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How to Write or Arrange Original Music

Creating original music is exciting and daunting, whether you’re a seasoned recording artist or just starting out in the business. There is more to the process than simply coming up with an idea for an original music track.

You must choose the key and melody, which instruments would sound best with the piece, and where to get it mixed and mastered for the best quality sound.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know to write or arrange original music, including:

What is a music track arrangement?

A music track arrangement includes all elements of a song. Harmony, melody, instrumentation, and rhythm come together to create a cohesive sound that’s pleasing to the ear (at least that’s the goal, anyway).

Recording artists must carefully choose dynamics and effects, which instruments complement the intent behind the piece and the overall structure of the original music.

Both the musician and the producer can make decisions about any sections of the song that should be emphasized, which instruments should be played—including any lead instruments—and how to build and release within the track.

If you’ve chosen to work with an Albuquerque music studio, then trust the producer to make suggestions that take the basic elements of your song and mold them into a flawless finished product.

A man with a guitar and keyboard writing an original music piece.
A good arrangement enhances and supports the overall emotion and message of your original song.

What makes a good song arrangement?

Every original piece of music or arrangement of an existing piece should enhance and support the overall emotion and message of the song. The best artists know how to get their point across with soul-clenching lyrics and instrumental accompaniment that keeps listeners engaged.

Some key factors that contribute to a quality song arrangement include:

  • Balance and contrast between harmony and melody make the song more interesting.
  • Clear structure that includes an introduction, a middle, and an ending that flows like a story.
  • Effective instrument use that supports the overall mood of the piece.
  • Emotional impact that uses all components—instruments, vocals, harmony, melody, rhythm—to highlight the feeling behind the song.
  • Polished sound during mixing and mastering makes the song sound more professional.

Can you arrange copyrighted music?

Yes, with the right permissions. Typically, recording artists must get a license from the copyright holder of the original piece they wish to rearrange. If it’s a well-known artist, that can mean reaching out to their record label or their agent to get the approval you seek.

Be prepared to negotiate the terms of the permission for you to enhance the original. You’ll need a contract that outlines the scope of the license, the length of time you have permission to use the original work, and any fees or royalties paid to the original artist.

Never try to do this on your own. You’ll need the guidance of a legal representative experienced in copyrighted materials to assist. You can find more information from organizations like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC that specialize in copyright licensing.

A sheet of music on a page featuring an original song
Writing an original song requires an idea and a lot of creativity to get it out of your head and onto paper.

How do you write an original song?

Walking around with a song in your heart that’s just dying to get out onto a quality music track? Writing original music can be challenging but also rewarding.

Taking these steps can mean the difference between just humming your tune in your head and getting it out to the masses.

  1. Start with your idea
    Sometimes artists get a tune in their heads. If that’s the case for you, matching it with the right words is the first part of the songwriting process. Pair that tune with an experience, feeling, or story that inspires you.
  2. Create a melody
    If you don’t already have a tune in mind, you’ll want to take your idea for a song and create one. Use an instrument—guitars and pianos work best—and punch out your basic melody. You can fine-tune it later.
  3. Write your lyrics
    Sometimes artists prefer to write the lyrics before they come up with a tune. It makes no difference what you do first. Take the approach that works best for your creative process. Everyone is different.
  4. Create some harmony
    Songs that have harmony are more fulfilling to the human ear. Once you have your basic melody, find a few chords that go with it to strike a balance with some natural harmony progressions.
  5. Refine the song
    Now that you have the basic structure, you can go back and refine the original music. Edit lyrics, change the melody a bit, or experiment with different instruments. Tweak it until you’re satisfied.

The final step is to find an Albuquerque recording studio that can take your original song and mix and master it into a quality track to share with your fans.

How do you make sure your song is original?

The last thing any artist wants to do is accidentally plagiarize another musician’s work. It’s easy to get another tune stuck in your head and not realize it’s from a song you heard elsewhere. To be certain you’re not accidentally borrowing lyrics or tunes, you can take the following actions.

  • Research existing songs to make sure yours isn’t like any existing works. This can include Googling your intended lyrics and searching for similar accompaniment.
  • Seek a legal review to make sure your original music doesn’t infringe on any existing copyrights.

When in doubt, reach out to an Albuquerque recording studio for help finding the most effective ways to determine if your masterpiece is truly an original before recording.

Getting support for your original or reimagined track

Writing original music or arranging an existing piece can be time-consuming. Make sure you’re doing everything the right way before you book studio time. Our production manager and other recording studio staff have years of experience in the industry. We can guide you if assistance is needed, so don’t be afraid to reach out for a consultation.

Mixing and Mastering Techniques for Pro-Sounding Tracks

Mixing and mastering techniques play a crucial role in creating a polished, professional-sounding final product. Engineers, musicians, and producers must understand the basics of mixing and mastering to take music to the next level.

Equalization and compression, combined with stereo imaging and final mastering, achieve the best sound possible for your tracks. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including:

How long does it take to mix and master a song?

Several factors influence how long it takes to mix and master a song. Among the components of the process that can slow it down or speed it up include:

  • Complexity of the music.
  • Number of instruments and tracks used.
  • Skill level of the mixing and mastering engineer.

Professional mixing and mastering engineers can spend anywhere from several hours to several days perfecting a single song. If budget is a concern for you, choose an experienced engineer who can rely on their knowledge and skills of advanced mixing and mastering techniques to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Keep in mind that some songs may require multiple rounds of mixing and mastering to get the finished product just right. It’s your track, so you get to decide when it’s ready for the masses.

A man using headphones and a mixing and master board as part of his technique for creating quality tracks.
Mixing and mastering are two separate processes that each require a skilled engineer using mixing and mastering techniques to produce a quality sound track.

What is the process for mixing and mastering a song?

Mixing and mastering techniques vary by sound engineer. However, the process usually requires the following 9 steps.

  1. Preparing the session
    Before the hard work of mixing and mastering your song begins, sound engineers must organize and label tracks, set up a mixing template, and make sure all audio files are properly synced.
  2. Balancing levels
    This mixing and mastering technique involves adjusting the volume levels of individual tracks to get them to a consistent level. The sounds blend better after balancing is complete.
  3. Equalization
    Adjusting the frequency balance of individual tracks enhances or reduces certain elements of the sound.
  4. Compression
    Dynamic range is the difference between the softest and loudest passages of an audio recording. Controlling the dynamic range of the audio helps to make the mix sound more polished.
  5. Stereo Imaging
    During this step, the engineer adjusts the stereo field of the mix to create a more spacious and dynamic sound.
  6. Reverb and delay
    The smoothest-sounding tracks use mixing and mastering techniques to add ambiance and depth to the mix through reverb and delay effects.
  7. Automation
    Volume, panning, and other effects are added to your song during this step of the process. Engineers create dynamic changes to the mix over time using automation.
  8. Mastering
    This is the final step in the process and involves the optimization of the mix for the desired output format. Your engineer adjusts the final product during the phase to make it suited for CDs, LPs, or streaming.
  9. Finalizing and exporting
    Once all adjustments are made, the engineer finalizes and exports the finished song.

Mixing and mastering techniques can vary depending on the preferences of the engineer. Some steps also might not be necessary for all songs. Always trust the recommendation of your engineer to get the best results.

Can you mix and master at the same time?

Technically, yes. However, most professional sound engineers prefer to keep them separate to ensure the highest quality final product.

Mixing and mastering are two distinct processes. Engineers typically complete the mixing phase first, which includes adjusting levels, EQ, compression, and adding other effects to individual tracks in a song. Mixing is all about creating balance. 

Mastering optimizes the final product for the desired playback systems, including CDs, LPs, and streaming services.

Finding an Albuquerque music studio for mixing and mastering

Choose an Albuquerque music studio that specializes in mixing and mastering techniques to get the smoothest-sounding recording money can buy. Big Cat Tracks’ mixing and mastering engineers have decades of experience helping artists sound their best. Give us a call today to schedule your mixing and mastering needs.

Creating Magic at an Albuquerque Music Studio

Making music is about more than laying quality tracks that excite your loyal fans (and maybe even a few record labels). Sure, working with a top-notch sound engineer and other knowledgeable staff at a reputable recording studio is a 100% necessary part of the process. However, creating magic at an Albuquerque music studio requires the support of a strong local music community as well.

Albuquerque has a diverse music scene. On any given day, you can find blues and jazz, hip hop, indie, metal, and even ska. There’s certainly no shortage of fellow musicians to jam with if you like company.

No matter what genre of music you plan to produce, you’ll need the support of your local music community to get it done. That includes finding a reputable Albuquerque music studio with experienced staff who can produce quality tracks.

In this blog we’ll discuss:

What makes an Albuquerque music studio unique?

Most Albuquerque music studios have similar amenities and equipment. Providing the latest and greatest recording equipment, instruments, and even backup vocalists can go a long way in making your tracks sound amazing. However, they aren’t the most important ingredients.

What makes or breaks a recording studio are the people who work there. A studio manager with a can-do attitude should be top of your list when deciding which Albuquerque music studio you want to entrust with your music recording. No matter what unexpected things occur before, during, or after your session, that kind of mindset goes a long way toward solving them.

Second only to the studio manager is the sound engineer. Choose one that has a great working relationship with the other studio staff. While the sound engineer calls most of the shots during your session, they need the support of everyone to pull off their ideas for your tracks.

Albuquerque music studio mentor
FInding a music mentor is an important part of building your music community outside of an Albuquerque music studio.

Why do you need a strong music studio community?

For musicians and vocalists who are just starting out, it takes a strong music community to succeed. Collaborating with and relying on other local artists for their expertise and advice can make or break a budding career.

Find yourself a good music mentor in Albuquerque or elsewhere in New Mexico who understands the music scene here. Tap their brains for help with marketing, songwriting, and recording. Most local artists who have been around for a while can identify quality Albuquerque music studios to add to your list.

It can be hard to ask for help, but the local music community in Albuquerque is welcoming. If you decide to work with a music mentor or even a small group of experienced artists here, choose someone with the following qualities:

  • Availability. A music mentor isn’t going to do your budding music career much good if they’re never available to answer your questions. If someone you’d like to work with says they don’t have time to do it, ask them for recommendations for other local musicians who might be suitable replacements.
  • Experience. It should go without saying (but we’ll say it anyway). Find a music mentor with extensive experience. Otherwise, they may not have the knowledge or skills to help you advance your music career.
  • Trustworthiness. One of the key principles of any effective mentorship is the ability to hold things in confidence. Make sure the person you’ve chosen understands that what you share with them stays between you unless you give consent for it to be shared with others.
Albuquerque music studio tribe
Finding your local music tribe can provide you with jamming buddies and a reliable source for networking.

What are the benefits of building a strong music community?

The music industry can be brutal. Finding your tribe can make navigating it more successful and far less stressful. Making the most of your music community—including a reputable Albuquerque music studio—means you can enjoy some of the following benefits.

  • Confidence boost. Having a supportive music community can help you establish career goals. More importantly, they can celebrate your successes and work through your failures to ensure you’re always growing and improving.
  • Motivation. It can be easy to quit, especially if you’ve been trying to break out on the Albuquerque music scene for a while. Surrounding yourself with a strong music community provides the encouragement and motivation you need to press forward.
  • Networking. There’s a lot of truth to the adage that it’s about who you know in the music industry sometimes. When you make the right connections, you can gain access to Albuquerque music industry professionals who can help you get noticed faster.

How do you find an Albuquerque music studio?

Part of a successful music community includes an Albuquerque music studio that can help you meet your music goals. Whether you need a demo track to send to agents or want to record your first full album after years of performing on the local music scene, having a quality music studio in your corner is a must. Let us be the support you need. Reach out today to book a session.

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