Over To You: How To Start Making House Music?

i love house music

Digital DJ Tips reader G Ford writes: "Please, if you can help me with my question? Do you have any structure theory or any basic config of making a house track in Ableton or some other program? For example: After how many measures should I bring the bass or keys, pads in and so on? Are there some examples I can look at, or do you know any place I can find something like this? I'd really like to produce my own music but am struggling for where to start."

Digital DJ Tips says:

Remember, there is no right and wrong. Music is art, it's about creativity and imagination. If there were a blueprint, it wouldn't be those things. Having said that, there are conventions, and the thing is that you need to understand those conventions before you can purposefully break them and in doing so create something that's "yours".

Best way to learn them is to DJ (DJing teaches you song structure very fast). But also, take apart, however roughly, a track you like. Use a pen and paper to map out where the producer brings things in and out. You need to have a basic understanding of beats, bars and musical phrases of course - but that's the same for DJing (and it's taught very simply in How To Digital DJ Fast).

Do this, and you'll learn more in that one lesson than you ever would looking at some written blueprint for how it "should" go. But two other resources I can recommend are Rick Snoman's Dance Music Manual, and also a video course by sometime Digital DJ Tips writer Chris Cartledge called OD Total Music Production, which is excellent - here's his video explanation of the course:



I hope those resources help you, but I'd like to ask our readers how they think you ought to get going too.

So - over to you. What advice would you give to our reader? What's the best way to "learn the rules" when you're just starting out in production? Please share your experiences in the comments.

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  1. "Listen to what you want to make"
    If you analyse the music correctly and thoroughly enough, you will learn to understand it and eventually be able to make it yourself. If you're having technical difficulties actually creating the sound/ EQ'ing/inputing midi and audio files into the DAW then there are a plethora of youtube tutorials. hope this helps!

  2. do something different every 8 bars (google it)
    make sure it all flows

    bob's your uncle
    fanny's your aunt
    all you need now
    is a govt. grant

  3. As with many things in life, with music production read, study, comprehend and apply. There are so many forums, tutorials and videos on music production that you'll never run out of material to learn. Further down the line when you start forming your own style you can mold what you learned and give it your own style.

    I personally started out doing remixes, because back then I wouldn't have to rely on my own music theory. But I eventually had to learn progression, chords, melodies, etc to enhance what I already knew. Keep in mind that, there is no time frame on when you should stop being a beginner and start making professional sounding music. I've been producing music for almost 7 years, and I've only been making decent sounding stuff the last 2-3.

    Also one more thing you need to get started, and those are high quality drum one shot drum samples. Good luck!

  4. I agree with everything people have wrote above, definately breakdown your favourate tracks. Import a song you like into your DAW, slow down the tempo and look to see where all the different drum hits, fills, synths etc are in the structure and you'll know how make a funky groove. You can even just put your own stuff in following their structure. The processing takes time to learn, i've been doing it 9 months and i'm still pretty shit although i got a day job and three kids so its hard. Buy computer music magazine to get your samples and info and books like music theory for computer musicians by michael hewitt and the dance music manual by rick snowman. If your using samples which you will at first as we all do. You won't just be able to write good melodies it takes time. Put the sample through mixed in key to get the key and then use that key throughout your track. Know your software i did an ableton course and it helped me sooooo much. I warn you though it becomes very addictive and you won't want to do anything else! it will take over your life in a good way!



  5. Ben A has gave some solid advice.. i would add thou that you need to work it ou for yourself. I did a music course about 7 years ago and the main thing i learnt from it waqs this... take a house track you like and break it down... count the beats in the intro were the snare comes it were the hihats come in were the pads come in and come out etc.... then take your own sounds and copy exactly what they have done.

    So if they have a 8bar flat kick... so do you then if the hihats are filtered over the next 8 bars do that also. if there is something that you dont know how to copy then post on a forum.

    If you do this for a track... you will start to understand how structure works.. do it to 5-10 and you will start to master structure. making sound is also very important but in my opinion STRUCTURE is more important when starting out.

    Finally i would say learn to finish tracks... alot of people open a new project ever time they get frustrated or bored of the track they are working on... cau they cant get it to flow... that is why structure is the most important area you can work on.

    Best of luck

  6. Ben A and Maximlee have said some great advise.

    The other thing I'd mention is that you need to care. What I mean is that it takes a certain level of dedication and therefore that means studying like you would at school. As you need to know about computers, software, music.

    Learning music theory is not necessary but certainly helps to know a bit (you'll struggle if you don't know the very basics - chords and the like). But if you're into it then all of that stuff will come along the way.

    Do what the guys have said and then when you're ready to try make your own track type 'ableton tutorial' into youtube and you can probably keep doing that for years. Most of the guys on there have got their own websites so check them out too. There's so much stuff out there on the web for free so get it looked up and get making those beats!

    Hope that helped.

  7. Andy Taylor says:

    All good advice there, like Phil mentioned, that book by Rick Snoman is fantastic - pretty much everything you need to know is in that one book!!

    And really detailed advice on the nuts and bolts like what kind of synth settings you'd need to make trance, or a house bass line and that kind of thing.

  8. I highly recommend the Sonic Academy courses - there is one in particular (how to make trance, or techno maybe, I cant remember which) that takes you through everything you need to know, all the theory on building a track from start to finish, plus you will get to know the tools at your disposal quite well.
    As everyone else has suggested, the best way is to get a track you like, chuck it in ableton and put markers where the changes occur - it really helps to see how a track is laid out.

    Practice lots!

  9. Learning from tutorials etc is all good and well but the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need is practice. Do it as frequently and for as long as you can. Work hard and be willing to sacrifice as it takes a lot of time.

    It can be daunting at the start but just get in and do it!

    Mike Monday has a lot or really great info on electronic music production. None of it is about technique but about creating healthy habits, workflow and mindsets towards production and about how to breakdown all the barriers that stop you achieving the results you want. http://www.mikemonday.com/

  10. This will make it very easy for you:


    • DJ Forced Hand says:

      but Techno songs aren't laid out like POP songs with " intro, a verse, a chorus, second verse, a second chorus, a breakdown section, back into a double length chorus and outro." I suppose you could replace them with melodies and quick stabs but it's not lyrics that drive Techno.

      I found the article to be nice and snarky though.

      • It does rely on the same fundamental principles as pop though. Tension vs release, familiarity vs change etc. Creating different sections in your composition that transition through the song and engage the listener along the way.

    • I wanna thank you all for your support and responses !!! i got in to music production & addicted:)))...but always get lost in the midle ...all the brak downs & build up's..bridges...i can make great sounds...but can never finish it...& never satisfied where is going :)) up there are so many technics of making music..and thats way i get confused.. :)))

      Best Regards

  11. Alas, dance music evolves and changes year by year so you need to constantly learn what the current style and breakdown methods are. Or just ignore those and make your own unique style of dance music with is mostly a better approach.

  12. The best vids for Ableton I have seen on the net are made by TomCosm. It is not quite my style of music, but his tutorials are very clear and inspiring. I remember a one-hour video only on breakdown and build-up ideas.


  13. Dance music is a bit constraining, in that if your track doesn't have a good intro (32 or 64 bars) I probably wouldn't play it out live b/c it may not have enough time for me to get it queued up...that's just the way it is if you want a DJ to play it. Of course great DJ's can probably sync in 2 measures or less, unless the break is really funky.

    Best advice is to listen to as much of a genre as you can, and get the idea of where the main elements come in/come out, and go from there!

  14. Youtube! Use it!

  15. Another resource you might find useful is the book The Secrets Of House Music Production by Marc Adamo. It goes through everything step by step from the kick drum to mastering and has some fantastic advice even for non-beginners. It also comes with a CD of samples ready to go.

  16. Wanna Thank you all For your Support!

    My Best Regards,
    G Ford

  17. Yo Phil, how bout a series where you let some of these DJs put up some production and give us some insight on how they went about creating their piece. Would be very beneficial for people who do not know the aspects of production.

  18. especially some traktor tips, with all these new controllers and remix packs, throwing them into a set could ruin it. tips on live remixes might fare well also.

  19. Has anyone actually used OD Total Music Production? I've been dabbling in music production for a while, and I'd like a solid, more structured way of learning it than scattershot Ableton tutorials. I'm a little hesitant with OD, even though it's been promoted by DJWorx and Digital DJ Tips, the tone sales pitch sounds suspect.

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