How to make Electronic Music: A Beginners Guide 2020
If уоu are searching for a long time on how to make electronic music or you just started, you’ve come to the right place. The world of electronic music production can be a little overwhelming, so it is always helpful to have a guide to help you make the right choices, especially when it comes to buying music production software, headphones, microphones, and other creative production gear.
If you are a beginner, this is probably the most fun part. Exploring a new environment and being impatient to produce your first song. There’s a lot of temptation to spend money on the latest tech, but the truth is you can create awesome music using just a few necessary tools. In this article, we’ll let you know what you need to get started making electronic music.
Believe it or not, trying to learn how to make electronic tunes, using real instruments like a bass guitar, would require vast amounts of musical knowledge. Whereas, if you are using a music production software (DAW) on your computer, you can create electronic music and HAVE FUN while learning.!
Our guide to making electronic music for beginners suggests four steps:
- Music Theory for Electronic Music
- Home Recording Studio Equipment
- Music samples, loops, and plugin instruments and effects
- Learn how to produce electronic music in your music production software
How to make electronic music – A beginners Guide:
1. Music Theory for electronic music
Electronic music production differs from traditional music composition, but it still requires a good knowledge of music theory. There are many websites and online courses that will teach you the fundamentals to start electronic music production.
In case you prefer visual rather than reading, skip the next couple of paragraphs and watch the video that will teach you electronic music theory in 50 minutes!
Learning the fundamentals of electronic music:
The main sound of almost every electronic song out there is the Beat. Whether it be house music with a straight beat, or a breakbeat with different combinations of drums and cymbals, sequenced together to create a rhythm. A great beat can turn a mediocre song into a great song, but an average rhythm could turn your song into something not so “catchy”. I spend just about most of my producing time making sure that I’m happy with the basic bеаt and rhythm.
Depending on what style of electronic music, your making, generally the two main drums to consider. The Kick and Snare drum. These two drum sounds are the fundamentals behind every beat. After, they filled and complete with different percussion sounds such as cymbals, bells, and more.
Many electronic music producers consider the bass line as the most crucial element of electronic music other than the drums. You can easily have an awesome song with just drums and bass, but it’s kind of hard to make an awesome song without any bass or drums.
Last, there is the Melody. Leads, Synths, Strings, and any other sound you have the inspiration to use in your productions. Melody is usually composed last on top of the drums and bass line. There are many VST plugins with several preset sounds to start.
Last but not least, the Sound Effects such as risers, uplifters, down lifters, white noise sweeps, and fx hits.
The 4-count rule of electronic dance music:
Electronic music usually runs in counts of 4, with the kick drum falling on the 1 and 3 and the snare falling on the 2 and 4. Some electronic music like house, trance, tech, and numerous others, which use a straight four-beat, have the kick drum fall on all four counts.
However, other styles like hip-hop have different combinations of kicks, snares, and other sounds falling on different varieties of counts but always counting in 4’s. Most drum beats in electronic music created on drum machines or drum sequencers in music software programs. Now you can use your DAW and VST plugins to recreate drum sounds from legendary hardware devices.
Structure of an electronic music song:
In Pop and Rock music, you will see the terms [verse], [chorus], and [bridge] to describe the parts and logical structure of a song.
For example: [intro] ->[verse]->[chorus]->[verse]->[bridge]->[chorus]->[outro]
In Electronic music, you will see and use the same terms. Furthermore, the structure of an EDM song could look like this:
[intro]->[breakdown and build-up]->[drop]->[buildup]->[drop]->[outro] .
[Intro] is the beginning part of your song. You slowly start to build up your song towards the breakdown and build-up by adding new sounds and elements after eight or sixteen bars.
The [Build-up] is by adding melody, vocals, or extra percussion sounds to your beat to rich and fill your tracks and prepare for the main [Drop].
[Drop] is the main part of your song, where you will have most of your audio mixing together. Drums, Bass, and Melody.
[Breakdown] is also essential for every song. Commonly beginner producers forget how important is “silence”. Musical elements start to fade and then introduce to new sounds for the [Build-up] or/and [Drop].
[Outro] is the last section of your track where you slowly fade your music and start to remove sounds and elements.
Each music genre has different standards on a song structure. Use your creativity, and find your own style to create and compose music.
Take a look at this brilliant video that will teach you electronic music theory in less than an hour:
2. Home Recording Studio Equipment For Electronic Music Production
What equipment you will need to start making electronic music:
I guess you already own at least one PC or laptop in your household. The only extra equipment you will need to start electronic music production is:
- DAW – The music production software is the most important tool you will need in your studio.
- Audio interface – The built-in sound card of your computer is not sufficient for home recording and music production.
- Pair of studio headphones and studio monitor speakers – Both studio headphones and speakers are essential to listen to your tracks when recording, mixing, and mastering, properly.
- MIDI keyboard controllers – They are very affordable and will make your room look more like a music production studio. You can still compose music without them, but for $100 you can get a decent quality 25-key keyboard controller.
A. DAW – Music Production Software
The first thing you will need to start music production is a digital audio workstation. A DAW is one of the essential studio tools for creating, arranging, and mixing music. To begin your journey into music production, you’ll need DAW software to record, organize, edit, and mix your channels on a time-based grid and then master the final results.
There are tons of DAWs out there, and for the most part, they all do just about the same thing. But each one has a set of unique features that benefit certain styles of music production more than others.
Here are the four most popular DAW in the market:
- Ableton Live 10:
Ableton Live is a high-quality professional music production software. The majority of music producers use Ableton Live to compose top-hit tracks. Artists such as Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Robert Babicz, Guy J, Above&Beyond, Timbaland use Ableton for their productions. It is suitable for any music genre, from Techno to EDM and from Pop, to Hip-Hop and Jazz. Ableton offers unlimited midi and audio tracks to record as many instruments and microphones you want. Plus, some powerful recording and editing tools for mixing and mastering your songs.
- FL Studio:
FL Studio is one of the most widely used DAWs for electronic dance music producers. It is a great tool to express your musical ideas quickly. It also comes with an expansive selection of synth presets and effects units and free lifetime updates to anyone that buys the program. Big collection of loops and sounds. FL Studio is very affordable, and it comes in 4 different versions to pick according to your needs and budget. No previous experience in a DAW is required. It is viral software among EDM and Big Room producers.
- Pro Tools: Avid Pro Tools is used by musicians such as Hans Zimmer, Linkin Park, Bjork, and many more. Suitable for commercial producers, as well as recording and mixing engineers. It offers over 70 effects and plug-ins and a good workflow when recording multiple takes of a live instrument or vocal. However, it has a high learning curve, and it’s not recommended for beginners.
- Propellerhead Reason 10:
Reason 10 by Propellerhead is everything you need to compose and finish your music ideas. The included Sound Bank consists of over 5,000 instrument patches, 1,000+ mixing/mastering effects, and over 3,000 loops to get you starting producing tracks. It has one of the best built-in VST libraries and stock drum selections. Plus, powerful processing capabilities.
Find on our website more about The best DAW (music production software) in the world.
Also worth checking out: Cakewalk, Reaper, Logic, Bitwig. Just about all of the DAWs on this list offer free versions to try them out and check which fits your needs.
B. Audio Interface (sound-card)
An audio interface is a bridge between your PC, external instruments, and monitors. It allows you to record high-quality audio into your computer and output it through your studio monitors. Audio interfaces connect via USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt to your laptop or PC and are easily portable.
Some require additional software installation and may only work on specific computer operating systems MAC or win, so always double-check audio interface specs before purchasing. The first thing to consider before choosing an audio interface, is how many and what sound sources you will record at a time?”. Some audio interfaces have a couple of inputs (for a microphone and guitar), and others can include up to forty ins and outs.
The sound quality of an audio interface is superior to your computer’s built-in sound card. And even if you don’t plan on connecting microphones or instruments, an audio interface is still a necessity. Otherwise, it’s very likely to experience noise interference, and when you connect a MIDI controller or keyboard, there will be a latency effect when you play notes.
Go to The Best Cheap Audio Interface under $200, and you will see how affordable they are.
Take a look at these audio interfaces before making a decision:
- PreSonus AudioBox – It offers two input/output ports, and MIDI I/O to connect your keyboard or controller. It has a robust build, metal housing, and it weighs less than two pounds for easy transportation outside of your studio. Audiobox iTwo comes with Studio One Artist DAW software.
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is one of the most popular and the best seller audio interface in the market. The reason for its success is the attractive price tag, quality build, great sound, and a beautiful design.
- Steinberg UR22 MK2 – This audio interface features two inputs/outputs, phantom power for microphone recording and two USB ports. It is top-rated and highly recommended by many users.
C. Studio Monitor Speakers / Headphones For Music Production
A good pair of studio monitors allow you to hear your music in detail and produce high-quality mixes. Studio monitors are different from regular speakers (what you have in your car, what you hear in a club) because they provide a flat response. That means you hear your music exactly as it is. Regular speaker systems tend to boost bass and treble frequencies to make music sound better. That works well for a party or hanging out with friends, but it will not give a proper representation of your sound.
That’s why choosing the right pair of studio monitors is one of the most critical aspects of your production setup. Room size, shape, and sound treatment are also essential to achieve an excellent quality level sounding in your studio.
These are some of the best beginner monitors:
- Yamaha HS5 – is a superb studio monitor speaker. It offers exceptionally flat frequency response and outstanding clarity that you won’t find it easy in other speakers at this price range.
- KRK Rokit G3 RP6 – offers impressive deep, punchy and tight bass, along with balanced mids and highs. Adam Port, &ME, Guy J, Skrillex, Kygo, Nicky Romero, and the majority of electronic music producers use this studio monitor.
- JBL LSR – is a light, portable, and beautifully sleek, modern design studio monitor. It provides impressive performance and well-defined bass, and it’s an excellent “value for money” purchase for any beginner music producer.
- PreSonus Eris E5 – The American manufacturer with over 23 years in the professional audio equipment and software industry, gives us a great studio monitor Eris E5 for an attractive price tag. It may not be able to produce a significant amount of deep bass frequencies, but the sound response is flat, and the mids and highs are highly detailed.
In case you want to learn more, check The Best Studio Monitor Speakers for Home Recording in 2020.
It will be ideal for heading into a music store where you can hear studio monitors in action. Stand between the two monitors and listen carefully to the song, then compare it to the rest. Do your best to determine which monitors reproduce the most accurate version of the track rather than the loudest or fancier.
You will also need studio headphones and studio-quality microphones to record vocals and instruments ideally. Studio monitors are good, but with a good pair of headphones, you will monitor your recording correctly.
Fortunately for you, you can have one of the best studio headphones for under $100. As well, on the best studio microphones for under $300.
D. MIDI keyboards and controllers
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a tool for computers, musical instruments, and hardware equipment. A MIDI device sends information like pitch, note length, and velocity. MIDI can be used to integrate with your DAW or VST plugin instrument and play notes more organically. MIDI keyboards don’t transmit audio.
A MIDI controller will send signals to your computer. So, when you are using the MIDI controller’s knobs, faders, pads, and keys, you can control what’s happening in your DAW.
You should find a controller that you think it will speed up and improve the way you work. Here are some of the best MIDI keyboards for beginners with 25 keys:
- Arturia Minilab 25 MKII – offers 25 slim-keys and eight velocity-sensitive RGB backlit performance pads. As well, two banks of full-size rotary encoders, and a pitch and modulation touch-strip for ultimate manipulation.
- Akai MPK MINI MKII – fits anywhere and weighs just 2 kilos. It has 25 “mini” synth-action keys and 8 MPC pads with note repeat.
- M-audio Oxygen 25 – It is impressive what you can buy for under $100. 25 full-sized, synth-action and velocity-sensitive keys, eight velocity trigger pads, a fader, and extra in the package the Ableton Live Lite.
- Novation Launchkey Mini 25 – The standout feature is the 16 velocity-sensitive multicolor launch-pads that can accommodate different sounds to each drum pad to play when tapped. This MIDI keyboard is also compatible with your iPad and can work with iOS devices via Apple’s camera connection kit.
For more details and information for the above, check the best cheap MIDI keyboards.
If you are an experienced key player and want at least 49 keys, check the best MIDI keyboard controllers in the market.
To sum up, all the above gear, check how to build your home recording studio setup with under $600.
3. Sound Libraries / Effect and Instrument Plugins
All DAW’s in the market offer built-in instruments and samples to get started with electronic music production. However, with the plurality of VST instruments and hardware gear, you have plenty of options to create your unique studio workplace.
There are plenty of websites like Loopmasters.com with a massive amount of sound samples in all popular music genres. To help you get started, we offer FREE samples and sounds. As well, some free VST plugins to start electronic music production today.
If you can afford a synthesizer, it would be a great addition to your studio. Synthesizer is an electronic musical device that generates electric signals that are converted to sound, and you can record it to your computer. There is some decent option out there, and you will find here the best synthesizer keyboard under $500.
Drum machines are practically synthesizers whose purpose is to create drum beats and percussive sounds. The sequencer, in every drum machine, allows you to program a series of drum hits to form a musical pattern. Which you can then playback, record, and store in your PC and DAW. Take a look at the best Drum machines under $500.
4. Learn how to produce, mix and master electronic music in your DAW
As soon as you learn how to use your DAW properly, you are ready to produce electronic music. The best way to determine your preferable DAW is to watch online video courses.
There are countless of free YouTube videos out there to teach you how to use a DAW for music production. However, I would suggest you go for an expert instructor and online courses from platforms like Udemy or PML.com.
If you want to learn how to make electronic music with Ableton Live, then PML.com offers superb online tutorials.
These online courses will cover all the essential functions, instruments, effects, and possibilities of your DAW. You will find plenty of tutorials to guide you either you use Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, or any other major music production software.
These were our quick and straightforward steps for beginners who want to learn how to make electronic music.
Most of you will want to hurry and jump to step four, when you learn your DAW, and start making music right away. However, investing some time learning music theory and the fundamentals of music production, along with the best possible home recording studio setup, will serve you well in the future.
Getting started with making electronic music can seem overwhelming at first. Remember that you don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive gear if you are a beginner. More importantly, make sure you’re putting aside time to work on a production and music theory, and that is something you enjoy doing.
With this guide and a little research by yourself, you will be able to produce electronic music in any style and genre.
Check also 20 sound recording and home studio tips.
Feel free to share your comments or questions, and we will be happy to help you take your first steps to produce electronic music.
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