How to get started in electronic music production in NYC?
May 3, 2009 9:06 PM   Subscribe

I've been toying with the idea of getting involved in music, and I've finally decided to take the plunge. What's the best way to get started in computer music production - specifically in NYC?

What's the best way for me to get the ball rolling in creating my own music? I have some musical background: I can read sheet music, I've taken a class in musical theory but have since forgotten most/all of it, and I used to play (classical) piano a ways back. Currently, I've been playing around in Reason 4 with a small M-Audio midi control, but so far I've been limited to a few simple melodies over a drum beat and I'd like to take this much further.

Specifically I'm interested in some of the more downtempo electronic music - some of my favorite artists are Bonobo, Thievery Corporation, Mr. Scruff, DJ Shadow, Manitoba/Caribou, Four Tet and Quantic. Much of my favorite music is a merging of jazz/funk and electronic beats, and this would be the style I'd be interested in pursuing.

From browsing around previous questions on the topic, it seems that reading a book on music theory is a good way to get started on my own. Are there any definitive books on the topic?

In addition to doing this on my own, I'm interested in taking some lessons. I'm not specifically looking to be limited to Reason, but I have a feeling that a lot of programs out there are fairly complicated, and since I'm really interested in composing full songs on my own, I feel like having a teacher will help me out greatly in learning the nuances of the program as well as things like song structure, and will provide some good motivation to keep me on track. I've looked around Craigslist for the past couple of weeks and haven't really found anyone who seems to be offering what I'm looking for. Are there any better resources for finding a teacher on this topic? I live in Manhattan so local suggestions would be great, but if there are any resources online, helpful books, or anything else, I'd love to know about it. Also, I've found Reason great, but are there any better pieces of software I should be looking at for what I'm trying to do? Would I be better off with a full size keyboard/midi control rather than my small 25 key-er? This has been a longtime dream for me, so I'd love and appreciate any other advice or suggestions.
posted by KilgoreTrout to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Check out music production sites. I forget all the different ones, but I remember em411 having useful forums.

I would also recommend Ableton Live.
posted by apetpsychic at 11:01 PM on May 3, 2009

I wouldn't worry too much about trad theory. Just start pasting things together and see what you like the sound of. You don't need to know what a plagal cadence is to start making somewhat interesting noises.
posted by Wolof at 11:36 PM on May 3, 2009

You might also want to check out the League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots in Brooklyn. They have classes, workshops and all sorts of things relating to art, music and electronics.
posted by saxamo at 11:53 PM on May 3, 2009

I second what b1tr0t has said, you want to break into a scene and learn from the people who are making things happen, you need to make face-time happen in small venues.

It is a useful exercise, to find a piece of music and attempt to recreate it in some way. "I like that synth sound, let me make one like it". It can be frustrating if it does not come out how you want, but you will learn 10 things along the way.

Traditional music theory itself is not so useful, but getting some background in the theory of electronic music / properties of sound is useful. Here is an online text which uses program called pure data to illustrate. It can be dense and Pd specific, but it would give you a sense of how sounds are made digitally.
posted by sundri at 1:14 AM on May 4, 2009

b1tr0t: Ableton Live works for Windows as well. I've used it on both, and it's pretty much the same experience on both.

KilgoreTrout: Wikipedia's list of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software is worth a look. You didn't mention your platform, that would probably help with the recommendations.

If you are looking for formal education, specifically in Live, Berklee's music department has a course called "Producing Music with Ableton Live." I'm more of a fan of the trial-and-error approach, the tutorials included in the app and the vids on their support site are an excellent start.
posted by wheat at 8:33 AM on May 4, 2009

Even better: Ableton keeps a list of certified training courses and certified trainers. Some of both are in NYC.
posted by wheat at 8:41 AM on May 4, 2009

here in seattle a bunch of local producers (both 'professionals' and hobbyists) organize free meetups/lessons. i'd be surprised if there wasn't something similar in nyc. so i'd suggest asking around on local electronic music mailing lists. the only one i know offhand is the ancient nyc raves but i'm sure if you ask there they could point you in the right direction.
posted by groovinkim at 5:16 PM on May 9, 2009

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