Finishing music

Discuss everything related to production, recording, composition, etc.

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Post by slumberjack » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:46 am

thevegasnerve wrote:
calaveras wrote:Usually the best stuff happens when you are not being overly precious about your work. Just spit it out.

For example, I usually get the best notes when I arbitrarily pick a scale I know very well and play 'random' stuff while being very particular about the rhythm I'm playing.
Of course a human chemical machine is not capable of generating truly random output. The random notes I play are being picked by me, just not in a deliberate way.

I have no problem coughing up endless good snippets of music. And even constructing songs of them.
The hard part is finishing the mix!
Now which EQ to use?
Yeah as I crank out more stuff, I find myself worrying more about the mix/mastering than just making songs. I turn over the mastering to someone else now so that helps my process.
idk but nowadays a lot of people think mastering is something to do by themself. of course when you make dance tracks and you want to check them in your next dj set, you can put them trough a pseudo mastering rack in your daw, or if you put together a podcast and you want to blend unreleased stuff into it.

there's one saying that i learned from an older guy in engeneering:
if you master you own mix, you will repeat what you have done wrong.
it's important to have another pair of ears to correct those things.
even if everythings perfect with the mix, there's still some gain at this stage.

regarding this you're on the right path.


time passing i tend to be more and more precise with mixing from start on.
it get to the point that in every stage i work on a song / structure i do a little bit of mixing. from the initial patch, down to the final recording af a multitrack arrangement. eq on here, volume adjustment there.
next investemt on this site would be a better mixing solution. thinking to start a 500er rack with nice channel strips for the more important tracks. then maybe replacing the 40ch soundcraft desk with two racks sitting on a table. i guess it's still way cheaper than going for a descent desk.

but first the thing that would really help now, would be to patch the insert points on the desk in a patchbay, so it allows me to intuitivly work with fx / pedals before recording so i don't have to overdub or using itb fx later.

because then again, working with fx also leads you to the problematic zones of a speficic track / patch and then you're still in the position to change rather to correct (especially with dynamic content) and then it's time you save on the not so fun part and precision you add to the overall sounddesign.
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Post by unexpectedbowtie » Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:26 pm

I've never really had too much problem finishing songs. Starting them when I don't feel inspired tends to be the hardest part.

Like some other folk, I release music under a few different names, and confine those 'projects' to general groupings or styles. That way I can float between them as I feel motivated to use different gear, rather than feeling like an album becomes a ball and chain.

If I leave a song half done and start something else, I'm unlikely to ever go back and find the zone for that track again, so I tend to work on something to completion (or at least to a decent mix), and then move on. I keep notes on the tracks that are 'finished', and export them to a playlist which I listen to fairly regularly. When I feel like I've got enough tracks for an album, I go through and mix/master them all as a group. Having an album to aim for is especially motivating for me.

In terms of the writing process specifically, in the past I have always gotten the sounds and track pretty much as I want it, before recording as much as possible 'live' - especially when it came to Eurorack. This was always because I found the whole process of cutting up loops and re-arranging them in Logic to be fairly off-putting, and un-organic. However, lately I've found myself doing this exact thing, and having much better results. It means I take a bit longer to work on certain tracks, but I'm more pleased with the outcome. We'll see how long I can stomach spending that much time on the laptop mind you...

I'm actually tempted to get an ERM Multiclock so I can synch stuff up to my DAW far easier than my current method (cutting up the loops and manually arranging them). It's too pricey for me at the moment though...
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Post by Panason » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:26 am

Finishing tracks is my biggest problem. So much that I sometime think I should just give up and look into selling my sounds and loops for sample libraries...

At some point I have to face the fact that nothing will ever be 100% finished, force myself to record and resist the temptation to try a different compression plugin or cram another idea into the track. Just save that new idea for another track....
At least these days of short attention spans and self-publishing on bandcamp or whatever, releasing an entire album isn't necessary or even a good idea... unless you're really pumping the tracks out at a fast pace.

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Post by circadianeyes » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:15 am

I have this weird habit of writing about 85% of a song and then moving on to the next. I then get a collection of 85% done songs that I tell myself I can finish easily. Takes forever for that last 15% every time.

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Post by sd_falter » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:24 pm

Its a tough one cos I feel everyone needs to find a process that works for them.

For me personally I found that I couldn't readily pick up a half finished loop or project after the first couple of sessions, hearing the same stuff over and over again eventually killed any passion for the project I was working on. I fought against my best instincts for a long time thinking that the goal was to break through that resistance and just keep finessing the same project, brute forcing it to completion. Of course doing that meant I hated any project that was completed that way through sheer over-exposure to it.

In the last year I decided I'd go back and completely clear out my project backlog, being super brutal and harsh and basically deleting anything that couldn't readily be redeemed, and quickly finishing up anything that was half decent so i could take any lessons learnt forward. After doing that I was free of the mental burden of trying to salvage projects that had been lying around for months or even years, meaning I could start to take a new approach.

Now I just try and work as fast as possible, get a nice atmosphere or loop going, immediately move on to blocking it out into an arrangement to see if it will still hold focus over time, then start on the details. I found that as long as I've blocked out the arrangement in the same session that I make the initial jam/loops it leaves me in a position where I can take it up again and do the additional polish and mix. Because that process of creation -> completion is so much quicker now also opened the door for me to make more random mistakes/experiments because I know that there isn't this long term commitment to seeing a project through.

Its cliched but just making a goal of finishing work no matter how average the end result and just closing the door on it was the biggest progression I made creatively.

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Post by Panason » Sat Apr 07, 2018 12:46 pm

Yep. Delete, delete, delete. If in any doubt just fucking delete it.
Arranging is a bit like EQing. Almost always it's better to cut than to add.

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Post by lisa » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:05 am

I've released four tracks this year and I'm aiming to keep up the one per month ratio. However, I have 20+ recorded modular beats laying around at the moment and I usually record at least three every month. I know I'll never get to finish most of them.

So, on another forum I asked if someone wanted to work with my recordings, to finish them for/with me. Many said yes, actually but one guy actually followed through. :love: I'm sending him renditions of the half baked tracks I record, he chooses the ones that he likes and I'll send him the separate tracks. Great results! With the tempo he's displayed so far I think that we could aim for a full album by the end of the summer.

Getting other people involved, I can't recommend it enough. :nana:
New track! Drum synthesis heavy, melodic piece where Instruō harmonàig is doing the chords. 🐡

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Post by ambientnoise » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:16 am

Sooo.. I haven’t made a single track this year.. I’m beginning to think I can’t appreciate my own creation cause everything I try to make isnt great. I always try to get too technical and experiment/noodle around until I try to find a sound I’m satisfied with, which then mostly ends up sounding like crap. Making simple beats, traditional structured songs is plain boring to me. I’m always in need to find the style of sound that I like, but now I’m getting way too frustrated! What to do??

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Post by pettycash » Thu May 03, 2018 12:28 pm

I have many, many unfinished tracks in Logic and Ableton.
Once I started building my Euro rack system it has definitely aided the completion of some of those unfinished projects.

Suddenly old tracks that were stuck in cul-de-sacs got new leases of life when adding modular sizzle on top - It is also presented new ideas on how to vary the existing sections too.

Don't delete those old tracks, give them a blast with that magic rack!

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Post by felixer » Fri May 25, 2018 6:02 pm

soundshaper wrote:Finishing music really is all about hard work and dedication. However you also have to have a method and a plan.
that is one way. but much easier is to simply play. if you like it you keep it. if you don't just try again. me&my band we do an hour per day (at least). obviously those aren't popsongs with slick arrangements (yuk!) but they aren't 'jams' either. (wanna hear it: check under 'flexible outlook' on soundcloud) ofcourse you need good musicians who can translate an idea into reality fluently. and (esp in a 'live' bandsituation) you need to be able to listen.
we always play 'live', no overdubs and the sounds are always there. that saves a lot of time. there's no 'oh, let me try again' and there is no discussion about the mix. as a soundengineer who did tons of recording (mostly pop music) i noticed discussions eat up time very quickly. usually about things they could/should have decided on before even calling a studio. i have seen band fall to bits over a mix where i was quite clear what needed to be done. but one asshole wanted something that wasn't there or impossible and screwed it up out of arrogance and/or stupidity.
most studio work is under pressure of time, so a stable mind and some realism is essential. this bussiness is filled to the brim with unrealistic fuckers and posers. the 'big mouth, no content' types. they waste time (which i'm happy with as they pay me by the hour/day) and suck up everybodies energy. which i'm not happy with as i often see the good people suffering and not fulfilling their potential.
also some knowledge is usefull. make a little list of the things you find important in the genre your doing and spend your time on those. the rest is filling which usually takes care of it's own. and be realistic about your abilities. esp i popmusic simple is good. don't make things more complicated the they have to be. (eg don't try fourpart vocal harmonies if half the guys can't even get a simple line in tune. etc) and most importantly if something isn't working skip it. go to the next song or part. nothing worse then doing take 10 and seeing that it's simply not working. (eg i'm working with this girlsinger who is good but sometimes very insecure. i know that by take three we have it, with a bit of editing. but as we aren't working under pressure i'm happy to let het do 6 more takes. knowing i don't need 'm. if i were a commercial producer working in a rented studio i would never allow that).
read the book 'behind the glass' with lots of interviews with famous producers to get a feel on how things work. in reality. because that is where you live. hopefully.
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by ZLAL » Sat Jun 16, 2018 5:51 pm

Don't be afraid to step away from a loop, track, or patch for a while. Hitting record, allowing myself to unpatch everything, and returning a week or two later to material that I likely would have scrapped if I had tried to perfect it at the time has been quite helpful.
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