I’ve been asked a lot lately, Shlomo, how can i start making electronic music?
This question is a good one, but there is no one answer for it, if you want to learn how to make electronic music or any other music.
It all starts with the decision and the understanding that there is a learning curve no matter what route you take.
How to Make Electronic Music in 10 Steps
Step 1 – the decision
Before you start making any type of music, be it electronic or not, you need to commit yourself to learn, yes learn music and learn how to record, mix and master your music.
I can promise you it’s not an easy ride, it takes time and practice to make music professionally, but don’t be scared just yet, learning the mastery of making music is fun, but it takes time and effort to master.
Step 2 – music theory
Music theory is the basis of it all, to make music you’ll need to learn how music works, the rhythm, melody, harmony and etc…
In case you already play an instrument, you are off with a good start, if not it’s time to take some music lessons, you can get a private teacher near your home,
or you can take an online course at Udemy or any other online music school.
Step 3 – Choose your DAW
DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation, it is the software you write, record and mix your music.
There are plenty of different DAWs out there and there is no other way then to check some of them so you can feel the workflow yourself and decide which one is the right for you, and the one that you more comfortable with.
These are some of the top DAWs out there:
- FL Studio (Fast learning curve and many beginners choose it to start with).
- Cubase (Cubase is one of the most common DAWs and actually it is the one i like the most. It has pretty ruff learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a monster).
- Ableton Live (Ableton Live also is a DAW many people find very useful, also has a ruff learning curve but it’s audio engine is superb).
- Studio One (Studio one is one of the newest professional DAWs that many people like, it gets better every day and many people started using it lately).
Most of the the DAWs gives you trials, and cheaper limited functionality versions, so you can check them out and decide which one is the right DAW for you.
Step 4 – Experiment with your DAW
After you decided on your favorite DAW its time to experiment, start [laying with it, add VST effects, use the EQ, record vocals, just have fun exploring your workstation. This is your time to learn your daw inside out while having fun, making music is all about fun!!!
Step 5 – Get a sound card
To be able to make music professionally you’ll need an ASIO sound card. don’t buy an expensive card, there will be time for upgrades later, there are descent cards on low budget as well.
there is also a way to use ASIO with you on board audio card, but from my experience it doesn’t really work well, the on board card does not have enough processing power.
In case you decided to test it first on your on board audio card, download this driver from Asio4all
Step 6 – Get a midi controller
Now it’s time to get serious about making music, are you series enough?
if you answered yes, it means that it is time to get your first hardware midi controller keyboard.
there are plenty of midi keyboards around, you can go to your nearest musical instruments store to physically check the various midi keyboards or order online if you already did your research.
Whatever you choose, make sure you took into account your future needs. You might want to think about what you’ll need
- how many keys do you need on your keyboard?
- do you need knobs?
- do you need faders?
- does the keyboard you choose need to have start/stop/record buttons?
whatever you choose make sure it can serve you well on the long run, you don’t want to be buying the wrong controller.
Step 7 – Get Some VST Instruments & Effects
VST instruments and effects are the tools you’l be using to generate sound and manipulate it, there are various free and paid VST instruments and effects around that you can download.
- VST effects are for manipulation of sound, effects like reverb, delay, compressors, limiters etc…
- VST instruments usually used for generating sound. there are Synths, samplers etc…
Here are some free sources for VST:
Step 8 – Create your first track
After you’ve been experimenting with your DAW and got your first midi controller and ASIO audio card, it is time to get busy, making your first track.
there are no secrets about how tracks built, listen to your favorite music tracks and understand how it is structured, what parts are there, how long each part run for, where are the breaks and uplifts, etc…
Then build your own track using the same or similar structure, don’t worry it’s not stealing, everyone do it, this is the way to learn.
Step 9 – Learn to mix
Writing your music is the most creative part, but when you finish with building it, comes the more technical part of making your music, the mix stage.
In the mix stage you take all your channels, clean it using EQ, balance and pan it so it sounds right, compress what needs to be compressed and get it ready to be exported to a stereo channel and be ready for the final mastering stage.
TIP – When you mix make sure to leave enough headroom for the mastering process, your final mix should never be higher then -3db and better yet make it -6db.
Tip 2 – Don’t put any effects on the master channel, leave it clean for mastering.
Experiment and enjoy the mix process, is not easy but its fun.
Step 10 – Learn to Master
Mastering is the final stage of the music creation, the mastering process means taking your final mix and making it ready to be listened at various situations.
When you master your music you will need to make sure, that when a listener listen to your music in his car or at a party or in his living room speakers, Cell phone etc… it wil sound more or less the same.
this is done by using multiple processes on the final mix using analog or digital effects such as EQ, multiband compression, limiters and compressors.
I would not recommend mastering your own tracks yourself if you’re just starting out, mastering is a process that needs high skills and takes some time to master.
You better send it to a mastering engineer to get the best result.
when you started reading this guide about how to make electronic music, I told you that this is a long learning curve, but if i’ll be more precise, it is a never ending learning process.
You will need to learn and practice all the time, that’s the only way to get better and learn the art of music creation/
Hope you enjoyed, don’t hesitate to leave your comments and questions at the comment form below