Technology has come a long way in a short time. Not long ago, music recording and mixing was all manual. Music was recorded onto tape, and sound tables were huge machines which required high skill to use. Now, everything about the music production process can be completed digitally, even with digital instruments.
The foundation of digital audio production is called a Digital Audio Workstation or DAW, and is a program that can be installed on most computers as a hub for music manipulation. A person of any skill level and with any budget can find a DAW for them. Especially the lower end DAWs like GarageBand are made to have intuitive interfaces, meaning a novice could pick them up and be mixing in a few minutes.
What Can Music Production Software Do?
As mentioned above, DAWs and other music production software and hardware come in a variety of skill levels and price ranges. They are not all created equally, but there are some commonalities between most digital audio workstations.
Most DAWs, for example, allow you to record directly into the program. You can do this by either connecting your instruments or synthesizers to the computer, or by using an audio interface. Audio interfaces will allow you to use more gadgets at once and not overwhelm your computer or the software.
They will all allow you to record within the software, meaning you can use the digital instruments and various plug-ins provided to you by the DAW to make music digitally. Be careful, as some DAWs require you to purchase additional digital instruments. Professional DAWs typically come with extensive libraries of such, while some of the simpler DAWs may need to be upgraded.
When choosing your software, it’s important to consider whether you will be using it to record live music, or if you will be using it during performances. While the technology is available, you will have to do your research on individual programs to determine which will have the features you require. For example, Ableton is known for its extensive collection of loops and loop manipulation, so it is ideal for live performances. Take an Ableton tutorial to get your live performances to the next level.
DAWs also allow you to edit your music. They will let you use tools such as fading, equalizing, compression, and pitch correction. They also allow you to move arrangements, or delete parts you don’t want. These mixing tools are essential for anyone who wants to produce commercially viable music.
Remember the digital instruments? They allow you to play instruments with no prior knowledge required. Some DAWs come with interactive keyboards or digital guitars, but you can buy MIDI controllers or synthesizers if you prefer a more tactile approach. And, if you don’t feel like playing the digital instrument yourself, the aforementioned loops and samples, not to mention various plug-ins, will have the program playing the instrument for you.
Of course, not all DAWs will be as easy to use as the accessible versions available in the app store. Some require many hours of devotion to learning to play the program like an instrument in its own right. There are so many tools and possibilities, that it’s impossible to expect someone to know it all in the beginning. Take your time and don’t be afraid to experiment once you have a professional level DAW at your fingertips. Remember that some people go to school to learn how to use that program!
What Can’t Music Production Software Do?
Music production software can’t be creative for you. Many people have been disappointed after spending hundreds of dollars on software only to realize the knife doesn’t make the chef. While it is undoubtedly important to stay relevant in the digital era of music, and to be familiar with the tools of your trade, you will still need a good musical foundation to be successful.
If you want to start producing music, get a nice DAW and experiment with it yourself, remembering the software is just a small part of your genius.