How to make music without instruments on your computer
Writing music on the computer
At the very beginning of your musical career, many people find themselves under the sway of various stereotypes. For example, the notion that it is impossible to record quality music outside a professional studio. The image of a room full of all kinds of instruments, consoles, mixers, and speakers immediately springs to mind. It seems that all this is available only for the elite, or at least for people with a fat wallet.
Among beginners, there is another popular misconception – in order to become a musician, you need to graduate from a conservatory or at least 7 years of music school. Because of these and other warnings, many people don’t even dare to make the first step! And meanwhile in the music industry thousands of performers have come to success, having neither education, nor fabulous budgets. You don’t have to go far to get examples – Daft Punk, Hurts and The Black Keys started recording their tracks at home, and Kurt Cobain’s guitar playing could hardly be called academic!
Passion and a burning desire to create and express yourself is probably the only foundation you need to start writing music. Of course, you’ll also need mundane things like a computer, headphones, instruments, etc. And, while you can’t teach motivation and creative impulse, mastering everything else is quite realistic. About the technical side of how to write music on the computer for beginners, and we’ll talk further.
The computer as a tool for creating melodies without leaving home.
Many resources intimidate beginners, saying that recording music critically requires such a powerful computer that it is better to put a farm for mining cybercurrency, rather than compose songs. Of course, the more powerful PC performance – the more convenient and faster to work. But do not take it as an absolute. To begin with, you will be quite enough average characteristics:
2-4-core processor. Of course, it would be better if you had 4 cores, but at the initial stage 2 cores will do. Software for music processing tends to load the system heavily, so we advise you not to run unnecessary applications and close unnecessary processes in the Task Manager before you start. That way, you can be more productive with your twin. If your budget is unlimited – definitely buy a more powerful PC.
At least 4 GB of RAM. With that much RAM, you can install almost any audio editor or virtual sound studio. However, some of them may start to hang because the software will create temporary files on your hard drive. The recipe for solving the problem is the same: if you’re working on a track, turn off everything unnecessary. Ideally, you need 8 GB RAM to work with professional DAW without freezing.
HDD or SSD drive. SSD is better, as it is much faster than HHD. Volume – at your discretion, although keep in mind that the operating system eats quite a lot (for starters enough from 120 GB, but in general: more – better).
How to write music on the computer for beginners.
The conclusion from this is quite simple – any modern device available to you is quite suitable for making music on the computer at home.
If you don’t know the characteristics of your computer, open “Settings” and find the “About” tab (in some versions of Windows, “About”). Basic information about the processor and memory is collected there. You can get more data the second way – through the command line. Press the Win+R key combination, enter the command “msinfo32” in the small window on the left, and click OK. The table that appears will tell you the type of recorder, amount of RAM, number of cores, etc.
Sound card / audio interface
If you are working with a laptop, it probably has a built-in sound card. For music creation, it’s not the best option. You will need to plug in an external sound card (IRIG) while you work to improve the sound quality. If you are working on a PC, you can even replace the original device with a special one. The best external sound cards on the market are Creative X7, Sound BlasterX G6, Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6.
Owners of older PCs can put a sound card from Creative Sound Blaster PCE series – you can look for them on Amazon or Ebay. A more preferable option would be to buy an audio interface that connects to your computer via USB port. There is no need to buy the latest and most expensive model. For starters, an inexpensive used interface with two inputs and outputs will do – it will provide everything you need. On Ebay such you can find for 2 thousand rubles.
Microphones and headphones
For quality sound recording, you will need a microphone and headphones for monitoring. To help you better understand what equipment is suitable for work and what is not, we have prepared a little checklist for you.
Characteristics for the microphone
Keep in mind that some laptops are equipped with fairly good quality microphones. In particular, this applies to Apple laptops. Still, it is better to get an external microphone. Ideally, you will need to buy a condenser microphone. If you have a very limited budget, you can rent it. If this is not possible at all – we are looking for an ordinary microphone, as close as possible to the following characteristics:
Type – bidirectional (it is the most universal and gives a good quality of recording), you can take and ordinary, but in this case it is more likely that you will need to process sound with appropriate applications;
The frequency range of the microphone should correspond to the parameters of your voice;
The sensitivity of the microphone should be as high as possible;
Maximum sound pressure level (SPL). This parameter indicates the maximum allowable sound volume the microphone connected to the device can work at;
Low noise level.
Specifications for headphones:
- Frequency range from H9 to D10
- Normal 5-30,000 kHz
- Sensitivity > 100 dB
- Connection type wire
- Acoustic enclosure
For beginners, there is one more good tiphak – many professional applications for sound recording allow a fairly good imitation of known brands of microphones (microphone emulators). For example, such plugin as Antares Microphone Modeler 1.32.
Virtual recording studios – programs for beginners and pros.
In order to create music at home, you need a good sound recording and processing program. Professionals tend to work in virtual studios, or in other words, audio midi sequencers. These programs include a full set of tools for every stage of the musical track, from recording instruments and voice to mixing.
For beginners, such programs can be “unaffordable” both in terms of cost and in terms of mastering. It is recommended to choose easier audio editors at the initial stage. Below you will find a selection of 5 programs in which we combined complex professional DAWs with simpler sound editors. Get acquainted with their functionality and choose the appropriate one. We also offer a big rating of music creation programs.
Steinberg Cubase is one of the most powerful professional digital workstations (what is often called DAW). This platform is particularly widely used in Europe, and in particular in Germany, being essentially a German development, although it belongs to Yamaha Corporation. The wide functionality of this program allows you to completely replace the studio “iron” and compose tracks at home. The software supports MIDI recording, and you can also write a melody without instruments by using built-in emulators.
The main advantages of Cubase:
- suitable for any purpose – recording, mixing, vocal processing, etc.;
- supports multichannel sound recording;
- Easily configurable to individual user needs with templates for music projects, key commands and macro commands;
- support for most popular file formats;
- fully supports virtual hardware (VSTi);
- large library of notes, samples and loops;
- built-in drum editor.
FruityLoops Studio is another DAW beloved by professional musicians. Originally, this platform was used for creating rhythm patterns, but recently it has become a serious alternative to other digital sequencers. This program is especially popular among performers in the electronic music and hip-hop genres.
Sound can be captured both with a microphone and through an audio interface. Like Cubase, FL Studio lets you create melodies using virtual instruments – drums, bass, piano – the library includes almost all known options. You can start writing beats from scratch, as well as create complex effect chains, achieving a unique sound that’s ideal for creating electronic music.
The main advantages of FL:
- Updates are free, and the license is retained forever;
- catalog of sound loops and patterns to create a tune;
- 80+ built-in plugins;
- Ability to record a vocal part to a minus;
- channel balancing in automatic mode;
- built-in synthesizer.
Magix Music Maker
Music Maker is another good music creation platform aimed specifically at composer-enthusiasts with an average level of experience. As part of the program, you’ll find many functions with elements of artificial intelligence, which, in turn, are aimed at creating rhythmic sequences. For beginners, it may seem quite complicated, so we recommend the software for those who already have some experience in interacting with DAW.
Music Maker has a large selection of loops and samples, including vocal loops, as well as nabol individual sounds and even parts of songs – all of these elements you can use in your work. It’s got auto-tuning and tempo functions. Despite the low cost, the program allows you to record music at a high, professional level.
The main advantages of MM:
400+ built-in sounds and the ability to add to the library by purchasing the desired effects;
Sound recording in multitracking mode;
built-in mixing console;
MIDI editing capability;
soundtrack creation based on pools.
GarageBand (for Mac)
GarageBand is an Apple-powered music and podcast creation software. As of 2017, this virtual studio is free for macOS and iOS users. In the program you’ll find a huge library of ready-made loops and samples, as well as the ability to create your own. You can record by connecting your instruments directly to the audio interface. And mix and mastering tools are also available.
The built-in virtual drummer makes it easy to create and edit rhythmic patterns, the intelligent control system makes it easy to edit sounds, and if you have an iPad, you can use it to control your recording remotely.
How to come up with a tune or song from scratch: Tips for Beginners
With the technical side of how to compose music on the computer from scratch, we have understood. Now let’s try to understand at least a little bit about the creative part of the process.
Composing a melody to the lyrics
Writing music for a song is not an easy task, but it’s interesting! In some ways, it’s easier than composing a melody from scratch. After all, the finished lyrics already imply a certain outline of the composition, which has form and structure. The form of the song is denoted in this way: AAWA is the most common version, where A is the verse and B is the chorus. Of course, the sequence of musical elements can change and the composition of the song can become more complex, such as intro, digression, bridge, etc.
The rhythmic pattern of the melody should coincide with the rhythmic pattern of your lyrics. Ideally, you should try to have one melody/rhythmic pattern for the verse and another for the chorus (usually a stronger one). And, the melody and rhythm should be changed slightly for subsequent couplets, as well as for repeated choruses.
Every musician should understand rhythmic patterns, because it is one of the key foundations of any melody.
The next step is to try to sing the song with the lyrics and record the voice on a separate track (wearing headphones, so you can hear the recording of the drums on the rhythm track). The recorded voice and rhythm should sound in perfect sync, and then you can move on to further arranging your song by adding bass lines, guitar, or keyboards.
If you’re coming up with music for a song at home, constantly experimenting with different sound patterns can piss off even the most peaceable of neighbors. Try to work on the track during lesson time, or equip the room with minimal soundproofing. Acoustic foam can be purchased in any marketplace, it is not very expensive.
If everything is done correctly, the main work is done, and now it remains to polish the recorded parts to perfection with further processing with effects (reverb, compression, do, etc.).
Creating electronic music
First, it’s worth defining the genre you want to work in. It can be Classic House, Techno, Progressive, Drum&Base or just pop. Then you’ll need to pick up sample packs and shots (individual sounds with effects) appropriate to the chosen style. Remember that each genre has its own characteristic tempo and general mood. So if you don’t know where to start writing a song, and you don’t have any specific ideas, start with the general idea of the future track – think about what kind of melody you want to create, what kind of feelings it will evoke in the listener. Start from a basic idea and work your way up to a more detailed one.
A generalized example of writing a track:
Set the rhythm. To do this, you need drums (kick, hat, snare). Choose the rhythmic patterns that suit your taste and then arrange them in the desired sequence and pitch depending on the genre you choose (you can improvise, as long as you like the way it sounds).
Then you can start adding samples, sound loops and instrumental parts. The latter can be recorded by yourself with a microphone, or you can use virtual studio blanks. They usually have a catalog of pre-recorded instruments – guitars, drums, keyboards. By mixing different patterns, you can achieve a unique sound that will get into the mood of your track.
Writing a melody with lyrics
Writing a melody with lyrics is an important part of the music creation process
Using effects (reverb, doing) you add atmosphere, then vocals or other instruments.
Give our melody a more perfect sound through the use of compressors to equalize the volume; make smooth transitions by cutting off all unnecessary sounds with compressor or noise gate (compressor reduces the dynamics of the track, making it smoother).
We will hone our melody to perfection by listening to it repeatedly. You’ll know when your song is ready. If you don’t like it, we leave it for a while and do another song, and then come back to it a little later after a break to redo it.
Learning to write music on the computer without knowing notes is quite realistic. The main thing is not to be afraid to take the first step and try, try, try! Choose the equipment you can afford, the program according to your level of experience, and catch your inspiration!
Can I create music without any instruments?
Yes, you can create music without any instruments. All you need is your voice and some creativity! There are a number of ways to create vocal music without any other instruments. One popular approach is to use throat singing, which involves using your vocal cords to create two or more pitches at the same time. This can be done by humming into your hand while you sing, or by singing different notes on different parts of your head. Another option is to use beatboxing, which involves creating beats and rhythms using only your mouth and voice. With a little practice, you can create beautiful melodies and harmonies with just your voice!
What is it called when you make music without an instrument?
There are a few different ways to make music without an instrument. One way is to hum or sing a melody. Another way is to beat time by clapping your hands or slapping your thighs. And finally, you can use various objects around you to create sounds, such as tapping on a table or tapping on a glass with water in it.