The Music Process: Getting Started

Wondering how to get started making music? It’s not hard and I can tell you what I did. Read on and you’ll be able to know my experiences and can adapt these ideas for your own.

My background is not music. For me, I had a little piano experience when I was a kid, but that was it (and not really very useful in itself.) I just, in the last few years, had this need to make music. A desire. I wanted to make music. Somehow.

So I did. Here’s how:

Start.

First and foremost would be to start. Just start. Make up your mind to do it. Nobody said you need more knowledge or anything to start. If you have the desire to make music then don’t wait – just start. As someone who thought about making music for a very long time, but did nothing about it, I can tell you that you will certainly regret not starting right now. If you have the want and desire, then start. Don’t wait. Really.

Know what kind of music you want to make.

This means having an idea of what kind. You don’t need to be exacting in this. For me, I thought I wanted to make ambient, EDM, drone-type stuff, and piano music. This allowed me to get familiar with the “right” effects and the “right” synths. That’s all. It tailors your “looking around” experiences and helps your “aim” if you know what kind of music you want to make. For example, I probably would not have gotten the vst plug-in Pianoteq if I did not choose piano music as something I wanted to make.

Have a mentor.

That does not mean to run out and find someone who can teach you. Not necessarily. in part what I am talking about here is a musician or group that you can model. Who inspires you?

And by model I mean copy. All great works start by copying what inspires them. At least I think that is true. For me I like Boards of Canada’s music, so I see them as someone to model (i.e. get the same synths, learn their chords, their music, etc.). By having someone to model, you have a purpose in the shorter sense or term. Long-range, sure, it is o.k. to say “I want to make beautiful music.” But in the short term it would be better to say “I want to make the same kind of music as [insert your mentor’s name here].”

This can also mean an actual mentor. Someone who teaches you something would be a mentor. I used deadmau5 as a mentor by signing up for his Masterclass. He taught me a boatload of stuff and it was invaluable. It helped that I liked his music and also wanted to model my music after his.

Get a good computer, memory, storage, and DAW.

Figure out how much memory you’ll need. Estimate how much storage space. Consult your local computer place or read a bunch of online items to know what to buy (if you need to buy something). But, that being said, don’t get hung up on this step. Just start with a DAW and get going.

Get a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) you are comfortable with. Don’t buy one on specifications alone. Try them out and see which one you take to. Most have trial periods and let you use them for some time before buying. I liked FL Studio because I could understand how it worked. I don’t know exactly why, but I could. Plus, I liked the free upgrades for life. Turns out it has one of the best piano rolls out there and this has come in handy for me in composing music.

Get some headphones.

When starting out, you’re going to need some headphones because you likely won’t be blasting out music in your bedroom, office, or apartment, right away. Maybe never. I don’t use speakers at home. I have a great set of headphones. You can see which ones I have right now by checking my Equipboard page.

Start making music with the base DAW instruments and effects.

Start with the basics. Your DAW will have a bunch of standard effects and instruments in it. With these you can not only learn a lot but you can produce a lot of music on par with the pros.

No hardware. You don’t need hardware synths or keyboards to start out.

What’s next?

I’ll write some more soon and tell you about my experiences. But please don’t read more until you get started. O.k.?