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why do i keep writing 8 bar loops - oh, i see why. Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 4th September 2011
  #31
Gear Addict
 

the whisper is the bird

Beermaster and you are honing in on the central issue here. If you are unable to push out of the loop, mentally, then your music will stay there too. And the longer you are stuck there, the harder it will be to listen for the instinct within to whisper what comes next. The whisper will be gone, killed off by the habit of expectation that the next sound that 'feels right" is the beginning of the loop.

And if your tools add to this problem by causing you to view the song as an 8 or 16 bar sequence, I would highly recommend moving to a linear sequencer.

I do claim that this is a universal truth about composition, and it is true for me and for several composers I have discussed it with, although I acknowledge the absurdity of my confidence: one of the keys to great writing is to learn to listen to the internal pull to go one musical direction over another. It is not something I can describe to somebody who doesn't have it. It is a function of all the music you have ever listened to in your life, filtered by your personal sense of taste, + something mystical. A good musical idea should take off on its own after a few notes, and composers need to know how to balance two contradictory necessities: to follow this bird as it flies while controlling it without forcing it (thereby killing it) into the confines you have for the work. And it is important to have confines, by the way, although that is a completely different subject to discuss.

How to ensure your musical muse takes you on the ride you need versus something rambling and uncommercial that other people are not likely to resonate with is a fascinating subject, and lies at the heart of this problem.

I find it is helpful to work out the structure before waking the bird. Then, I find the first kernals of an idea and only then, the bird emerges, then flies within the confines I have set. And if I find that the bird is fighting the structure I trust it and think about how the structure must be wrong and how to fix it. But if you wake your bird without a world for it to populate, then taming it and keeping it on task will be tough, especially if you don't have a well-developed habit of building highly disciplined, structured works.

To recap, build the world of the song first, as the Bible describes, first creating all the rocks and oceans, etc. . . Only then create in your own image and give your creation dominion over all things. Summon the bird, and let it populate the world.

If you create an 8 bar world for your bird, that is all it will populate.

If your tools limit you to 8 and 16 bar worlds, or push you in that direction, they are fighting against you and should be cast off.

I apologize for the weird and mystical tone of the post -- it is all metaphor for something difficult to describe.
Old 4th September 2011
  #32
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sftd's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAlchemist View Post
Beermaster and you are honing in on the central issue here. If you are unable to push out of the loop, mentally, then your music will stay there too. And the longer you are stuck there, the harder it will be to listen for the instinct within to whisper what comes next. The whisper will be gone, killed off by the habit of expectation that the next sound that 'feels right" is the beginning of the loop.

And if your tools add to this problem by causing you to view the song as an 8 or 16 bar sequence, I would highly recommend moving to a linear sequencer.

I do claim that this is a universal truth about composition, and it is true for me and for several composers I have discussed it with, although I acknowledge the absurdity of my confidence: one of the keys to great writing is to learn to listen to the internal pull to go one musical direction over another. It is not something I can describe to somebody who doesn't have it. It is a function of all the music you have ever listened to in your life, filtered by your personal sense of taste, + something mystical. A good musical idea should take off on its own after a few notes, and composers need to know how to balance two contradictory necessities: to follow this bird as it flies while controlling it without forcing it (thereby killing it) into the confines you have for the work. And it is important to have confines, by the way, although that is a completely different subject to discuss.

How to ensure your musical muse takes you on the ride you need versus something rambling and uncommercial that other people are not likely to resonate with is a fascinating subject, and lies at the heart of this problem.

I find it is helpful to work out the structure before waking the bird. Then, I find the first kernals of an idea and only then, the bird emerges, then flies within the confines I have set. And if I find that the bird is fighting the structure I trust it and think about how the structure must be wrong and how to fix it. But if you wake your bird without a world for it to populate, then taming it and keeping it on task will be tough, especially if you don't have a well-developed habit of building highly disciplined, structured works.

To recap, build the world of the song first, as the Bible describes, first creating all the rocks and oceans, etc. . . Only then create in your own image and give your creation dominion over all things. Summon the bird, and let it populate the world.

If you create an 8 bar world for your bird, that is all it will populate.

If your tools limit you to 8 and 16 bar worlds, or push you in that direction, they are fighting against you and should be cast off.

I apologize for the weird and mystical tone of the post -- it is all metaphor for something difficult to describe.
Amazing post and a view that I share nearly in its entirety.
Old 4th September 2011
  #33
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Blinky, what sequencer do you use? Anything like Cubase lets you do loopy stuff and linear. I view it as two extremes: 1. loopy stuff, sequenced traditionally on hardware with the emphasis on live jam/arrangement (see livepa.org :: Index). 2. Finely crafted/cobbled together on a computer sequencer with every last bit of expression automated (some people don't even play the notes in). The ideal for me is a bit of both, which is probably what Ableton aims for.
Old 4th September 2011
  #34
I work in a similar fashion as you do, building a loop up in my MPC 4000. It typically starts with a 2 bar loop, then expand that to 4 bar loop, finally expand that to up to 8 or 16 bar loop. I start turning up the resolution until it's off to get a more random feel and depending on whats on the track.

I typically then use the pad mutes to toy around with the components of the song. Along the way end up programing the key components like buildup's, breaks, chorus and program some random changes in the patterns etc.. I then work on realtime performance controls, EQ, effects, track spacing etc.

I then just record each track into Protools and recreate and expand my structure using automation, panning and removing audio clips. I further adjust the song structure and record live keyparts to suite the track. Then work on adjusting the mix.

It's a sort of between what you do now and what SonicAlchemist had recommended.
Old 4th September 2011
  #35
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gsilbers's Avatar
 

another tip:

bring in a commercial song you like thats the same genre as yours.

copy the structure. use markers on your DAW.

repeat with other songs until you figure out what u like and not.

check how the arragement evolves, whats happenening in the theory side, production side etc.

same as learning anything in music, you always start by copying and practicing , be it twinkle little star or green days' 4 chord stuff on guitar etc...
arrangement is no different. after a while u automatically pick it up, master your own, use advance techniques from more experience producers etc.
Old 4th September 2011
  #36
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Angle:

Get a desk (you have one already, don't you blinky?). Make your endless running loop. Make it with quite a few parts running. Split it up the desk. Now dub out live takes with mutes and fx and filters on the fly to 2 tracks. Arrange into finished track shape/length. Use as stereo 'backing track' to add to whatever you need to. No shifting legos around, losing the vibe.
Old 4th September 2011
  #37
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There is something missing from this discussion.

The context in which you (one) wishes your music to be listened to in!

So there have been a few well thought out (on the surface of it) long posts here extolling the virtues of extending your arrangement out before getting too bogged down in the details.....nice idea, but if you want to create music for a club environment this could be a completely arse about tit way of approaching your musical composition! For example take a listen to a supposed techno classic 'the bells' by jeff mills....like it or loathe it there is no way that that was created by him mapping out the composition beforehand, he got his groove on first and that involved him looping up his machines and shifting elements gradually, tweaking sounds, experimenting with effects etc.......I don't know for sure but I am pretty sure the top elements and the structure (such as it is) came later and last.

Its likely that if you take the 'map it out' route you may miss altogether the inspiration that can come from a super tight, syncopated, 'locked' groove. But if that kind of thing is not your cup of tea.....and you prefer to listen to and make music that is more song structure based, then get mapping! its a good idea.

Neither approach need preclude the other, either in the context of one song/composition or in the larger context of 'your approach' to making music.

It also should go without saying that there are many other 'ways in' to composing/making music apart from these two approaches.
Old 4th September 2011
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Angle:

Get a desk (you have one already, don't you blinky?). Make your endless running loop. Make it with quite a few parts running. Split it up the desk. Now dub out live takes with mutes and fx and filters on the fly to 2 tracks. Arrange into finished track shape/length. Use as stereo 'backing track' to add to whatever you need to. No shifting legos around, losing the vibe.

Tried and tested!! and it works. Many great dance tracks have been made this way. An alternative method could be multitracking that live 'mute' performance to allow for future mix adjustments.
Old 4th September 2011
  #39
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by Karloff70 View Post
Angle:

Get a desk (you have one already, don't you blinky?). Make your endless running loop. Make it with quite a few parts running. Split it up the desk. Now dub out live takes with mutes and fx and filters on the fly to 2 tracks. Arrange into finished track shape/length. Use as stereo 'backing track' to add to whatever you need to. No shifting legos around, losing the vibe.
I almost work this way myself. I will program all my patterns and sequences beforehand (usually takes a few hours) and then run everything through my desk and record it all at once, making adjustments to EQ, effects etc etc to the DAW, once finished, i go back and edit out the parts i dont need in the track. And then master the track.

Of course i will do the odd test run just to fine tune things here and there, before hitting record. Personally for me, recording an entire track in one take is more gratifying than multitracking which becomes boring after a while.
Old 4th September 2011
  #40
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sftd's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Syn303 View Post
I almost work this way myself. I will program all my patterns and sequences beforehand (usually takes a few hours) and then run everything through my desk and record it all at once, making adjustments to EQ, effects etc etc to the DAW, once finished, i go back and edit out the parts i dont need in the track. And then master the track.

Of course i will do the odd test run just to fine tune things here and there, before hitting record. Personally for me, recording an entire track in one take is more gratifying than multitracking which becomes boring after a while.
Multitracking boring?!

You are a madman!!

(Just being goofy, that was not meant as an insult!)

As a child I use to make alllllll these cassette recordings. I made little radio shows, little collage songs, all kinds of silly stuff. I (even though my early childhood was in the 90s) always dreamed back then of being able to record multiple parts without either having to erase what I had already done or use multiple cassette recorders as I did when I got a bit older.

Unlike many people however I experienced my first taste of that (multitracking) on the computer and not via a 4-track tape recorder or anything of that nature.

And when I did finally experience it?

Game over! I was in love for life!



Sent from my PC36100 using Gearslutz.com App
Old 4th September 2011
  #41
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sftd's Avatar
 

Double post!
Old 5th September 2011
  #42
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gsilbers View Post
another tip:

bring in a commercial song you like thats the same genre as yours.

copy the structure. use markers on your DAW.

repeat with other songs until you figure out what u like and not.

check how the arragement evolves, whats happenening in the theory side, production side etc.

same as learning anything in music, you always start by copying and practicing , be it twinkle little star or green days' 4 chord stuff on guitar etc...
arrangement is no different. after a while u automatically pick it up, master your own, use advance techniques from more experience producers etc.
I completely agree
Old 5th September 2011
  #43
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAlchemist View Post
Beermaster and you are honing in on the central issue here. If you are unable to push out of the loop, mentally, then your music will stay there too. And the longer you are stuck there, the harder it will be to listen for the instinct within to whisper what comes next. The whisper will be gone, killed off by the habit of expectation that the next sound that 'feels right" is the beginning of the loop.

And if your tools add to this problem by causing you to view the song as an 8 or 16 bar sequence, I would highly recommend moving to a linear sequencer.

I do claim that this is a universal truth about composition, and it is true for me and for several composers I have discussed it with, although I acknowledge the absurdity of my confidence: one of the keys to great writing is to learn to listen to the internal pull to go one musical direction over another. It is not something I can describe to somebody who doesn't have it. It is a function of all the music you have ever listened to in your life, filtered by your personal sense of taste, + something mystical. A good musical idea should take off on its own after a few notes, and composers need to know how to balance two contradictory necessities: to follow this bird as it flies while controlling it without forcing it (thereby killing it) into the confines you have for the work. And it is important to have confines, by the way, although that is a completely different subject to discuss.

How to ensure your musical muse takes you on the ride you need versus something rambling and uncommercial that other people are not likely to resonate with is a fascinating subject, and lies at the heart of this problem.

I find it is helpful to work out the structure before waking the bird. Then, I find the first kernals of an idea and only then, the bird emerges, then flies within the confines I have set. And if I find that the bird is fighting the structure I trust it and think about how the structure must be wrong and how to fix it. But if you wake your bird without a world for it to populate, then taming it and keeping it on task will be tough, especially if you don't have a well-developed habit of building highly disciplined, structured works.

To recap, build the world of the song first, as the Bible describes, first creating all the rocks and oceans, etc. . . Only then create in your own image and give your creation dominion over all things. Summon the bird, and let it populate the world.

If you create an 8 bar world for your bird, that is all it will populate.

If your tools limit you to 8 and 16 bar worlds, or push you in that direction, they are fighting against you and should be cast off.

I apologize for the weird and mystical tone of the post -- it is all metaphor for something difficult to describe.
wow. you have nailed my problem squarely on the head. i need to commit a structure and then develop the elements of that structure instead of the back end round way of developing and element and building a structure from that (it can be done with enough practice doing it the right way round i gather).

a very solid post.
Old 5th September 2011
  #44
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by gsilbers View Post
another tip:

bring in a commercial song you like thats the same genre as yours.

copy the structure. use markers on your DAW.

repeat with other songs until you figure out what u like and not.
I do this and that is where my angst is coming from right now. I'm trying to move past very tracky stuff into a complex, developed style that seemingly uses loops, but as has been stated, the 8 th bar doesn't lead back to bar 1.

I was listening to some Richard H Kirk and analyzing his structure and this was the watershed event which made me realize I was never going to move pasif writing groovy loops if I continue to do what I have been doing for 15 years.
Old 5th September 2011
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by blinky909 View Post
i keep wanting to draw out the track, as groups of 16 step patterns in a spreadsheet. maybe it's time to really start using a linear sequencer in a computer since that's what i'm really using the spreadsheet for.
Personally I think you should do this, nothing wrong with being visually orientated. I suggest especially since your making techno, don't worry about the 8bar loop, make it perfect, send as much time as you need.

Then open your DAW, multitrack in all your instruments, then copy it 20-30 times on the time line. Now go to the first 8 bar loop and delete everything except the one sound you want to start the song with, maybe the kick, or the bass, or maybe its a synth. Now progress through all the 8bar copies subtracting what you don't want. That way through subtraction you slowly build a basic working arrangement that you can then later extend, add to, cut up, edit, etc, as you want to. It won't be perfect, but its a good starting point and gets you out of the 8bar loopitis.


.
Old 5th September 2011
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msl View Post
nothing wrong with being visually orientated.
Seriously. What's the difference between a score and a spreadsheet? I always mix with my ears, but nothing wrong with using your eyes to create a structure.

On the other hand, I'm a firm believer of the power of actually playing something out for the duration of the song, even if you tighten up the MIDI later. Then you go on to the next track, then the next after that. Let the composition grow using only sound to guide you. Since you like cool synth sounds try tracking these out first.

A related method is to compose all your synth bits around an imaginary drum track, but don't worry about it too much. Once you have an actual song with synths add the drums in. Yeah, you'll likely have clashing frequencies at first, but you'll deal with it.

If you play your drum machines or their sequences live along with the rest of the song all the better! You may even find that the drums are superfluous. Sometimes I end up with killer drums that I can't make work, but they inspire me to work on new synth parts to go along with them.

I do agree that if your tools make to too easy to end up with 8 bar loops rather than the "right" length loop for the job it's time to switch them.Or maybe it's not the tools and you need to re-scale your perceptions. Decide on a length of a song before you start and make your goal for each element to work perfectly within that many bars.

You obviously have an affinity towards loops and I think you might be better served by accepting that, exploring that part of yourself and pushing it as far as it can go. Sure, other people make music that you like better, but why would you do the same thing? No harm can come from trying new ways of working (in fact it's healthy), but don't beat yourself up over something that might be a part of you.

Loops have power. Lou Reed's Street Hassle? The Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack? William Basinski's The Disintegration Loops?

If this doesn't do it for you, I dunno....
Old 5th September 2011
  #47
Gear Nut
 

One of Ableton's greatest strengths is its synergy between arrangement and session view. You can easily jam in session view, and then start to arrange some parts. Then you can loop over part of the arrangement in arrangement view, and jam over it or try out different variations in session view .

I prefer to get the sound I want close to how I want it so when I add new parts I will know how they will interact. I think timbre choices can make or break a track, and they also affect the groove as well. I think its easier to write around a timbre, rather than trying to engineer/sound design around a particular line you have composed.

Everyone has their own style, and whatever works should be used!
Old 6th September 2011
  #48
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Do like Beethoven:

start with a very simple idea....

duh duh duh duhhhhhhhhh.....duh duh duh duhhhhhhhhh

....then develop it how your ears want it to sound.

A lot of crappy, unoriginal music starts with the structure and fills in the blanks, like a madlib. It might make sense in the end, but why not actually just write the story from the start?

As an improviser this method works best for me, but we all have our own unique approach. Really the secret is to find a method that works for you and then practice so much that composing becomes second nature and ideas just jump into your brain.
Old 6th September 2011
  #49
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StringBean View Post
Do like Beethoven:

start with a very simple idea....

duh duh duh duhhhhhhhhh.....duh duh duh duhhhhhhhhh

....then develop it how your ears want it to sound.

A lot of crappy, unoriginal music starts with the structure and fills in the blanks, like a madlib. It might make sense in the end, but why not actually just write the story from the start?

As an improviser this method works best for me, but we all have our own unique approach. Really the secret is to find a method that works for you and then practice so much that composing becomes second nature and ideas just jump into your brain.
So we don't confuse anybody, let's be clear that Beethoven's 5th Symphony is an example of how to write within a structure, not to improvise. It has a simple motif that is developed in an extremely disciplined way, done in a time period where music was so structured that audiences knew to expect modulations at predictable moments to predictable keys. And although Beethoven did defy some of these conventions, it was targeted rebellion, with most aspects remaining within the confines of the established system.

I don't think it is fair to paint people who write in a structured way as being formulaic, producing music that is crappy and unoriginal because it is like a madlib. Good structure, planned from the start is at the heart of the Western music tradition. As is good improvisation.
Old 6th September 2011
  #50
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I doubt he was thinking "sonata-allegro" the whole time he was composing, but I concede your point.
Old 6th September 2011
  #51
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kilon's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by blinky909 View Post
the problem isn't loop mode on the machine, it's loop mode in my brain.

i keep wanting to draw out the track, as groups of 16 step patterns in a spreadsheet. maybe it's time to really start using a linear sequencer in a computer since that's what i'm really using the spreadsheet for.

damn, i hate being a visual learner.
you just described a tracker , have you ever used Renoise ?

About | Renoise
Old 6th September 2011
  #52
Gear Maniac
 

Here is a nice tutorial by Tarekith that outlines one way to turn your 8 Bar loop into a full track:

..:: Arranging ::..
Old 6th September 2011
  #53
DSK
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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their input.
Old 6th September 2011
  #54
Here for the gear
 

i can't believe this thread is happening right now.
have been recently wrestling with this issue...

this is getting bookmarked!

thanks guys
Old 6th September 2011
  #55
Gear Nut
 

i remember a few years back in my early 20's i might have had this issue. it's all about shutting down your awareness of your situation and channeling the flow. William Burroughs was a degenerate gambler and would go on two day benders before he could sit down and write. Basically, he was doing for himself what it took to shut off his mind and get taken over by primitive urges that allowed him to sit there in a casino for 40+ hours.

you are the filter for all the music that exists, after the first hundred tracks i made in various software I realized that no matter what methods or what i was thinking about making, that there was a "sound" there naturally that i was not aware of previously. no matter what samples or synths i was using, i could tell it was my track and this is something i was most certainly not thinking about.

Later I began to associate this voice i heard in my music with the reasons i started making music and from that came a confidence

so lose yourself to find yourself i guess is the point. i do wonder how many of you with these issues of building a track have no knowledge of music theory. unless you are just the bomb, please learn scales at least for everyones sake
Old 6th September 2011
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SonicAlchemist View Post
Good structure, planned from the start is at the heart of the Western music tradition. As is good improvisation.
Exactly!! the western (classical) music tradition. IMO good improvisation was introduced from outside of the 'western musical tradition' not to say there was none within it! but IMO the 'fire' has come from outside of those strict harmonic/melodic structurings.

Back on topic - Context is all important! different approaches to composition will lead to different outcomes.
Old 6th September 2011
  #57
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by StringBean View Post
I doubt he was thinking "sonata-allegro" the whole time he was composing, but I concede your point.
so very true - great point. Whoever earlier mentioned the practice of starting out by copying the form of other artists until you master it best described what Beethoven was doing - with no Sonata-Allegro form concept anywhere in his mind. Only after he had internalized Haydn and Mozart, among others, and been beaten over the head with Palestrina (via Fuxian counterpoint exercises) did he have the tools needed to carve his own path.
Old 6th September 2011
  #58
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fifstar View Post
Here is a nice tutorial by Tarekith that outlines one way to turn your 8 Bar loop into a full track:

..:: Arranging ::..
Brilliant. Thanks mate. this is how i have worked for the past decade in the MPC 2000XL to a degree - subtractive composition is problematic though - it is counter to adding anything new, which is where i find myself mostly - a single idea that i dance around with track muting.

here is an example of my more recent subtractive composition

http://soundcloud.com/three_oscar/ju...ers_5_mixdown4


i think part of my issue is that i have been out of doing music in a serious manner for the better part of a decade and feel like i have so much ground to make up. a large amount of self applied pressure to do great that my meager 8 bar subtractive efforts seem to fall short of that mark.

the article addresses some of this and i think a synthesis of advices here will get me past my personal wall.

thanks.
Old 6th September 2011
  #59
Lives for gear
Get some vocals on the go
Its fun and people like to listen to it ;-)
Old 6th September 2011
  #60
Here for the gear
 

I actually usually have 8 bar drum loops. I cannot, for the life of me, compose anything interesting apart from basslines and drums. Fortunately, I'm getting so much better at those.

But hey, gotta keep learning. I make tiny modifications to everything, and when it sounds bad, a click inside my head tells me how to improve it, and then just messing around from there.


Maaan, writing posts like these makes me realise how much fun music is ^_^
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