Jul 27, 2010, 11:58

Last week we delved into a method of creating electronica tracks I learned from music technology maven and performance artist Craig Anderton through his excellent columns written for Keyboard magazine.

Through this writing method – now dubbed the “mute party” – I have created production music tracks commissioned by IBM, and Dreamworks then later licensed by Microsoft, Chippendales and more….even though at the time my forte was really pop, rock and classical.

So far we’ve set up a four bar loop and an array of instruments within Logic 8 Pro and laid down every musical idea that has come to mind in a one hour period. The ideas were played back simultaneously to the extend that was sonically bearable. Sometimes it became necessary to mute a track because it severely conflicted with another, but our overall goal was to create a very dense 4 measure loop. Here’s what guitarist Brad Long and I came up with on a Friday afternoon in the fall of 2009 (note: the Logic tracks were imported into Pro Tools for mixing):

Loop – All Parts (Mixed)

So now what? Now we go to our part (or “region”) editor and make every part repeat until your song length is around three minutes. That’s right. Every part. All music editing software programs have a repeat function that allows you execute this in just a few keystrokes. The three minute minimum is somewhat arbitrary, but it is what I’ve come to believe is the average length required by most video editors.

The next step is to mute every part and zoom your screen out so you’re looking at the entire song. This, oh-maker-of-music, is your palette. And the “un-mute” function is your brush. For me, I can get lost in the “mute party” step (or more accurately the “un-mute party”) because it’s so darn fun. Deciding which parts will play when creates the troughs and crests within your track to which electronica fans really respond. In this step, you will determine whether the piece will evolve quickly and keep your listener on their toes or whether it will lull them into a calmer state through repetition.

With our track, I decided on an “A-B-A” form. I found there to be two basic subsets of my parts that sounded good together. They didn’t necessarily match vertically, but horizontally, they really went somewhere cool. I chose the stronger of the two subsets and considered that my “A” section. Through the “un-mute” function I had my “A” section gradually build into it’s full glory before going to my “B” section. I let the energy drop down and then did another gradual build with my “B” section before returning to an abbreviated “A” section. By then I was at my three minute target length and viola, I had professional stock music electronica track. Here’s my final screen shot:

As you look as this screen shot, notice how many parts don’t play. This makes me think of a composition master class I attended in college by jazz pianist Kenny Werner. Mr. Werner believed that music creation required two separate and very different stages: 1) Pure creation with childlike abandon and absolutely no inhibition…then….2) Editing where everything is judged, edited or deleted.

That dichotomy has always worked for me.

Here is the final mixed and mastered electronica track created by Brad Long and myself now titled “A God Among Geeks” (I thought of this title while mastering this track when I saw a press release of Steve Jobs announcing the iPhone 4):

A God Among Geeks

“A God Among Geeks” is available as part of MusicRevolution Free Music Program, which offers free royalty-free music tracks to music schools, educational institutions and non-profits. It is also available for commercial licensing at www.musicrevolution.com.

Happy music-making!


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.

One Response to “How To Create Electronica Tracks: Part II”

  1. http://www.paulfinleymusic.com/blog/?p=90 Says:

    Hey Im a music loving girl (Kizzy) I have my own music making blog, I love to make trance and dnb and have great expertise in laptop music production. Feel free to come and check out my site and hope to make your acquaintance. Currently using Fruity Loops but I know I should be getting onto better software. Come and say Hi sometime – Email me to chat What would you recomend? Hardware? Have limited budet for soem new speakers as well..- Based in the UK – South West Kizz XX

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