Have you ever wondered what goes into turning lyrics written on a restaurant napkin into a top 40 hit? Or how about turning the musings of an unknown composer into the dynamic soundtrack of the hit movie? It takes an awful lot to make great music. But here is the dirty little secret: most of it revolves around the people involved.
Sound equipment is easy to get. Recording studios are a dime a dozen. You can buy top-of-the-line instruments online or at your local music store. All the physical objects that go into making great music are easy to come by. The people you need to work those objects are not. They are always the wild card.
Here are five types of people needed to make great music:
It is easy to assume that this list of people should start with writers and composers. They are important, and we will get to them in a minute, but the music producer is the one who oversees the entire project from start to finish. It is the producer’s job to pull everyone and everything together so that the finished product looks exactly like the vision the entire team started with.
Some music producers insist on doing everything in person. They demand a hands-on approach. Others, like the producers at New York-based Supreme Tracks, appreciate the online model. They offer online music production in collaboration with partners scattered across the country.
2. Writers and Composers
Second only to producers are the writers and composers that put together pieces from scratch. Without great writers and composers, you cannot have great music. They are the ones who string together notes to make fantastic harmonies and melodies. They are the ones who create memorable lyrics that stick in the listener’s brain.
Writers and composers tend to be very good at producing the initial musical concepts that make up a great song. But a song sounds differently in recorded format as compared to being played live in a composer’s living room. Recorded music needs to be arranged if it is to come alive for the listener. This is where the arranger comes in. They take the work done by writers and composers and arrange it to create a more complete sound.
4. Musicians and Vocalists
Writers, composers, and arrangers put words and notes together on paper or digital screens. But to turn that information into audible sounds, you need musicians and vocalists. Not only that, but you also need musicians and vocalists who understand a project’s vision. You need people whose abilities and styles match the sound you are trying to achieve. For example, you might not want a professional opera singer for a bluegrass project.
5. Sound Engineers
Though last on the list, sound engineers are not any less important than the previous four types of people. Sound engineers are the ones who operate recording studio equipment. They not only record musicians and vocalists, but they also add effects, edit tracks, and then mix everything together.
A good sound engineer can grasp a music producer’s vision and create just the right sound for that vision. They also have an excellent working knowledge of different styles and how to use engineering techniques to make those styles come alive.
Making great music is not about buying the most expensive equipment or choosing one studio over another. It is about the people. Assemble the right team and you can create musical magic. Great producers put together great teams capable of making great music from the initial work done by writers and composers.