In this article, I will highlight the basics of what a good music producer should know. You will learn what exactly the sound is and what is not. When you understand these things you will be able to produce good quality music that will appeal to many people.
This article is not about any particular DAW software. It is about the theory that helps you to understand what audio mastering and sample making are about. The discussed features appear in every audio software but can be called in a different ways. But I’m sure you know this already.
We live in a world of sounds. It is not possible to break free. As long as we can breathe, there is air around us and the air constantly vibrates. These vibrations are sounds. Our ears can hear only a part of these vibrations. All the sounds that we hear or generate can be described by some basic physical parameters which can not only be measured but also their values can be saved (recorded) and recreated (played).
Basic sound parameters:
While speaking about music production we are also going to discuss acoustics and space and their relationships with the sound. But first, we will need to explain how to work with sounds by altering the above values. We will learn how to change the nature of sounds and create new sound samples. We will also talk about mastering sounds.
A good thing to start is to take a recording device (a smartphone will do) and start recording sounds. After you capture some sounds, you can start making samples out of them. For all electronic music makers, the samples are essential. Most software comes with ready sets of samples. These libraries are called sample packs. Most people, however, are not satisfied with what they get by default.
For them there are two solutions:
- The first is to get sample packs from a professional sample packs provider.
- The second is to create new or modify the existing ones.
- To edit sounds, you have to learn the mentioned above sound properties.
Also see: Best Websites To Buy Sample Packs
Loudness level (Volume)
Increasing the loudness level of silent parts (or even a whole sound) can significantly increase its readability. The sound can become more clear and powerful by increasing the volume in some its parts.
Also see: Your Friend: Volume
Example: Let’s take a human voice recording. The speaker is non-pro and it was recorded poorly. On the computer screen, it looks as below.
Increasing the volume of silent parts will fill the collapsed places and the effect will look more like below. When you play this voice, the whole sentence will sound louder and you will hear more confidence in it. There are ways to automatize this process by using a compressor plugin.
A limiter plugin will help you keep things under control. ProducerSpot has prepared for you a list of Best Free Limiter VST Plugins, be sure to check them.
Pitch is the sound’s frequency. It is assumed that the human ear can distinguish sound frequencies between 20Hz and 20 000Hz. However, age and loud sounds exposure are the causes of hearing ability corruption so many musicians, construction workers or older people can’t hear higher sounds. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch.
By changing the pitch of the sound, we can make it sound lower or higher. By making more complex changes, we can achieve more. Dynamic pitch modulation can produce really interesting results. For example, you can dynamically change the pitch during the playback to produce the feeling of sound ascending or descending.
If you change the speed during the pitch modulation you will achieve some nice scratchy effect, or stretching and shrinking sounds. Make some experiments! Many good and interesting sound effects have been created this way.
For practical reasons, we will focus on sound length as pieces cut from longer sounds. Almost every sound is different in its beginning, middle parts, and in end. Hearing the whole sound will lead to different feelings than hearing only a part of the sound. Below you can see an example:
This is a single sound of hands clap. As you can see, the shape of the chart is irregular. This single sound’s parameters differ in time. By cutting its parts you can create new sounds.
To change the timbre of sound we can use an equalizer. In most cases, a sound is a sum of sounds of different frequencies. By adjusting these frequencies in the equalizer we can change the timbre of sounds. We can also cut some frequencies off or add more volume to other frequencies. We can also use many other filters and effects.
This way we will get new versions of the same samples. We can, for example, hear it without the bass, we can slice it into several frequency-based channels and mix them to get something totally new and different from the original.
However the most important in equalization is to remove the dirt and glitches of the sound and adding harmony to our sample and making it sound clear and smooth.
By using the above techniques you can get various new combinations of given sample sound. You can enhance it and change it to fit your needs. You should craft your sounds so that they fit not only the quality standards but also your personal taste. Keep in mind that you are the producer so the last word in mix and mastering belongs to you.