By Andy Nalewski
My name is Andy, and I’m going to give you a few tips if you’re thinking about making electronic music. Here they are!
1. Have money.
This can be expensive. You will need money. Buy your textbooks first. Then sell them and everything else you own at the end of the semester.
2. Get a rig
Hardware is an important factor in music production. Today’s programs require a fair amount of horsepower to run, record, play, and compile the music you create. There are two ways to go about accomplishing this task; firstly, you can be complete pleb and get a Mac. If that seems like the route you want to go, or you just don’t want to read computer jargon, skip the rest of this passage and go to tip 2.
The other, better, less expensive way to produce music is through a PC. Any Windows release from 7 to 10 will do just fine. You’re going to want at least a quad-core processor running around 2.5 Ghz (it worked ok for me). Intel is your best option for this kind of work, but they are expensive, and you can likely get away with an AMD.
The only other thing that matters is your sound card. Most motherboards have integrated sound chips, but these can only take you so far. An aftermarket card that plugs into the board is a better option. They range from very inexpensive to outrageously pricey. Most programs have recommended (and compatible) hardware specs on their website, so that’s probably the best way to figure out what kind of PC to get (or build, if you’re crazy like I am).
You’re also going to want some sort of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) keyboard so you can play your notes. Even if you aren’t too good at the piano, you can edit and tweak the length, placement, and tone of the notes you record, so you don’t have to be perfect.
3. Get a program.
If you were a pleb and got a Mac, then you have Garage Band. Go to tip 4. If not, then this will also cost you some money, so I recommend getting your hands on as many 30 day trials as you can to find the right fit for you. Programs like these can cost well over $400, so don’t impulsively buy one when you don’t know whether you like it.
The fun part. Learn the ins and outs of the 30 day trials you’ve downloaded, and see if you can get something to sound the way you like. Many programs come pre-loaded with virtual instruments, drum loops, sample recordings, and many other tools to help you get the sound you want. I always start with a basic piano patch to get melody, but newbies should start with a simple, 4/4 kick and snare drum pattern to get a beat.
5. Have fun
Music production is something of a side project for me,. and I only got into it because my uncle works for Bose and had access to many of the resources I needed, so it’s not always an option for everyone. However, I am pleased to tell you that FSU offers a wonderful music technology course! There are no prerequisites and you needn’t worry about theory, as most work with it can be easily done by someone who doesn’t know what a G clef is. Here is a track I produced in said course. I was already familiar with the program used, Propellerhead Reason, so don’t feel bad if you can’t get your stuff sounding like this.
“Yay” by Andy Nalewski: Sample credit: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic