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How to Start Composing Music with the Computer

By Edited Dec 24, 2015 0 0

Everybody has a different musical background and some have none. One person may have started taking piano or violin classes at age 6 while the other person may have become curious about creating music in his teenage years or even adulthood.
This article primarily concentrates on those people with no musical background at all but want to start creating their own tunes.

Things You Will Need

Before I start diving into explaining how to compose music, let me tell you in before hand that composing music can be a quite an expensive hobby. Music equipment is not necessarily cheap, so you'll need a bit of a budget to afford some of my recommended equipments like a MIDI-keyboard and a good computer which will allow you to perform all those resource eating music programs.

Step 1

Learn the Very Basics: Learn to count bars, especially learn to count the most popular time signature which is 4/4. Figure out the characteristics of a 4/4 beat and how you can compose your own music in this time signature. Understand where to put your drums like snare, kick and hi-hat within a 4/4 time signature, this servers as the ground on which you build everything else on.

Step 2

Get a Setup: To compose music with your computer you need a few primary equipment elements. A MIDI-Keyboard which you can plug-in into your computer over USB connection, I recommend a 61 key version which has enough keys and space to play on but it is also not as big as an 88 keys controller. A professional USB audio interface which is better suited for music production than your default soundcard since it's provides short latencies between the time your press the keys on your keyboard and when the sound occurs through the monitors. Suited to the professional audio interface you also need professional speakers which are called monitors, they provide a neutral and flat sound, which means the sound is supposed to come out of the monitors how it really is and not overly changed by the speaker so the music sounds a certain way to create a specific listening experience – in simple English this means regular speaks often make the music sound brighter and shinier than it really is, which is counter-productive for music production of course.
You also need a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to sequence and record your ideas, this is basically a software where you can record what you've played, and you need a sound module which you use to select your instruments so you can start composing. A sound module can be a hardware device like a rack, or it also can be a software plug-in, which you plug in into your software DAW to play and record those sounds.

Step 3

Composing the Music: Get quickly used to working with frameworks, too many people have the finished composition in their mind and feel terribly uncomfortable in the beginning of the project when all they have is a skeleton. It takes time and practice to get used to working with a loop consisting of just a few sounds and bringing exactly that to a complete and fully arranged composition. My advice would be to create many skeletons one after the other until you get used to it, then get back to the ones you like and finish them up.

Learn basic music theory, start with scales and then learn about chords and melodies, I recommend learning about chords first and then building the melodies on top of the chords. You can make good sounding music much easier and faster with a good chord progression, rather than just a melody, so you have success experiences early on.

Step 4

Ear-Training: It's critical for a musician to have good ears, just like a painter needs to see colors differently than the average person, a musician needs to hear tones differently than the average person. A good way to learn playing and composing music is by listening to commercial music and replaying them. You want to know what chords a certain band used or how to build a similar melody you heard on the radio? Just replay it by ear. For that I recommend you to buy ear training CDs and learn certain techniques to train your ear, this type of stuff really works and can boost your skill level. Finally it's important to keep in mind that learning to compose music simply takes time. If you have no musical background it may seem hard for you to get into but once you start grasping the basic concepts of music theory you'll get the hang out of it and it will come easy and be fun to you. One of the most important tips I can give you is don't try to get overwhelmed by the mass of information that the music world consists of, simply try to concentrate on the necessary things.

Tips & Warnings

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