Computers are great for word processing and Internet surfing -- but in this digital age, they also serve essential functions for musicians and producers both professional and amateur. If you learn how to harness the recording, mixing and mastering capabilities of your computer, it can become your complete home recording studio.
With the right configurations, you can use your home computer to record music with the crystal clear quality of a studio environment. With the help of recording software like Audition, Cubase, Logic and Pro Tools, you can capture recordings one layer at a time just as you would in a studio environment.
Amateurs and professionals use digital recording software to mix music, in addition to recording. The software allows you to add touches like reverb, echo, distortion and vocal processing -- and adjust your volume and pan settings which is the left, right or center placement of individual recordings. DJs and remix artists use the software to create new versions of popular songs.
Mastering is similar to mixing, but involves putting on the finishing touches. Some engineers specialize in music mastering, and all major music releases undergo a professional mastering process, in order to bring multiple songs into harmony with one another. They achieve this by matching the volume levels of songs and by adjusting the audio frequencies -- a process known as equalization or "EQ" -- so that the individual attributes like bass, vocals and guitars sound consistent from one song to the next. You can perform some of these actions using the same software that you would use to record, but specialized mastering software also exists.
Computers are beneficial for more than just music creation. They can also prove useful for music playback. For example, if you want to perform at a coffee shop with a guitar, and you want to use pre-recorded accompaniment for drums, you can save the recordings on a laptop, connect the laptop to a mixing board or public alert system and transmit the recorded drums while you play your guitar in real time. Professional artists use pre-recorded backing tracks to fill in the musical gaps during a live performance.
Promotion and Sales
In addition to music creation and playback, computers allow musicians to promote their music and even sell it to consumers digitally. Social networks like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter allow musicians to reach new fans, make important announcements and promote new songs, while avenues like Amazon, Napster and iTunes allow artists to profit by selling songs and albums in an instantly downloadable format.