By Daniel L Rappaport
I have been composing music for at least ten years. It’s an incredibly thrilling and exciting experience to put together various random sounds into something that is cohesive, has a language all it’s own and makes sense.
I have been studying music for a much longer period of time. What I am suggesting here is that you don’t really need any formal musical training to create a masterwork.
The way that I compose is with loop based music editing. This is an awesome way to make music, and I have to attribute Apple, with it’s push of Soundtrack Pro (remember that?!), and it’s heavy description of creating music with loops. When I saw that, my musical creative mind exploded with ideas. For the first time, it is possible to compose music, without having to know how to write a single note on a staff.
Another big, important part is that the software snapped together the rhythms of the loops, so nothing is ever out of sync. This happens only so much, and within a certain range. You still need to zoom in to your timeline, to make sure that thing are lining up.
I would just go into the software, throw some loops around, and see what you can do. You can’t break anything, so don’t be too worried or scared.
For musical loops, I would definitely seek out as many as you can. GarageBand comes with a lot. You can also try loopmasters. They have a really large library. When you sign up, they also give you a lot of loops, for free. I only keep mine on my hard drive, when I am using them. The total of my loops library is 50GB. So, you may want to back it up, when not in use.
First off, I would like you to please download a piece that I have composed, here, and take a listen. It’s the Pazzaria Productions theme music, and musically describes the various fantasy worlds within my company.
Now, this tutorial would require you to at least have a basic understanding of how GarageBand and Adobe Audition work. GarageBand is essential. For the post processing, you can use any digital audio workstation (or D.A.W.) that you wish. A very popular one is Pro Tools. Logic Pro is also widely used.
For me, GarageBand came with my Mac, and Audition comes with my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Because CC includes so many different software applications, for an amazing monthly price, I see no reason in investing in anything else.
With that being said, many people use some of the other D.A.W.s in their work, and may already own a copy. I would say that if you know how to use one, picking up another isn’t that much of a learning curve. They are all extremely similar.
When I start compose a piece, I have an idea of what it is I want to do. In the case of the theme, I knew that I wanted something iconic. I kept it around two minutes, because this is my first foray, with Pazzaria Productions, into music. So, it was important to keep it easily digestible. The piece is also completely free.
Once I go in, and favorite the loops that I want to be my theme, I then start to just throw them into tracks, and play around. The piece progresses as I hear, in my head, what the loops start to inspire.
Feel free to cut up, reverse, change the melody, etc… You aren’t stuck to what the loop gives you.
After I get a sense of the direction, I then start to seek out other instrumentation that I feel might go along with what it is I have laid out.
You definitely want to think about the different parts of the orchestra, and how you can best use those sections to create what you want.
When you are composing it’s easy to get bogged down into creating the perfect stereo mix, audio effects, EQ, etc… Don’t do that, until the end. That’s what something like Audition is for. Your D.A.W.s will have far better, and more precise tools then GarageBand for that.
Do use your volume rubber bands and keyframes copiously! Also, watch your levels.
For me, I like to kind of throw tradition out the window, just a little bit. What can your bring to the table, that is new, that nobody else is doing? When possible, I like to think about combining different styles and instrumentation from around the world.
What happens when you mix something from traditional India, with contemporary House?
Only do this, if it serves whatever point you are trying to make, however.
After you have something that you like, save off an AIFF. You want it to be high quality, for your D.A.W.
When in Audition, go to town with your EQ, compression, effects, panning, etc… But, not too much! Make sure your composition takes center stage!
For my theme, I saved it off as a high quality, 320 kbps MP3. At about two minutes, this yielded a file that is about 4 MB. For my free, web download, this is more then plenty. Adjust to your individual needs.
So, that’s that! Hopefully, I have opened up your mind to how you can be a musical composer! When done with quality, integrity and love, people are completely wowed!
Feel free to share your work with me, and ask questions in the comments!