The Song is The Only Thing That Matters...

Music production and creation are divisive from start to finish, some swear by digital audio workstations, while others are convinced you can only create genuinely great music through using analogue equipment. All of these points of contention have a place and are important, but not at the cost of forgetting the only truly important part of music, the song.

It is easy to become enamoured in the rabbit hole that is music creation, whether you're searching forums to discover whether a power supply or 9V battery will sound better in a guitar pedal or which DAW sounds best (spoiler alert, neither will fix a bad song). The craft can become more important to us than the art itself, which can take away from our true priority as musicians, which is typically to create and share the best art we can.

The true magic of music is in the emotions portrayed in the performance, the depth of lyrics and the mesmerisingly well-crafted soundscapes we enjoy. Of course, technical ability and having a wide knowledge of how to capture these microcosms of creative energy is integral to a great song, but it is equally important to be adaptable and remove ego from writing and recording sessions.

A great example of this sporadic genius is in 'Something In The Way' by Nirvana, produced by the iconic Butch Vig. The band initially attempted to record the song conventionally but grew frustrated that the song wasn't captured the way they felt it needed to be. Kurt Cobain came into the control room, 'laid on his back and started playing the guitar, and he was barely singing' Vig recalled in Classic Albums, 'I literally held my breath for three minutes while he sang'. This intuition to record on the spot made that song what it is today, and that attitude of an open mind to any possibility and to divert from convention when it suits the song.

To defy convention is to enable creativity and innovation, countless practices are now the norm because those who've gone before defied what was typical. Whilst you must know the rules to break them, that's where the excitement is created and great music is born. Music equipment is undoubtedly crucial to recording, but it is not the limitation of not having the greatest gear that will stifle your creativity, but in fact, can enhance it through lack of choice.

We can get lost debating minutiae rather than making great music, I think this is a great shame and can be a huge waste of time that could be better spent creatively. It takes two minutes to Google an opinion and receive answers across the board, for example, here's an article on why you should mix using headphones and here's a Quora debate filled with responses across a spectrum ranging from 'yes, or no', to 'People will tell you that you can’t but that is not true'.

There is plenty of valid information available to us as musicians, but there is equally a plethora of opinionated nonsense and it can be difficult to distinguish the two. Take anything you read as an opinion (including this article!), rather than as gospel when it comes to making music especially.

The main takeaway for me is to create how you know best, watch tutorials and research the gaps in your knowledge. The key, however, is to experiment with the information and techniques you learn, if they don't suit you well, don't continue to use them. In my case, I find a lot of value in top-down mixing, whereas other producers say it's not the correct way to approach mixing. There is no right or wrong in music, if the song sounds good, it is good.

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