How do I make Techno?
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Just as house music was first discovered in the underground dance clubs of Chicago, Detroit is the birthplace of techno. Maybe there’s something about cold, blustery winters in the Midwest that makes people want to go inside and dance. While it owes some of its success to the popularity of house, techno is a fusion of many different genres.
Techno music would feel right at home scoring a retro science fiction movie or as the backdrop to a technically advanced new product presentation. Brought to the masses by such acts as Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder, and Yellow Magic Orchestra, trance, techno’s airier, melodic first cousin, brings an ethereal, futuristic feel to the electronic dance music market.
As with most EDM, a constant 4/4 time is ever-present in techno music. This provides the backbone for a tempo that comes in around 120-150 beats per minute. Depending on the sub-genre of techno, that tempo can be increased up to 200 bpm (hardcore techno) or even 300 bpm (Speedcore). That’ll keep you warm as the snow piles up outside!
Although the drum sounds are quite repetitive, techno music can be highly synthesized and stylized, and most often heard without vocals. Because the music is mostly instrumental, the relative straight-forward segues from one song to the other is popular with live DJs. The genre is so firmly embedded in the ‘80s, many artists seek out retro gear to get a “true” techno sound.
Throwback or not, techno is still a very popular form of music today, spawning a wide variety of sub-genres. Acid techno, ambient techno, digital hardcore, ghettotech, techstep, and trance are the most visible offshoots. But the availability of affordable digital audio workstations (DAWS) means it’s easy to create truly unique sounds.
Now that you know the basics of techno, you’re ready to start making the music that will be beamed to the stars and other galaxies above. Just make sure you have the proper tools here on Earth before starting.
There is an ungodly amount of equipment you can buy to create techno music. Midi keyboards, 808 kick drums, monitors (speakers), drum machines, synthesizers, sequencers… the list goes on. If you start chasing the retro gear, it can cost even more. But all you really need at the start is a computer with enough processing speed to handle your DAW of choice.
GarageBand and Audacity are the most downloaded free DAWs on the market. They’re easy to learn, give you a strong base for advancing your education, and offer the most features. We recommend trying one of those two (or any other free DAW) at the start. There’s no reason to start at the top, especially if you don’t know your kick drum from a snare.
When you’ve established a solid baseline of knowledge, then you can consider paying for more advanced models. Ableton Live 10 and Pro Tools are industry standards, and even offer slimmed-down free versions for starters. If you like a little consistency in your life, give Ableton Live 9 Lite or Pro Tools First a try. Logic Pro X is the Apple entry into the DAW marketplace.
Learning how they all fit together can be a time-consuming process. Which is fine – they call it a learning curve for a reason. Because of its following, there are plenty of techno how-to video tutorials and other reference materials to be found online. Are there EDM shows where you live? Attend a couple of shows and see if you can bend the ear of a techno DJ.
Shortening the Curve
The Recording Connection was created to help those looking to increase their knowledge base in electronic music, audio engineering, or live DJing and beginners alike. Our programs are designed to be quicker and cheaper than 4-year universities or conventional trade schools. And we’ll give you access and opportunities other institutions just can’t offer.
What do we mean by access? Through the Recording Connection Ableton Electronic Music Production and Logic Pro Electronic Music Production Programs, you’ll be placed with and given one-on-one mentoring from an accomplished techno producer or live DJ. You will gain an in-depth understanding of techno including the skills needed for arranging, composing, and more!
Our Advanced Ableton Electronic Music Production program will advance your education to cover such mixing techniques as parallel compression as well as final mastering. Once earning your certification, you’ll be ready to enter the world of techno and reach for the stars… and beyond.
The most successful Recording Connection graduates have gone on to work alongside their mentors or even started their own studios. But they put in the time and effort to really learn their craft, both inside of the studio and out. Future opportunities won’t be handed to you – you’ll need to earn them. If you think you have what it takes, apply today and find out.