!


Reaper aint free :wink:
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Postby Filthzilla » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:58 pm

So it isn't...

My bad. :>

You can get a 14 day trial on this bad-boy: http://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/

Other than that check out:
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Postby komanderkin » Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:34 pm

maxbroman wrote:Are there any free DAWs?

there's Podium Free.
uncrippled unexpiring freeware. nothing short of awesome when you learn how to use it.
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Postby serox » Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:39 pm

I thought the first line said "What do I need to make a computer?"

lol
Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
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Postby serox » Thu Feb 03, 2011 3:40 pm

maxbroman wrote:Are there any free DAWs?


If you have the internet, all of them are! :)







(hides)
Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
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Postby tylerblue » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:01 pm

serox wrote:
maxbroman wrote:Are there any free DAWs?


If you have the internet, all of them are! :)







(hides)




lolwut
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Postby xxdevo2685xx » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:17 pm

First off Hello to all, I am new to the forums. Second I absolutely love dubstep. I from america and there isn't much dubstep here and I want to start making my own music. Now i have read through this entire forum front and back. I downloaded Music maker 16, but it was the trial version ( which is limited). Does anyone know of any other free software. I tried Ejay and couldn't find garageband anywhere on the net. I was wondering if there is other programs out there that will have all the functions needed to create this inspiring music. Any pointers or help will be gladly appreciated. I want to be able to spread what we are all passionate about to new people that I know will love this music. PLZ Help. Cheers
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Postby decklyn » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:52 pm

my 2 cents on mac vs pc
if you ever plan on doing live performance, mac is a bit more stable and flexible platform. you can do things like hotplug midi components without restarting your daw.
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Postby nowaysj » Mon Feb 07, 2011 10:55 pm

maxbroman wrote:Are there any free DAWs?


Totally FREE:

http://www.experimentalscene.com/softwa ... ve-studio/
Join Me
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Postby xxdevo2685xx » Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:18 am

check it out i have no idea where to start. give me a guideline to start plz. Ive downloaded several programs but dont even know where to start with them. I am new to the music production. I have no problem dooing my research just need to know where to start. thanks
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Postby futures_untold » Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 am

Start by reading the manual and and tutorials that come with the programs you downloaded. None available? Check Youtube for some tutorials of your program. Still none available, log into the software developers website and browse around for some guides, manuals or their own forum. Register for their forum and ask questions there, the answers will be more specific.

If this sounds like too much work, then either grab a copy of eJay or Magix Music Maker or quit the game while you're still ahead!

Good luck! :)
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Postby xxdevo2685xx » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:04 pm

Well i certainly wont quit!!!!! I will make dubstep some way or another, but I appreciate all your help. I tried Magix music maker, but the download kept freezing up on me and wouldn't allow me to use certain parts of the trial download. I downloaded Darkwave's free DAW and have been tinkering. Only prob is there isn't alot of tutorials out there for this software. but I'll keep plugging away. I appreciate all your help cheers mate. real quick which free vst would you recommend. - Devin
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Postby deadly_habit » Tue Feb 08, 2011 5:57 pm

free daw: http://www.buzzmachines.com/

my tip that most noobs seem to ignore DON'T POST YOU'RE EARLY WORKS ONLINE OR SEND TO LABELS YOU AREN'T ON A GOOD ENOUGH LEVEL YET
there now that i got that off my chest, learn learn learn i'm 16 years into the game and still manage to learn new things daily
also don't be afraid to experiment, one of the downfalls of all the accessibility of knowledge and tutorials online is that people treat them like a bible and don't experiment and stumble upon their own techniques anymore
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Postby Siderealdb » Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:54 pm

Let's not forget, your ultimate resource for everything, GOOGLE. Even if you think your question is so unique that it deserves its own thread, chances are it isn't. In fact it's probably been asked a few thousand times in every forum dealing with production.
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Postby hifi » Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:56 am

synth.tk

posted multiple times on this forum but would stop people asking how to make certain sounds since the site gives you the knowledge to create almost any sound you want.
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Postby deadly_habit » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:12 am

Hypefiend wrote:synth.tk

posted multiple times on this forum but would stop people asking how to make certain sounds since the site gives you the knowledge to create almost any sound you want.

quoted cause it's the truth and needed
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