Making music in today’s world means you have to accept that the rules have changed. The music-making process is a lot more convoluted than it used to be. Technology has made it possible to produce and work with sounds, harmonies and melodies that did not exist a few decades ago and to mix all of them to create unique music. However, just because you have the tools and the skills, does not mean you have to make music this way. The most important thing is creating music that others will enjoy, that passes a message, and that is not plagued by bad recording. In this article, we are going to look at the music production process so your music achieves the three things mentioned above.
The Songwriting Process
Songwriting is a brainstorming process that involves putting several ideas together to come up with a coherent musical structure. The resulting structure should have rhythm, melody and harmony as well as a beginning, middle and end.
The quality of a song is highly subjective as it depends on who is listening to the music and who is answering the questions. However, what goes into the song’s craft can be identified more objectively as it is easy to judge the musical elements mentioned above. These elements – harmony, melody, rhythm and the parts of the song – have to be put together in such a way that they are recognizable and pleasant to listen to while still showcasing creativity and getting across the song’s main message.
Good songwriting requires that an artist refrains from focusing on good lyrics alone but also focuses on how these lyrics will sound when put together and performed. Songwriting is a journey that starts with a main idea and evolves as more ideas come up and older ideas are refined or discarded. Many people start with a simple drum loop and a single idea and keep building on top of older ideas until they have a coherent finished song.
Everyone’s process will be different and you need to find out what works best for you, whether it be starting with a notebook or with a beat loop and a single idea. If you find yourself stuck on this first step and do not know how to start making music, you can refer to the guide put out by Pirate on this topic. Their complete guide to music production covers organizing your ideas, writing your lyrics and everything else you need to get started. Pirate also offers musicians rehearsal and production spaces that are put together to help with your creative process. Their studios are affordable, accessible through the day and night, and come with all the equipment you need to write, rehearse or record.
Arranging the Music
There are so many people who want to write or produce music and who do not know what arranging entails. A singer’s arrangement is what makes it interesting and removes the repetition you hear on many songs.
When arranging the music, you need to think about the different sections of the songs and how they go together, and how they can be arranged during the duration of the song. You then need to think about the instruments that will be playing in each section and the elements that will be added to each.
Once an instrument is added, it should not linger too long unless it is part of the song’s backbone. It can be added later to add interest or introduce the climax.
Arranging is subjective, but a general rule is that if a section feels like it has run its course, it is time to start thinking of switching it up. The song should always be changing, whether that be through the addition and removal of instruments or varying energy levels throughout the different sections.
This is where we introduce the recording and production gear. Recording and producing a song makes it tangible. Tracking involves recording all the instruments that will be included in the song. Each track (single instrument or voice) is recorded separately and then layered on top of other tracks.
After recording the instruments and vocals, you will have time to correct any mistakes made during the recording. However, it is always better to have a superior recording and performance in the first place instead of trying to come in to correct these mistakes later.
When recording the vocals, try to do your best and do not think of anything else. Your producer might also use some real-time effects during the recording to make you sound better or to bring everything together.
Digital editing has made it a lot easier to capture great performances. It is important to focus on writing, recording, and editing separately because if you do more than one at a time, your performance will suffer.
The other reason to do editing separately is that you want to concentrate on producing a great track that does not sound like it is made up of different pieces that have been chopped up and then joined together. If anything in the recording sounds great, it does not need to be edited. You will still have to move some parts around, adjust timing and pitches and polish the tracks so they sound more professional. Editing is supposed to make a song sound good and coherent and nothing more.
Mixing and Mastering
Mixing entails combining all the instruments and vocals in a track into a stereo or surround sound mix. A good producer will produce a mixed single that provides great separation between the various instruments and vocals while making them all sound coherent and part of the same song. Mixing involves thousands of decisions and tweaks, all of which culminate in making the song sound great and be understood and interpreted as intended.
Mastering can be treated as a separate process or as the last part of the missing process. Mastering entails making different songs on the same album sound the same. This way, even songs that were produced in different studios end up sounding like they came from one studio and belong to the same album.
Music production is a very complex process that requires a lot of moving parts to come together to form a cohesive product (song). Different people choose to work on different parts of the process and most people end up working on one or two aspects of the music production process.