Creativity Versus Technology

The greatest gift bestowed upon us is the ability to create. Whether it be in creating a painting, a model car, or a song that drifts in and out of your mind.

Often though, you may find getting your ideas to flourish into a realistic assemble becomes one of the most complex tasks you had to face. The point is, are you finding it impossible to get your ideas working due to the complex technical details you believe you need to know and learn?

In this discussion, I am going to guide you in how to separate the nonsense from the necessary in the very beginning, and far from being a tutorial full of jargon, I will try to give you some ideas, hints, and a framework in which to begin your creative journey. It will un-clutter your mind from what you really need to know and what you don’t. It’s simple.


Without it where would we be? Whilst undoubtedly you will need some talent, some determination, you will also need some knowledge about the tools you need to use to perform your task. A painter will study different colours, textures, canvases, types of brushes in order to evaluate the different working methods, study other artists work, and also the effect his tools will bring to his own creations. Similarly, in producing music, we need to know the availability and variety of programmes and equipment, how they work, what they offer in value, and which particular ones we need.

To begin at the beginning, (as they say) is to look at the facts. You’re new to the game. You will have to face the fact that you are not going to create a Rembrandt painting, or a Beatles number within your first week, ( if you do please let me know). Therefore, you only really need the most simple of tools to get you started. There is only so much you even need to know at first, or even that you brain will be able to digest, so walk slowly.


In computer music making terms, you’re going to need a PC or Mac, obviously. I presume you have this already? Ok, then you will need to make sure it is running efficiently and that you have a large amount of RAM (at least 512 MB, preferably 1 GB) to be able to cope with all those large music files you intend to use. Along with this you’ll probably want a simple sequencer (something like a word processor for music) and a keyboard (the musical type if possible) capable of sending midi information to and from your PC. The soundcard you have installed will express the quality of the sounds you hear. A cheaper soundcard will likely have your basic GM soundset giving you at least 127 midi instruments to play with. The sounds from an inexpensive card may not be wonderful and you will probably want a better one. You can get this now or later on. It’s up to you! It could take some time for you to research as there are hundreds of soundcards available.


What you really want to be focusing on at the beginning is sequencing, i.e: composing your song with an arrangement or structure. The complexity of sound and its varying frequencies and forms you should definitely not worry about at this stage. Remember, at first you need to familiarize yourself with your tools. For an idea how to get started with sequencers check out the ‘getting started’ music making tutorial also on this site. Read up on the various price ranges on different websites or music magazines. What do you think will work for you in the long run and what kind of music do you intend to make? There is no point buying a fully comprehensive dance music-making package if you intend to produce classical tunes in the end. Think about it. Get a software package that suits you.

The Power of Technology

Since the advancing power of technology in all areas of computer music, companies have been falling over each other to produce the ‘next best thing’! There are literally thousands of software/hardware tools now available, many promising to do much the same thing, promising to be the only thing you need to create that ‘killer track’! Don’t be fooled by marketing strategies and tactics. Just because something looks good and costs a lot doesn’t necessarily mean a smaller, less comprehensive package can’t produce a similar result, and also, is it what you really need? Some things you’ll just have to work out for yourself.

When I started producing, I was always tempted to buy top end tools (and great some of them are too), but I just didn’t have a clue how to use all the complex functions at first and what if I didn’t even like it? Spending all that money may have been disheartening. Cubase vs Sonar vs Logic vs Reason, it doesn’t really matter until you read up on each one and find which one appeals to you the most. Bear in mind the type of music you are hoping to create, the availability of future upgrades (if you ever want one). (Emagic discontinued Logic for the PC, disappointing to many logic fans, myself included).

Check the prices between the latest versions, and how it will integrate with your current system. How much technical support is offered by the company? Is it reliable? (A good place to find out how reliable a product is, is to visit forums on user groups on the internet; manufacturers seldom boast about how unreliable their software is!) Check for incompatibilities between your units, (again on the internet), and read reviews too. What have other people who bought the products thought? Don’t let fantastic offers be your deciding factor. You may not like the product once you have used it.

Don’t worry, this initial choosing part is the worst. Trust me, it’s all very confusing and there is too much conflicting information available. You’ll have a much better idea what you really want at a later stage, and that’s when you start collecting the bits and pieces which you’ll know will be of great use to your musical style. If all this looking up stuff sounds like a complete pain, in recommendation, download a starter demo (for free) of any of these packages mentioned above,(and there are more), and see which one you like! Recommendations are made here for you by Wesley.

What am I doing?

You’re not in a race (I hope). Do you have a deadline to produce great tracks? (hopefully not too). You’re aiming to get that stunner of a track outside your head and inside your PC. Yes, you need some basic decent tools, but only you can bring to life the energy and value of your work. So don’t fuss, obsess or panic about all the technical “doo-daa’s” thrown at you in magazines. Concentrate on the music! A lot of musicians actually lose inspiration and/or creativity by ending up collecting or reading about all the gear available; after all there really is not enough hours in the day to learn how to competently use all the different pieces of software/hardware on the market. What happens to them is they end up with tons and tons of gear, but very few quality tunes! You must get familiar with your chosen tool or package. Figure out the functions and read your manual that comes with the package. Play with it, and you’ll begin to understand what it’s doing and which functions may be very useful to you now or useful to you later! This time should be about getting to know your tools.

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