Give The Production Newbies A Break
Music production as a profession, as well as an art form, has been highly glorified over the years. Imagine going about thirty years back, to the early days of hip-hop music. Imagine, a milk crate full of old soul vinyl at your feet, a three-speed turntable on the desk, attached to an MPC. Visualize the careful and meticulous ear for rhythm necessary to properly chop and loop the perfect sample. Finally, picture the additional drum sounds and instruments producers needed to acquire in order to turn the aforementioned samples into something new and unique, with a fresh coat of paint.
Now, let’s take a look at one of the modern day definitions of a music producer: A mild-mannered suburban kid with a computer, a pirated copy of the latest version of Fruity Loops, and a little time on his hands. Set the tempo, grab some free pre-made loops off the interwebs, and click a few buttons to lay down a sick beat.
Ok, maybe there is a slight exaggeration there, but one point is for sure: the process has changed over time. It isn’t as glorious, as meticulous, and some may argue that it doesn’t even have the same level of heart and soul that the old methods maintained so strongly.
However, it depends how you look at the situation. Is me, with my limited knowledge of musical theory, sitting in front of my MIDI keyboard and Logic Pro, any different, or less important, than the guys with the milk crates full of vinyl? Not necessarily. Technology is constantly changing the way that we do things. Because of this, the prospect of creating music has become way more attainable for a wider range of individuals. The only plausible issue, as mentioned before, is that now, every kid with five minutes and some basic DAW software thinks they’re a platinum beat-smith.
The real argument, and the most important thesis of this diatribe, is that music production can be many things to many people, and it is most certainly consistent of more than a stock drum kit over a bunch of pre-made loops. But this isn’t to say that these things aren’t an important part of the learning and exploration process. Sure, messing with loops won’t make you the next Dr. Dre, but it can teach you a lot about the production process as far as track placement, mixing, fading, effects automation, and so on and so forth.
Anybody with more than a couple years of extensive experience in music production, be it analog or digital, is quick to write off beginner-level audio workstation software, as well as the people utilizing it, without really giving these users a fair chance to experiment and develop their skills.
Sure, music production may not appear as glorious in this new digital age, but it presents so much un-tapped potential. So let your newbie friend mess around with Apple loops in GarageBand. Remember how things were when you were just starting out. Give him some time to learn his way around, and he may be on the track to bigger and better things in the future.
Or, buy him an MPC and a bunch of funk records. That would be cool, too. Your choice.