These guides are here to support you before, during, or after the live lessons with Martin. I hope they are notes for you to help you make sounds outside of the sessions. If you need to ask a question, please do!
In this first lesson, we’ll be getting to know our way around the first of the apps we’ll be using. This app is called….
Before going any further, you’ll need to set up a Band Lab account here
Once you have set up a BandLab account, we’ll be ready to move on to the first terms.
Join the class here:
To dive right into Lesson 1’s template, click here:
Digital Audio Workstations
- The Digital Audio Workstation (abbreviated to DAW) is the name given to the computer system and software that can be used to record and edit the music.
- DAWs are used in almost all forms of music production, from rock and pop to electronica and country music. The functionality and flexibility that modern software provides is extremely valuable to the modern music producer.
- Looking back a few years, a producer would need to spend over £1000 per day to use a commercial studio with an expensive mixing desk that on it’s own might have cost over £300,000. Now, a modern DAW is available for the cost of a computer and some software. This has made it possible for almost anyone to make great sounding music.
- Hardware: DAWs can be based on any computer hardware, including Apple Mac OS, Windows PCs, Linux PCs and even iPad and iPhones. Hardware is things you can touch, PCs, Laptops, Phones, Mics, equipment.
- Software: There are many different software packages available, but the most common ones are in use in a studio are Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools, Garageband, Reason and Ableton. Software is a computer program that runs on Hardware. BandLab is a cloudbased DAW, and works in a similar way to these mentioned.
Making music in Bandlab:
- Once you are signed in, find the ‘Create’ button at the top of the home screen.
- You’ll then have these options.
- For this session, click ‘Drum Machine’
- You’ll then have a screen like this.
- This is our drum machine. Cool, huh?!
- If you press the white triangle (a Play button) then you’ll hear a drum beat.
- You’ll notice a white bar moving across the dots, like this.
- The white line is showing you the music’s Pulse, or where you are in the pattern (Bar). A Bar (normally 4 in modern music) is a group of beats, and helps us know where we are in the music as well as keep time. (1,2,3,4)
- You’ll notice that each of the rows are grouped into 4 light grey and dark grey boxes. The first of each of these groups is the start of the beat. Eg. ‘Beat 1’.
- The other three boxes are between the beats, which can be filled to make the drum pattern more ‘busy’, or interesting/funky.
- Semiquavers: Each of those boxes is traditionally known as a Semiquaver, or 16th note. Each of the Semiquavers is worth 1/4 of a beat, so they can be quite fast. Here is a picture of what they look like in traditional notation.
Try and make your own drum loop!
- Click in the boxes to trigger any of the sounds. You can tell which sound you will trigger buy the icons down the left.
- Once you have put in some notes of your own, press the white Play Button to hear what is sounds like. If you don’t like the sound, click the notes again, and they go away. Easy!
- Try changing the drum kit sound.
- Click on the triangle and choose from one of the drum kits, test them all out, you’ll hear some work better than others with your beat!
Using the Arrange window.
The Arrange window in a DAW is like your canvas. This is where you put all the parts of your music and construct the finished track.
- The Play Button
- The Record Button
- Skip to the beginning
- Skip to the end
- The white line moving across the window is the playhead, and tells you what is being played at that time. It moves when you press play, but you can also drag it to start playback for where ever you like.
- The numbers across the top are the Bars in the music.
Getting your drum loop into the Arrange window.
So now we have our epic beat, how do we get this into the arrange window?
Click ‘Add A’ on the drum machine and it gets dropped into the Track name ‘Drum Machine’.
It will look like cubes, and these cubes are Bars. If you want your drum loop to last for 4 bars, drag the far right corner of the last cube outwards like this:
Once you are happy with pattern B, to get it into the Arrange window simply click ‘Add B’.
To get loop B in the place you want it, drag the white playhead to right place, then press ‘Add B’, and it will pop into the Arrange window in the place you want.
Try and make 4 different drum loops, get them into the Arrange window and make them all last 4 Bars each.
Next: Other Instruments!
Nice work champ!