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Music Education

The Booms and Baps of Music Production

The Booms and Baps of Music Production – DAWs

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With a very wacky semester we experienced, I began my journey in music production. I have learned many things in the last few months from the likes of YouTube and personal experience and I want to share tips with those wanting to pursue music production.

The first thing a producer will need is a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW which acts as the base for all music production. A DAW is the software for a producer to actually make and organize music into full fledged tracks or for live performances. As it is hard to learn an entirely new software, it is important to choose the right DAW for your preference of music.

If you’re a college student like I am, then pursuing music production has to be a reasonable venture. There are free DAWs such as GarageBand for Apple users which is a quality way to get started. For Windows users, Audacity is a great option, however it is lacking in many of the features that other DAWs have.

On to paid options, I will mention that many paid DAWs have free trials and offer college students discounts for licenses. When it comes to beat making and creating full tracks, FL Studio or Ableton Live are considered the best. FL Studio is typically preferred by Hip Hop artists since it is particularly designed for creating beats from scratch. FL Studio also has a very sleek design and has powerful instruments/effects to help get you started. If you are into electronic production like me, then Ableton is the way to go. Ableton’s interface is in my opinion the easiest to learn and makes it easy to create music. For NC State students in the music program, NC State offers a Songwriting with DAWs class (MUS 270) which uses Ableton to explore music production, so if you are interested in taking the class I would recommend choosing Ableton. You cannot go wrong either way with the DAW you choose since many of us have access to YouTube and can learn as we go. However, I personally prefer Ableton Live myself.

There are other DAWs out there as well for producers working with video content. Logic (Mac) and Cubase (Windows) are great options for composing music for films or video content because you can actually upload videos into the DAW and have an easy-to-use music notation system.

There are many choices we all make, but I hope this information can help you make the right choice when it comes to producing music, since music makes the world turn! I plan to share more tips about the world of music production as I learn them, so we are all in this together! Keep creating!

– Triskelion

Categories
Music Education

Let’s Get Psyched About Piano: Learning the Basics

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So you’re spending a lot of time at home right now and you’re trying to find some way to spend the time productively, then you see that instrument in the corner and you have a brilliant idea, but you’re not sure how to start… You’re in luck! Cause my sister recently asked me to help her figure out the basics of piano (from this exact scenario) so I figure I can make a little post to get anyone in the same boat started.

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First things first we have to learn the notes on the keyboard and how to read them.

I like to think of the notes as two clusters (separated by the black keys)

Cluster 1 is C D E, there are two black keys between these three white keys.

Cluster 2 is FGAB, there are three black keys between these four white keys.

This pattern repeats through the entire keyboard. The colors above match the pattern, so where the light blue C is, the following light blue is also a C but higher in octave. As we go to the right of the piano the octave gets higher (so the sound is higher). If we go to the left the octave lowers and the sound is deeper.

How to read the black keys:

This is where we get those sharp and flat notes. 

A sharp is notated with a (#) symbol and a flat is more like a lowercase B (b). 

A sharp is simply the black key to the right of a white key. So if we are at C and we go to the black key directly to its right we have C sharp. Right of D is D# and etc…

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Flats work the opposite way. If we want to label a black key as flat we just have to take a white key and go to the black key on it’s left. So if we go from D to the black key on the left we have Db. 

This means that a black key can have two names, C# and Db are the same note. Music theory is a lot lol, you don’t really have to worry about it right now but basically it depends on the key you are in which name you would use. But key signatures come later, first let’s just get comfy with the notes.

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The last thing worth noting here is that two white keys appear next to each other between ‘clusters’. EF and BC. In these cases sharps and flats still work the same way. Fb is the same as saying E and E# is the same as saying F.

The best way to learn any instrument is to learn some simple tunes, now that you know the notes you’re ready to take on some youtube tutorials with confidence 😀

Until next time,

DJ Psyched

Categories
Music Education

Let’s talk music : Garage band vs other DAWs

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I’m no expert in music production, but I am trying to learn and I’ve realized that one of the most important things to decide when you’re learning to make music is what DAW you’re going to use. A DAW is a digital audio workstation where you record, mix and master music.

I have a macbook. so naturally the most available thing to me was to use garageband. But for some reason I heard a lot of criticism people have for the software. So I decided to try it out for myself and see what all the fuss was about. I did make my first ever song in garageband and I have to say, it’s not quite as ‘easy’ as some people make it out to be. I guess if you’re an expert you might disagree but as a total newbie I was still really confused during the whole process. I have used other DAWS like Abelton and Reaper, from what I can see I’d say that garageband really is a unique platform so I can see why it might turn people off. It did take me a minute to get used to it, and i’m still not that familiar with it, but it can get the job done. I wouldn’t bash it because I think different ideas need different ways to execute them, and I’d definitely see where garageband could have its place, but I’d understand why people aren’t too fond of the software. That being said I do think it has its place, I mean it totally works so it probably is right for some and not for others. DAWs can sometimes be hard to learn and I think some people will definitely prefer the look and feel of garageband.

Personally I have to say Reaper and Ableton are my top choices. So what do you think? Is garageband for you or do you prefer something else?

– DJ Psyched

Categories
Music Education

Songwriting Tips

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I really love Linkedin Learning, and a little while ago I took one of the courses named ‘20 Unofficial Rules of Songwriting’ (because my songwriting can always use some serious work). And I thought the course was pretty useful, so I figured I’d share some of the best tips I’ve learned (from videos like this and from personal experience), because songwriting is great and I think anyone interested should give it a try.

  1. Don’t overthink it – This was my biggest problem when I started. I would contemplate every word I wrote and it took forever, it always led to me never finishing any songs. Yikes. But one day I just sat there and started singing and just let it be what it was, and I wrote the first song I ever finished. It wasn’t any kind of masterpiece but it made me realize that I was being way to uptight and it was ruining my creativity, so I think relaxing is a good way to combat that. To quote Rick and Morty ‘Good music comes from those who are relaxed, just hit a button’.

  2. Improvise – I recently made a friend who wanted to start songwriting together and when we got together I realized we had totally different ways of doing this. I usually come up with an idea and then start building slowly. He just straight up starts hitting keys and improving until it feels right. And while I’m sure both ways have their place I also think improv is also just another form of being relaxed and letting it happen, so you might accidentally end up making something amazing. Who knows?

  3. Listen more – My music teachers are avid that listening to a lot of music and analyzing what they do will help give you ideas. I have to admit they’re kind of right. Just listening to more music will help give you ideas and inspire your own work, and it’s just fun.

  4. Think about talking to someone – This is the only technical advice I have (but if you are interested in more stuff like this I’ll link that course below) but writing as if you’re talking to someone is a real crowd hitter. It makes the music feel a bit more personal and natural and usually makes for good hooks.

Do you have any songwriting tips I could use? (anything would be appreciated)

– DJ Psyched