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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Jan-17 > The MusicTech Complete Guide To Music Production

The MusicTech Complete Guide To Music Production

CHAPTER 1: An overview of music production using technology

Are you new to music production? Or are you returning to music making and need a refresher in certain aspects of recording, mixing and mastering? If either of these applies, then you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to explain all of the main principles of music technology and music production in as straightforward a way as possible.

Read the following and you should be in a good place to start (or restart) your music making, whether as a hobby, semi-professionally or even as a career.

SO WHERE DO WE START?

The basics of a composition or song are its constituent parts i.e. the instruments (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards and so on) and the vocals. These are the ‘tracks’ – and the core of the music-production process is simply how you get the sounds together for each track, arrange them, mix them together and make them sound ‘professional’.

The device that enables all of this – and which has become the heart of the 21st-century studio – is the humble computer: a Mac, PC or increasingly, portable devices like tablets, phones and iPads.

Ableton Live is just one of the DAWs you can use for making music

SEQUENCERS/DAWS

More specifically, of course, it’s the software that the computer or mobile device runs that turns it into a music-production powerhouse. This software enables the recording, mixing and mastering of music tracks and is called a ‘sequencer’, or the rather grander-sounding ‘Digital Audio Workstation’ (DAW). Sequencers vary in price from free to hundreds of pounds and, combined with today’s powerful hardware, can often allow unlimited tracks of music to be arranged together. You want an orchestra of thousands? You’re mad, but you’ve got it…

SOUNDS

So where do the sounds come from and how do you get them together within your computer? It’s easiest to think of these as ‘internal’ and ‘external’ within the context of your DAW environment. You can record ‘external sounds’ – guitars, vocals, acoustic instruments such as pianos and violins, or electronic keyboards like synthesisers – and arrange them in your sequencer.

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