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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Learning complicated software
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Music Software  
Author Learning complicated software
Nelson Baboon
I was thinking about posting this in the general section, since how one learns effectively can apply also to hardware instruments. But the particular instance of my frustration (GODDAMN - WHY CAN'T I LEARN THIS FASTER), is a piece of software.

I'm not complaining about the software, or about its documentation. I think that, given the fact that everyone uses hardware and software together, differently, it's really hard to compose documentation that gets people to where they want, quickly and efficiently, unless you're someone who is almost exactly their target user.

I get really frustrated learning 'big' programs like DAWs, because I tend to use them idiosyncratically, and always stumble about for a long time trying to figure out how to do what I want to do. There might be a 400 page manual, but trying to find out how to be comfortable in your little niche can be so exasperating......

The specific inspiration? I finally bit the bullet and bought a new DAW, since I just get annoyed with Logic and Live (and I've tried others also). Bitwig, to be specific.

But damn - trying to do what should be simple things - I guess I'm just not smart enough to get there without endless searches.....this is emphatically not supposed to be questions about Bitwig (although I'd love it if an expert pm'd me and let me quiz them on how to accomplish basic things). But inevitably doing what are beginner tasks (how do I record the audio from this track?) becomes arduous, and takes 100x longer than it ideally should to find each successive answer.

I might just be a very disorganized learner. I get intimidated too quickly by this stuff.....

How do others learn complicated software like this? Do you read the manuals cover to cover? I mean, this one is pretty long, and much of it isn't relevant to me....
BananaPlug
Nelson, I know what you mean about this. I've been on both sides of this communication problem and there's a number of ways it can go wrong. The software might just be a horrible rats nest but if others get work out of it, give it the benefit of the doubt. Usually it's a matter of grasping the nouns and verbs (metaphorically speaking) of the thing. What do they call different things and what do you call them? What is the hierarchy of these things? What are their attributes and actions? With that you can start to figure out how one thing acts on another. People usually don't write manuals that way so you have to infer. Once you start thinking about the application using the same concepts it should make a lot more sense. You may end up figuring it out but disagreeing with how things were factored out. Sometimes software is designed around an unfamiliar structure or uses unfamiliar concepts. The creator will often not explain these things because it sounds long and nerdy, or they don't know how to put it into words, or they think everybody thinks like they do. It might help to find somebody who uses it, have them do some basic task and explain in their own words how they thought through that process. Hope for an ah-hah moment.
poppinger
I've learned new DAWs a couple of times so this is what I do - most DAW manuals I've used seem to be written more as a reference document rather than teaching you how to use the software. I'm kind of lost looking at a manual until I have at least a basic mental framework of "what lives where."

There are Youtube tutorials for everything, so I find it helpful to watch a few video overviews of the basic features and where to do typical DAW tasks. It's just easier for me to get the lay of the land when I can see someone mousing around the GUI.

It can be frustrating finding a good one because a lot of them are geared towards someone who has never used a DAW before with stuff like "when you press the play button, the DAW starts like a tape recorder!" They end up being just way too slow paced for someone who's already familiar with audio stuff. So if it seems like it's dragging along glacially, just move on to another one.

A lot of times I'll have questions that come to mind where they might gloss over something I want to know more about, or remind me of something I want to be able to do with the software. I try and write those down and then look them up later in the manual when I know more about where to mentally organize that information.

After that for me it's just a matter of using it and looking things up when I run into something I don't know how to do.
TS
Working on a collab with someone who knows the software was a great way for me to learn, there are a lot of fb groups for producers/artists in specific areas. Another way I learned was a music magazine that ran a special for that DAW and how to use it - it was way more concise and to the point than a manual. I think they do it for all major DAW's - Music Tech Focus was the magazine. Also, watching YouTube videos on a laptop as I had my studio machine running was great. I switched DAW's and it was a bit of battle, but it was worth it.

Best of luck!
dubonaire
My approach is almost always:

1. Try to work it out with the software/hardware

2. Read the manual hoping it has a clear explanation (often no)

3. Literally type the question I'm asking into the internet browser (because almost always someone got to this point before me and has already asked the question on some internet forum or provided the answer in a youtube video etc). I also add the current year in my search because sometimes the question has been asked for earlier versions.
JAO
Try to dedicate some time (1hr or so) every day to performing repetitive tasks.
Lay out a scenario and learn all the keyboard shortcuts associated with that.
Build on that idea for the second day and so on. I'm guessing within a week or two you will be using the software better than 90% of people.
Perhaps there is some educational documentation you can consult which covers the functionality in a workflow format.
GovernorSilver
Reminds me of when I was working on a mix in Logic for a friend. She wanted simple volume automation added to fade out a track.

Good lord, it took hours to figure out how to do that. Nothing in the official manual explained how to perform such a simple task. I finally learned how to do it by repeatedly bugging Orren, one of the authors of one of those how to use Logic books.

I learned how to do the same thing in Live in five minutes or less. One of several reasons I switched to Live
KaOsphere
dubonaire wrote:


3. Literally type the question I'm asking into the internet browser (because almost always someone got to this point before me and has already asked the question on some internet forum or provided the answer in a youtube video etc). I also add the current year in my search because sometimes the question has been asked for earlier versions.


Probably best life hack ever ! :p
Been there, done that !
oisin
start a new project (collaboration / soundtrack / record) using a new DAW, for example. itll force you to learn things quickly and checking manuals and forums will lead you to learn what you actually need to know (rather than what you think you might need. the first couple of days will hurt though confused
nikmis
I have this problem. I am still using jeskola buzz, a tracker-based DAW coded in the mid 90s. I know there must be better DAW/sequencers out there for my needs. The problem is the massive amount of effort and time I would have to invest to learn if they can actually do everything that I want. I am probably wrong about that and just being lazy.
Nelson Baboon
oisin wrote:
start a new project (collaboration / soundtrack / record) using a new DAW, for example. itll force you to learn things quickly and checking manuals and forums will lead you to learn what you actually need to know (rather than what you think you might need. the first couple of days will hurt though confused


sorry. I"m not quite as smart as you, apparently. I am making progress, but to have FUN, and make music, I have to stop struggling to figure shit out, and go back to what I know.

"couple of days". My brain must be too small. why do you think I fucking posted the thread?

sorry. annoyed. I suppose that I shouldn't be.
oisin
no problem - i feel your frustration.

i only do it that way to make up for my lack of discipline. and somehow i dont get so annoyed when im collaborating or working in a context with other people.

ive thought about getting into bitwig too.. has the kvr forum been much help? https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=259
Nelson Baboon
oisin wrote:
no problem - i feel your frustration.

i only do it that way to make up for my lack of discipline. and somehow i dont get so annoyed when im collaborating or working in a context with other people.

ive thought about getting into bitwig too.. has the kvr forum been much help? https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=259


A member here, who is very well versed in Bitwig, has been helping me. I haven't had time in the last couple of days, but at the very least will spend a bunch of time this weekend.

my post here wasn't really meant to be Bitwig specific - it was meant to express some frustration at learning programs like it in complexity, not necessarily DAWs.
dubonaire
Nelson Baboon wrote:
my post here wasn't really meant to be Bitwig specific - it was meant to express some frustration at learning programs like it in complexity, not necessarily DAWs.


I think one of the problems is unlearning deeply entrenched workflow steps. In Ableton Live I don't even think about some steps, you just do them the way you would brush your teeth or tie up your shoe laces. Like trying to learn a new language with inverted syntax, which is what I'm currently doing at the moment. It's exhausting, so there is obviously some heavy brain activity required for seemingly small tasks.
Nelson Baboon
the post wasn't about my experience with bitwig per se, but i do think (for me) it exemplifies one threshold. If I spend a certain amount of time, and my intuition takes over and tells me 'NO. You do not think this way, and it's not really going to get much better'. I'll bail. I reached that point. It seemed like they have written this for people who think very differently than me, and hell.
Gribs
I reached the bail out point with some professional optics software I used for close to a decade. It got to the point where I could not get the code to do what I wanted it to do without making many compromises and workarounds. It was burning my time and I could not accomplish my true goals and meet my design needs. So I got my shit together and convinced my management at the time to spring for a license different software. It took a couple of months to be able to make something decent and then a few years to become really proficient at using it, but ultimately it was one of my best decisions regarding professional software and workflow. It opened up an entire new area of optical design possibilities for me. Even better, if I had not become recognized as an expert user then Imwould not have landed me my current job.

So yeah, I think sometimes software gets in the way. Even though certain software packages are able to cover a wide range of needs, each one is better a some things than others and each one has a different design and target user community. Switching can be painful and sometimes does not pan out, but other times it works well.
TheRosskonian
Taking a few assumptions here along with sharing my own experiences:

Learning something complicated as a DAW in a short amount of time takes a lot of dedication, focus, and free time. I learned to use my DAW over a year (if not longer) by habitually studying videos of it every time I sat down for dinner. The specifics was I was single and there was a really good video course available for it (Reaper), so you may not be able to apply this to your life. Like others have said, you can use the manual and internet to look up specific issues when you encounter them, but it won't teach you how to use the program in whole. By watching a whole course of videos from the same source, it taught me a lot quicker than watching a handful of YouTube videos made by well meaning, but unorganized users. Watching them regularly along with regularly using the DAW meant I was immersing myself in the subject without overwhelming myself by trying to master it all in one weekend.

The TLDR; version is: It takes a long time and you will probably never run out of things to learn.

Hope this helps,
chysn
udemy.com has online courses for pretty much all major DAWs. I'm currently taking Tomas George's course on Ableton Live, and it's clear and thorough. There's a lot to be said for the "mess around with stuff until you figure it out" and "keep chugging away until you have to Google something" methods; but for something as complex as Ableton, I'm finding the time and money well spent.
lazzarello
If the software you chose doesn't have tutorials which are written against a version that resembles the current release, walk away immediately. There's no point in investing time into software that doesn't have good examples of it's intended operation.

I've found a lot of commercial sound software comes with copious example projects/plugins while a lot of open source software might lack complete example files but have a larger community of tutorial writers and cool personal projects.
colossal
Tips for leaning in general, little and often.

This is not how I make music, its more in 5+ hour chunks at a time but its not ideal for learning. After a certain time learning I get brain fog and nothing makes sense.

Try to open up Bitwig every day and do somehting simple / work on the next thing thats bugging you, walk away when stressed.

Edit: Don't bother trying to lean the manual or some random course. Just focus on what you want to do. Also don't try to force Bitwig into working the way you are used to. Nothing handles loops like Logic not matter how much I swear at it.
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