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Stuck and confuse about learning music production
Old 2 weeks ago
Here for the gear

Stuck and confuse about learning music production

Hey. it's been a long time since i started to learn music production and i feel stuck and confuse.

I don't know what is the steps to learn. If i start learning mixing so i know what EQ and compression means and also panning and levels for examples but then i watch tutorials and see how they play with the sound design (ADSR, OSC, etc) and i feel like a robot who try to mimic what they doing without really understand why. also fell the same with the compression for example.
then i start questioning myself what is the steps to learn all of this. should i learn sound design first or mixing? should i learn the VST soft Synth that they work with or...i don't know.
I bought this books and found the second one too difficult for me and with the first one i feel like i don't know if there i should start since i can't reach the sound i want without the sound design.

*Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices, and Tools 3rd Edition by Roey Izhaki
*The Secrets of Dance Music Production by AttackMagazine

anyone who can help me with an advice?

Old 1 week ago
Learn by doing - start a project, work on a track and learn the concepts as they arise in your production. Google each issue that comes up and try to learn as much as you can. With each song you'll learn and get better.
Old 1 week ago
Gear Head

The last book you mentioned is really good. You could also look up Dance Music Manual by Rick Snoman. It contains everything you need to know especially in the later editions.
Old 1 week ago
Gear Addict
Murky Waters's Avatar

Just keep in mind that making music is art first, science later. Think like an artist. Both are deep aspects of making music, but the science will put you into utter oblivion if you focus too much on it at the beginning.
Old 1 week ago
so i know what EQ and compression means and also panning and levels for examples but then i watch tutorials and see how they play with the sound design (ADSR, OSC, etc) and i feel like a robot who try to mimic what they doing without really understand why
I would stop trying to copy what others are doing and just dive into it. You learn nothing by just copying what others are doing to mixes that do not contain your tracks, style and personnel preferences. You do not do the same thing for every mix, so copying them is not good. Its an art and every mix will need different things done to it.

You kind of contradict yourself, You say "know what EQ and compression means and also panning and levels" but hen you say "i feel like a robot who try to mimic what they doing without really understand why". So you really do not know about EQ, Compression, panning an levels, or you would know why you are using them and how each setting in each EQ, compressor and any other effect, effects the sound.

There are millions of little things you are not aware of and only a lot of time and experience will solve this, with lots of hard work..
For one, panning is not just left and right. You need to create a 3D stereo image, just like a painting of the sunset into the ocean. You do that by using a series of short delays, mid and side EQ techniques and other panning tools. You should be placing them back left, back right, front left, front right, 80% back right, 80% back left, mid center, back center, front center, 50% front left, 50% front right and so on... .... ..

For compressors, do no copy what others are doing, learn what each of the settings in compression does and then use your ears and dial in the sound you want.
Here is an easy tutorial on what each setting does: If you know what each setting does, then you will know how to set it.
Old 1 week ago
Gear Guru

Originally Posted by shay2089 View Post
Hey. it's been a long time since i started to learn music production and i feel stuck and confuse.

I don't know what is the steps to learn. If i start learning mixing so i know what EQ and compression means and also panning and levels for examples but then i watch tutorials and see how they play with the sound design (ADSR, OSC, etc) and i feel like a robot who try to mimic what they doing without really.
I would take an historical approach and learn what you need to learn "in order". While it's all Art, and you can do what you want, as a beginner it probably pays to at least take note of how things are traditionally done.

Composing the song
Instrument Choice, if it is traditional instruments, Sound Design if it is synths.
Performing the song
Editing the song, selecting the best performances, fixing stray notes and so on

Things like EQ and compression are usually done at the end. They are properly considered "signal processing" and you can certainly record without any signal processing. Traditionally this is the way many engineers would approach recording a song. Record everything 'dry' and add effects at mixdown. It is certainly recommended for beginners because that way you can experiment and change your mind about what effects you use without wrecking your tracks. If you apply EQ and compression during the recording process, and you choose the wrong ones, or overdo it, you are "stuck" with those settings. If you are an experienced professional who knows exactly what effects will be needed on the piano before the bass and drums are even on there, then go ahead and add the effects. Otherwise wait until your song is finished being recorded before you mix.

setting the attack and decay of a synthesized sound is again traditionally done before or during the composition process. At the beginning. Sound design is equivalent to putting a certain gauge strings on your guitar, you are making a decision on what your instrument should sound like. Most people will "select" their sound before they start trying to perform the song. Some will even select the sound before they compose the song. i.e. use the sound as an inspiration for what they will write.

In my sig file is a quote about music and sound. That they are not the same. Write a bunch of notes on a page, give the sheet music to a violinist and ask him to play those notes. Now give them to a keyboard player. What stays the same, I would call "the music" and what changes, I would call "the sound".

understand why. also fell the same with the compression for example.
then i start questioning myself what is the steps to learn all of this. should i learn sound design first or mixing?
IMO you should learn music theory first. What is a chord, what is a scale, what is a quarter-note. How do certain things work together or not work together. If your song is just a collection of sounds, with little attention paid to the musical structure, it is less likely to engage the listener.

Sound design should be next, again IMO. If you do a good job on either selecting presets, tweaking presets or whipping up your own sounds from scratch, you might only need very minimal mixing. From your post, it seems you are using a lot of synths. In my experience, synths rarely need much compression when mixing. In fact, they almost never need any compression. As for EQ, again, your adjustment of the controls on the synthesizer will affect the tonal balance in ways that are often more powerful than anything you could do with the actual Equalizer processor.

So, learn mixing last. You could record a dozen songs, and THEN learn mixing and you have lost nothing. Mixing is also one of those things - you could hire someone else to mix for you until you are confident enough to try it yourself. You can't hire someone else to "write your song for you", because then it isn't your song at all, is it?

What is the point of learning mixing first, if you don't have a finished song to mix? Mixing comes at the end of the process and it seems to me like you are "stuck" at the beginning.

since i can't reach the sound i want without the sound design.
So learn that first. Until you can make your instrument make the sound you want it to make, what are you "recording"? If you were a trumpet player you would probably be advised not to bother recording until you could produce a clear unwavering tone and not some sheep-like bleating. If you were a guitarist, you would be advised to learn how to play a chord and have all the notes in the chord sustaining clearly and not being choked off because your fingers aren't placed properly or are too weak to press the strings down.

Last edited by joeq; 1 week ago at 08:19 PM..
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear
Instead of tutorials about mixing, how about history of mixing? There are alot of videos in youtube about history of music and mixing. Worked for me better than tutorials.

For example now I'm watching videos of Sticky Wicket explaining and playing some vintage chops. And I think it is more entertained than watching TV-series with beer in my hand. And guess what, that actually helps me to understand what is wrong with my drum setup. Those chops and grooves of Sticky Wicket are fantastic! Even if genre would be synthwave or psy trance, knowing the past can help you to understand today or even future. And for God sake, look how happy that vintage drummer is in front of his drums!

Now think about it. What is the history of compression? Why compression was invented? What is the history of reverb? What gear has become legend and why? Who invented gated reverb and where it was used? How the first guitar was recorded? What's the story of Roland, Novation, Moog etc.. Who mixed famous songs and what made their mixes so good or bad? These were just few examples of music history that can make you learn something about mixing.

For me this works because history of music feels interesting.
Old 1 week ago
Lives for gear

I'd first ask if you were a musician. Second I'd ask if you were self taught or taught be others and have you advanced to the point of learning music by copying others. Then from there have you begun to write and record your own music.

If you are a musicians, having taught many, I know it takes a good 2~5 years to become good enough to begin playing out live. Less if you have a good teacher.

How long do you think it takes to record an album? The thing I read most on sites like this with people exasperated that their first or even their 50th recording wasn't a national hit and went gold. A pro might begin to think you are beginning to have something on the ball when you been mixing for 10 years and have maybe 5000 recordings under your belt and worked with several hundred bands. Whether you've been mixing your own stuff or others doesn't really factor in. As one wise man said, its not the age its the mileage that counts.

Say you are up to speed playing where you can learn by hearing what others play, visualize the notes being played and eventually figure out most of the notes.
Doing the exact same thing mixing isn't that much different - In fact its one of the best and most accurate ways of learning how to mix.

I been into recording since I was 11 years old. I remember it was 1968 and got my first Mission impossible type mini reel to reel. I used to do all kinds of things with that recorder from playing music to doing news casts (Podcasts by todays standards) Somewhere along the way getting into bigger multitrack recorders I came up with the idea of throwing a commercial recording on one track then adding all my own tracks on the others while I played along to that commercial recording.

I don't think I would have advanced nearly as far nor quickly if I hadn't invented that trick. I specifically say invented because I had no access at the time to any modern studios, books, or people at that time and it was decades before the internet was available. Of course its something just about any studio can and did do to some degree but as far as I was concerned it was a technique I thought up first hand which put me on par with what a lot of engineers did for a living.

I could say the same for dozens of other techniques as well. You know the gear, you know what you're hearing, you make the gear do what you hear in the recording. That's it. In fact that's all it is. How you can do it can either be more technical of much more simple but that's besides the point.

Of course later in life you face the disappointments when after many years people called you gifted and having discovered so many of these things on your own without any help at all, you find you were never the first to do most of these things and many even dated back long before you were born. You can however take solace in being able to match the creativity of the best engineers in the business, and know you will be one who carries on many of those ideas after they are long gone.

What does this have to do with the price of wheat in China? Well its meant to be motivational. Sure you can read about things all day long and even be motivated by much of it but no matter what you need to discipline yourself to hard work and dedication. You cannot be reliant on others to tell you when you did a good job either. Sure your parents or girlfriend and pet dog will think you're great but even on a forum like this its mostly populated by people doing the exact same thing you're trying to do. I call it the "Realm of Jealous Gods". Its not that anyone is mean. In fact most will give you the shirt off their backs trying to help you out but its not a place you'll find a whole lot of sympathy when you get discouraged. In fact I think many hope you will get discouraged and quit because it makes their slim pickins trying to earn a living in this trade slightly easier with less competition in the way.

Question is will you let them take the business you could ahead had without even it your best shot. No one wants to waste their good advice on a quitter. The idea is to give that advise to a winner and if they ever get to a position to help others they return that favor.

You may wonder how do people stick with it long enough to become really good?
Man that is the million dollar question right there. First off many don't. If you figure 1%of the people who get into audio actually earn a living. 1/10 of those earn a steady living, 1/100 may spend time working with the best in the business and 1 out of a million have a hit, you may have some concept of how small this business really is.

In the past there was always room for someone new who knew his stuff and paid his dues to get there, but today? You have to ask Where. Its not a thriving business with loads of money to be made any more. Those who are still in the business probably lost count of how many times they wished they had gotten into some other business. I was one of those lucky ones. I learned electronics in order to get a solid job in the business and by 1980 when I got my Degree, along with the 10 years of performing live I could already see it wasn't the best end of the business to stake a career in. I gave it a shot for a few years and toured many of the studios in the NE doing field work, but simply loving a thing doesn't put food on the table. So I took a much better job in digital electronics and kept the music end as a part time job and hobby. Smart move on my part. Who would figure digital would play such an important role in music 40 years later.

Back to the issue. If you import commercial recordings in your project, then play every part, then mix them exactly the same, the music should sound identical, right? Maybe. That's if you got the musical skill to match the original artist. I started doing that by taking the easiest songs I know and soon discovered just how difficult it was to match even the simplest of songs. You stop looking down on some of those songs you thought children could match and begin to appreciate what they did right to make them successes.

Its a fantastic way of building up some decent presets too. You can have great plugins and gear but making them sound decent isn't always so easy. Busing some presets that match your favorite artists makes for some great places to begin, especially when you know those songs wound up sounding killer.

Another huge point is getting your instrument, mics, voice etc to sound great too. If you go into a project blind and just start recording the likelihood of having that instrumernt perfectly tuned, tweaked and intonated, everything from the pickup height right to having the right tones dialed up is in play. jam along to several songs and match your tone and settings so it sounds like you're playing on those albums is by far the best shortcut I know at nailing a professional sound. You'll find everything else as far as production becomes kindergarten stuff in comparison. Without great sounding tracks producing a fantastic groove you really haven't got anything to work with and its why so many become discouraged. They seem to think the gear is what gives them the groove when its the music all along.
Old 1 week ago
Here for the gear
^ I am just a beginger in music. But I do reconize when pro comes around have something important to say. Thanks for sharing wrgkmc. Nicely put and makes sense.

I will try that tip about commercial recordings.
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