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Old 11th August 2008 , 08:47 PM
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Default Learning Music Production

What's the opinion on getting into/learning music production?

What I mean is, if someone, like me, wants to start producing in a variety of musical styles e.g. dance or electronic music, what are your suggestions on how to go about it?

For example, I have Reason 4 which is probably recognised more for producing dance music that what I do...any style! I would like to produce some dance music but don't know much about it.

What's the best thing to do...listen to lots of this type of music to try to "work out" how it's been produced and then apply this information (if I can do it!!) to my own productions?

OR should I think about enrolling on some course that would teach me "how to" produce this music?

I am talking from a background that has little experience and little idea of what techniques such as filter sweeps, side chaining, synthesis etc are or ar used for.

Are these things learned from experience with a particular DAW? Are they available on courses?

It's like, how does one become a DJ? It's not enough to play tracks by Blondie followed by Culture Club or such artists (I know! whatexamples! but I'm thinking off the top of my head!).

How do you acquire the skills to be a modern DJ or music producer?

And is one path better than another?

I suppose I am asking questions about how people learn to produce modern music. This must come from my music teaching background.

How did and do you guys LEARN to do what you do?
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Old 11th August 2008 , 10:36 PM
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"What's the best thing to do...listen to lots of this type of music to try to "work out" how it's been produced and then apply this information (if I can do it!!) to my own productions?"

That's essentially what I did. I listened to my fav artists and songs, and studied them a fair bit, thinking all the while "Why did they do this?", "What effect is this?", etc. If you wanna do dance music, listen to a variety of dance music and think about what you're listening to. Then it's just a matter of experimenting with your DAW and soft synths within it, and who knows, you can develop a whole song just from a jamming session.

I learnt synthesis by essentially buying a synthesizer, sitting down with it for hours, and mucking about to see what did what. And I learnt a whole heap because of it. Also, if you're unsure of something, there's bound to be answers for free on the Internet on some dedicated forums to the DAW you're using. Going on a course may be a quicker way to learn, but they are a lot of money, and there's no guarantee that you'll come out writing hits anyway.

A quick way to start learning how to DJ is to download Mixxx. It's an open source DJ program that allows you to mix entirely on your computer, and again, there's a community there for help and advice. DJing again is something which can be learnt through experimentation and perservering until you work out how it all works. It's no good just playing tracks; find a genre you like (be it R&B, house, trance), and learn the techniques (i.e. changing pitch, matching BPM). When you're ready, you can pick up real decks and start using them instead.
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Old 12th August 2008 , 07:50 AM
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That's what I was thinking too!

I've been looking at some online courses, but like you said, they're expensive.

And they seem to be packed with physics of sound and other such things that I don't know if I need to know them.

I mean, is it necessary to know about wavelengths and other matters to produce good music?

Do engineers and music producers rely on such information on a daily basis?

Is trial and error the way to go?
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Old 12th August 2008 , 02:33 PM
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You've asked a lot of heavy duty questions there sphelan!
Krykos has given you some good answers which represent one perspective well for you.

I would say that you need to feel, love and understand the music you want to make, this will represent your true creative self as you persevere to emulate what you've heard (and liked). Listen to the arrangement of the track (how it is assembled, what happens musically and rhythmically in the timeline), the types of sounds (synthetic/acoustic/hybrid), is it a 'song', an instrumental or the 'groove' that works for you..?

I see you're in Spain so as regards music engineering courses, you may be limited there (?) and possibly online courses may help (but of course, cost is an option).. but remember the internet is such a vast FREE information resource.. type into a search engine, words (in a logical order) like..
music mixing, recording, technique, mastering, dynamics, synthesis, delay, reverb, compression, microphone etc etc.. And, of course, you now have this Forum which, with enthusiastic and knowledgeable friendly members, will help to 'hold your hand' through your journey

Also, an alternative is to find in your area, a professional recording studio.. make an appointment to see the owner, and maybe offer your available time to work there helping out for free, but asking to learn, be mentored or casually trained by the in-house engineer. Having someone (with experience) effectively explain and simply illustrate recording equipment and technique can be worth its weight in gold.

To your question about becoming a DJ.. well, yes, there are numerous programs that help/automate the DJ mixing process, but I'd go back to the 'mentor' point above.. find and befriend a local club DJ, one who uses CD, vinyl and/or laptop/MP3 to present his music to the crowd. Watch and listen to him for a decent amount of hours.. look at the way the crowd react to certain tracks (and parts thereof), look at how the DJ himself responds to the crowd and their reaction to him... From there, and chatting with the DJ at a later time, you will get a true DJ perspective.. not a piece of freeware software purporting to transform you into a bona-fide (genuine) DJ!
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Old 12th August 2008 , 07:36 PM
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I like your mentor suggestion modz1!

In the world of technology, I think it can be easy to forget the human aspect as a means of learning. Spending so much time in front of the screen can trap us in the box.

You are right about Spain. There are some courses and by the look of it they are impressive. But they seem to be centred in the big cities like Madrid or Barcelona. And they charge a fortune for what they offer. I live on the east coast where the weather is incredible but unfortunately access to such courses is difficult and would involve moving to one of the cities mentioned. It took me 30-odd years to make the move from Ireland to Spain! Move again? Possibly easier to do online course!

But yes, mentoring!

Has anybody tried this method? How has it worked out?
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Old 12th August 2008 , 10:50 PM
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Music technology courses can be both good and bad and you really need to talk to the people on them about what theyre learning, the usual problem is that theyre so small in comparison to other courses such as English for example that there's no choice on what you study and the uni/college only gives you the titles of the fields of study which in my experience arent all theyre cracked up to be. so just be careful of courses and go and see what equipment etc they have before making any decisions on where you go.

That said i learnt a lot both at uni and college but its a case of treating it like the real world and looking at every piece of course work as an oppertunity to try and make things the best you can, even if its something like programming MIDI into cubase. spend hours using VSTs or whatever to get it sounding good, a lot of people just get pissed off with courses because theyre not being taught how to make "Banging DnB" or whatever but you need to know it from the ground up. even so far as the physics of sound, everything glues together much better when you see the bigger picture of what your dealing with, and like anything you never stop learning so dont expect to walk out of a degree or HND and be awesome and making dance tunes etc, its just not going to happen.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 09:48 AM
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I was the same for me about 18 months ago. I had dj'd for years using vinyl. I then saw Sasha at Space in Ibiza using ableton live on a laptop to DJ. I decided that I wanted to try this so I bought a copy of Ableton. I started to learn how to use it (which I must say is pretty intuitive). As I got better with it I realised you could remix tracks with it..editing parts & adding samples etc.

As this progressed I got more & more into the production side of Ableton. I read (& still do) loads of techy magazines. I spent hours & hours infront of the PC listening to tracks & trying to emulate them (note emulate not copy!)

As I gained more knowledge, I added more things to my setup i.e midi controller, third party plugins.

I have learned so much from experimenting, reading & forums.

I dare say it would be great to spend a month in a studio learning the trade, but money & time dont allow.

My advice is to look at exactly what you want to do, get some advice (from forums like this) on what gear is going to be best suited to your requirements, and then practice, experiment & read....or & not to forget..Listen!

A warning though...all of this time spent with your DAW can lead to relationship problems...my missus sees more of the back of my head than anything else!

It will all be worth it though when I write my first masterpiece.....good luck!
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Old 13th August 2008 , 12:41 PM
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If you just want to produce music, then I'd say you don't need to go all the way down to the bottom of the knowledge pile. You won't need to know about wavelengths, electronic circuits, programming etc. Because as a producer, you're just a user. You don't need to understand how everything works on the smallest scales. You only need to know how it can (or can't) work together.

If you want to get into engineering, then it may be beneficial to have some formal education. I chose to because when I started looking at engineering I found a lot of quite complex maths and electronics were involved. I still struggle with some of it now, so lord knows how I would have fared if I hadn't of taken the course. I'm hoping it'll be worthwhile in the end..
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Old 13th August 2008 , 01:24 PM
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the advice modz1 gave about asking studios if you can help out is excellent advice thats exactlly what i did when i first wanted too learn..

when i started learning over 20 years ago i as recording some demos in a local studio and as i was recording i asked the studio manager could i come in on weekends run erands ,help out for free but i asked can someone teach me cubase on downtime sessions (downtime is usually time not booked or unsociable hours)so for for ages i was running around helping out ,making tea..cleaning up..patching stuff in..but the best thing about it was i was learning all the time and the guys were all helpful and showed me loads of stuff ..then one of the guys suggested i went to collage for a few years as well as work there to gain extra knowledge..college was helpful in some ways but theres less practical teachings as i said before we spent two months learning about acoustics before we could touch cubase.they also spent weeks teaching us about health and safety,midi set ups,patching,loads of stuff which was sometimes boring but still helpful .

a good start would also be to try and see if theres any community projects going on in your area..i know in manchester theres lots of studio ,dj projects going on now which teach you basic skills sometimes free sometimes for a little fee.

in spain you have the sae institutes which are excellent but expensive but if i had the money id go on there courses ive heard that they give you lots of practical teachings which i feel practical teaching is more helpful than theory..with theory you can learn how a thing works but sometimes you dont understand it until you can actually see it .

heres the sae website.SAE Institute Audio Engineering Courses, Filmmaking Courses, Music Business Courses, Electronic Music Production, Multimedia and Web Design Courses.

another helpful and cheap way of learning is get music tech or computer music magazine each month they give tutorials and interview with producers and give you software too try out too and samples .
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Old 13th August 2008 , 02:09 PM
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Well you learn sopmething new every day... I was well aware of SAE but had no idea they were so large internationally.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 05:27 PM
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oh yeah dave sae are everywere and one of the best things is when you pass they try and get you jobs in other countrys if you wish.
thats why i want too go on there courses i wanted to learn video game sound design because i feel this is a area which will continue too grow..

but when i got married and had a baby ive never no money now and too take a year or two year off without pay while im learning just cant be done.

and another thing sae do is they give you a apple laptop with lots of software installed and you get free stuff while your on the courses..downside some courses are over 3000 pounds ..which in one sense is cheap the laptop and software you get is nearly the price of the course but trying to get the inital tuiton fee is hard ..

since i had the baby all prioritys changed and i had to give up my sound engineering job i really loved it because it doesnt pay much now unless your a resident in a top studio.i worked onmainly dance music which can now be done mostly at home you do need big studios to write dance music anymore.so i got another job and sometimes people come to my house to record stuff but too be honest ive not got lots of free time now
but i still love my family and i wouldnt change that .

the best advice i could give anyone is if you can go on any course do it youll love it and learn much more than reading any text book could ever teach you .
but first visit the college and look around and ask how much theory and how much practical time do you get and ask if you can use the faciltys in your own time or when the studios arent in use ..most places will let you use the studios as much as they can which will valuable experience in the long term and youll meet lots of like minded people too chat with.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 05:43 PM
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Have to admit, I really like the idea of the social aspect, spending time with like-minded musicians and audio people... bit expensive for the social aspects alone

Having kids changes your priorities very quickly doesn't it... don't worry mate, you'll soon get back into it... and think of the fun you'll have passing your experiences on to your next generation
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Old 13th August 2008 , 06:32 PM
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Well my son is 13 months old as I mentioned elsewhere so music now takes second or third or fourth place!!

I get Computer Music and Future Music (the Spanish versions) every month and yes they are useful upto a point...although I never see any tutorials on Sonar (also mentioned elsewhere!)

I have bought some books and it can be a bit difficult to get around to reading them but I am working through them slowly.

I think that's why the idea of a course or mentoring sounds attractive to me. Yes a course would be expensive. And it would be a big committment timewise but as you have said it would be a way to be submerged with like minded people. Plus it is something structured. And there is greater possibility of making contacts that could prove useful in the future.

My haphazard way of learning this stuff...and there is a HUGE learning curve when you think of music performance, composition, technical knowledge, learning you DAW, learning how to use various synths, recording techniques etc etc. and on top of that selecting the best equipment for what you want to do. IT IS A MINEFIELD! And how do I know I am learning the proper stuff? How do I know I have enough information to make GREAT music?

If it sounds good...is that enough? Should I have more structure in how I approach how I improve?

I still like the idea of mentoring...have to see if there is a recording studio in the city where I live...Castellon.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 07:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sphelan View Post
I get Computer Music and Future Music (the Spanish versions) every month and yes they are useful upto a point...although I never see any tutorials on Sonar (also mentioned elsewhere!)
Yep, it was me that mentioned the Sonar articles, but I was talking about Sound On Sound magazine, which I find a much better read than FM and CM... though to be fair, they are probably aimed at a different target market.
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Old 13th August 2008 , 07:51 PM
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Everyone should subscribe to TapeOp as well. It's free!

It's probably the least-biased publication. Sound On Sound is good, definitely not as advertising-dollar-badly-influenced as the others, but SOS is not immune to glossing over problems with kit occasionally.

http://europe.tapeop.com/subsurvey.php

(go here if you're outside the EU)
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