Electronic Music discussion: Knowing how, vs Being able to (Produce/Write/Create)
Written June 24 2010 , Tags: production, knowledge, productivity
So I'm having trouble making music...
I know how to use my tools inside out - I know how to program synth sounds, I know how to mix, use effects, etc.
But I'm having heaps and heaps of trouble with coming up with a song.. I just cant seem to do it, even though I understand 'how' I would do it...
Even though I can make any sound I think of, every sound/set of sounds/rhythm/melody I make sounds SHIT... The annoying thing about this is when I'm in my car, or the shower - I can come up with really catchy tunes (seemingly), but I just can't translate them into my gear for some reason.. I sit down and start bashing and the most pathetic piece of cheesy boring crap comes out, which at best sounds like early 90s gay house...
I dunno it's weird... Could I be missing something in my workflow? Are there any rhythmic or other similarities shared between 'good' songs that arent in 'lame' songs?
Anyone have any ideas at all? Suggestions on exercises to improve things?
i feel like maybe I should go back to taking more acid like I used to, or smoke meth or something ridiculous... well.. I wouldn't but, I'm frustrated as all hell.
lots of great advice in this thread.
it seems like everyone has this problem in some form or another.
I have had similar problems myself with thinking my stuff is unoriginal or uninspiring.
fwiw i don't think there's anything wrong w/ "90's gay house" to each his/her own.
jack123 is spot on with his assessment of keeping it simple.
acidplanet had a nice little project back in the day (don't know if they're still doing it) but it was a series of projects they did with ONLY 8 tracks.
1 for drums 1 for bass 1 for keys/pads 1 for strings, etc. but only 8 tracks max.
I find that if I try to make songs that are really complex they turn out all jumbled and shitty. Trust me the aphex beetz are great, but simple is usually better (you can always add more later..)
I also found out that the music I make directly depends on what I'm making it with. I used to use Acid Pro a lot and thought the stuff I made with it was easy and sounded good. Then I moved over to only HW and was like "this is impossible to arrange the way I want / need to..."
There is a youtube video out there of 3 guys talking on stage about how every pop song ever made is a variation of one particular chord progression...then they proceed to sing every song ever on the top 10 and you realize it's true.
I also have the problem with finishing songs. I think that is the hardest part to music because there is no point at which I listen to a song I've done and go "yep it's done" you really have to feel it out for each track. Don't worry about length. Some of the best songs are under 2 min. long or over 15. I don't think it is even necessary to have a "point" to the track. Some of my fav tracks I've done are ones where I just went in to my loops folders and started dragging shit onto diff tracks until it worked...
Most of all don't feel like if you make a shitty track it is automatically considered a "rut". Even the top selling artists of all times have 1 or 2 tracks on their album where you listen and go "man this sucks" and hit the next button.
There is some good advice here too, you may recognize the OP : link
^ hahaa.. forgot about that, it was quite a while ago!.. The last comment really sums up my entire life's issues.. searching for meaning where there appears to be none (unless you make it yourself.. and is that really meaning) .. but that's a whole other kettle of fish to the producing thing.
Thanks for all the thoughts guys! Particularly I think the whole 'throw away the basis' thing sounds like a good idea.. and also the idea of making sure I'm listening while I make music - and keeping it unpredictable.. Alot of my shitty music seems to end up being really boring predictable loopy stuff (even though I try not to do that)
I'm glad to hear I'm not alone too.. Sometimes it seems like everyone around me is just pumping out awesome music all the time, but I'm still stuck without a single cool track to my name.
As for the gay 90s house thing.. I mainly just meant those like simplistic melodies that start to grate on your nerves if you haven't eaten a bunch of meth within the past 12 hours... haha..
Anyhow I'm gonna try out all your ideas now.. I shall report back later
I dunno, I think that gimmicks or tricks like throwing out key tracks or something may work, but just as likely won't. Basically, I just don't think there's any shortcut to making cool music. The only thing is that I hear a lot of judgments in what you write, I think there's a balance between pushing yourself to be the best you can be and letting yourself have a little slack to play with ideas for a while. Have you ever thought that maybe you are the greatest 90s gay house producer ever? Don't deny the world that gift.
theres nothing wrong with 90s gay house
it does what it sets out to do - make people dance.
i find if i have a specific aim for a track then i am able to focus
so for dance music - make people listen to the groove.
for a sad track have so emotive melody
epic tracks - have them set a wide space with large sounds.
then sculpt the sound around the end idea, sometimes it goes off on a tangent and you get something else.
does this sound too simplistic?
I guess I shouldve said shit 90s gay house .. cos really I wouldnt be getin anyone rockin with mine, although the synth lines sound similar, my rhythms arent booty-shakin enough.
With the next bit - that's kind of how I think already, and I find it's not guided enough to take me from wanting to write, to having a working track... I can think what sort of track im after, and how it should sound, examples, etc.. but then actually executing.. I can get the synth sound but the arrangement/rhythm/melody/chords/etc that I 'choose'(and I think the process of choosing needs fleshing out desperately) always sound cheesy and dull.
yes everybody deals with this, but it's really not that difficult of a problem.
the answer is to finish songs. and just keep doing it.
like anything you want to learn you have to do it a lot. you can't learn how to finish songs well by learning to make synth patches or coming up with melodies. those are just elements. the only way you'll get good at finishing songs is doing it over and over again.
there's a lot of little tricks to this that can help, but in general i'd say just focus on moving forwards and don't critique what you're doing until it's finished. you'll get better i promise.
cartesia said: "I guess I shouldve said shit 90s gay house .. cos really I wouldnt be getin anyone rockin with mine, although the synth lines sound similar, my rhythms arent booty-shakin enough.
Tracks or stfu.
Jack.... totally out of line.
i don't know about out of line, but more like wrong thread...this one isn't snarky enough...I would like to hear some though if OP is into some feedback...
I found that working on one song until it's done helps keep things moving. Also, getting the body involved in something really helps, which sounds obvious, but even just playing an instrument you have no plans to use on a track can unlock a bit of intuitive creativity. Couple of chords etc.
thats kinda what i was getting at dkarma... like i want to hear some that 90's house that cartesia keeps talking about.
didn't mean to be snarky or anything
Well I dont have anything because I regularly get in a rage and delete it all (the stuff I actually bother to save), but I'll make something up over the next few days (of course now it's jinxed.. so I dunno how its gonna turn out.. plus i'll be purposely trying to create something, so its bound to end up different... but hey.. maybe that will fix my problem!
In fact today I was listening to all my old kniteforce, 2fx, etc records... so maybe itll come out more early 90s breakbeat/ raveish
cartesia said: "What do you mean by step record?"
'Step Edit' is a function of computer sequencers where you input notes in non-realtime. It's faster and more intuitive than drawing them with the cursor. It's good if you have some arpeggios or chords but you don't need to 'perform' them.
You can 'step record' with what ever quantization values or start points. It would be good if you were stuck on performance issues or for it's own affect.
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