Updated: Feb 21, 2020
In the previous article in this series (Part I) I introduced the term music production and looked at how the meaning of the term had changed throughout the years. I had also introduced Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs for short) which are used to record and produce music on a computer. Continuing from this, we will look at what DAWs can do specifically to create music.
In a DAW such as Cubase, Logic or Pro Tools for example, we work with two primary means of producing music; these are Audio and MIDI.
Audio is a digital representation of sound stored on a computer as binary code. Audio would include anything that has been recorded in the real world such as some one singing into a microphone, this would be recorded as a stream of data on the computer and then played back to our ears as sound.
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and is a way to control virtual instruments through data messages. Using MIDI you can program music to play whatever you want, this MIDI data can either be ‘played' into a computer using a MIDI keyboard or it can be ‘drawn’ into the DAW to create the music.
Here is an example of audio recording in a DAW:
Here is an example of MIDI programming and recording in a DAW:
MIDI wasn’t invented until 1983 so before that all recordings were created using Audio. In present day it is possible to program MIDI to sound like a convincing performance of an instrument within reason. MIDI can allow producers to use instruments that they either cannot play or don’t have access to on their productions. The use of audio recording and MIDI recording/programming vary on the genre and producer’s aesthetic, for example Jazz music is largely audio recording with very little MIDI programming used whereas electronic dance music uses MIDI heavily. Many other genres such as pop, hip-hop and rock music use a blend of the two.
Do not miss the Part III of this series of articles to learn more about Music Production.