How to Make Chillwave Music

By Jeremy Fisk

Things Needed

  • Musical recording software
  • Digital music sampler
  • Synthesizer
  • Drum machine
  • Digital effects pedals
  • Guitar
  • Bass
  • Drum set
  • Recording equipment

Chillwave is a genre of music identifiable by its use of guitar effects pedals, synthesizers, samples, and precise production. Although rudimentary Chillwave can be created using a laptop and recording software, it's helpful to have a variety of equipment that can sample and alter sounds. Familiarity with some of Chillwave's most popular acts will further help in song craft.

Listen to Chillwave artists like Panda Bear, Animal Collective, Neon Indian, Ducktails, Ariel Pink, Toro Y Moi and Teen Wave to get a sense of Chillwave's basic song structures and tropes. Be on the lookout for mechanized drums, varied timbres, synthesizer and digitally altered vocal tracks.

Download recording software to your computer. Audacity, Cakewalk, n-Track Studio, GarageBand and Pro Tools are all acceptable programs.

Create beats using a computerized drum machine or by recording a drummer. Drum machines are an important part of Chillwave music. They provide a unifying and precise rhythm that ties together the diverse melodies and tones. Feel free to layer on sounds from a live drummer as well.

Learn how to use a synthesizer. A good place to start is to learn how to read sheet music. After that, you can develop melodies and determine the impact of different audio effects on the sounds a synthesizer can make.

Search for samples to record, either online or by visiting music libraries and attending live performances. Insert odd-sounding, non-musical or hissing, dreamy samples into your music.

Add vocal tracks to your music. Use digital effects like reverb, distortion and pitch shifting to change the tone of the voice.

Tip

Mastery of music theory and innovative rhythm techniques will help you successfully create Chillwave music. A lot of Chillwave is inspired by the natural and spiritual. It might help to spend a lot of time in the forest or at the beach, looking for inspiration in the environment around you.

Warning

Mastering Chillwave requires a major time commitment and mastery of highly technical recording and sound-generating equipment.

About the Author

Jeremy Fisk is a professional writer who has written for TheStreet.com, "The New York Observer," Mediabistro and other publications. Fisk has published stories about media, finance and crime in both print and online media. He holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in French and English from Georgetown University.