The Brave New World of Electronic Music Production

Which leads to something I call “option anxiety”. More is not always better. Some of the best electronica productions were produced with a limited range of tools. All of Brian Eno’s early works come to mind. Or William Orbit’s Strange Cargo series which was produced before anyone was sequencing on a computer.

Part of what made that music great was the limitations the tools imposed. There were a limited number of synthesizers, with a limited number of sounds. Sometimes less IS more.

Today there are half a dozen major electronic music production platforms (Ableton Live, Reason, Logic and Cubase to name the most popular) and each one of these suffers from option overload. If you don’t know what kind of sound you want to create, you can waste away hours and hours tweaking with synths, effects, chaining and a variety of other ear candy before ever completing a track.

In other words, knowing what you want to produce before you start is half the battle. The other half is learning the actual tools. This can take a great deal of time, but fortunately there are a lot of tutorials for each of the major platforms available online. For all music audio and video productions, and whether we are talking about nursery rhymes videos, regular musical videos or contemporary music treats, there abound hands-on training much easily now than say a decade ago. YouTube videos, blogs and forums all contribute to the vast array of possibilities for self-training. Compare that to processes of old and the digital age wins hands down.

Another great advantage to the current era of electronica music production is the best “try before you buy” scenario one could ever dream of. Each of the producers platforms I mentioned has a downloadable demo of the program. Assuming you have broadband it won’t take too long to download demos and test each of them before purchasing. Taking your future software out for a test drive is crucial because you are about to invest a huge chunk of your life into a platform and you won’t want to make a mistake like I did.

After spending about four years using Reason, a friend showed me Ableton Live. But I was stubbornly set in my ways. It took another few years before I finally gave Ableton a whirl. The feeling of synthesis was so profound that I deeply regretted not giving it a deeper look when I had first seen it three years before. My production process accelerated three-fold and I rarely, if ever, crack open Reason these days.

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