How did you learn to produce?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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How did you learn to produce?

Post by DougC42182 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:55 am

I've been DJing for almost 10 years, and I've recently decided that I want to learn how to produce. Listening to 1000s upon 1000s of electronic songs in my time, I get the basic structure of electronic music, and I understand the elements of songs. However, I've had no formal training on any instruments such as piano or anything, and it seems to me this is almost essential for producing great synth sounds/loops. Maybe I'm totally wrong there, but messing with synths for the past week or so, I find myself somewhat lost.

Anyway, just wondered what your guys' background is in musical production, and maybe what kind of hardware/software you use and recommend. I have Ableton 5.2, Reason 2.5, Peak, M-Audio O2 and Evolution UC33e midi contollers. I know there are probably a bunch of programs you guys could recommend as well as synths and whatnot. And I also wonder if there are any publications you read or even videos and stuff to check out. I hope to hear some feedback, as I'd really like to start making my own tracks, I just need a general idea where to start. Thanks!!

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Post by *sigh* » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:15 am

I can't speak for anyone else on this forum, and there are some scarily bright musos hanging about here, but I think I've learned the most from regularly reading Computer Music Magazine. ( It's British, but can be bought in the US, or subscribed to.

It's relatively simple stuff, and doesn't presume any previous production chops, but has walkthroughs and how-tos and lots of free software on the cover disc.

and this forum of course.

Other than that, it's a matter of sitting and experimenting until your computer makes a noise you like.

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Post by sweetjesus » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:23 am

given your background,

first .. get reason so you're familiar with hardware and all concepts like that as Reason is laid out like hardware devices.

then learn to dj with live on the side as that is a paradigm (dj'ing) that you are already familiar with and can perhaps translate a little into computing terms ...

the two will blend in for you eventually.

i personally have a high dislike for computer music and all them magazines

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Post by DougC42182 » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:28 am

Guess I should have already mentioned that I do all my DJ sets with Ableton already. I've been playing out on it for over a year now, so I'm very familiar with that side of it. The making of music with Ableton is another story though.

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Post by sqook » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:38 am

How'd you learn to have sex?

Usually with a patient partner, some impressions you picked up from various magazines, and lots of practice.


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Post by dru » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:44 am

Just try it and see? That's what I've been doing for the past 4 years and the learning curve isn't really that hard, it's your creative ability that you need to build on.

sam flanagan
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Post by sam flanagan » Mon Jan 29, 2007 11:47 am

I started looping stuff on my mac.....then went to universtiy to do a music production course.

If you want to go back to college there are some great 'Access to Music' Courses that will teach you a lot (I teach on one).

I'd also recommend Manchester Midi school and Manchester SSR as they do pretty intense course that sound like they are completely suited to what you want to do.

EDIT: Just relealised your over in the states, maybe Manchester is not the best option.

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Post by selthym » Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:07 pm

I too am a novice at this producing thing.

A few things I wish I had discovered 6 months ago.

My Korg padKontrol, I not only use this for triggering drums and samples but for playing my keys, synths, basslines, stabs etc.

I discovered that I can program different scales (midi notes) on different scenes of my padKontrol (ie scene 16 = a minor in 2 different octives). As I have no idea about chords or scales or much music theory, a little research on music theory on these forums, google and youtube led me to discover what notes make up a certain scale. I can now play decent sounding keys without worrying about playing an off sounding note.

Live's chord midi effect makes these keys sound even better, by dropping a preset before a synth I find my music has a lot more depth.

I am not suggesting that this is a substitute for years of experience, massive amounts of music knowledge and plenty of raw talent but it is making my chosen hobby (along with DJing) a million times more enjoyable.

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Post by Tarekith » Mon Jan 29, 2007 12:18 pm

It's just practice and being dedicated, nothing else. Check out magazine for good articles, and unbiased gear reviews, then just have at it. You don't NEED classical music skills to write music, but it never hurts either. So if you're really serious about learning, maybe take some beginner piano and music theory classes to get you started. There's even some online if there's no place close to you to take classes.

If you recognize song structure from DJing, you're already halfway there. Keep on using Live and Reason, that's raelly all you need at this stage. Don't get into the trap of buying gear before you have a real need to, spend a couple years exploiting what you already have.

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Post by muscleandhate » Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:40 pm

I'm completely self taught. I really wish I did know a luke vibert or a aphex twin to show me how its done though. Sometimes it's like pissing into the wind, trying to get it all right, reading stuff helps but it's totally down to how dedicated you are.

Just getting a good 'techno' kick can take a year lol! Making techno is extremely hard considering it probably soudns the 'easiest' music to make. After you delve into it, you'll realise just how much skills the pro's have.

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Post by nylarch » Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:58 pm

Do you have access to a piano or a full size midi keyboard? Take some traditional piano lessons. You already know how to get around the software. Learning time signatures, scales and chords would be great for you.
MacBook Pro; Live 8 Suite, Reaktor; '77 Fender Jazz Bass; Apogee One;

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Post by rsagevik » Mon Jan 29, 2007 2:16 pm

not sure if I`ve learned anything yet :)

but mostly I experiment until I`m happy with how things sound..

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Post by aqua_tek » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:23 pm

since i started listening to "electronic" music, i always had the clear-cut goal of producing it. I just had that drive right from the beginning.

But instead of starting straight up, a friend of mine who'd been into it for some time recommended that I start DJing first so that I could learn basic song structure, among other things.

So after about 3 years of DJing I finally felt like I had good understanding of how a tune should be built and just took it upon myself to get on the production wagon. Bought Reason 2.5 and spent countless hours during that summer (2003 oh what a magical year for me) learning its inner workings.

I also read a lot of production-oriented magazines like Music Tech, Computer Music, Electronic Musician, Sound On Sound, etc. They were great help.

the learning process never ends though. I've been at it for about 3 and 1/2 years and still consider myself a novice, at best.

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Post by jedeye » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:29 pm

i agree with people here that dedication and passion is all you need. some natural talent will help but talent cant be seen in the beginning, it takes time, sometimes years - then all of a sudden you'll make a killer track and say to yourself, wow how did this happen! :) the rest is one big learning curve, sometimes frutraiting but mostly very enjoyable!

oh yeh prepare to not have a social life! ;)

i started making music 8 years ago, starting with rebirth, fruity loops just to get basic song structures going, then moved onto reason - stayed with that for years until i got sick of its limitations and last year moved onto ableton, kontakt 2, battery 2 and numerous other vsts to make my tracks with, still learning new things everyday. never be afraid to just jump in the deep end and learn new stuff, its not that scary once you start.

also get into the habit of coming onto forums like these - they really are invaluble when it comes to picking up tips/hints & advice!

good luck!

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Post by mcconaghy » Mon Jan 29, 2007 3:48 pm

Trial and error, and the help of mags like Electronic Musician, Remix and the like, as well as reading countless forums on the web. I must have spent a good year or two trying to replicate all of my favorite tunes, most of 'em turned out shite, but I learned a lot of tricks doing things that way. I can't remember who said it, but there's a quote that goes: Good artists copy, bad artists steal. So get out there and copy, my good man!

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