My biggest problem in music, which I can't solve for 10 years

Discussion in 'Education' started by glassybrick, Jan 22, 2023.

  1. Riddim Machine

    Riddim Machine Producer

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    For me the chord progression is the most important part of the process. When i have a solid progression on a certain instrument, piano, for example and it's an R&B/Jazzy style of progression, i think how the other instrumentists of the band will play around the "pianist". Thinking about frequency spectrum is the second step, because if the piano's chords are with their fundamentals at low mids, i try to find something for the high mids and maybe for the highs. It's less fatigant for the listener and a easier job for the mixer, and i like how the end result sounds. Very rarely i layer something in the same frequency range, i only do if i want to create a only one sound source with that layering (like serum, for example). For distinct melodies and functions, never.
     
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  2. lxfsn

    lxfsn Platinum Record

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    So in 10 years you've made between 100 to 200 songs? You still lack experience. I'd put deadlines on my future sketches. Somewhere around 3 days/song. No matter how unpolished and amateur it sounds, no matter how "cheesy", "weird", "crazy", don't be judgemental and end the project in 3 days the work on that song is off. If you also have arrangement issues, arrange the song before the deadline (according to your genre's standards). Go like this an entire year. You have the potential to churn 100+ sketches. This will force you to explore your sound library, find sounds, you will find clashing sounds but also alot of matching sounds (this activity will, in a way, rewire your brain). It will develop your knack to naturally pick what fits, in the future.

    Then, next year, continue skething with the same deadline (or even one day) and start picking your best songs and finish them. With finishing songs, the same thing: one week is more than enough for automation, mix, master. Move onto the next song - you need variety and quantity to practice your automation and mixing, and get better at it. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2023
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  3. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    Yep, that's a valid point, although if making little progress in those 10 years I'm guessing he would have probably done that several times already.

    One other thought I had since yesterday was actually watching a grandmaster playing chess with the clocks. It got me thinking. What if you @glassybrick were to give yourself 2 hours after writing the song, to arrange it. If you've got nowhere with say 30 minutes to go, chuck ANY instrument.. to see what works and what doesn't The more you do that within a time frame, the more you train your mind!

    Just a thought- maybe it'll work.


    Update:-

    10 or 20???????? I just saw that.. The most prolific writers don't write more than that!! (That was meant tongue in cheek, but 20 is nothing to sneeze at)
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
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  4. Crinklebumps

    Crinklebumps Rock Star

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    I recall watching a video on youtube from a guy who splits his time between sound design and composing. He will spend a day creating a template with synths (which he programs from scratch) and other sounds that work well together. This isn't quick, it takes many hours. He doesn't try to make any music during this process. This seems like a sensible way of working to me. I seem to recall he used the Push with Ableton.
     
  5. Mynock

    Mynock Audiosexual

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    This is more a lifetime thang, 'cos we never stop learning (or we should not stop learning)! :lmao:
     
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  6. fujiama

    fujiama Noisemaker

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  7. The Dude

    The Dude Rock Star

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    A song in a month makes 12 songs in a year...
    Are you a DJ or an EDM artist?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2023
  8. Glori

    Glori Noisemaker

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    This is the biggest question of all people in their life (the next situation). Not only in music, but in life as a whole and it cannot be solved in any way. If you spend your whole life trying to find the answer to this question, in the end (when you take your last breath) you will not find a reliable and completely correct answer.

    Whenever you could explain with the most precise details what is going to happen to you in 5 minutes and what your situation would be, then you can look for the answer to this question, but at the moment there is no such possibility.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 24, 2023
  9. Sinus Well

    Sinus Well Audiosexual

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    If you get stuck, take a break. Think about what's missing in the frequency spectrum and musical function, and when you've found your answer, continue working on the song.
     
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  10. lxfsn

    lxfsn Platinum Record

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    PS. I just noticed that what you wrote may be sarcasm. It probably is. What comes next still holds, just the quote is wrong :)

    Quincy Jones picked from around 400 songs, the final songs for Michel Jackson's album. Generally people write A LOT. Now, they write smart. A sketch is all that's needed to make a song. The production comes later. Learning how to (not even prototype, because that assumes a working product) PREtotype a song (you work on the bare minimum) is a skill.

    The hard way, 20 songs a year is hard. The smart way, 100 songs a year is easy. By the way, this is a real "hack" that rarely get talked about and "the pros don't want you to know". But that is just because no one wants to sell a course or tutorial which requires literal hard work
     
  11. Benno de Bruin

    Benno de Bruin Kapellmeister

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    At times i also have this urge to add more sounds/timbres/instruments, because i'm afraid that it's not enough yet, afraid that the track (song) isn't strong enough. Most of the time however, it's not needed at all. "Less is more" might be a "hackneyed phrase" but often so true.

    As several people here stated, oftentimes the composition is more important than the elements used or supposed lack of elements. I'll try to describe my workflow below, it might give you some pointers.

    What works for me, in either Cubase or Live (or any DAW): i always start with looping 8 to 16 bar tracks and keep on adding tracks/elements and muting/solo'ing tracks that might or might not fit together, to get an idea of what works and what doesn't. Whether it's techno/house/electro/hiphop or wave/synthwave/pop.

    Sometimes i listen to Spotify/Youtube or a record and get inspired, other times i'm trying out some presets of a new synth i just got from some sister site, or some sample library, drumcomputer or whatever, which inspires me to make a pattern/theme. This can be either the start of a new track (song) or an addition to someting i'm working on. I also stopped going through thousands of presets to get just that right sound for that certain element. I now listen to some sound, or make one, and then get inspired to play something with it. Huge time saver.

    I'm now at a point where i can quickly (somewhat quicker than in the past) decide if there are enough elements, that can also be complementary (meaning: are all the drum elements there, is the bassline OK, do i have strings/spheres/pads, arpeggios, stabs, guitars, vocals, piano?). This "gathering" phase usually takes a day.

    Then i begin arranging/mixing, and try to refrain from mastering at the same time. As i've already practised with the elements, i have some understanding of what works and what doesn't. I always try to make a base arrangement on the fly, the first time i lay out all the elements. For instance, i start with a kick and bass for 8 bars, and while it's playing i try to imagine what comes next, and paste it real time to keep flowing until the end.

    After that i start fine tuning, checking if elements are not too much in the same frequency spectrum, and if so, how i can fix that in the mix. I keep on arranging (which most of the time means deleting elements) until i'm satisfied. "Do i need these two arpeggios? Of course not, find the courage to delete the weakest one." This arranging phase usually takes a day or two.

    I let it rest for a day or two, and then start finetuning the arrangement (mostly throwing away even more elements) and mix, while mastering, this usually takes a few hours. So satisfying to try to make the mix as best as i can and after that adding my mastering chain to it! Then i check the master on headphones, earpods, NF monitors, tv, Bluetooth speaker, PA system at venues etc and finetune the master. Sometimes i adjust the master after a few more days, and then i decide the track (song) is finished.

    The whole process usually takes five days, so i make an average 60 to 70 tracks per year.

    Are they all hits? Of course not, if they all were, there wouldn't be any need for sister sites. And here comes the hard part: having to admit that the mayority of my tracks aren't good enough. But admitting that is also a huge time saver: you can waste your entire life trying to make weak tracks work. All the tracks that didn't make it, are on a private YouTube playlist so i have access to them from anywhere, always. Sometimes i recycle certain elements from a disapproved track into a new track and delete it from the Youtube playlist. That deleted song is done, over with, gone, never look back.

    This way i end up with an average of one track per month that i approve of, five to six EP's per year.
     
  12. trz303

    trz303 Kapellmeister

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    If nothing comes intuitively, then dont use anything next. Just arrange your song, place some fx, mix it and leave it alone.
    In a few days/week you could find a way to finish it, or leave it as a definitive version.

    Some minimalism in songs is better than "a few more layers".
     
  13. Benno de Bruin

    Benno de Bruin Kapellmeister

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    Interesting take, but maybe cannot be applied to all music genres. I'd think this works for more traditional music, or rock/pop, not so much for certain electronic music. A century ago several big publishers had composers on the payroll, that would sit behind a piano all day and write a song: melody, chords, perhaps some lyrics. They were probably obliged to write a song per day, which was then published, on sheet music.
     
  14. lxfsn

    lxfsn Platinum Record

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    especially works for electronic music once you have your special hook the song is basically done. the rest is genre-speciffic fillers. I thing the biggest issues is people not realizing that production is basically photoshop for music and they overdo the initial phase of the song because they lack experience.

    Experience gives us vision. And by vision I don't refer to some artsy definition of a philosophical vision. By vision I refer to the ability to envision how your song would be after the production phase, when the song is still a sketch. If you have a 8-bar loop and the hook is there and the needed groove is there, you must be able to already see the entire arrangement and envision the produced song. That only comes with experience.

    In the last decade, the entry bar was lowered to the point anyone feels entitled to make music straight from the get go. I agree, anyone can make music. But without mentorship (or internship) people found very inefficient methods of making music. You could very well disagree with me and I don't really have a way to prove you wrong (because it requires me to convince you to work hard and see for yourself lol), but knowing the layers of producing a song: 4-8-16bar hook/chorus > sketch arrangement > production + additionnal sound design > mastering and having the ability to envision the final stage from the first loop saves A LOT of time. That leaves me open to produce my ideas in multiple genres. At the production stage the same initial loop can become pop, nudisco, house, deep house, even melodic techno. Also discarding a shitty idea hapens way faster when discardng a sketch and not a mix I've worked for a month only to find out it sucks.

    Overall, there is a lot of room to work harder and smarter. So far I've seen people in majority working "just" harder.
     
  15. Benno de Bruin

    Benno de Bruin Kapellmeister

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    @lxfsn
    My point about certain electronic music is, that there might be no sketch at all, or not needed. Most of my producer friends that are still active, are into modular synths, sounddesign and scoring these days. Often without any sketch, as you insist is needed for all types of music, which is not so IMHO. And sometimes a sketch is needed, or handy, agree, but not always.

    i somehow get your point, and i agree that at times one can have a strong hook which carries the whole song, but that's not the only way to create a good song. Also strong hooks are not some kind of magic, but rather something one can develop, but yes you need experience. Sometimes a nice beat or some simple chords can inspire enough to finish a decent track. A basic melody can become total garbage or brilliant, depending on who works with it. And hooks can also evolve.

    Buti think we both agree that one cannot spend ages on a single track, and if TS asks for advice, this is an important one. As i wrote above, it takes experience and courage to dismiss something you made when it isn't good enough. And that saves lots of time if you manage to do so.
     
  16. Sylenth.Will.Fall

    Sylenth.Will.Fall Audiosexual

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    Sarcasm? I deem it more of a friendly quip.
     
  17. Trurl

    Trurl Audiosexual

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    Some people get off on the process of thinking about making music more than actually doing it.
     
  18. Riddim Machine

    Riddim Machine Producer

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    Let Dan have a talk with you :)
     
  19. BaSsDuDe

    BaSsDuDe Audiosexual

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    @glassybrick - Some of the advice here is great - The only thing I can add of any use is to identify the existing sounds.
    As an example... If you have a lot of pads, adding another pad will? Potentially muddy it up unless some smart EQ'ing is added.
    None of this is a one-size-fits all as it will always be on a tune-by-tune basis.
    By default without the technical aspects which have been covered briefly in this thread already - pick an opposite - If you have all plucky, look for longer sounds and vice-versa... be it mallets, synths, real instruments... FX.....whatever your preference is. Work out which instrument or instruments are pivotal in getting what you wish to do/say in your tune. Everything else then becomes secondary (or tertiary).This stated, a secondary can become a primary in a chorus or bridge...etc.etc..etc only you know what the end goal is and who makes those decisions accordingly.

    This is by no means a rule of thumb, but one thing I definitely know for sure, is that it is the end goal you envision that is important. I hope this helps a little, because we all have highs and lows and if you think about it, if it it was in the middle, we'd be flatlining, so it's normal, especially for creative people. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2023
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