How Do EDM Musicians Produce Their Own Music?

how do edm musicians produce their own music

Electronic dance music (EDM) incorporates many different genres, such as techno, trance, dubstep, drum and bass, trap, house, and more.

Distinctively, EDM music is made by combining sounds primarily generated by computers.

For fans of EDM, creating and producing their own electronic dance tracks is the dream. But can it really be done via a home studio? The answer is yes! If you’re prepared to invest in the toolkit required (more on this below) and commit the time needed to learn how to use it and experiment with a wide range of sounds, harmonies, and structures, then it can be done. Here’s how to get started today!

The Toolkit

To produce your own EDM music, you will need a basic toolkit – in the form of various software and hardware. Here are the vital things to get hold of.

● A digital audio workstation (DAW): the higher quality, the better.
● A MIDI controller to play individual drum beats or notes.
● Various sound libraries, such as sample packs, synth libraries, and a wide-ranging stock music library.
● Plugins to produce special effects such as analog compression and reverb.
● An audio interface. This allows you to convert analog audio to digital files and vice versa.

Identify a Great Beat

To start, most EDM musicians will identify a classic EDM beat to base their sound around. These beats tend to be between around 126 to 130 beats per minute, with a snare on every other quarter note, kicks on guitar notes, and a little percussion and hi-hat action.

The majority of EDM musicians stick to a simple beat to allow as many listeners as possible to lock onto it – meaning, in other words, it’s more likely to get everyone up and on the dancefloor!

Music Notation

Next, the musician will usually use the music notation function on their DAW to draw notes and move them around by hand until they find a good-sounding combination that works well with the initial beat. There’s likely to be a lot of adjustment at this point, and playing with different note formations.

Generate New Sounds

The best EDM producers will create their own sounds to add to their tracks rather than just relying on ‘out of the box’ options from plugins. They’ll use a synth to create ‘patches’ of unique sounds, eventually building up a sonic library. This is one of the key means by which certain EDM musicians develop their distinctive sounds that aren’t replicated elsewhere.

Mixing it Up

When producing an EDM track, creators will often throw in some samples of real instruments or vocal sections to add a different dimension. This can be an extremely effective way to make a memorable track and can help avoid what can otherwise be a ‘cold’ vibe of 100% computer-generated sounds.

You may want to record sections, especially for your track, or use some sounds from your library to get the desired effect. As with so much else in the world of EDM production, experimentation is the key to discovering unique new sounds that’ll help you develop a distinct sound.

Deploy Envelope Filters

The use of envelope filters is standard in the production of electronic dance music. Envelope filters serve to shape sounds over time. In practice, they normally control either the extent to which a sound is affected by the filter or the sound’s volume, from the moment a note starts until the point it stops.

Adding Spatial Effects

Once, production-wise, the compression and equalizing have been completed for the track, it’s time to have fun with some spatial effects! The ‘wet/dry’ function on the DAW sets the amount of reverb (room, hall, or plate) that will be added to the track. The tempo function will now also be deployed to make some exciting rhythm effects. For example, if the song is 140 RPM, a producer may experiment by setting it (or a section of it) to double tempo: 280 RPM to see how it sounds.

Use the Full Frequency Spectrum

Finally, EDM producers will decide which part of the harmonic spectrum they wish to use for each given instrument, such as a deep bass resonance or a top-end shimmer. High-pass filters may be deployed at this point to clean up the extreme lower end of the bassline, for example.

Advice for New EDM Musicians and Producers

If you’re new to the world of EDM DIY production, then experimenting with different sounds and techniques will serve you well. Learning from the artists you love is also a great way of helping to come up with your own sound by identifying the techniques these musicians are using in their tracks.

While there’s no need to have any formal qualifications in music theory, strive to develop a process that works for you that incorporates a structure. Be creative with melodies, sounds, and structures, and if you come across a clip you like, save it to your library, even if you don’t know how you’ll use it. You never know – it could become an effect on the track that makes your mark as a major new EDM artist!


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