This article is aimed at enlightening newbie producers on the 3 sound sources in music production, with which music can be made. Music is an artistic combination of various sounds to form a soothing melody. Gone were the days when there were no DAWS. The only sound sources available to make music with were the conventional “live” music recordings. When you really have to be outstandingly talented, and go through innumerable rehearsal sessions before finally recording a song. The drummers, instrumentalists, and the vocalists all had to get the tunes right to have a smooth recording and a resulting good music or no other way. Music was recorded to tape. Having faulty takes was stressful. Unlike nowadays where you just delete and retake as many times as possible before getting it right, or before finally pissing off the producer.Back then music could only be made by recording live performances.
Fast forward to the computer age, music production got easier. You never have to go through that much stress to record a song. In fact, you don’t really have to be super “talented” to be a star musician. There came other ways to make a song besides recording live performances, plus a whole lot of enhancement tools to polish a song. The computer age brought us electronic music and additional sound sources to make music with besides the live recording of conventional instruments and hardware synths. Below are the three sound sources in current computer based music production.
Audio recording sources
As already explained above, the conventional process of performance recording through the microphone will always be the most prominent way of making music. At least, if all instrumentals could be done somehow else, we can’t help but record vocals on the beats to complete the song (Though not all songs need vocals). The industry standard end product of live recording when converted to digital signal is often in WAV format. With wave files, further editing and processing can be done, and it is the standard format for final commercial music release in CDs.
Sampled audio sources
With the advent of computer music production comes “sample based” music and the spread of electronic music like EDM and trance. What is an audio sample? You may ask. Simply put- samples are previously recorded sounds in high definition formats, usually WAV, which can later be combined and rearranged to make an entirely new music. Samples come either in form of ‘one hit’ audio or as loops. Example of one hit samples are recorded single hits of drums like Kick, snare, hats, toms and other percussion like gongs, bells, conga, tambourines e.t.c. While loops are in form of fairly short pre-composed melody, either of drums or other instruments.
What is midi? You may ask. MIDI is actually an acronym which is a short form for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface”. Midi is an audio information protocol that carries messages that specify musical notation, pitch and velocity. Midi can also be used to control signals for parameters such as volume, vibrato, panning, etc. Midi information have no sound of their own, but are rather used to control other sound sources (especially software synths, and other VSTi ). So this means if you export a midi composition from your DAW to work in another studio, the other studio must have the same VSTi you played, with the exact sound preset before you can get the same sound from your own Project. Unless you take your custom preset files along, of course.
Aside the use of external controllers, midi information can also be entered from within the DAW by using the computer’s keyboard and mouse. But this process could be time taking and more stressful than using external controllers. Thus, midi information are better entered using external controllers which are usually in form of keyboards (midi keyboard), drum pads and control surfaces. The use of external controllers give a musical performance a more “live” feel to it than entering the arrangement with keyboard and mouse. The player can play the instrument like a live instrument and other variables like velocities and sustains can be best expressed.
These are the various sound sources in music production with which music can be made in the modern computer DAW age. Choose whichever means will be easy and suitable for you, or a combination of two or all three to make a beautiful piece of music. Just be diligent, witty and creative with your music making process and you will be on your way to becoming a very good music producer in no time. For newbie midi based music producers, read how to install VSTi and VST plugins in your DAW if you are yet to know how do it. For sample based producers who don’t know how to go about loading samples, you should read how to import sample packs into your DAW to get the idea.
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