For anyone new to making music, here we’ll go into the six stages of production, so you know what you’re in store for.
There are almost no rules when it comes to making music today. You can record whatever music you like and use it as a sample. Your effects can be automated like never before. Mix genres and rhythms to create some interesting melodies and beats that create their very own music categories. Just because you get to break the old rules, however, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a good idea. No matter the type of music you plan on making, you should always intend for it to be good. It won’t just be you listening to the music, after all. You want your listeners to enjoy what they’re hearing and understand the message you’re trying to relay without them having their attention on a poor performance of low-quality recording. Unfortunately, there are numerous ways to mess it up. In this three-part series, we’ll be exploring the music-making process right through to the end so you’ll be able to create good and quality tracks, no matter the style.
A good song develops as it’s taken through the process, going on a recognisable path that’s full of surprises to hold the listener’s attention. The method works with the harmony (that which the guitar, synths, and bass typically play) in a way that pleases, ensuring repetition to assist the listener becoming familiar with the chord transition before moving on to the next section and new chord progressions. A quality song will have rhythm that encourages listeners to tap their feet, whether there’s a drummer playing on the track or not. For many, the songwriting process has a tight relationship with tracking, as they begin with a drum loop before building from there and recording one idea on top of another until their song is complete. Of course, there are different ways to write a song. The singer/songwriter (think Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell), for example, will sit down with a notebook and their guitar to jot down a tune. However, the same guidelines should apply no matter how the song was written. Both the harmony and the melody need to continue playing in the listener’s head once the song is over, and the song as a whole needs to hold the attention with new ideas. Give your song this acid test: how does it sound with just a vocal and one instrument as an accompaniment? If it doesn’t work, it won’t sound good no matter how you dress it up later. The good news is that if you get it right, the rest should go smoothly.
Arranging maybe be the least understood of all areas of production, so you’ll want to get a good grasp of this part. In simple terms, a sings arrangement refers to which instruments play in each of the song’s sections, as well as how these sections are arranged within the song’s timeline.