This page is created to primarily assist the new music creators and to expand the knowledge of the intermediate and expert. In this list you will find resources to train your ear so you can identify different notes that you hear individually (melody) or at the same time (harmony) as well as unconventional training in waveform identification. There are also a few links which include excellent tools that will assist you in teaching yourself music theory and sound design. Under "Finding the right gear," located in the beginners section, you will explore information on building your own studio and the different hardware and software tools you can use. Tutorials made by famous artists as well as resources for learning to identify many different types of musical instruments have been added. There are many places on the internet where you can obtain a free sequencer, synthesizer, effects, and a wave editor. You don't need to be rich to make music! Anyone can make music today if you're dedicated. If you've found something that you think should be included here, put it in the forum here.
I hope this helps you in your journey!
If you have any questions, anything at all, ask in the forum. We're friendly!
- Quick Tips
- Intermediate & Advanced
- Live Performance
- Q U I C K T I P S -
- You most likely want to make music because you love it and you know what sounds good. Unfortunately, it will take some time to get to this point where your sense of good taste in music aligns with your ability to create it. Start by setting goals for yourself. Finish a song every month or every week. Keep reading and watching tutorials and manuals. Don't give up. Each bad song you make is one step closer to a masterpiece.
- Do not attempt to do everything at once! Decide what you will do today, or this week, and focus only on that. Will you make a song? Learn a new synthesizer? Read about mixing? Watch a tutorial video on programming your own VSTs? Sound design? Stick to one thing and master it then move on to the next.
- Discover what type of producer you are. Some will work on a single song for months and months, leaving and revisiting it, while others work best by completing the core structure of a song in one day and leave behind any straggling ideas. As you begin this creative journey, remember what worked for you and stick with it.
- Don't screw up your body. Sitting at the computer for long hours is actually dangerous (No joke!). Make sure you're comfortable while making music. Do exercises to prevent carpal tunnel and RSIs. Take a short break. I enjoy sporadically running outside to do jumping jacks and pole vaulting over things with a mic stand.
- Protect your hearing. Wear ear plugs whenever you are in a loud environment. Don't listen to music too loudly in your headphones/earphones. If you have been exposed to a loud environment and attempt to mix a song immediately after, you will get an inaccurate mix because your ears have experienced a temporary threshold shift. Too many of these will damage your hearing permanently and possibly give you tinnitus. Turning up the volume when making music will only cause your ears to "close" more. If you find yourself turning up the volume, just take a short break to let your ears adjust. Start with a low volume.
- If you unfortunately already suffer from tinnitus or another type of complication, try this.
- When you begin to make music, it is very easy to deceive yourself! Even if you've been DJ'ing for years or your music collection consists of thousands of songs, a vale can easily cover your sense of good music when listening to your own track. We are partial to our own work. Your first few songs will most likely sound bad if not in music structure, the way it is mixed and produced. The only way to get past this and truly "see" is to make friends with others who are good at producing and ask their opinion. This may also be reversed. Maybe you've been producing for a few years and you still think all of your music sounds bad. There's a point where too much perfection will get you nowhere and you need to start finishing songs.
- Take LOTS of breaks. Give your body and ears a rest. Sometimes this will also allow you to hear your current audio project in a more natural way.
- The type of near field monitors/speakes you use are extremely important in order to hear everything accurately. Make sure they allow you to hear between 20 Hz (Hertz) and 20 kHz (20,000 killohertz) and have as flat of a response as possible. Get to know them well and compare them to other mediums where your music will be heard.
- Headphones will most likely not give you the same accuracy as near field monitors. Don't rely on headphones for accurate volume adjustment unless they're all you have and you know them very well. There are exceptions but I wouldn't recommend it as a beginner.
- The room in which you are producing music can also change the way you perceive sound. Placement of everything in this space can be important as well as room treatment. Here is a free and paid option. What is most important, similar to your choice in speakers, is to know the strengths and weaknesses of your rooms accuracy when compared to other spaces.
- SAVE YOUR MUSIC PROJECTS OFTEN AND BACK-UP EVERYTHING TO AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE AND/OR HAVE IT SAVED TO A SEPARATE SERVER ON A REGULAR BASIS. Start making a habit of this now and decide what day of the month or week you will begin your backup process. There is no excuse to loose any project now with all free "cloud" drives available for you today.
- Start small. Learn your sequencer extremely well in addition to a few synthesizers (emulated analog / subtractive synthesis is probably best to start with). DO NOT go out and download/buy every synthesizer and sequencer you can get your hands on. This is equivalent to building yourself into the center of a maze and smashing your feet with a bowling ball.
- When you are updating your software and virtual music instruments, do NOT get rid of the older versions. Sometimes there will be "bugs" in the newer version which require you to go back to the older version. Also, if there is a new operating system released (Windows, iOS, etc.) wait and make sure your current music software runs well with the new OS. Do the same for individual software instruments when new versions arrive.
- Pay attention to detail. Practice mimetics. Try to mimic other songs you hear. If you don't know what's happening, ask the creator if possible (you'll be surprised at how approachable some musicians are if they aren't too busy) or ask someone more experienced than you. Also, try an online community / forum.
- Keep it simple. Don't make the songs too complicated at first. When you're more advanced and everything is perfectly in place then try to add more.
- Think of how real-life musical instruments are constructed and played. Think of what a live performing group would include on stage. (With the computer, you can obviously venture into realms that are humanly impossible but this is a good starting point to give you a basis for what you are doing). What type of waveforms come from the instrument you want to use?
- Pay close attention to the tuning/pitch. The percussion has pitch too. Make sure the kick, high hats, claps, and other elements are tuned correctly to the rest of your song unless a detuned sound is what you are trying to achieve.
- Vary the velocity in the piano roll or step sequencer to make your melodies and drums sound more real. In real life, rarely do any two hits occur exactly at the same volume.
- If your song includes drums / percussion, and they don't sound good to you, try layering them (have more than one clap played at the same time, more than one HH/hi-hat, etc. but you should also EQ each sound so they sound clean especially if you decide to use more than one kick).
- Utilize the full range of the stereo field/sound space (Use panning, reverb, delay, EQ'ing, filtering, compression on individual tracks). As a guide, think of where a person would be standing on a stage if they were playing that instrument.
- Generally, there are three primary parts to music production: 1. Creating the song 2. Mixing (adjusting the volume for each track, EQ'ing, compression) 3. Mastering (the final touches so your songs sounds good wherever it is played). It is best to leave mastering to a professional when beginning but you have more creative freedom when you do your own mastering.
- Watch the master level on the mixer! Don't let the master turn red and clip. It's usually better to turn down everything else than to turn up the volume on one track.
- EQ'ing is similar. Cut the frequencies first instead of boosting them. You only get so much room in the frequency range. If you double a part, like the bass region for instance, it could come out "muddy" and you could get phasing issues if you don't EQ properly. Each new sound you add has a number of frequencies it uses. Too much overlap of some frequencies may not be good.
- On your master track, consider rolling off 30Hz and below if it makes the mix more clean. Usually, your kick and bass should be in mono and panned in the center.
- When you are ready to mix your song, usually it's best to start with all the volumes very low. Slowly bring up each track. Some people will automate these volume controls on the mixer so each track fluctuates in volume. Automating the volume will most likely make your song sound more natural giving it more of a dynamic range. Also, consider the equal-loudness contour.
- If you decide to do your own mastering, try to hear your song on as many different speaker systems as possible and compare them to your own monitors/speakers. Also, consider the loudness war. Your song will sound more real with greater dynamic fluctuations in volume.
- If you're not getting enough headroom, check the EQ settings, sound space / panning, and DC offset
- Get advice from other people who are good at producing. Try to find a few mentors and have them critique your songs. Be active in forums where they talk about music production. I've included a few below.
- When you're completely done with the song and ready to export / "bounce" it then be sure it's at the highest quality possible and you have it saved in a safe place. You can always convert it to a lower quality but you can never make the quality better unless you have access to the original project to export it again. There is always the possibility of your original project getting corrupted, deleted, burned up in a fire, pissed on, barfed on, swallowed by an earthquake, butt squashed, eaten by your emotionally confused friend's ferociously trained computer-eating hamster, etc.
- Copyright your songs to prevent them from being stolen.
- Discover the story of other people in electronic music cultures who came before you in order to broaden your vision and continually be inspired.
- If you are a beginner, don't feel frustrated if there was something you didn't understand in this list of tips. Keep revisiting this as you continue on to each section and your understanding will begin to unfold.
- B E G I N N E R S -
- Finding the right gear and knowing what it does:
- Physical Audio Signal Processing for Virtual Musical Instruments and Audio Effects by Julius O. Smith III
- A Basic Introduction to Digital Waveguide Synthesis (for the Technically Inclined) by Julius O. Smith III
- The ill.Methdology Workshop (ill.Gates)
- I N T E R M E D I A T E & A D V A N C E D -
- Electronic Music:
Frequencies for equal-tempered scale
Nashville number system
List of Musical Instruments:
This is a list of musical instruments beginning with you, the voice, and expanding to a wide range of cultures and time-periods. Observe how these instruments are constructed (their formant, their timbre) what tonal qualities/pitch they emanate, and the loudness dynamics. Try to discover what waveforms are most similar to each instrument. Attempt to recreate them with a synthesizer by adjusting the loudness/velocity/ADSR Envelope, choosing the right waveform(s), and manipulating the pitch/tonal quality/scale:
Wikipedia's List of Musical Instruments
- Drum Rudiments:
- OCPD: Obsessive Compulsive Percussion Disorder
- Lessons and MIDIs
- Drummer World
Mind Mapping Software
Future Music: In The Studio With...
7 Skies ( Trance / Progressive )
Dynamique (French House)
Mr Bill ( Ableton / dubstep / skrillex bass )
Orjan Nilsen ( Trance, Cubase, FL Studio )
Sander Van Doorn
Yhimself (Hardstyle, FL Studio)
SeamlessR (Bass in FL Studio)
Pensado's Place ( top music industry artists,engineers, producers, mixers, and record executives, as well as in depth tutorials in engineering and mixing )
Dodge & Fuski ( drums / dubstep / cubase )
Agnivesh ( trance / electro / FL Studio )
Ableton's YouTube Channel
Fleet Music's Tutorials
Image-Line's FL Studio:
Producer Snafu - Gabber kick and chiptunes
Imageline's YouTube Channel
FL Studio RMK (song remakes) (website)
Berklee on Music Production
Audio Tech Knowledge
BoxPlot (Drum n' Bass)
The Hamster Alliance
MIDI & OSC Control:
MIDI-OX (MIDI for windows. MIDI Yoke virtual MIDI cables etc.)
Maple MIDI (Virtual MIDI cables etc.)
GlovePIE (Control Sound with Gestures, Speech, and Other Input Devices)
Synthzone list of hardware controllers
Tablet 2 MIDI
Free Coding Lessons for beginners
Music-DSP Source Code Archive
Audiogrep: Automatic audio supercuts (python script)
Contracts / Getting Signed:
Artist's complete guide to the music industry by Tsvi (November 2008)
On The Beat
Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
Rhyme Zone (Rhythm Dictionary)
MODPlug Song Titles
Country Western Song Machine
Anti Culture Lyrics
Free Sequencers / Trackers / Soft-Studios:
Cloud Based Music Production:
- Jeskola Buzz - Windows
- Ardour - Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD
- BRELS Midi Editor - Windows
- Frinika - Java (cross-platform)
- harmonySEQ - Linux
- HighC (draw your sounds)
- LMMS - GNU/Linux, Windows
- LSDJ ( PC & emulator or Gameboy -- for video game / low-bit / chiptune sounds --
- MusE - Linux
- MuseScore - Linux, Windows, Mac
- PianoRollComposer - Windows
- Qtractor - Linux
- Rosegarden - Linux
- Sekaiju - Windows
- Seq24 - Linux, Windows
- Hydrogen (cross platform, drum machine) - Linux, Mac OS X (Windows version discontinued)
Free Wave Editors:
Free Synthesizers, FX, & Audio Tools:
- Paul Stretch (high quality extreme sound stretching) | OSX
- Sliver (snatch a little chunk of audio from every song in your iTunes library, and stitch them together)
- Alex McLean's Live Coding
Muff Wiggler (emphasis on analog)
We Are the Music Makers (forum)
The Ground Zero Project
Create Digital Noise
For communities that are more genre specific, click here.
Overtone - Collaborative Programmable Music
Current Remix Contests:
- L I V E P E R F O R M A N C E -
- Being a DJ is not just about playing your favorite songs. It's an art-form that takes your listeners on a journey while engaging and interacting with them. Pleasing the audience is you primary goal. You are a confident leader who inspires people and knows not only that the track you are playing is pleasing the crowd, but also the history and story behind the track. It begins as a passion and develops into a skill that you build over time with practice.
Beat Match City
Playing Live by Eric M.