Jul 19, 2010, 03:36

Years ago, high tech music guru Craig Anderton wrote a tutorial for Keyboard magazine outlining one of his very effective approaches to creating electronica music. Anderton was the editor of Electronic Musician until 1990 and has reviewed thousands of high tech music products. Though I am unable to cite the exact issue, the simple concept imparted in that article helped me create stock music electronica tracks for IBM, Microsoft, and other high profile custom music clients.

I’ve come to call this method the “Mute party”. Here goes:

First, set up a 4 bar loop and decide your tempo. Then set up a few basic instruments. The genius behind the “mute party” concept is that you don’t have to worry at all about form (i.e. which instruments start first, what comes after, how the track ends)…..at least for now.

Your only concern at the onset is to stack as many interesting and relatively compatible parts on top of each other that you can handle listening to simultaneously. If it gets to be too much, just mute a couple of parts and keep going. The idea is to just get into a stream of consciousness mode of musical creativity and remain unhindered by the two questions that can shut you down…. 1) Is this part any good? (answer: decide later) and 2) In what order should all this happen? (answer: decide later).

In the fall of 2009, guitarist Brad Long and I took this approach to creating a track to be included in our Free Music collection. Our computer set up was Logic Pro 8 and Pro Tools 7.3 running on a MacBook Pro. Brad played a JB Custom Fender Telecaster using Lindy Fralin pickups running through Pod XT Live.

Here’s Pro Tools screen shot of what we created:

What did all that sound like? Not surprisingly, pretty dense. Here’s the unmixed version:


The next step was to do some rudimentary mixing to make all this a bit more sonically palatable. Mind you, no big creative decisions are being made. This step is more akin to getting the classroom to settle down and behave.

Using some subtractive EQ, reverb and tap delays, here’s what the same mix sounded like after cleaning things up a bit:


In the next installment of this blog I’ll reveal the next step in which all this becomes a great production music track in the electronica genre. Stay tuned.


Mike Bielenberg is a professional musician and co-founder of http://www.musicrevolution.com, a production music marketplace where media producers and business owners can license high-quality, affordable music from a online community of musicians.

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