How to Make a Song
What All Goes into a Song?
Have you ever wondered what all goes into a song?
Is one capable of creating “commercial radio hits” in just a home studio? (Or even in a bedroom?)
The answer is yes, nowadays with computers as powerful as they are, you are capable of creating these “radio ready hits” in a home studio.. if you know how lol. And yes, even with FL studio!
So in this video, I’ve gone over how to make a song in FL Studio.
Making a Song from Scratch!
If you watched the video, there you have it! That’s definitely the basics of what I do in most of my songs. Obviously, every song is going to be a bit different when it comes to EQ, panning, how much to compress, how to arrange the song etc. But hopefully this leads you into the right direction, and most importantly, to understand what all goes into making a song!
So, since the beat was already made and arranged, it really allowed me to make the video a lot quicker and focus more on the mixing and mastering, which I’m sure a lot of you are wanting to know the how’s and why’s of. (Again, I’m still learning, don’t forget that, so take what you want from it. The best way to make music is really to “hear”.. although, it is good to have some foundation and understanding of what the tools do to help put that little extra “professional touch” on your song/beat).
Vocals are very important to be the most prominent track in your song, and they can easily get pushed down and buried in the mix if you let them! Check out this tutorial on making your vocals stand out!
Surprisingly in this video, I didn’t use a De-Esser on my verse vocals. I was happy with the recordings. The vocals were fuller than most of my recordings, and the ESSSS sounds really weren’t harsh! I usually find myself being a bit aggressive with my De-Esser because of my microphone.
I don’t usually do anything over the top with my vocals, just as you saw, basic compression and EQ tricks. (Take out the low end of the vocal that isn’t necessary, maybe find some annoying frequencies to cut, then help the vocal cut through with a boost to the highs).
Less is MORE in Mixing!!
Since I just use VSTs and hand-crafted samples, most of them sound great as they are, therefore leaving the mixer not tons to do (which is great!).
Now when I EQ, I’m just trying to make space to fit everything in. I’ll use compression if I feel I can’t get something to stand out with EQ, panning, or volume. As you’ll also notice, you’ll see me cutting more than boosting. Again, this is just to make space for other instruments.
For me personally, I feel the hardest part of mixing is trying to make everything stand out. Whether that be a PAD or a quiet instrument, I always strive to be able to mix it in so it’s audible, and this can be tricky! Especially with lots of instruments in the mix!
But again, by having an understanding of the tools, this will help you make your decisions. Take some time out and do research on terms such as saturation, exciters, gates, compressors. Learn what they do, even if you don’t use them. By knowing what these tools are, and what they do, it just gives you the flexibility of knowing the option’s there if necessary.
Once I feel the mix is done, I will play it from the beginning, walk away, and listen. I call this the final listen.
As soon as I feel something “pops out” that I don’t like, I walk back, make the change, then start over.
Once I can play through the song without something standing out, such as an instrument to loud, or the vocal not being clear, then I feel I’m done!
Do you Master While you Mix?
Sometimes.. I usually add a bit of compression on while I mix, but I try not to EQ, or allow the song to hit the clipper or limiter.
Once the mix is getting to that point of “completion”, I will head over to the MASTER, and start to boost up the volume, maybe add, or takeaway some compression, and do some slight EQ.
Once I add the final touches, again, I will walk away and give it that final listen. For my tweaks after the final listen, this can be towards the master channel, or individual tracks. (This is the benefit of mastering inside the mix session. You have control over your whole mix and master).
Let’s touch on mastering a bit.
If you want to improve in mastering, you will want a meter to read all your levels properly! A meter is absolutely essential when seeing what is going on inside your mix.
Mastering in itself is intense. I can compare it in a way to trades. One may be an electrician, another a carpenter, another may work with sheet metal, but in the end, the building gets built.
In the same way with a song, there are different parts that eventually get you to that finished product. Now there are contractors that are able to do “all jobs”, sometimes they may not be as skilled in one area, but they may know just enough to get the job done.
With that said, comparing mixing and mastering together, they are two different jobs.
Now there’s people who just want to get the job done with a loud professional master, and sure you can achieve that. Watch the video again, follow my mastering chain, and boost up that limiter.
But then there’s those who strive for the most professional results possible. This does not take a day to learn, not a week, not even a year. Mastering takes time, and eventually you will run into new techniques, new tools, and new ways of doing things. ULTIMATELY, after reading and trial and error, it comes down to your way of doing things. How “you think it sounds best”. Do you like your compressor before your EQ? Maybe you like to EQ first on certain songs? Or maybe you clip first then compress?
What ever it may be, it will only come by practice, but hopefully the video broke down the basics of what is all involved inside mastering!
Clipper in Mastering,
Now this is definitely a special one.
A clipper is definitely not a super well-known tool, and after doing my research and practice, I was amazed with how loud I was able to make my masters! (But be careful with it as I mentioned in the video. This will get you competing with “the loudness wars”. Do your research and learn about RMS, the K-Metering system, and “how far is too far” lol).
My best tip I can give you search what tools mastering engineers use. Many times lack of good results comes from lack of knowledge. Gaining the knowledge of the tools used will give you an understanding where, and when to use them. And if not use them, at least have knowledge they exist. For example, How compression works, what do limiters do, what other kind of tools are there in mastering? (What is mid-side? Do they use plugins for wideness? What about that De-esser I used in the video? Exciters, saturation, parallel compression. Those will get you started on becoming a better mix/master engineer!)
I guess to put it simply, you are wanting to “boost up” your mix to a loud commercial volume, without wrecking how it sounds. Sounds funny, but it’s easily done! (Always trying to boost it up “just a bit louder”, but remember louder does not mean better).
Back to the topic though, FL Studio does come with a clipper, although it’s a soft clipper. But what you can do is turn your Fruity Limiter to have a 0 attack and 0 release, and therefore it should do the same thing as a clipper!
You may also find this post on compression very helpful!
The song turned out great, and I released it on my Fourth iTunes Album! The vocals were nicely recorded, and I feel I didn’t “over compress it” or push it too hard.
I’m glad this was one of my more “basic songs” when it comes to the amount of instruments; the video could of taken quite a bit longer lol. But, it was a great video to show what’s all involved in how to make a song.
My music is all about Jesus, so hopefully some of the lyrics got you thinking about life and makes you want to do some research on what I’ve said within the song!
If you’d like a free download to the song, I’m Free by GratuiTous, you can download it off the soundcloud player, or here.
Thanks for taking the time out to read this! Hopefully this all helped you out. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!