I Want to Make Music. Where Do You Recommend I Start?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by KeithPratt, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    I want to start making some of my own music. We're talking a blend of electronic/dance/house/pop/rock. Perhaps all in the one song. I did a bit of music in high school (piano basics and a little music reading) but pretty much all of that has disappeared from memory now. I'm expecting some of it to slowly come back as I start learning again. It's also worth mentioning that I'm pretty clued up on computers and on digital video/film, so have a working knowledge of certain equipment, principles and workflows that will either cross over directly or put me in a position of being able to pick up the specifics swiftly. So not a total novice, but someone with a lot of gaps to fill in.

    I appreciate the value of prep but I prefer to learn by doing, so want to get making as fast as possible. I've got a lovely Mac Pro with an Apogee Duet, a pair of 5" Rokits and an Akai MPK49 all raring to go. I've fiddled with a demos of a few different DAWs and really like Ableton Live. I'm not looking towards live performance any time soon, but I felt it a good fit for my way of working. I'm also pretty partial to Garageband.

    What I'm looking for is, maybe, some good basic books or websites for an overview of the very rudimentary fundamental basic foundations, starting at the very beginning. Music theory I guess. Assume I know nothing. Then something that covers the basic workflow dos and don'ts (is that the correct punctuation/grammar?). And maybe some lessons would be useful — yesterday, for instance, I spent the afternoon trying (with mixed success) to recreate One Republic's 'Apologize'. I'm not looking for thick books, more something that tells me what all the pieces of the puzzle are even if it doesn't give me any detail. I can Google the specifics from there. What else am I looking for? I don't know — that's where you guys come in...
  2. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    My local library had a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory, 2nd Edition" by Michael Miller. It is easy to follow and goes though how to make chords and chord progressions. It covers all the basics of scales and how to make melodies. I think this is the next book after you learn how to read notes. If you already know a lot about music then this book is to basic but from you description of yourself this might be the right level.

    As for which DAW, think if you will be doing a lot of midi or a lot of audio or an even mix of the two. Then pick on e based on that. Some seem to be better at audio, others better at midi sequencing. Apple's products, Logic and GB, seem to me to have as their main feature that they try and treat midi and audio as much alike as possable.

    The other thing to remember is as as a beginner, everything is likely to change. When I got into this not long ago I though I'd be more into recording and MIDI but then I record myself and find that in a couple weeks I can play better and I don't like the recording. That's the thing with beginners, skills increase rapidly and you direction my change as you find out what you like. So keep options open.
  3. joe.cavers macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2008
    That alone pretty much says it. If Ableton is working for you stick at it. Ableton is an EXCELLENT DAW. I'm about to purchase version 8 myself!

    Also if you've used Garageband and that's working for you, you could have a look at Logic Studio. Logic Pro is essentially a pro version of Garageband. Obviously the learning curve is a bit more substantial because its a far larger program but if you get in there and start using it, you'll be fine. Logic Studio also comes with a million other apps and libraries, all for a pretty reasonable price.

    FWIW, I used PT for 5 years, tried Logic this year and haven't touched PT since. But everyone is different. I'm also buying Live explicitly for performance, so our takes on it may be different.

    My 2 cents
  4. salientstimulus macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2009
    I don't have anything great to pass along for learning music theory, etc., but as for the 'engineering' end of things (recording, mixing, software instruments, gear, etc etc) I've found a lot of great guides/articles on TweakHeadz:


    It's great for questions like when/why should i use a compressor, how can i make a cool ambient backdrop for a song, using soft samplers, panning & EQ, etc. The emphasis is definitely on electronic music, which sounds like it might be more to your tastes.
  5. KeithPratt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    Thanks for the tips. I'll take a look at the book and the website.

    Looking to the future, any recommendations on software instrument libraries? (Not so interested in loops at this stage.) I know it's a personal thing, but any particularly good ones or brands to look into? Or would you say there's enough in the libraries of Live/Logic Studio to keep me satisfied for a good while?
  6. andrew upstairs macrumors 6502

    Feb 3, 2009
    Downtown Los Angeles
    Logic Pro has about 30GB of samples and loops. Should be enough to get you started.

    You can create any sound you want, as well, but you'll need to learn basic synthesis. Logic's built-in synths are pretty sweet.

    I don't know a whole lot about Live, honestly. I've tried out the demo a few times, but it doesn't really strike my fancy. IMO it's better for live performance and DJing than as a DAW.

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