As technology keeps advancing, producing music without instruments is becoming more common and the barrier of needing to learn how to play instruments to create music is getting smashed down with each passing day.
In this guide, I’ll show you my 7 favorite secrets for making and producing music without ever having to learn how to play or even touch any real instruments!
I’ve personally used all 7 of these hacks to create music even though I can play instruments and have some limited knowledge of music theory. Although it can be useful to know things traditionally, some of these tips just make things so much easier and more fun.
1. Use Apps On Your Smartphone or Tablet
If you don’t know how to produce music with instruments, there are several apps available on both smartphones and tablets that can be used to make music easily.
Here are 5 of the most popular music-making apps:
- Garageband – a free app developed by Apple and is available on iOS devices. It has a range of virtual instruments, including keyboards, guitars, drums, and more.
- Ableton Note – a paid app that uses the sounds and workflow of the full Ableton Live software so that you can easily make sketches on the fly just using your smartphone.
- Groovepad – a free app available on both iOS and Android devices. It has a range of pre-made loops and samples that can be used to create music.
- Caustic 3 – a free app available on both iOS and Android devices. It has a range of virtual instruments and effects that can be used to create music. You can use it to create loops, mix and master your tracks, and even export them to your computer for further editing.
- Korg Gadget – paid app available on both iOS and Android devices. It has a range of virtual instruments, including synthesizers, drum machines, and samplers.
Each app has its unique features and capabilities, so it’s essential to experiment with different apps and find what works best for you.
With the right app and some creativity, you can create great music right from your smartphone. 🙂
2. Write In Notes Using The ‘Piano Roll’ In A DAW
One of the best ways to produce music without instruments is by using Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) which are computer software programs that allow you to record, edit, and manipulate audio.
They also have an extensive range of plugins, virtual instruments, and effects built right in that can be used to create any sound you desire.
In particular, almost all DAWs have a ‘Piano Roll’ that you can use to input notes to be played back when you press play, making it easy to write parts for a virtual instrument even if you don’t know how to play that instrument in real life.
Here’s a look at Ableton (my personal favorite DAW) and its Piano Roll which can ‘fold’ the available notes so that they are in the right scale and key to make sure every note you select sounds harmonious and professional:
If you have a computer and a DAW installed, there is no limit to the kind of music you can create with or without having any real instruments involved in the process!
3. Use “Virtual Instruments” Instead of Actual Instruments
As I teased in the previous section, Virtual instruments are software programs that simulate real-world instruments either by using samples of real instruments or by synthesizing the sounds completely.
Virtual instruments come in various types, including real instruments like guitars, pianos, acoustic drums, and strings as well as modern types like synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines.
These instruments can be played by using a MIDI controller, a piano-style keyboard, by writing in notes on a Piano Roll, or even your computer keyboard.
4. Convert Your Singing Or Humming Into MIDI Notes
Some DAWs, like Ableton Live, have the ability for you to convert audio into MIDI notes that can then be played back by any virtual instrument or drum machine that you have installed on your computer.
By recording a simple melody or drum beat with your voice, you can easily produce music using the original ideas you have but without actually knowing to play any particular instrument.
Here’s a look at how easy it is to convert audio to MIDI with Ableton:
5. Use Pre-Made Loops
Loops are pre-recorded musical phrases that can be used in your production that can range from short melodies or drum fills to entire instrumental sections.
Loops are a quick way to add depth and professional quality to your production without spending hours creating individual sounds – they’re also a good way for you to learn how more complex musical phrases are put together by studying and using loops.
There are two types of loops: MIDI loops and audio loops. MIDI loops are musical phrases that can be added to a MIDI track to be played back on a virtual instrument, while audio loops are pre-recorded sounds that can simply be dropped into a track.
6. Use Pre-Recorded Samples Of Real Instruments
Samples are pre-recorded sounds that can be imported into your DAW and used as building blocks for your production. Samples can range from drum loops to atmospheric sounds to vocal chops.
The main difference between samples and loops is that samples are much shorter in length (for example just 1 drum hit or 1 note or chord from an instrument).
This means that to produce music with samples, you’ll need to do more work than compared to loops because you will need to place the samples where you want them to play or use a sequencer to trigger the samples to play using MIDI.
7. Collaborate With Other Producers & Musicians
Collaborating with other producers and musicians is another great way to produce music without instruments since you can leave the work of performing and recording with instruments to them completely!
It also allows for the exchange of ideas and techniques that can improve your music production skills and can often lead to the creation of new and exciting music that would not be possible when working alone.