Stepping It Up: From Amateur to Pro
You’ve been working hard, but there’s just something about your music that is missing. What could it be? After spending countless hours whittling away at a song, you feel like all the blood, sweat, and tears have gone to waste.
Let’s not get caught up in the artist’s struggle. In this post, we’re going to take a look at some ways to give your music a more polished and professional sound.
Learn Music Theory
It is super important to have a basic understanding of music theory if you want to produce music that sounds good. Sure, having a strong intuition is helpful, but rarely can a producer get far without knowing their scales and basic triads.
Learning music theory will help you understand why certain notes sound good together and provide a foundation for your songwriting. It will also help you communicate with other professionals about your music on a technical level.
Play an Instrument!
Think about two producers that you admire. Do they play an instrument? Does a certain instrument have a strong presence in their songs?
There is something very personal about playing a physical instrument, especially one that’s acoustic. Every time you pluck a string or hit a drum head, the response is different.
This sonic variation keeps listeners engaged, and most importantly, can keep an arrangement from getting boring. Musicians are able to express themselves and share their unique voices through their instruments.
Physical instruments possess a personality that MIDI instruments cannot perfectly replicate (although there are some amazing VSTS). This is why many producers continue to use physical instruments. Go pick up the instrument you’ve always been wanting to learn and get on it!
Give It That Human Touch
If all of your MIDI melodies, harmonies, and rhythms are at the same velocity, expect your track to sound robotic. Without dynamics, music feels stagnant and lacks drive, which will likely bore listeners.
Add accents and variance in your MIDI velocities to get a more human feel! If you are unsure of where to add accents, choose a song that you like and replicate the dynamics of it. After you have finished, tweak the velocities to better fit your personal tastes.
Take It Off the Grid
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Drums that are perfectly quantized lack that human feel. Nudging notes slightly off the grid creates a more realistic sound that appeals to many listeners.
Of course, be strategic with the notes you nudge and how much you nudge them. There’s definitely a fine line between humanizing a beat and making it sloppy. If you are unsure how to go about nudging, listen to the rhythm of a song you like and replicate it.
Get Your Music Mastered
While it’s extremely important to understand how to master and have some experience doing it, there are many benefits to shelling out some extra cash to get a professional engineer with decades of experience to do it.
Consider the number of times you’ve listened to your song. It is imprinted into your brain emotionally and aurally. Being close to your music is a double-edged sword. You may be hesitant to make certain changes that will give your track a necessary quality boost.
Also, having listened to the song so many times, it’s likely that you’ve developed listening habits and are actively listening for certain frequencies, timbres, and features in your song. A skilled mastering engineer will be able to point out aspects of your song that you may not otherwise notice.
Another point of consideration is that it saves time. Delegating mastering to a trained engineer frees up the time that would’ve been spent mastering. So, you can work on release details, socials, or continue producing. If you prefer to do your own mastering, or just want to explore the art then check out our articles on the topic.
Want to Take Your Music to a Professional Level?
Join Beat Lab’s 6-month Certification program and learn how to get your music up to professional caliber. Now’s the perfect time to take classes to improve your abilities. For a limited time, we are offering our online classes at 50% off, which is a total steal. You could also catch our next semester as we open back up from COVID-19 lockdowns.
Beat Lab Academy’s in-person Ableton courses will give you the skills you need to become tomorrow’s super producer. Seats are limited and filling up fast, enroll now!