Tips: how to make electronic music
Want to make electronic music?
With the rise of electronic music today, it is more common to see more people that want to learn how to make electronic music. When they first get into electronic music production, they may be overwhelmed by how many different things they have to learn. A lot of people give up within the first month because they expect to become an amazing producer within that first month but end up being let down and disappointed. However, electronic music production is a time consuming process and those who stick to it and focus on learning new skills will become great at it eventually. That being said, there are some tips and tricks that can help learning how to make electronic music less of a headache and steer you in the right direction.
1. Keep the creative process separate
When you first learn how to make electronic music, there are tons of tutorials on the internet on how to mix and master a song. However, don’t focus heavily on this yet. You have to get your creative side going. While you are working on a song, keep that creative process going. This means laying out your ideas of melodies and different parts. If you do some technical stuff (EQ, compression, volume levels, etc.) during the creative process, your creative flow will die and any melodies or ideas you currently have on your head will be lost and forgotten. You will then most likely result in a mental block after this and that will definitely kill your drive to finishing the song.
2. More sounds?
No. Use less sounds. It is easier to mix your final track with less sounds. Having a ton of sounds will make your mix sound bad and will give you headaches in the process. This doesn’t mean add less parts. This means add less instruments/synths. For example if you want to have an ambient part, don’t cram in 10 pads. It’ll just sound like crap. Work with 1 pad or 3 maximum to avoid any mess. In electronic music production, noise and extra messy sounds are a lot easier to hear and notice.
3. The master channel
Never put any effects on it. Only put effects on separate channels. This may seem like a lot more work but it is well worth it if you want quality.
4. Keep the mix under 6dB
This applies to general music production too and not just those wanting to know how to make electronic music. The reason why you should keep your mix under 6dB is to not give you a headache when you get to the technical process. (Mixing & Mastering)
One of the most common mistakes people make when learning how to make electronic music is boosting EQ. First off, check if you really need to EQ your sound. Most sounds from VSTs already sound great straight out but if you really do need to EQ, limit boosting frequencies. If you really need to EQ, focus on cutting frequencies rather than boosting frequencies. Boosting frequencies will add some unwanted noises and they are very noticable in electronic music.
6. Computer has a bad CPU?
Since most electronic music producers are on a budget, their computers probably can’t handle a lot of VSTs running all at once. There are tons of YouTube videos teaching people how to make electronic music and most of them suggest using Native Instruments Massive. Just a side note – this process is usually done after the creative process to get it prepared for the technical part of electronic music production. This plugin tends to hog a lot of CPU depending on the presets / settings. To help avoid your CPU from overloading, render your sounds you made from Massive (or other VSTs) into .wav files. Export these files to a new project and mix and master your song from there. You will avoid any crackling/popping sounds provided that your computer isn’t completely garbage.
7. Mix in mono or stereo?
Do your mix in stereo. Stereo is great because you can have a lot more special effects happening. If you are just starting learning how to learn how to make electronic music and have no idea what I mean, stereo is having the left side and right side separated. An example for an effect for stereo is panning and having a sound move from the left side to the right side. You can create really awesome atmospheric effects with this. That’s why stereo is great.
BUT, don’t completely ignore mono. Mono is having the left and the right side exactly the same. But anyways, one of the popular reasons why to check your mix in mono is because most club’s sound systems are mono, and because we are learning how to make electronic music, our music will most likely be played in a mono system. This isn’t the only reason why you should mix in mono. You should check you mix in mono because there can be a lot ot phasing issues. In stereo, the right and left side are separated. In mono, you add both sides up and this can create some problems. Waves from the right side can cancel some waves from the left side and make your mix sound horrible. However, you shouldn’t worry too much about mono. Just make sure it doesn’t suck in mono. It just needs to sound decent in mono to meet minimum requirements.
Rest is important. If you prolong a session, you may end up just wasting your time. During that session, you may think that the mix sounds awesome. However when you listen to it the next day, it sounds really bad. Don’t get frustrated from this. It’s a very common thing that happens to people learning how to make electronic music or even current electronic music producers.
9. Mute everything
Frustrated and hate how your mix sounds? Done with the creative process and don’t know how to start the technical process of mixing and mastering a song? Mute everything. First off, a lot of new producers learning how to make electronic music will forget to put an instrument into a mixer track. This is your first step. Put ALL your sounds into your mixer. After that, turn all the volume sliders/knobs down. Another mistake people do when learning how to make electronic music is that they start mixing with the default volume on each track. First off, the least you can do is lower each track volume (see #4). However, if you want a fresh canvas for your mix, mute everything then slowly increase each track until you are satisfied that all the sounds sit well together.
10. Compare with the pros
References are always a good thing. Listening to a profesionally produced track is a great way to find any mistakes you may have made and also to see how to further improve your mix and your overall quality. When you learn how to make electronic music, it is essential that your song’s quality is in top condition.