101 - Preface to Intro Series
Welcome to Torches Academy!
If you are not already familiar, Torches Academy is an educational platform for teaching electronic music production and modern songwriting. We have tons of lessons for our members, and we host regular livestreams based on our members’ content, so the parallels that you have to draw are absolutely minimal! We aim to be there for you every step of the way, from your first song, to your first release, and beyond.
When you’re just starting out as a musician, it’s important to realize that learning how to create music is just a small part of the formula. Music is about what you can imagine; you need to learn to hear the beauty and practicality in the simplest of ideas.
Especially in the beginning, it’s about expanding your mind to hear what a track could be, not what it is. Often times to untrained ears, the simple chord progressions and beats that we make here in this intro series may be discouraging because they do not sound like the music that you listen to regularly. However, you have to understand that all the greats, every single one of them, were at this point in time that you are at now. It wasn’t their know-how, technicality, or skill that got them to where they are, but their imagination, and their drive to create something out of nothing.
A ‘genre’ is a type, or family, of music.
As you begin your journey into musicianship, it’s important that you understand the happy medium in genre and style. You have house, dubstep, acoustic, country, singer/songwriter, rock, pop, etc. There are tons of genres, and you have subgenres that branch out below those. For example, ‘metal’ may be your overarching genre, but you may fit more specifically into ‘symphonic black metal’ as your sub-genre. These genres help to define your music for the listener.
This is important because you want to be relatively consistent with the music that you’re making, in the sense that someone who enjoys house music may not enjoy country music, and if you’re making both, you may split or confuse your fanbase. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create both, and we’ll talk a bit about what you can do in that situation below.
Now, for the other side of that coin. When you’re a musician, it’s very easy to get caught up on your idols and music that you like and admire. It’s important to categorize your music appropriately, but don’t apply too much force to make your music something it’s not. Sometimes it’s great to embrace the music that you’re making for what it is - a label is just a label - it’s a great mindset to be in to let your music lead the way. You may set out to make trap music, and find that you make phenomenal traditional hip hop. If that is something that you can appreciate and let breathe, it’s ALWAYS better to let your fans and your music define what you make and create what comes naturally. Forcing your music to lean back into another genre when it’s simply not sounding that way can ruin an amazing song. When your music has a mind of it’s own, sometimes it’s beneficial to let it lead and see where it takes you.
Within Torches Academy, we cover two general roles within the music industry. There are tons of options and career paths that we will cover more in depth within the member lessons, but it’s beneficial to understand what these two big roles are.
ProducersBeing a producer in the modern day is a little different than a definition you may find from 20-30 years ago. A producer used to be the ‘foreman’ of an audio recording, so to speak. They would sort of oversee the process and focus on the end product while all the musicians were adding their individual elements. That definition is outdated, because one person has so much control this day and age with modern technology. Today, a music producer can be an individual with a laptop and some software. As a producer, you are ‘producing’ music, quite literally. You are creating the foundation of music - the beats, the chord progressions, the melodies, the bass drops, etc. - to be released either under your own name or for another artist. Lots of producers stay out of the spotlight, making a living producing music for other people (Ryan Lewis). Other producers use production as their art, and are labelled as an artist themselves (Deadmau5). Some even do both (Daft Punk). Whichever path you take down the line, the beginning starts with learning how to create instrumentals, which we will delve into here at Torches Academy.
Being a songwriter means focusing on the writing side of the musical equation. Often times, you see more ‘songwriters’ in less electronic genres, but it’s absolutely possible to have a background in both. Songwriters focus on the lyricism, themes, vocals, melodies, moods, and emotions that embody music and make it what it is. As a songwriter, your creative process is similar to that of a poet, on paper. You write about the world; things that make you happy, lovestruck, sad, afraid, anxious, or excited. You tell stories and you paint mental pictures. It’s very common for a songwriter to have some kind of medium in which to write their music. Some play guitar, piano, or some instrument to write and sing over - but in your case, you can absolutely use the music production lessons here to use FL Studio as your medium. In fact, you’ll find that tons of successful songwriters have production experience in order to move their music forward. You will find that the world is full of singers and songwriters, so it’s important to create a wide array of skills and abilities to set yourself apart from the masses.
Whatever you choose to be, it’s important to be adaptable, open-minded, and innovative in your process. Music is an art and it’s ALL about creativity, so whether you are creating a massive, technical tune or the simplest of song concepts, keep your imagination about you, always.