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How to Make Music: From Songwriting to Album Production

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you’re reading this, you know how fulfilling it is to make music. Being a songwriter and/or music producer is a creative journey that allows you to express your thoughts, emotions, and ideas through melodies, lyrics, and harmonies.

But if you are the least bit intimidated by the idea of creating new music, there’s no need to fret. By exploring various aspects of music creation — from lyric-writing techniques, music composition, arranging, recording, mixing, and mastering — you can gain the confidence to bring your musical creations to life.

Songwriting techniques and tips

Let’s start with how to write a song and the art of crafting melodies and lyrics that communicate with an audience.

Finding inspiration

You’ve got to start somewhere, and many songwriters begin writing songs with a single moment of inspiration — a personal experience, current event, ambient sound, overheard conversation, or another song or other piece of art. Don’t know where to start? Experiment with techniques like freewriting, brainstorming, or creating concept boards to generate ideas.

Finding your emotional impact

The best songs make listeners feel something. So, once you have an idea for a song, decide what kind of emotional journey you want to take your listeners on as that will affect everything from your lyrics, melody, chords, and arrangement. A fist-pumping anthem will require a totally different approach than a brooding love song.

Writing lyrics

Crafting engaging lyrics is another essential skill in the songwriting process. Take inspiration from your favorite artists and explore various approaches — from storytelling to metaphorical language. Pay attention to the rhythm and flow of your words, as they need to fit the melody and convey the intended message.

Creating memorable melodies

Melodies are the heart and soul of a song. They’re what captivate listeners and leave a lasting impression. When exploring melodic structure and phrasing, consider elements like contour, intervals, and repetition. Experiment with different scales and modes to evoke different moods and emotions. Hooks and memorable motifs can be created by repeating certain melodic phrases or using unexpected intervals. Analyze melodies in your favorite songs and try to understand what makes them stand out.

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Exploring music composition

Although there are some examples of musicians who created hits while not knowing anything about music theory, knowing the fundamentals is super helpful when it comes to music composition. Learn how to build chord progressions that complement your melodies and evoke specific emotions. Experiment with harmonies, counterpoint, and different chord voicings to add depth and richness. 

Exploring music composition also involves experimenting with different genres and styles. Don’t be afraid to blend genres to create your unique sound. Learn from the great composers and songwriters of the past and present and find inspiration in their approaches to composition.

Understanding structure and music arrangement

Once you have your melodies and chords, it’s time to bring your music to life through structure and arrangement. 

Song structure

Structure involves the placement of your song’s different sections, such as verses, choruses, bridges, and pre-choruses, intros, outros, etc. Consider the dynamics and flow of the song and how each section transitions smoothly into the next.

Typically, you’re going to want seamless and natural transitions between song sections. Consider using transitional elements like fills, drum breaks, or transitional chords to smoothly guide the listener from one section to the next. Then again, sometimes a jarring twist can give your song just the impact it needs.

Arrangement

Arranging a song involves selecting the right instruments and sounds to create the desired sonic landscape. Consider the genre and mood of your composition when choosing instruments. For example, acoustic instruments give your song a down-to-earth texture. Virtual instruments and music production software allow you to explore a wide range of sounds without the need for physical instruments. Analyze the arrangements of your favorite songs. It’s good practice to listen to covers of these songs to learn how different musicians use the same compositions to create different works of art.

Recording your music

Recording is the process of capturing your musical performances, either on tape or onto a digital audio workstation (DAW). Whether you’re recording in a professional studio or your home recording studio, experiment with mic placement, room acoustics, and signal levels. Try different microphones, room placement, and techniques to find the best sound for each instrument. If your song has vocals, you’re going to want to pay extra attention to recording your vocalist, as most songs succeed or fail on the strength of the vocal performance.

Mixing and mastering your music

Mixing and mastering are the final stages of music production, where you balance and polish your mixes to achieve a professional sound. 

Mixing

Once all your instruments and vocals have been recorded, it’s time to mix them down into a stereo track. Mixing is a skill of its own, and involves setting the right level (volume) for each track as well as EQ, panning, compression, and other effects to enhance and sweeten the tracks.

Mastering

Mastering prepares your finished mixes for distribution and ensures it translates well across various playback systems. If you are creating an EP or album, mastering makes sure all the songs sound cohesive and peak at the same levels.

Mastering engineers apply EQ, compression, stereo enhancement, and limiting to enhance the overall clarity, loudness, and tonal balance of your music. Mastering is not something you want to do at home as the process requires a deft touch, a pristine acoustic environment, and the right gear. The good news is mastering doesn’t have to break the bank, and The SoundLAB at Disc Makers is an excellent option to get your sound design professionally mastered.

Distribute your music to the world

Once you’ve completed the production process, it’s time to distribute your music to the world. Disc Makers not only provides CD and vinyl LP manufacturing, but by partnering with CD Baby, we can help you get your music on platforms like Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube Music.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, we have a ton of great articles about songwriting on the Disc Makers Blog.

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About Philip Kinsher

Philip Kinsher is a writer, editor, and musician with a predilection for YA Sci-fi Fantasy books and rock and roll. And golf and pickleball.

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