By the time I produced my first electronic track (Frames, below) I was already a sophomore in college, and it happened by chance. I took an audio production class as an elective where we were given an assignment to make a soundtrack for a short video. We weren’t required to write our own music, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I was feeling creative. So I pulled the video into Garage Band and started messing around. Using the laptop keyboard and speakers I wrote the whole thing in about an hour and a half while chilling with my friends in a study room as they were preparing for midterm exams. It felt so easy! I didn’t know any techniques or have fancy plugins. I think I used some EQ here and there to boost some frequencies to help them cut through the mix, but at the time it was more like: I need to hear more of that sound so I’m just gonna increase the volume here. What I am getting at is that the process was very natural. It was kind of like throwing paint on a blank canvas with no intention other than to throw paint on a canvas. I used my ears, not my knowledge of what the right way to do things was. It was all organic and… easy! A case of beginner’s luck mixed heavily with instincts. I was creating with no expectations, and I think the results are pretty good, considering this is my first electronic music piece!
Today things aren’t quite the same. The knowledge that I have now, while in many ways liberating, can sometimes be a burden. Sometimes I wonder if the way I am using EQ is correct. Am I allowed to boost frequencies? Or should I only cut? I am not listening - I am thinking. It is the nature of the learning process, and the goal is to eventually have the knowledge become instinctual so we can come back to that playful approach while bringing our skills along. But that can only happen with a lot of experience.
Ok, that got philosophical really quick.
Here’s the next track that I wrote (Softer, below). It was probably made two weeks after the first one. I was super excited about the possibilities of electronic music, and how great of a creative outlet it was. So while riding the excitement wave I began working on this track, and it was still pretty easy! As you can tell, back then I had no concept of music structure. Things are happening kind of all over the track and not at 8, 16, or 32 bar intervals. I had no grasp of any music theory, keys, scales, chords, all that good stuff. No knowledge of sound design. So it was me just selecting a preset, tweaking it ever so slightly and going straight for the arrangement. I think my arrangement back then was much stronger. Now that I know about structure my songs feel structured when they should have flow instead.
But yeah, live and learn. Let me know what you guys think about this knowledge/experience thing in the comments.