How to judge to your own music 'honestly' ?
Ossicle
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#1
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #1
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Thread Starter
How to judge your own music 'honestly' ?

After working several hours on a track it's easy to lose your excitement and sight on it. It gets hard to finish it, especially the arrangement.

Another thing is that you are always somewhat biased when judiging your own productions. It's easy to believe your own track sounds better (or worse) than it would, if it you listened to it as someone else's track. It might take up to a year after I hear what my track 'really' sounds like. Often I'll never hear it.

How do you overcome these kind of obstacles and keep your good judgement? Are there some methods or tips, or is good self-judgement just something that some us have and some don't?
#2
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #2
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

There are always so many variables to being able to judge your own music some of these are simply tiredness related, being de-sensetized by being too close to a mix for too long and not being able to see the wood for the trees. Other issues can be what your initial aim and focus for the music is/was - is it meant to be stylistically authentic to fit into a genre etc.

The other big thing is your own level of experience and amount of time you've been writing with both success and failure ( and everything in between too ) - Learning what a good tune is, what a bad harmony is, what a balanced structure and a good arrangement are, how to create tension and release...and back to the old basics of trusting your gut and instinct and forgetting all of the above and letting your ear and hands find what feels right.....gut instinct for melody and chords always works for the bigger picture

I've learned that I can never really tell completely if a track of mine is working/mix sounding correct until the day after or at least a good six hours free of the studio but one thing I do trust is a gut reaction and excitement when things are taking shape and a real buzz when the track is working ...that simple indulgent need to want to hear that section again because it sounds great. ( that doesn't happen too often to me as I'm mainly writing music for other people and rarely does this give me a buzz )

Of course all of this is speculative and individual since anyone else listening may not feel the same.......unless your aiming for a particular style and sound aimed at a particular direction and audience.....

Beer.
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#3
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #3
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Barfunkel's Avatar
 

For me, working really fast helps. I complete tracks in an hour or two. I could waste 10 hours on a track, but it would make it just sound worse. Hearing the same thing for endless hours does something to my mind, it's just impossible to really concentrate for that long.

Naturally, making tracks that fast has it's downsides, mainly the simple and loopy nature of my music. But I'll rather have a raw sounding track that I like than some polished piece of turd.
#4
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #4
Gear addict
 

Slip your track in between a series of others in a playlist, and listen to the whole playlist in the way/context you would normally listen to music for pleasure. Reference, reference, reference. Single most important thing I've learnt so far.

Can't remember who, but I remember seeing a clip where someone recommended putting a record on and watching it turn on the deck while listening to your own track. Does it sound like the track is coming from the record ... could it convincingly be on that piece of rotating vinyl?
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#5
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barfunkel View Post
For me, working really fast helps. I complete tracks in an hour or two. I could waste 10 hours on a track, but it would make it just sound worse. Hearing the same thing for endless hours does something to my mind, it's just impossible to really concentrate for that long.

Naturally, making tracks that fast has it's downsides, mainly the simple and loopy nature of my music. But I'll rather have a raw sounding track that I like than some polished piece of turd.
I agree that if things are going smoothly and you don't listen to it over and over and become numb to it the better.

Sometimes if I am struggling with what to do with a track I put it aside all together and go back to it later.

The tracks that make me the most happiest are the ones that I did spend alot of time on, except I knew where I was going from the start.

It's a tricky road. I also think it depend on how creative you are. I used to be far more creative, and less jaded about music 10-15 years ago...and my music sounded like gold to me even if it wasn't. I had much better workflow on crappier equipment....I think that's called getting old.
#6
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #6
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Eloheim's Avatar
 

Yea I find as I'm making a track that's taking a while I often overly hate it (like you lose the 'funk' or the 'pocket' or whatever other 'pleasurable essence' that you enjoyed in the first place). In a normal situation a single note, played with appropriate timing, etc. can be all that's needed, but after hearing it a million times it can sound just dull.

One thing I do is almost PRETEND someone else is sitting there next to you. Imagine them listening to it for the first time. For some reason when I do this it's like I can feel my brain shift for a little bit into a different mode. It could be someone you respect; like if you value your uncle's opinion, imagine what he would be thinking and saying and how he would be responding to each part of the track. It's honestly a lot more intuitive then it sounds!

Long term though, actually seek the opinions of people you respect lol... Artists often have a dementia when it comes to viewing their own work.
#7
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #7
Gear addict
 

Don't spend too much time judging your creations. It is what it is. If you feel that a certain aspect could be improved, work on that point on the next tune.

I feel that as long as you successfully expressed whatever you wanted to express, the mechanics don't have to be perfect. It will never be perfect because there will always be something that could be improved. So no point in being so nit picky.

Sent from my Desire HD using Gearslutz.com
#8
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #8
Gear maniac
 

When bored with a track i leave it on my virtual shelf for some time. I ALWAYS make a mixdown, or just live recording of putting tracks on/off. Once in a while (usually when intoxicated late in a weekendnight) i revisit the recordings and then you feel more the overall groove.

For instance when working on it you were focussing hard on a bassline in a track, but when revisting you start to notice how brilliant the atmospherics are and 'remix' your track around these elements.
#9
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Sometimes they come together fast.

The ones that don't, I leave it alone and allow it to play in my head. May be for days, maybe months. I'll "hear" a progression that fits and work it in. I may put a chord change that leads to a different area that fits better.

Writer's block can be a pain to break. If all else fails I will ask for input from another musician.
#10
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #10
Gear Head
 
Skept3k's Avatar
 

For me when I'm working on a track after I completed a main part (hook,bass,synths) I will leave it, and if it still sounds good when I come back to it the next day, then I know it's good.

I love taking my time when I'm working on tracks. I like to polish every single aspect. Sometimes it can hurt me, I'll get too caught up in something small. Overall I think it helps my track a lot. I usually have at least 2-3 work in progress tracks that I switch between.

I don't like the idea of working fast, just to avoid getting bored of your own track...
#11
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #11
Banned
 

How to judge your own music honestly?

A single person making their own music will never be able to judge it honestly themselves. Many artists, musicians, writers who are worth their salt and are publicly honest discuss this phenomonon where their whole career they continually question whether or not their work is worth a damn. It's a part of being an artist and crafting ideas from nothing as their is no good way to validate them on our own. Everyone else is just lying to themselves/fans or are making cookie cutter music/art/books (nothing wrong with that) with an easy reference. Meaning "I know I make good music because it sounds like this popular person."

The best ways to judge your work is to do it outside yourself. Have a friend or collaborator you musically trust offer their opinion (the best way IMO) Or a friend who isn't musically talented. Or anonymous individuals on the Internet. If you can't do any of that then grow thicker skin.
#12
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #12
Gear nut
 

Lots of good ideas here. I find I get into the very minute details of particular sections at times, usually going over about a bazillion times and tweaking bits, sounds, or musical parts til presumably satisfied. Then I put it away for a few hours, days, weeks, and then go back to get a "fresh hear" of it. I find this helps get back to the initial inspiration/groove/idea of a track and see if it is still there. During the time away you forget those details that you worked on and can hear it once again as an average listener. Using this technique I find I generally am working on a handful of tracks simultaneously.
#13
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #13
Rocket Scientist
 
foldback's Avatar
Being Honest with yourself

It is hard to judge honestly when it's your own creation. I've learned not to try and perfect a song too soon. While some songs are born in 8 minutes others may take months and if I try to rush them then they are just messed up piles of notes with pauses inbetween.

I like to audition songs for people and be there in the room while they listen to a song for the first time. Something magical happens, I seem to hear it through their ears and I perceive it differently than when I only listened to it by myself.

If I'm working on a song idea that I know is good, I purposely take it slow. I work on it hard for a day, then I put it away for a week, then listen to it with someone else. This never fails to reveal new feelings for whether the song should be taken farther or left to die.

When you're really being honest about a song, one of the hardest decisions is to let it die and stop working on it. Not all ideas are worth your maximum effort.

If you can pull a song out and listen to it with someone a couple of weeks after you started it, and it still excites you and you hear the potential in it, those are the ones to pull out all the stops and try everything on it. Then, edit edit edit edit.

Hope this makes sense. Best of luck to you in your writing endeavors.
#14
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #14
Gear addict
 
sakamoto's Avatar
 

I judge my music honestly. That's why I never release my 300 songs

But next day with fresh ears works always for me..
Ossicle
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#15
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #15
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Ossicle's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Some VERY good thoughts here so far! Thanks for sharing.
#16
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #16
Gear nut
 

Honestly, as soon as you get to the point where you've listened to a track too much, give it month (at least) and come back to it. That sounds hard to do as I know the feeling of wanting to get something finished. But, I think it's good practice and something I've recently started to do.

My inspiration for doing this is by listening to initial recorded mixes of songs I worked on and eventually changed because I was bored or had just listened to them too much. 99% of the time, I liked the originals more than what I changed them too. 100% of the time, I didn't save the original mixes or recordings.

Also, by coming in with a really fresh set of ears, I immediately spotted things that need adjusted in the mix or where I needed to add or subtract an element.
#17
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
 

1. Don't work alone.

2. Play your track(s) for everyone ... Post them here...other forums.
Let the praise and abuse begin. If you are to chicken to do that you shouldn't be in the business.<g>

3. Start networking with the music community around you. Ask people over to help...listen...or simply move some faders around so you have a different perspective.

4. Nearly everyone has a 'song bar' they are trying to measure up to.
Being able to listen to who you consider the 'bar' and honestly critiquing
How your song is living up to it helps.

5. If a song is boring you...it's going to bore everyone else too.

6. Did I mention not working alone?<g>
#18
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #18
Gear Head
 

Hey Guys! Im new here, but I'm gonna intervene! Ive been reding posts from this forum for a whle, and just now i decided to become active part of it !
I agree with Barfunkel, the key is working really fast so you don't give time to your mind to perceive the mix as "stagnant". What happens for me is that if i listen to a mix over and over, i start losing the initial excitement . so i tend to become bored by the sound and inevitably start thinkin the song is "BAD". but it ain't bad, it's just that I've gotten bored of it! hope i explained myself...

Anyways, where do I go on here to get some feedback on my tracks? THANKS
Ossicle
Thread Starter
#19
21st February 2012
Old 21st February 2012
  #19
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Francesco Pinna View Post
Hey Guys! Im new here, but I'm gonna intervene! Ive been reding posts from this forum for a whle, and just now i decided to become active part of it !
I agree with Barfunkel, the key is working really fast so you don't give time to your mind to perceive the mix as "stagnant". What happens for me is that if i listen to a mix over and over, i start losing the initial excitement . so i tend to become bored by the sound and inevitably start thinkin the song is "BAD". but it ain't bad, it's just that I've gotten bored of it! hope i explained myself...

Anyways, where do I go on here to get some feedback on my tracks? THANKS
Welcome to the forum!

Post your (electronic music) here! - Gearslutz.com
#20
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #20
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Headz51230's Avatar
 

When my wife tells me it sux then I figure its actually pretty good.

Sent from my PG06100 using Gearslutz.com
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#21
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Headz51230 View Post
When my wife tells me it sux then I figure its actually pretty good.

Sent from my PG06100 using Gearslutz.com
#22
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #22
Banned
 

Looking back at my most popular work over the past 20 years, a couple of things I've noticed in relation to the above posts:

If a track you make really gets you excited, then usually it's GOOD. Bouncing ideas off other people is great as long as you don't let them take control of the whole project. My earliest work was my most popular with the general public, before I started listening to other people and labels telling me what I should be making to be successful. Be true to yourself.
#23
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #23
Try to listen to your songs somewhere other than in your studio in front of your computer.

When I listen to my songs while on the train, or just walking in public, it helps me get a different perspective. Not sure it's the best way to determine whether it's good or bad, but it helps create the illusion that you're listening through someone else's ears.
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#24
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #24
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audslu's Avatar
 

Well it's very difficult to judge all by yourself, i always have many tracks to work so i do a round robin and change track when i feel satisfied and have progressed nicely. The next day i may want to continue a certain track if i like it very much (which means it may actually worth something) or leave it for some days and work with other tracks, or call it a day, enjoy the silence and let my ears rest.

Sometimes people who listen to your music prefer the tracks that are loud and somewhat mastered and glued together more than the tracks in early stage. But it surely helps listening together with someone else as well as taking a long break and/or listening to other released tracks inbetween with similar character.
#25
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #25
Gear nut
 

Really easy answer to assessing your own music- at least for dance music. Mix it - do a DJ mix with it in the middle, see how it sits against other tracks, especially some you really like - playing each fully.

Anything wrong with its content or production tends to stick out like a sore thumb.

OTOH, hours hammering away at something and your brain will eventually get used to it and accept any old crap - even horribly mixed crap
#26
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #26
Lives for gear
 

I always found with the songs that I wrote, played live and sang - if I liked listening to them and like singing & playing them live - they were pretty good. If they packed the dance floor and had the energy - they were pretty good.

If I did not like listening to them as much as other music you like then they were shite.

In my case - about 20-25% really made the cut.

If your songs are rubbish you can:

1. Make them better.
2. Write new songs that are better.
3. Quit because most people do not have it.
4. Buy another analog because that almost always helps the situation. At least if your music is rubbish then the synths will sound good.

#27
22nd February 2012
Old 22nd February 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 

When I was in engineering school, we would have to play our songs one at a time after each other. Nobody didnt really have to tell me anything. I knew what I was lacking and strong at. That always gave me a different perspective.

Listening the next day or week is cool to get another perspective. If you dont have that much time, reference material works.
#28
25th February 2012
Old 25th February 2012
  #28
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Eloheim's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Papanate View Post
1. Don't work alone.

5. If a song is boring you...it's going to bore everyone else too.

6. Did I mention not working alone?<g>
Couldn't agree more with these.
#29
25th February 2012
Old 25th February 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 

I don't get the "don't work alone aspect".... this cannot be true for everyone. Some people have no choice but to work alone....like myself. If this was true, I'd never had made any music in my life. I've never made 1 song with anyone around. If there was someone around I prolly wouldn't want to be making music, I'd want to do something else. Music for me is my alone time.....
#30
25th February 2012
Old 25th February 2012
  #30
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Headz51230's Avatar
 

I'd prefer to have someone else around its just so much easier. Think about it DP without Alan Wilder, Skinny Puppy without DW Goettel, myself without my old band, sob..
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