This will be a long and detailed thread answering the most common questions about music making and discussing just where music is headed now 2012, at a time when the music industry is going through it's biggest and most dramatic changes in 100 years, since mechanical recorded music began.
Before mechanical recorded music (records, tape) you bought a music score printed on paper which someone had to play, like on the piano. Before the radio and records, to hear music in your own home, you needed to make that music yourself. Singing was the easiest and didn't need a piano, so music with sing-a-long 'melodies' (the usual music notation for singing) was most popular. Melodies that could be remembered easily without any print music or could be sung by people without any music training were the biggest and most popular sellers. For the most part music composers would write music for this style, basically a melody - a single voice line, with accompanying instruments, a guitar, piano, band or orchestra.
This type of music has pretty much dominated the global music industry for 100 years, rock, rap, love songs, opera, are all based on a human voice as the principle music element, with words that tell a short story, as contrasted with a long story in a 200 page novel. Most song stories are bundled into a 3-4 min pop song.
Dance music, however has different principles, firstly you must be able to dance to it. Not just be able, but want to dance to it. The same way you may hear a human voice melody and want to sing or hum along. You need a dance beat for dance music, just as you need a singer for a song. It's the fundemental element. Mixing the two is difficult because singing is limited to the length of the human breath, when you dance you need all that breath for the dancing, and you can go for hours, where as with singing alone, your voice will tire in minutes and sound irratic and unpleasant if you are jumping around all over the place dancing. So typically a track with both elements will favour either the voice or the beat and be restricted in length if a song to 3-4 mins or extended if dance to 10-20 mins.
Today with the internet people are exposed to more music online than they could ever hear in 2 lifetimes. Instead of musicians having 5-10 local bands in town they have to compete with for attention, you have 3 million and expanding every second.
So the music industry is very different to what it was just 5 years ago, and the major record companies haven't got a clue where to go from here, because they are locked into 100 year old music practices and are still trying to understand why MTV is over as a dominating force for delivering music, just as MTV did to radio.
The first thing I'll do is clarify some music terminology so that we're all clear on some common titles.
For instance 'making' music or what is more commonly called 'source music' these days, is a largely forgotten art the past 20 years as music has been DJ based, reusing and remixing existing music. But of the millions of hours of remixes, none of it is really new, it is mostly just rearranged.
I'll also discuss the 'is it any good?' question, how do you evaluate your music, what standards are you comparing yourself to apart from the 'I just like it' rule of thumb. For instance you might like your dance track, but that doesn't mean someone who likes metal, will.
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So voice and dance don't need to be seperate, they just need to be mindful of each others role in the work.
For instance here's a party in the Kanzantip Nuclear reactor core 1998, Viktor it looks like behind the turntables, not sure. The power plant was never completed so you were safe.
The voice in the track is used as a beat, then has a melody voice over that, it works really well, which you can tell if you don't want it to end
For beginners, I recommend Acid from Sony. You can download a free version straight away, and be playing your first MP3 track within the hour, and there's free loop packs all the time from pretty impressive commercial loop libraries.
FREE VERSION: ACID Xpress 7. 10 Tracks. Unlimited MP3 encodes
Acid also has a user community and various places to publish your tracks for the large world acid community. I recommend this beginner pack to all who want to learn music. It has an excellent tutorial and will take you through the rudiments of music and music theory with realtime results you can hear in an instant.
ACID Home page
Sony has an excellent range of pro audio and video software that have free trial downloads
FREE SONY PRO TRIAL DOWNLOADS
Cakewalk from Roland is excellent for Pro soundtrack use. I used Cakewalk to write a lot of the GS1 soundtrack, it can link the music score with the video and record realtime changes and export in pro file types