Electronic Composition
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What does DAW stand for?

DAW = Digital Audio Workstation

Why is this important to electronic music? Because the vast majority of music produced since the 1990’s was created inside of a DAW. Let’s explore the basic set up of a DAW using Bandlab.com. If you don’t have a bandlab user account they’re free to create and you can share your music with the world through their platform!

Bandlab.com is a powerful tool for music creation. This browser based Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) works just like professional level programs like ProTools, Ableton, and Logic Pro X, but is more user friendly like the Garageband app. The best part about this program is it’s completely free and you can share your music with other Bandlab.com users.

Here’s what the mix editor in Bandlab looks like. This editor lets you edit every level of what you hear in a song. You can even add/remove parts!

That’s a lot to look at! Let’s break it down piece by piece.

Transport

This is your transport bar, it’s located at the top of the screen. There are many actions you can do here:

  • Undo/Redo – These buttons are great if you make a mistake, or want to A/B test
  • Loop selection – This button loops whatever is currently selected
  • Slice at playhead – This button cuts the selected track into two at the playhead.
  • Go to Beginning, Play, Go to End, Record – These buttons help you navigate your music and lets you listen to/add to your piece.
  • Playhead Display – This area lets you see where the playhead is currently located.
  • Piece information – This area displays info about your piece including key (which major scale is being used), tempo (how many beats per minute), and time signature (how many beats in a measure).

Track List

This is your track list, it’s located to the left of your window. Here you can see all of the tracks in your piece. You can also:

  • Add a track (+ button) – add a new track to your piece
  • Mute (M button) – turn the track(s) off
  • Solo (S button) – play only the soloed track(s)
  • Control Volume (sideways slider) – turn the track up or down in volume
  • Control Pan (L-R knob) – change the placement of the track between the Left and Right speakers (this is easiest to hear with headphones in)

Arrange Window

The arrange window shows you the different parts of your piece. Audio information is shown as waveforms. Time moves from left to right so the beginning of your piece is at the left hand side of the screen. The tracks are laid out on top of each other. Each box is a complete unit that you can drag left (backwards), right (forwards), up (track above), and/or down (track below).

You might notice that some of the boxes are shaded lighter than others. The lighter boxes show when a sample is being looped.

Click here to check out a Bandlab project!

(You’ll need a bandlab account to access this material)