12 Oct Crafting Your Own Music From Melody to Masterpiece
Make Your Own Kind of Music was a top 40 hit for Cass Elliot in 1969. It is a great song to use as an example of how music has distinct sections.
It is important to listen to a lot of music and learn about how it was composed. It is also helpful to have at least a basic proficiency in playing an instrument.
Compose a Melody
It’s important to write melodies with intention, understanding the impact you want your music to have on listeners. It’s also important to have the right tools for composing, and this is where learning about melodic theory comes into play.
Melodies rely on two primary components: pitch and duration. Pitch determines how high or low a note sounds, and duration refers to the length of time a note is held. Using these two factors, you can construct a melody with any number of notes.
Many songwriters begin their melodic composition process by writing chord progressions. From there, they’ll compose a melody that utilizes the chord tones, or the notes that comprise each chord. This type of melodic composition is called chord-based, and it’s a great way to get a handle on the structure of your song.
Melodies can contain skips or steps, long notes or short ones, but the most important thing is that they be cohesive with the rest of your track’s chord progressions and overall sound. Try to focus your melodic ideas within a single octave, as this will make it easier for them to work with the chords of your song. You can always break this rule for poetic effect or to create a tension and resolution with your chords, but sticking to the rules will help you learn more about melody-making.
Learn to Play an Instrument
Whether it’s a guitar, piano or drum kit, the first step to creating music is learning to play your chosen instrument. All instruments require time and practice to master, but finding the right motivation can help you keep pushing when things get tough. Whether that’s listening to your favorite music or reading success stories from famous instrumentalists, find what motivates you and stick with it!
Once you’ve decided on an instrument, you’ll need to determine if you want to take lessons or teach yourself. Taking lessons offers structure, guidance and accountability and a teacher can be very helpful if you run into any stumbling blocks along the way. It’s also a good idea to learn music theory, even if it’s only a little bit – understanding how the sounds you’re hearing are created can help you develop your own style and sound.
If you’re not sure if you can commit to lessons, many music stores rent out instruments and can give you a trial period before you decide whether it’s the right fit for you. Once you’ve found the right motivation, start setting short, medium and long-term goals – this will help you stay on track with your practicing and make progress over time.
Listen to Music
Listening to music is a great way to get inspired. You can listen to your favorite songs while you study or work, jam to your favorite tunes with friends or family, or even learn to play an instrument!
When listening to a song, focus on the rhythm and harmony of the piece. A melody is a linear sequence of pitches that you hear as one whole, and it’s usually the most familiar element of any piece of music. Listen for how the melody is passed between different instruments, such as strings or vocals, and how the composer uses harmonic structures to create a mood.
Harmony is what a piece of music sounds like “vertically,” or how it’s organized in time. Listen to the harmonies of a song, or try playing an instrument with a simple chord progression and see how you can use it to create a mood. For example, try a bass drum on the 1st and 3rd beats with a snare drum on the 2nd and 4th beats.
Ask older friends and family members about how they used to listen to music, such as through cassettes, 8-tracks, or vinyl records. What did they enjoy most about the old formats of music?
Writing lyrics is a tricky part of songwriting. It’s important to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself at this point and instead just let the creative writing flow naturally. Remember that your favorite songwriters also started with terrible songs at one time, so don’t be afraid to just let it all out. Check out MSN.com to learn about Deviant Noise which is a music learning platform.
Ideally, you should focus on composing the chorus of your song first. This is because the chorus tends to be the most memorable part of a track, and it should encapsulate what your song is about. Try to come up with a catchy hook that will make people want to sing it over and over again. You can also try using rhymes and other poetic techniques in your lyrics to add a more musical element to them.
It’s also helpful to loop your musical ideas at this stage so that you can generate lyrical ideas in the moment. You can then tweak these pre-written lyrics later on to ensure they fit your music perfectly. You should also try to stick to a consistent structure when you write your lyrics. For example, if you use a specific rhyming pattern for one verse, it’s best to keep that same pattern throughout the rest of your song.
Record Your Voice
If you want to make a song that involves vocals, find a space that is quiet and free of distractions. Practice recording your voice to get a feel for how you want it to sound.
You can also use third-party programs to improve the quality of your recordings. For example, you can slow down your voice to draw out words and reduce background noise. You can even increase the pitch of your voice to create a chipmunk effect.
There is a wealth of music creation knowledge available online, including free software and tutorials that can help you produce your first song. Once you’ve recorded your song, it’s time to share it with the world! Upload your music to streaming platforms like Spotify and iTunes.
You can also distribute your music through traditional channels such as radio stations and blogs. Be sure to ask your listeners for feedback, as this will help you improve your music. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to make music, so be creative and have fun!
Mix Your Track
Now that you’ve got the basic structure of your song and some good vocals, it’s time to start mixing. Mixing is the process of taking multiple tracks of audio and “blending” them together to create a finished product that is balanced (not too loud, not too soft), clean (no mic plosives, guitar squeaks, etc) and polished (nothing sounds muddy, harsh or out of focus).
The first step in this process is to listen to your track and figure out what needs tweaking. A good place to start is by comparing it against a reference track – this will give you an idea of what it’s supposed to sound like.
Next, use corrective EQ tools to shape the sound of each individual track in your mix. For example, a tom drum will require a different EQ treatment than a Rhodes piano. Finally, use automation to tie the tracks together into a cohesive whole.
Once you’re happy with your mix, take a break – ideally overnight – and listen to it again with fresh ears. This is a crucial step and will help you catch things that you may have missed on the first listen. Once you’re happy with the overall sound of your mix, it’s time to move on to mastering!
Master Your Track
Professional Mastering is expensive and for DIY musicians it can be impractical. Many Mastering Engineers work in professional studios and charge at least PS90+VAT per track, which can add up quickly. Moreover, mastering can be time-consuming and requires practice.
The mastering stage involves ensuring the final mix is how you want it to sound and then bouncing it down to a WAV file (or similar lossless format). A multiband compressor can be used to ‘glue’ the sounds together, but only if applied sparingly. You can also use EQ to ‘fine-tune’ the song, such as boosting or cutting specific frequency ranges. Saturation can add colour, but be careful – too much will cause phasing issues. A small amount of stereo widening can give the track that radio-ready ‘pro sheen’.
It is also a good idea to listen to the finished master on as many different systems as possible, from small portable players to car stereos, headphones, PA, HiFi with a subwoofer and your home system. This will help you to identify any ‘issues’ with the audio and ensure it sounds consistent on all systems. Finally, a limiter can be used to make the song as loud as possible, though you should try not to exceed professional levels.