KANSAS CITY • since 2015
Unlabeled Academy: Music Production
What is Music Production
Music production involves either a music producer or record producer overseeing the production and recording of either a single, track, or album. That might include listening to recordings, suggesting certain alterations or edits, or collaborating with like-minded professionals to make sure a song comes out the way it was meant to. The process of music production varies per project, but it usually involves a set of common components. In several instances, the material is written out by music producers. In other cases, they merely oversee the production aspect while organizing the remainder of the process cohesively. Music production can be broken down into a series of stages, the likes of which are highlighted below:
Putting together musical ideas for the sake of coherently forming a melodic and harmonic structure is what songwriting is all about. It is the sum of a brainstorming session, and the outcome involves an opening, story, and conclusion. For most people, writing a song and tracking it go hand-in-hand. Both processes may begin with drum loops, the riff of a guitar, or another type of instrument sample. New ideas are recorded over one another until they produce amalgamated musical content. By removing other production aspects, if a song was played with just a single instrument and/or one voice, with the song be just as good? If the answer is no, then the rest of the song will not matter. By perfecting songwriting from the get-go, the remainder will flow out seamlessly.
Arranging is often misunderstood, as far as music production stages go. It also happens to be a very neglected aspect. Arranging a song involves choosing which instruments are played per section. How those sections are arranged are just as important to the song’s larger timeline. If a strong chorus and verse has been written, it won’t be enough to replay them repeatedly. A build-up must be created. For instance, the first verse has vocals and guitar only, while the second one incorporates drums and bass. The initial chorus incorporates vocal and sync harmonies. As you can see, this is an example of arranging the song’s various instruments.
Recording instruments involved in the performance of the song is known as tracking. For the most part, songs are recorded individually by track. Whenever a track is recorded, other ones will be heard, too. This is what multiple track recording entails.
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Watch Kansas City Born & Raised Producer J White talks about Music Production and the making of Megan Thee Stallions “Savage.”
An audio engineer moves parts around that are not in sync with the rest of the song. Pitches will be adjusted that aren’t very audible. Tracks will be polished as the end and beginning, and certain parts will be faded in order to make the song come out smoothly. Autotune and similar pitch-correcting programs will also be applied. The objective of this particular stage optimizes the performance.
Integrating instruments that you have recorded in stereo is known as mixing. A fine-tuned mix will allow you to hear each instrument clearly and in detail. The mix will have the right balance of motion and depth. It will support the music’s intention and sound good. You may lose count of all the decisions that get made when this process is transpiring. The final version will have a tremendous effect on how your song is interpreted. Good mixes will allow people to appreciate a song for its genius.
Mastering can correct minor deficiencies involved in a mix. Track levels and volume can be raised so that they are loud (hot). One last punch will be added to add some sonic clarity and polish it up to take the song up a notch. When each track experiences the same adjustment levels and is mastered with similar gear, song selections sound like they originate from a single album. Lastly, mastering makes sure that songs translate as they were intended to on various playback systems. Best of all, the quality will not be diminished.