The constant evolution of technology and techniques in the digital world and the undeniable democratization of the music market has made music production a more accessible process. Nonetheless, a false assumption, branded by the media, views electronic music as the easy genre of music to make. The common view is that everyone can make electronic music and become a star just by buying a computer and watching a few tutorials. We don’t want you to be fooled by this utter misconception. As with any other ambition, determination, drive, and work are necessary steps one must go through if he wants to achieve full proficiency.

One word that comes to mind is complex. If for the ordinary music producer, the process has become more simple, he has to face very complex and different tasks. Today, being able to create a successful track implies a full understanding of the various processes that surround music production. By that, we refer to music theory, composition, arranging, recording, synthesis, sound design, producing, mixing, mastering and promotion, and have a solid understanding of computers. As a consequence, prerequisites are time to learn and practice and a full determination if your ambition is to professionalize your skills.

A difficult but rewarding journey

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During this journey, it will be difficult to remain focused. In fact, most producers work in the dark. Without structure, without long-term goals or work objectives. If you are to become a successful music producer you will need that organization but also other skills such as the desire to connect with the right people (artist collective, label, managers etc.) which might perceive your talent. Even if you just want to remain an amateur, we believe that you still strive to produce satisfying results.  Either way, our purpose is to make you progress at the steadiest pace possible.

The key to proficiency

We know the difficulties beginners face. Hence, we have tried to present you with a good basis, a perfect initial start which will make your path towards proficiency easier. In the end, music production revolves around a handful of topics which only need to be deepened further and mastered in order to reach a professional level. Let’s say we will offer you a plan, a map, the keys to understanding the complex world of music production. From there on, we will build on the acquired skills and fundamentals.

The latter consist of the DAW (1/5) (digital audio workstation), your main hosting software, the central tool which will be the foundation for the building of your musical projects. Basic hardware (2/5) will be the next element of focus. What devices do you need to start of with ? Pursuing the journey, we will see how both music theory (3/5) and arrangement (4/5) constitute essential pillars in the approach to any track. Final polishes and adjustments will be covered in a complete article about the basics of mixing (5/5), intertwining mixing theory and practice.

How To Make Electronic Music? | 5 Steps

1. Learn how to use a DAW | Guide

As mentioned, earlier the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is one, if not the most important tools you will use whenever you produce music. By composing music, recording vocals, applying effects and even mastering, this software proves to be one of the most versatile tools out there. We will look at the elements of the DAW. Here, the focus will mainly be on the arrange window and tracks, the inevitable MIDI tracks, the significance of controller event data, the use of virtual instruments and effects, the sample editor and the mixer.

After having looked at the elements of the DAW, we will consider the pros and cons of the most popular software types available on today’s market. In the end, we will provide you with some very useful additional resources and ask ourselves how long it will take to fully master your DAW.

2. Get all the music production equipment requirements

A DAW is a great tool, but if you don’t have the necessary devices to produce music, there’s (almost) no point in having one. We believe that a basic hardware setup will make things so much easier for you. With a MIDI keyboard you’ll be able to lively give shape to your ideas and creativity, allowing you to physically perceive the process of composition. Studio monitors will provide you with a three dimensional space you have always dreamed off, a neutral and accurate sound representation which will considerably elevate the quality of your mixes.

If studio headphones won’t offer the same clarity as studio monitors, they are nonetheless preferred by some users and are a great tool for the grasping of subtle details. To make a qualitative link between your studio monitors, computer and other hardware devices, the audio interface will prove to be the perfect tool. Finally, we will see how all these elements won’t have the same impact without a proper acoustic treatment of your room.

3. Learn the basic of music theory

Major scales will be discussed, whilst others will be given a brief overview. How do we construct melodies? Why is rhythm such an important factor in electronic music? We will have an assured attempt to answer all these questions. Finally, basic sound properties will be analyzed in depth. Pitch, intensity, tone quality and synthesis make up important topics after all.

Without trying to inundate your brain with useless information, we will demonstrate why music theory matters. Foundations to this field include the location of the most important note in music, C. Other important aspects are the physical analysis of the piano, by being able to tell the names of all the notes present in one octave. We will go on by looking at the main keys and scales, the musical alphabet, how intervals are made and some inescapable rules.

4. Learn how to structure your music

Beyond any ear-pleasing track  lies a structure and a convincing arrangement. The memorable loop a music producer has been working on for weeks would be nothing if it is not presented to the listener in a coherent and logical way. Through binary phrasing, or call and response the musical loop keeps the listener interested and always desiring more. In fact, one of the goals you should be striving for is namely arousing the listener’s enthusiasm in your track. Much like other art, music does not escape the dramatic formula of exposition, incident, rising action, climax, and resolution.

The sonata form is the musical representation of these essential steps. With exposition, development and recapitulation there will be enough substance for the piece of art to remain at the same time rich and unique. Without falling into the trap of a too predictable musical creation, the composer should be aware of certain tricks which can provide the energy and contour that your track is lacking. By intricately introducing the reverse reverb effect, syncopation or microtuning the creator will avoid the possibility of delivering a dull piece of work.

5. Learn the basic of mixing

Final touches and polishing should never be underestimated. A theoretical understanding of mixing will allow you to perceive music differently. What timbres and frequencies are being employed? Why are studio monitors better than studio headphones to approach a mix? The soundstage and its mysteries provide space for three rewarding perspectives once they are fully mastered.

The front to back perspective is one that puts a great emphasis on gain and levels. By setting the volume at a certain level, a sound can appear so much closer or farther depending on the producer’s desire. Another perspective is horizontal and implies the way you want your sounds to be positioned. Left or right? Panning and effects such as the Haas effect, interaural time delay, head-related transfer function provide the answers to this question. Moreover, sounds can also be perceived vertically by boosting or cutting particular frequencies. Our goal will be to make you understand the mistakes you should avoid at this very important stage. An EQ octave chart, tips and recommendations for practical mixing will give you a good starting point, making you realize what modifications your track may lack.

Conclusion

Overall, this guide should help you understand what topics you should consider if you start off in music production. You could be the amateur that has no clue about where to begin, or the more advanced musician who wants to make the bold transition to the daunting world of electronic music. If you read this article, you still have time to grow as an artist, and making you evolve and question your artistic capabilities is what we want for you.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. For the passion of music binds us, and if you are truly determined and prepared to improve your skills, you will make colossal improvements without any doubt. Everyone has been a novice at a stage of their career. All your favorite artists you hear on the radio started small and progressively solidified their knowledge, ultimately reaching proficiency. You can be this person too.