When do you know you are on to something?
Old 27th December 2012
  #1
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When do you know you are on to something?

My track ideas come from putting down 8 basic sounds into an 8 bar loop and if I can take this 8 bar loop beyond 2 minutes and it still sounds interesting to the ear and not dull and boring then its a keeper!

Many never make it this far but find this method works well for me, not wasting time on a turd you know. We have all been there-waste a week or two on a track only to find it goes no where.

I will have several of these track ideas in what I call projects. I keep coming back to them over the days and weeks to see if I still like what I hear, my elimination process or the like.

When do you know you are on to something? do you have a simple method which works for you?
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Old 27th December 2012
  #2
Gear maniac
 

dude from The Roots said in an interview he leaves an idea going on his MPC for, like, 5 hours or something ridiculous, while he potters around the house. Sounds like overkill, but seems to work for him IYKWIM....
Old 27th December 2012
  #3
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Originally Posted by steve_sax View Post
dude from The Roots said in an interview he leaves an idea going on his MPC for, like, 5 hours or something ridiculous, while he potters around the house. Sounds like overkill, but seems to work for him IYKWIM....
5 hours wow.
I mean if it works why not but 5 hours that would do my head in.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #4
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When it makes me grin.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #5
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I swear to God, ya know when ya know, ya know?

The enemy of progress is listening fatigue (and I'm VERY guilty of this)... I'll become enamored with some sections and ideas, listen over and over, but then burn out and not finish.

Push ahead.

Even if you don't know where it's going (at least that's my personal goal).

-a
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Old 27th December 2012
  #6
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I put it aside for a week or more, then come back to it. If it still sounds good, then it's worth persuing.

It also helps to get someone else to listen to it.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #7
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I sometimes come back to stuff after months and months (as I'm sure many do) and think, "WOW, I've got something there!". I think that's a good sign.

If, after all that time I think "Meh", it's probably best binned.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #8
You know pretty much immediately.

Push ahead, get 80-90% of the arrangement down as fast as possible, if you still like it the next day and next week then its worth something. My best tracks write themselves to a large degree, it flows as they say. If your struggling and not getting anywhere after a few sittings with a track move on.

It helps to have some proper dj friends who can give you honest feedback also.


.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #9
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I usually work in the pattern sequencer of my Motif. Of course, a pattern on a Motif might as well be a song because it can be up to 256 bars long

Mainly I use 16 or 32 bar loops and jam on melodic ideas or chord progressions, then try chaining the patterns together to approximate an arrangement. As soon as I hit a wall or lose interest, I save my work and leave it alone for a while.

I seldom have more than 4 tracks going in the patterns...some chords, a melody instrument, some drums, a bass line.

Other than volume balancing and maybe some panning, I don't "mix" at all during this process.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #10
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andrews i hear you on listening burnout... falling in love with a little snippet/cell of my music is the worst enemy of completing the piece and doing something really awesome. i try to avoid it,, and push forward as much as i can, while im still in the magic moment... i deal with subtleties, and production/arrangement tricks later...

on first sign of fatique i leave it alone, and revisit next day or so... usually i am pleasantly suprised, and can hear right away what elements need more attention, what else can i put in etc..


i've rarely had good results working on something forever...postponing decisions.. that usually meant im without a fresh idea or its nothing special anyway. well, unless it was a longer orchestral or chamber piece ... this is different way of working.. continous.. where you have surges but also can slowly develop your concept and build brick by brick...


PS when i decide to stay home on friday night, when everyone is calling me, because i just have to see where this thing is going,, and i dont go to sleep till early birdies, its a good sign im onto something.
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Old 27th December 2012
  #11
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
I swear to God, ya know when ya know, ya know?

The enemy of progress is listening fatigue (and I'm VERY guilty of this)... I'll become enamored with some sections and ideas, listen over and over, but then burn out and not finish.

Push ahead.

Even if you don't know where it's going (at least that's my personal goal).

-a
And thats keeping it real!
Old 27th December 2012
  #12
Gear nut
 

I always hear that listening fatigue is bad and will cause you to burn out on a tune. But I haven't really found that to be the case for me. I do know that if I listen to it over and over then it feels less special and exciting than when I first made & listened to it...but that only seems natural. As long as I trust myself that what I'm hearing is something that sounded good to me when it was fresh, I know not to mess it up.

I generally know that I'm on to something when I want to keep working on it :P If I don't like it, I'd toss it, right? So on the listening fatigue front, I kind of go the opposite track. I can't *stand* to be "loop-monging" where I'm sitting at my sequencer and listening to the loop over and over trying to figure out what to do. But I can totally put it into loop mode and step away from it...take a shower, clean the house, work out, whatever. Sometimes I'll hop in the shower and listen to it on loop, and after 10 minutes or so a new part pops into my head.

The other thing is, I like to bounce stuff and listen on my iPod while I go for a walk. I'm hearing it in a bunch of different contexts, whether I'm visually stimulated, thinking about different things, or hear new sounds from the real world interacting with my music (I love listening on the subway because it often generates nice drone effects that can compliment the music).

I (unsurprisingly) like music that invokes an emotional response and/or makes me want to dance. So I know that I'm on to something when I want to get up out of my chair and dance around the room, or feel a buzz, or whatever.

For me it's important to separate the creative element from the downtime / listening element. So even if something makes me want to dance, I don't want to spend too much time dancing around my room while it's looping...the dancing is just to confirm that it's got a vibe. I find there's something special in trying to hold out for a while, actually finishing the tune before I get my musical enjoyment from it. So here it's important to validate the vibe and get back to work. And I don't want to keep looping it because that's boring and doesn't feel very creative. But then at some point I want to step away and hear it in different contexts and let my mind come up with new ideas...at which point I find that listening to it on loop is just what I need, and I don't feel fatigued by it.
Old 27th December 2012
  #13
Gear addict
 

If I ever was then I didn't notice!

Seriously though, at least when it comes to the loopy dancey stuff I find that what might make me run about like a maniac in the evening will feel and sound more like a cardboard box being rained on in the morning, so I like to make something and leave it and then come back after a while and see if it still works. This can lead to Infinite Tweak Syndrome, but it also saves me putting the more embarrassing stuff on Soundcloud...
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Old 27th December 2012
  #14
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synthguy's Avatar
 

Pleasure. And I live by this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by clusterchord View Post
andrews i hear you on listening burnout... falling in love with a little snippet/cell of my music is the worst enemy of completing the piece and doing something really awesome. i try to avoid it,, and push forward as much as i can, while im still in the magic moment... i deal with subtleties, and production/arrangement tricks later...

on first sign of fatique i leave it alone, and revisit next day or so... usually i am pleasantly suprised, and can hear right away what elements need more attention, what else can i put in etc..
I'm a huge advocate of not overlistening. Like at any stage. I intentionally keep it limited, both because the music stays fresh that way, and as everyone has said, coming back to it later with fresh ears, you can hear mistakes and shortcomings better. If I drop it and it sticks in my head, I'll kill it quickly by listening to someone else's music, CDs, mp3s, youtubes, anything.

I let others listen to mostly/finished pieces, and I'll accept advice, but if I love it and someone else doesn't, I overrule.
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Old 28th December 2012
  #15
Gear addict
 

I'm a massive over listener, deffo stops me from finishing stuff

some great advice here!
Old 28th December 2012
  #16
Ged
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msl View Post
You know pretty much immediately.

Push ahead, get 80-90% of the arrangement down as fast as possible, if you still like it the next day and next week then its worth something. My best tracks write themselves to a large degree, it flows as they say. If your struggling and not getting anywhere after a few sittings with a track move on.

It helps to have some proper dj friends who can give you honest feedback also.


.
the above, yes you really DO know....it should make you smile or get up and boogie if it's good
Old 28th December 2012
  #17
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

Steve Reich was a pioneer here, and others like Phillip Glass took it even further.

Not sure it exactly matches the parameters mentioned by the OP in his first post, but pretty sure it was close.
Old 28th December 2012
  #18
I usually know when I listen to something in my car the next day and find myself air drumming on the steering wheel.
Old 28th December 2012
  #19
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

My biggest radio song was something I never thought people would like. You never know about the public's perception when you're too burred in idealism.
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Old 28th December 2012
  #20
Gear nut
 

These days i work with hardware. Part of what i use has no memories. I just start working on something then work on it every time i make music. Usually after a week or two, it's taking shape. If it gets there, it's usually decent and ends up recorded in the computer once i feel adding more stuff to it would ruin it.
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Old 28th December 2012
  #21
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Diametro's Avatar
 

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE ONTO SOMETHING?

you aren't posting on Gearslutz ...
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Old 28th December 2012
  #22
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MrTechno's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Allot of good replies here.

I find after 3 to 4 hours I cannot go back to the same track idea, it needs to sit for a little while. It is amazing what you can later hear once you have had a break, sometimes it sounds even better then the first time around, and sometimes I listen to it and you just know it needs to be scraped.

I do like the idea of working fast though and not worrying about the silly things.
Nothing is worse for me then when I get into these moods......
Fuss over a kick for half a day! Frankly I think it can hurt creativity when you worry about things like that, but the irony is if the kick is not right I can't work on the tune for to long either.
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Old 28th December 2012
  #23
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its all about the kick?
Old 28th December 2012
  #24
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Well, these days, kick is an essential part of the sound, from hip-hop even into ambient techno. I'm hoping the loudness warz come to a truce someday soon, because I really don't like how overloud music is full of wheezing because of the kick. And a lot of the new stuff is. So yeah, these guys will fuss with kick samples and compression and all kinds of things because it's as big a part of the sound as anything.
Old 28th December 2012
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTechno View Post
When do you know you are on to something? do you have a simple method which works for you?
I believe I'm on something great every time I pass 8 bars. Unfortunately I'm not. But my best songs (according to myself and listeners) has all come up "by themself" in the moment of inspiration.
Old 28th December 2012
  #26
Gear Head
 

true that sometimes i would start with an initial idea that toally disappears on a later mix. also sometimes i have staked up a few elements which sound boring, ill leave the track and relisten after some days. I always compare the tracks to similar ones produced in that genre, over headphones and speakers, the question which obviously we cannot be tough when it comes to things of which we like, but we actually don't need. so ask yourself "do i need that element?" is it helping making the mix better? Sometimes inspiratione doesn't strike and its a nightmare to deal with stuff. So it is recommended to get back to a so called project with fresh inputs and ideas, make a backup copy of the old one and start cranking up, anything goes.
Old 28th December 2012
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthguy View Post
Well, these days, kick is an essential part of the sound, from hip-hop even into ambient techno. I'm hoping the loudness warz come to a truce someday soon, because I really don't like how overloud music is full of wheezing because of the kick. And a lot of the new stuff is. So yeah, these guys will fuss with kick samples and compression and all kinds of things because it's as big a part of the sound as anything.
Yeah it has been like that for a while.
I thought for a moment there the loudness warz where over and all of a sudden they are back.

My friend I cannot tell you how silly the kick thing can get. Sometimes I manage to get it right the first time, however often this is not the case and I do my own head in. How many drum machines and samples do you need for 1 damn kick lol
It is not surprising though the kick playing a major role in electronic style music after all we are not making folk music or country here, not that i am saying those genres are all bad.

@Mononym it is indeed all about the Kick shame though it can take so damn long to get it right but when you do it is so damn good.

@Analog Prophet, what you say has allot of truth to it. It is like the music gods from heaven come down when you finish one of these tracks. Like the other guy on here said it is like the song creates itself so to speak.
I have not had this happen to me for a while though, looking forward to those moments again some time soon.
Old 28th December 2012
  #28
Gear addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuckoo.old View Post
Steve Reich was a pioneer here, and others like Phillip Glass took it even further.

Not sure it exactly matches the parameters mentioned by the OP in his first post, but pretty sure it was close.
Do you know where I could find out more about their techniques / mantra regarding this please?
Old 28th December 2012
  #29
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diametro View Post
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE ONTO SOMETHING?

you aren't posting on Gearslutz ...


Truth (And conversely, I know when I'm procrastinating when I'm here, uh, like... now )

-a
Old 29th December 2012
  #30
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In all seriousness, though ...

I usually go through stages with my tracks ...

First there's the excitement of getting the bones recorded (which better be damn good and workable on their own imo and usually follows a lengthy period of composition/practice) ...

Then there's the joy of experimentation and adding decoration to the bones and organs ...

Then a lull of excitement when somehow the experimentation goes too far or parts start to lose their power/impact because of "too many notes," "too many frequencies" or some such phenomenon ...

That's when i realize I've got to pull it together and finish the track ... (There's only so much that can go on in one piece before it becomes a mess or a gaudy shadow of its former lean, powerful self) ...

Then I'm happy again or relieved to be out of that soup ...

Making a track is like building a body then dressing it ... (Much can go awry during that process ... )
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