As long as you’ve been in the music production world for a considerable amount of time. You’ve become aware and have probably heard of music project files.
So what is a music project file?
Music project files are files that consist of data pertaining to a music project. When broken down, they comprise of various audio files know as multi-track session files and DAW application files that are needed to load the project session.
The contents of a music project folder may vary according to the DAW you’re utilizing aswell as the kind of music project file you have.
Elements of a music project file
Music project files will usually consist of audio files in the format of Wave.
When you open up a DAW and record either vocals or instruments.
What essentially happens is that you create an audio file as you record. This is why you’ll notice that most audio interfaces are termed as analog to digital converters.
Essentially, your microphone captures the analog vocal signal or instrument signal as it is being performed and then the audio interface or internal Soundcard converts that analog signal into a readable digital file that your computer can process.
Hence you see the appearance of your recording in an audio track as a waveform.
Once the recording is done, the audio files will be saved to a location that you have already set. Which means that the next time you open your project file, the audio files will simply load from your hard drive.
Audio recordings are usually in the wave format, because it is the easiest to work with and pretty convenient as far as quality goes.
Please note some of these audio files maybe easily readable even by a simple wav player while some other sophisticated DAWs may not make audio counterparts to a project accessible outside the DAW.
Daw application files
Pretty much every Daw has it’s own application extension for its projects. For example, Cubase 5 has the file extension “.cpr” which is its application file that you can use to open up a session.
With pretty much every DAW, this is the case.
Those application files are necessary to open your projects in your DAW. Their main function is to save your work and contain all references to the used audio as well as information pertaining to effects and other settings applied within a session.
Types of music project files
Project files may pretty much differ and it’s always a good idea to know the different types so you can make and do your job much easier.
Session files or multi track session files comprise of audio files generated as a result of recording or any work done within a DAW.
They are primarily created in a specific folder set by the user to be accessed when need arises to open or load a project in a given DAW.
Stem files are basically recordings sourced from individual tracks. They are typically bounced out to be usable in any DAW.
They are usually exported in the wave file format and can be easily loaded in any DAW to be worked on.
You can think of the stems as the individual elements that make up a full musical project.
For example, a song may be composed of a kick, snare and vocal. The stems of this song would be the individual tracks of the kick, snare and vocal in the context of the whole song.
Which makes them easy to be loaded in any digital workstation.
Stems can be either exported out as wet which means they come with all processing performed prior to exporting them or they can be exported out as dry which means they are basically rendered out or exported with no effects applied on them.
Music project files are crucial to any session and serve a very specific function which is to provide the data needed to load a session.
There are different DAWs out there and your project files will be unique to your specific DAW.
These files are basically data stored to save your work in progress.