Many of those who love music have the ultimate dream of making their own music. But the term “make music” encompasses many things: composing notes, writing lyrics, arranging, recording, editing, and even more in between. Does that mean one has to have a studio to make music?
You don’t technically need a studio to make music. As long as you know the process and have musical instruments and basic recording equipment, like a mic, computer, and music-making software, then you’re good to go. However, some limitations come with the lack of space and tools.
Read on and learn about the process of making music. This article will also cover all the tools you need and teach you what you need to know to make your own music with or without a studio.
The Music-Making Process
Regardless of what kind of music you want to make, the process involves the same essential steps. Some people might add a step or two, while others might leave out something, so it’s not really set in stone. However, it’s important to know the general process and grasp how to make adjustments based on what you have.
Making music involves writing the song, arranging, tracking, editing music, mixing, and mastering. For some people, it would include rehearsals and overdubbing.
Writing a Song
Songwriting is putting musical ideas together to form a coherent structure of melody, rhythm, and harmony. Traditionally, songwriting is done with one instrument, a melody, and a lyric.
In the songwriting process, you’ll need to decide what your song will be about, what feelings you want to express or communicate, and how you want to convey your message through storytelling. You also need to decide how you want to present the song to listeners, including how you want it to start and end and the dynamic of the song, and how it would flow.
These days, songwriting has become a more expedited process because of modern technology. For instance, a template production allows you to work on musical ideas without making singers and musicians sing or play certain parts repeatedly – which can also be annoying or tiring for the talent.
A song’s arrangement refers to your song’s larger timeline. In here, you will also have your choice of instruments that play in each section.
For example, if you have written a great chorus and verse, you wouldn’t want to play these over and over, on repeat. There will have to be a buildup. Like you can start on the first verse with a guitar and a vocal, follow that with the second verse with drums and bass added, and move on to the chorus with vocal harmonies and the synths.
Tracking is also referred to as the recording process. This is where you capture the song being performed. Recording essentially allows you to format all your musical thoughts together so you can listen to them repeatedly and whenever you want.
In the tracking process, you’ll record the various instruments used to perform your song. Typically, you record a song according to tracks. Each time you record a new track, you can hear the other tracks you’ve already recorded. This is called multi-track recording.
Editing is the process of manipulating and perfecting your music using different methods, including splicing, comping, sampling, stretching, pitch correction, and compressing. It will all depend on the editing equipment you have access to.
With digital music editing, you can now edit after recording instead of while recording. This makes it possible to focus on each step of the entire process instead of getting everything right at the same time.
This means you can focus on songwriting first and get this step correct before focusing on the recording. And since you can record individual tracks and edit them when they’re all done, you don’t have to perform with all your instruments and vocals together in one room. It also spares the band from repeating the performance again and again until all sections of the song are perfect in one go.
Mixing is when you combine your separate tracks of all the instruments and vocals you have recorded into a stereo two-track mix. You’ll know you did a good mix if you can clearly hear all the instruments playing together, with detail. A good final mix will have motion and depth, and it’ll have a significant impact on the way your music will be interpreted. It’ll help listeners appreciate and understand your song.
Mastering is when you make all the songs you have created sound coherent and part of a single unified album. A mastering engineer will correct any little deficiency in the mix and raise the level of all tracks so that they are loud enough and even in volume.
But since we’re not really talking about an album, mastering essentially means making the final output sound accurate and making sure that it will translate the sound as intended on varying playback systems.
For more information, check out my Complete Guide to Building a Home Recording Studio.
Do You Need a Studio To Make Music?
A recording studio is a dedicated space, room, or facility designed for recording, editing, and mixing musical performances and other sounds. Many are typically designed to have great acoustics and ample space for performers, and special audio equipment.
However, you don’t need this special room to make music. What’s important is that you are familiar with the steps and process of making music. This will, in turn, help you identify the equipment you need and prepare them as you move along. As long as you have all the basic equipment, it doesn’t really matter whether or not you have a studio setup at home.
How To Make Music Without a Studio
Without a home recording studio, you can make music inside your room, in your study, or any room in the house. As long as the acoustics are nice, there are no unwanted distractions, and it can accommodate basic audio equipment. You can also improve your room’s acoustics by putting up towels, blankets, carpets, and other sound-absorbing materials.
If your song requires a few instruments to be played and two or more vocals, you don’t even need to get all the performers together in one room. In this day and age, performers can record themselves separately while playing their respective instruments at home and send their individual audio files to you. Or you can record performers one by one if you don’t have the space to accommodate everyone at once.
You can make music as long as you have a computer with a digital audio workstation or music editing software and a microphone, which will serve as your input. You can record using your mic and edit with your DAW. If you don’t have a computer, you can also use your smartphone and download and install audio editing apps.
While you can produce music with only the most basic recording tools and equipment, you should not expect a studio-quality output. After all, studios have the complete setup, have expensive gadgets and devices, and sometimes even music professionals and sound engineers to work on every step of the music-making process.
You don’t need a studio complete with all the high-tech equipment to make music. You also just need the basic equipment, like a microphone, a sound recorder, and editing software. In fact, these days, you can do wonders with just a smartphone, and even just your bedroom can be transformed into a space with nice acoustics.
All you really need is a love for music combined with creativity, patience, and resourcefulness.