The Basics of Electronic Music Production

In its simplest form, music production is the process by which music is created. Usually this process is broken down into recording, mixing and mastering, which are completed in that order. Each one of these tasks is crucial to the listenability of a song, and each should be done with the utmost care.

Since electronic music originated from the small time artist fiddling with various synthesizers and hardware equipment, most electronic music producers today do all or most of the processes described above themselves. This is in part due to the historic ties of the practices, but also since many producers own all the equipment and software necessary to do all three parts, they are willing to save the money on production costs and not outsource the job to a designated professional. This is unlike a traditional band or artist who only possess their talent, and cannot do all three parts, thus requiring them to hire a studio.

In the world of electronic music, virtually every artist uses a DAW, or digital audio workspace. A list of several popular DAWs can be found here. There are very few artists remaining who do all aspects of production exclusively with hardware. Typically inside your DAW, there will several stock synthesizers, effects, and production tools, but virtually every DAW these days allows plugins to be added.

The first step in the journey into electronic music production is to purchase a digital audio workspace. Most DAWs on the market will supply you with ample tools to complete all stages of production.

YouTube is an excellent resource for electronic music production basics. I cannot stress enough how import it is to understand at the very least the fundamentals of your software before attempting large scale song composition. I have seen far too many aspiring producers quit just days after purchasing their Digital Audio Workspace simply because they did not understand its various kinks, or could not quickly find the tools they found to be necessary. YouTube is an excellent place to learn your DAW quickly, as there exist a wealth of tutorials. It may be helpful to set up a second screen while you learn your software so you can complete the tasks side by side the Youtuber.

You may ask why learn a basic analog synthesizer as opposed to a digital one. Well the vast majority of synthesizers on the market now are based almost entirely off of the original analog concept of a synthesizer. This article here explains the basic way in which an analog synthesizer functions. Understanding this will put you light years ahead on understanding more complicated software synthesizers such as Camel Audio’s Alchemy (Which has tragically been liquidated).

While learning your plugins is not as important as understanding the functionality of a basic synthesizer or your DAW, it is very important to be able to achieve passable results from a small number of plugins before purchasing other, more complicated ones. Understand the basics of a compressor is vital before moving onto more niche plugins, like Native Instruments Supercharger, since if you do not understand what you are doing with a plugin, it is very likely that you will not be able to fix subtle problems in your mix or master when they arise. These problems can come from electronic music production mistakes such as a too short of attack time on a compressor, or over limiting a mix. These are some of the basics that go into understanding the fundementals and basics of electronic music production today.