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How To Make Great Music - Create Your Own Song

Updated on August 13, 2016
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James earned a BA degree in Music Performance-Keyboards from Concordia University and is a recording artist, composer and producer.

Create Your Own Song

I've got news for you... The abilities needed to create your own song may not be as far away as you once thought.

I feel sure the 3 B's, Bach, Beethoven and Brahms would have traded 1/2 of their performance abilities to have been born in 1975.


Technology is the stuff dreams are made of for independent recording artists and composers. Armed with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), a computer and a MIDI keyboard or guitar, composers, songwriters and musicians are mimicking the biggest monster sounds once only attainable from a hugely-housed, 48 track recording studio.

With a modest investment of well under $15,000, GREAT music production is now possible to a typical musician's 3 B's:

Bedroom, Bathroom, or Basement.

Some Experience Required

Here's the situation.

The abilities needed to create your own song are possible ONLY if you have more than a basic knowledge of music theory.

So much of what I hear on the radio is pure crap that I'm forced to listen for (OK, don't laugh at this old fogie) REAL music... And real music means bands like Hall and Oates, Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire, The Beach Boys, Barry White and saving the best for last, The Beatles.

These guys made memorable standards. It's like they knew exactly where to go with the next chord change and they all shared the art of creating musical and lyrical 'hooks' (a whole other Hub).

All composers have unique ways of creating their own music

Create Your Own Song

Why in the world would I repeat a headline this far into the hub?

Listen closely... If you are a talented musician with a basic knowledge of music theory AND you play the keyboard reasonably well, you can make real money cranking out CD after CD given the support current technology provides.

First, you will need a basic understanding of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). Let me explain... MIDI is nothing more than a 'language' spoken between computer and keyboard.

Now, let's dwell on this for a second. MIDI is analogous to running messages being sent from you to your girlfriend. (If you are of the female persuasion, please flip girlfriend to boyfriend... It works the same way only the terminology is different.) The difference lies in the computer's willingness to listen and obey every sent message. Not only does it obey, the computer DAW records what you send via keyboard, stores it and plays it back.

So what's going on? When your keyboard is properly connected to your computer (done through a MIDI interface), note after note; track by track, MIDI data is being recorded to your computer, primed for editing, playing, correcting, perfecting... Basically in waiting to do anything you tell it to do (unlike your girlfriend/boyfriend.)

Keep in mind, when you record with MIDI, you are transmitting INFORMATION, not AUDIO. The software magically changes the zillions of 0's and 1's you have inputted into musical sounds.

And the sampled sounds available in 2016 are nothing short of electrifying!

Your Song

If you consider yourself a very good musician with a basic understanding of MIDI, you are ready to create your own song.

One more thing, and this is important - make sure your DAW is reputable. Sonar Producer X2 and, of course, old reliable, Pro Tools are two of the best.

I know... there are plenty more very good DAWs working for you like Cubase, Reason and "fill in your favorite". I'm just partial to Sonar because it's been a good, steady workhorse for this recording artist.

For most musicians, creating their own song, is an act of composing a cacophony of BS that pleases themselves... themselves only! When this happens, know you will be the only one listening, and more importantly, the only one buying your music.

When you create your own song, think 'UNIVERSAL'.

Your lyrics should address a subject near and dear to every heart. The good old Country Music market has a lock on "crying in your beer lyrics", BUT IT SELLS!

My point is this: There was and will be only one Frank Zappa and there will be only one Donald Fagen (Steely Dan) whose lyrics make you wonder where he was scoring his drugs, not his lyrics. Choose a subject that appeals to the world in much the same way Country writers have discovered.

The Hook

The 'hook' of your song is the thing that will have people singing your song in the shower or whistling it on the golf course.

The hook could be the title of your song; or not. But the hook is that repeating group of notes and lyrics that bring the listener back to the most memorable part of your song. Get it?

The hook is that part of your song being sung by other people. Moral of the story? Your music sells if it's universal in appeal AND listeners can remember the hook after hearing it 2 or 3 times. People do NOT buy songs without a hook... 'nuff said.

Hot Tip

 Here's some advice: If you plan to market your music, always, ALWAYS have it mastered!


I sometimes get a kick out of the average person's perception of how a song is created. Most think the band comes in WITH the singer(s) and record everything in one take... Nope.

99% of the time your song is created by recording individual tracks.

It's the same with building a house, though most people never realize it.

The foundation is first laid with drums, bass and a scratch piano/keyboard or guitar track(s). Once this firm foundation is recorded, then other instruments play and record their part while listening to the tracks already recorded (called multi-tracking). Then the vocalists come in to record their tracks.

Once this process is complete, your song is created, but far from over.

The Mix

Remembering that each instrument is assigned to an individual track in the DAW it's now time to 'mix' these instrument and vocal tracks down to 2 tracks in stereo and sometimes in surround sound.

EVERY track is equalized, compressed and effects are added rendering a 2 track stereo mix.

I glossed over this process because the mix process is a very complex job. Basically, the engineer is taking 24-48 tracks of individual instrumentation and vocals, mixing these tracks down to only two. This is a very tedious, time-eating grind, and it's too intricate to explain in this short hub.


Once the mix is agreeable with the Producer and the Engineer it's time to hand over the digital 2 track mix to Master Control.

Here's some advice: If you plan to market your music, always, ALWAYS have it mastered!

What is mastering?

Again, this is fodder for another hub, but briefly this is what happens:

  • The Master Engineer receives the digital mix
  • HShe then digitally transfers it to a computer filled with mastering plug-ins
  • Watching a graph, the EQ is balanced
  • Then if effects like reverb or compression are needed they are added
  • Algorithms determine a dB level suitable for radio airplay
  • Many other items are checked and repaired until the sound is pristine and as near to perfect as is possible.

Excellent software for music creation

Final Thoughts on Creating Your Own Song

  1. Think 'universal'... appeal to a global audience using emotions and situations we have all experienced
  2. Write interesting, NOT WEIRD, chord changes
  3. Study the songs - especially the lyrics of the great standards in ALL genres
  4. Make sure you are happy with every track recorded. If one, just one mistake resides in the song it will haunt you forever
  5. If you plan on selling your music, hire a mastering engineer

Finally, believe in your abilities to succeed... the old saying, "Looks are deceiving" applies here. Once you master a short learning curve, creating your own song will become old hat.


Powerful music creator's tool - helps eliminate writer's block

© 2010 James Ranka


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