3 Reasons Why Construction Kits are a Great Resource

2 Sep 16 2014 in Tips/Tutorials
3 Reasons Why Construction Kits are a Great Resource

There are some products out there that cause controversy among the producers, and construction kits are one of them.

Some people consider them cheating, and believe that you should come up with your own ideas, create your own sounds, and program your own drum loops.

While I, and many others recommend that you do make an effort to be as original and creative as possible, there are particular products that can help you along the way. Whether it’s learning how to mix, arrange, or simply finding inspiration for when you’re suffering from the all too common problem of writer’s block, construction kits are the go-to tool.

In this post I’m going to share three reasons why I think construction kits are one of the most valuable production resources out there for producers of all skill levels, but especially newer producers. This is also written for those of you who think that using construction kits in any way, shape or form is cheating.

Reason #1 – Construction Kits Help You Practice

Whether it’s sound design, mixing, arrangement, or anything else – we all have our weak points.

While specialization is natural, that is, we’re inclined to do one thing more than the other. Building up your weaknesses is a surefire way to become a well-rounded, more creative producer. The art of music production is a holistic one, and often it can be a lack of knowledge or skill in one area that affects your creativity and workflow across the board.

In a perfect world, someone who starts out producing music would develop their skills evenly across the board. But as we all know, this doesn’t happen. We don’t get to the mixing stage because we never finish tracks, or we never get to the arrangement stage because we never get past the 8-bar loop. Making music is a messy process, and doesn’t develop each production discipline the same amount.

Construction kits are a way to bypass your strengths and get straight to what’s important. To practice arrangement, you’re typically going to compose a loop first, and by the time that’s done you’ve spent at least an hour. Using construction kits allow you to bypass the initial composition stage and get straight to practicing arrangement.

And the same goes with mixing. Typically, to mix a track you’d need to not only compose the music, but arrange it too. If you rarely get to the mixdown stage, then using construction kits will allow you to bypass the initial creative stages and get you to the point where you can practice what’s important, which in this case is mixing.

If you’re reading this and flaring up with anger, I understand. Doing this is not necessarily original, but who says you need to release the music? There’s something admirable in practicing for the sake of it, not worrying about where the end product will end up. It’s about focusing on your weaknesses so you can produce better music in the long run, not to release the next big hit.

Reason #2 – Construction Kits Help You Learn

Many great artists, entrepreneurs, and successful people in general go through a self-learning process of analyzing and modeling. Why? Because one of the best ways to learn is by studying works made by others.

As a producer, construction kits are one of the best resources for expanding your knowledge and intuition when it comes to composition and structuring elements.

Let’s take MIDI construction kits for example. If you pick apart 10 MIDI construction kits while asking yourself questions such as, "why is the melody shaped like that? What feeling do I get from it?” You’re going to learn something. I guarantee you.

Alternatively, if you’re studying audio construction kits, you’ll start to get a feeling of what elements go with what. This pluck tends to work better with this style of bass, and so on. It’s all about being critical, trying to get into the artists/creator’s mind, and understand why they did what they did.

You may surprise yourself and learn things that can’t be explained to you by a mentor or teacher. This process of self-learning is unique to each individual, and will ultimately cause you to think about your music more critically.

Reason #3 – Construction Kits Inspire

One of my favorite things about construction kits is that they’re kits. They’re a set of individual elements, meaning you don’t actually have to use the whole kit!

Maybe you like a drum loop in one kit, and a pluck sound in another. If you need a starting point for inspiration, there’s nothing wrong with taking a MIDI chord progression (or audio for that matter), and building a track around it.

If you’re worried about people calling you out for being unoriginal, realize that taking an element or two from a construction kit still requires you to arrange, add surrounding elements, and mix the track. It’s merely a starting point.

It’s akin to sampling in the sense that you’re taking something that already exists, and using it in your own original composition. Except there’s a key difference, you don’t have to worry about legalities and copyright, because most construction kits are royalty-free (it’s always good to double check this, however).

A note about MIDI construction kits

MIDI construction kits are difference in the sense that you’ve still got to design sounds, arrange the elements, and mix down what you’ve created. As such, I have no problem with people taking complete MIDI construction kits and using them. You shouldn’t either. If your goal is to get better at production as a whole, then learning to compose and create musical parts is essential, but if you’re looking produce great music and develop production skills, then it doesn’t really matter. Besides, MIDI construction kits can easily be modified and changed unlike audio kits.

Haven’t Got Any Construction Kits?

If you’ve read all the way up to this point and you’re pretty dead set on getting some construction kits, then here’s the point where I pitch some to you.

Here at Freshly Squeezed Samples we have a range of audio and MIDI construction kits that are produced to the highest standard of quality, making them the perfect educational and inspirational tool.

Trance MIDI Essentials Volume 1 & 2 (MIDI)

If you’re looking for high quality MIDI construction kits, then you’kk be hard pressed to find something better than the Trance MIDI Essentials series.

Both volumes feature over 200 MIDI construction kits, with each one containing multiple musical elements such as chord progressions, basslines, pluck melodies, and more.

Not a trance producer? These MIDI files can easily be applied to range of other genres, whether it’s chill-out music you want to create, electro or progressive house, you name it. Alternatively, you could check out…

Progressive House MIDI Essentials

If you feel more at home with the slower BPM genres such as progressive and electro house, then this collection of construction kits will be a great learning resource and a bank of endless inspiration.

Just like the Trance MIDI Essentials series, you’ll find a comprehensive collection of construction kits that each contain multiple musical elements.

Sunny Lax Studio Essentials

MIDI construction kits are great, but they don’t provide insight into the mixing and sound combination process that audio construction kits do.

The Sunny Lax Studio Essentials library isn’t purely a construction kit product, but does include them. The pack features 22 unique construction kits both in audio and MIDI form, so you can study which sounds have been used with which MIDI files and so on.

Free Construction Kit Packs?

Not everyone has the money to spare for these things. Fortunately we’ve got a range of free construction kit packs that you can get started with straight away:

Conclusion

Despite what many people say, construction kits are one of the best tools out there for producers. They encourage you to practice and focus on your weak points, they help you learn new concepts and techniques, and most importantly, they inspire you to make music.

How do you use construction kits? Leave a comment below with your answer.

Last Modified: 2014-09-19 21:50:26

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