The What, Why, and How of Music Production

I really only do two things for fun:

  1. Write stories
  2. Make music

I’ve written plenty about writing (ironic), but I rarely talk about my other favorite pastime. To be honest, I don’t think anyone has any clue what I mean when I say “I make music.” They probably imagine something like this:

When in reality, it looks a lot more like this:

For me, music creation doesn’t happen in the traditional, tactile sense; it’s more digital, experiential, and unconventional. But it’s 2018 people — you don’t need to play an instrument to make music!

Most don’t understand this.

That’s partially why I’m writing this; for clarity on the what, why, and how of music production.

The What

I make music with a software called GarageBand… and by “software” I mean app I installed on my iPad.

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s not music, you’re just playing a game that makes noise.”

No, I’m actually making music.

If I showed GarageBand on my hand-held device to a person born in the 19th century, their head would explode. It’s ridiculous the technological capability and potential that fits right inside our pockets . You have an entire studio on your phone and I bet you never even think about it! In fact, most people delete GB off top because it takes up too much space.

Honestly, GarageBand is the greatest instrument to have.

The Why

Ooo, the infamous “why.” In life, it all really boils down to why, right?

  • I should date you. Why?
  • I should buy your thing. Why?
  • I should go to the gym. Why?

WHHHHY, do you make music?

Because it’s fun, creative, and gives an intrinsic feeling hard to describe.

I don’t make music for fans. I don’t do it for money (obviously). I don’t do it because it makes me look cool.

I do it because it‘s fun, exciting, and fulfilling to create your own thing.

Music challenges you to think creatively and critically. With it, you need focus, like any other instrument or practice, and you do it because you have an idea or emotion you want to express. It’s also about creating something new, “your own thing,” that you can share with your friends.

It’s also a technical skill that adds to your toolbox. Sounds cheesy, I know, but music production really does exercise your thought process and decision making. You become keen to structure as you build songs; you have sharper eyes and ears for everyday life.

For example, I hear elements of music I never heard before. Even in classic, long-time favorites of mine, I discover nuances of production I didn’t hear prior to making my own beats. It’s cool to be able to break apart songs and understand them on a deeper level — I find myself following drum and bass lines while visualizing progressions of the song.

The How

The what and why are easy… But “how” I make music is the opening of a can of worms; it’s like trying to explain how to fly a plane. I could tell you the gist of it, but behind the controls, you’d shit your pants.

Here are 4 steps to make a song:

  1. Play and collect sounds
  2. Organize them
  3. Mix and edit them
  4. Repeat steps 1–3 until there’s a complete song that sounds good

(Useless, right?)

See, the “how” here is insufficient. It doesn’t really tell you how I do it, which sucks because so many people wish they could produce their own music. Most look at music production as complicated, expensive, and something that requires innate talent — which is completely false!

I started making music without any equipment and zero experience.

It’s a learned skill and one that can change your life…

- AZ

If you’d like to learn how to get started and make your own music, please have a look here.

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.