If you're struggling to know how to get started making electronic music then just know you're not alone. Arguably one of the biggest hurdles to getting started often is not the act of getting musical ideas out of your head but instead where to capture these ideas. There is such a breadth of musical technology and software that it can be overwhelming for new newcomer trying to just understand "but where do I actually start"
Here we'll break down individual stages of possible ways to getting started in music production.
Electronic music has become increasingly popular in recent years, with countless individuals venturing into the world of music production. If you're eager to dive into this creative realm, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the necessary steps to get started on your electronic music production journey. From equipment and software to composition and mixing, we'll cover everything you need to know to embark on this exciting endeavor.
1. Define Your Musical Goals
Before you begin making electronic music, it's crucial to define your goals and determine the type of music you want to create. Electronic music encompasses various genres, such as house, techno, ambient, and more. Understanding your preferred style will help you focus your efforts and resources, as well as shape your creative vision. Different genres have different production methods and whilst blending genres can often create unique slants on the traditional styles you may find that focussing on learning to create 1 particular genre helps quicken up your learning as it'll be easier to understand the fundamentals related to creating those styles.
For instance, Chillwave relies on pitched down samples, fuzzy noisy synth sounds and low BPM, Synthwave is characterised by a quicker BPM, cleaner synth-sounds and 80s sonic signatures whilst more clubby styles such as House and Techo are more repetitive in their rhythmic foundations with an emphasis on Chord sounds, stabs, sometimes vocals (House) and driving or funky bass-lines. The point being, every style has a unique sonic signature and production approaches for each can vary wildly. Pick a genre, approach it, learn it's underlying production techniques then broaden your knowledge to doing the same with more genres once that's you've learnt the fundamentals.
2. Obtain the Necessary Equipment
To produce electronic music, you'll need a few essential pieces of equipment. Firstly, a computer with sufficient processing power and memory is crucial but any modern PC, Mac or Laptop will be sufficient to get started on the basics.
Additionally, you'll require a digital audio workstation (DAW) software, which serves as the core tool for recording, arranging, and mixing your music.
Popular DAW options include Ableton Live, FL Studio, Logic Pro, and Bitwig Studio. Choose one that suits your preferences and budget. For more information on which DAW could be right try some of our guide here or specifically which DAW is ideal for Electronic Music Production.
Many companies offer a demo, trial or otherwise 'Lite' Version which range from FREE X day trials or are usually very nicely priced for beginners or people on a limited budget and these entry points provide an ideal stepping stone to trying out which software may work best with your way of thinking and working.
Often you can find entry level products bundled with hardware keyboards and the like - worth keeping an eye out if you're thinking of picking up a piece of gear with your initial entry into music production. Akai, Novation and Presonus do this across many of their products.
Apart from a computer and DAW, invest in a pair of studio headphones or monitors to accurately listen to and evaluate your music. These provide a better representation of the audio quality compared to regular consumer-grade speakers.
3. Learn the Basics of Music TheoryWhile not mandatory, understanding music theory will greatly enhance your ability to create compelling electronic music. Familiarize yourself with concepts such as scales, keys, chord progressions, and rhythm. Online resources, tutorials, and courses can help you grasp these fundamental elements. Experimentation and practice will be key to developing your musical intuition.
4. Explore Sound Design
Sound design is a crucial aspect of electronic music production, allowing you to create unique and captivating sounds. Explore different synthesizer plugins and samples to experiment with various textures and timbres. Many DAWs come with built-in instruments and effects, but you can also explore third-party plugins for additional options. Use our guide here and take time to understand the parameters and controls of these tools to shape and manipulate your sounds effectively. When you have a fundamental understanding try these 5 essential sound design tips and then move onto more advanced sound design tips when you're ready.
5. Start Composing and Arranging
Now that you have a solid foundation, it's time to dive into composing and arranging your music. Begin by creating simple musical ideas, such as melodies or chord progressions, using the tools available in your DAW. Experiment with different sounds and arrangements to develop your own unique style. Analyze the structure and arrangement of existing electronic music tracks to gain insights into effective composition techniques. Consider experimenting with automation to add movement and dynamics to your tracks.
6. Learn About Mixing and Mastering
Mixing and mastering are essential skills that can elevate the quality of your productions. Mixing involves balancing the levels of different elements in your track, adjusting EQ, applying effects, and creating a cohesive sound. Mastering focuses on finalizing your track's overall sound, making it ready for distribution.
Take the time to learn about EQ (equalization), compression, reverb, and other audio effects. Experiment with these tools to create a balanced and polished mix. Understanding concepts like panning, stereo imaging, and spatial effects will help create a sense of depth and width in your productions.
Mastering, while complex, is crucial for achieving a professional sound. Focus on techniques such as dynamic range control, stereo enhancement, and loudness optimization. It's worth considering professional mastering services or investing in dedicated mastering plugins to achieve optimal results.
7. Seek Inspiration and Learn from Others.
Immerse yourself in the world of electronic music by listening to a wide variety of artists and genres. Attend concerts, festivals, and local events to experience electronic music in its live form. Follow and study established producers and artists who inspire you. Analyze their techniques, sound choices, and arrangements to gain valuable insights.
Join online communities, forums such as GearSpace and try forums surrounding your particular digital audio workstation such as Ableton, Cubase, Studio-One, Bitwig and FL Studio and social media groups dedicated to electronic music production. Engage with fellow producers, exchange ideas, and seek feedback on your work. Collaborating with other musicians can also help you grow and expand your creative horizons.