Finishing music

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

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senecio
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Finishing music

Post by senecio » Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:19 pm

I’m reading this book on my kindle: “making music: 74 creative strategies for electronic music producers” by Dennis DeSantis

(I think it was $9.99 on Amazon) I’m finding it really helpful! Tons of great advice on getting music projects finished.

I’m even gonna do this cheesy “make a record in February” website thing it mentions: http://fawm.org/fawmers/senecio/

Anything to save me from the dark ocean of procrastination and gear hunting.

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Post by whinger » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:30 am

I started by uploading weekly to Instagram. Then once I got comfortable with that, I took the best of those one minute songs, extend them to full length. The during some time off from work over the holidays, I released the ones that worked as an EP.

I find little goals that add to each other, to be the best way to trick me into doing productive work. So the one minute thing is pretty easy to do, then only the best get worked into full length, which is easy, because they're the ones that excite me. And so forth. You can eat the whole elephant, you just do it one bite at a time.

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Post by soundshaper » Thu Jan 11, 2018 8:56 pm

Finishing music really is all about hard work and dedication. However you also have to have a method and a plan. Here’s the method my partner and I use.

1. Program sounds and make patterns with my gear during non-writing time like late at night or when I have a need to get nerdy

2. Jam all day using our sounds, recording things here and there that we liked, doesn’t have it be perfect or anything

3. Sit together for a day or two and slice and cut and arrange and record little bits to make a crude and terrible sounding arrangement from the jams

4. Add some more tracks and replace some of the jam parts with new crude recordings that are improvements on the originals and hone in on an arrangement

*Note: Still no mixing or fine tuning or perfecting a loop, as these things will stop you from getting the arrangement done which is essential to making an entire song. You have to “imagine” it sounding good for quite a bit of the process.

5. Now start replacing the scratch tracks with better recordings, really dialing in the programs, tones and some effects so the performance really comes through. We’ll spend at least a whole day doing this for each instrument/track.

6. Fine tuning and replacement of anything that didn’t quite work.

7. Mix

Yay, another song is done! Now, and only now, onto the next. :banana:

Hope this helps.

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Post by Dcramer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:56 am

I find that to get something bigger, like an album done, it helps if I envision a theme, sound, and set of techniques for the project. By setting some musical limits and thematic structure, I find it easier to start filling in the spaces :party:

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Post by lisa » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:08 am

soundshaper That sounds dedicated and time consuming. :eek: I skip step 1, 3, 4 and 5. :mrgreen:

I make a drum loop as I wiggle some modular bass and melodies. I do a live recording of the separate tracks. I arrange, add effects and do a crude mix in the same go in my daw. Then I put (too many, awful) hours into making a final mix. Done.
New track! Drum synthesis heavy, melodic piece where Instruō harmonàig is doing the chords. 🐡


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Post by eltrasgu » Fri Jan 12, 2018 3:14 pm

it looks like a never ending cycle. in my case I would be programing, then jamming and when I'm in the zone just press record. that's the only way I see... the tracks I do itb they all end in that kind of never ending process till I come with some impressive improvisation out of it. sometimes it has nothing to do with the original recording.
btw I think that a good producer should have personality, even more than technique, after all it's a matter of taste and quality is relative

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Post by slumberjack » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:15 am

lisa wrote:soundshaper That sounds dedicated and time consuming. :eek: I skip step 1, 3, 4 and 5. :mrgreen:

I make a drum loop as I wiggle some modular bass and melodies. I do a live recording of the separate tracks. I arrange, add effects and do a crude mix in the same go in my daw. Then I put (too many, awful) hours into making a final mix. Done.
sounds familiar!

if i have a vision on the mix AND when the audio is already prepared enough like fx added already on the recording or post production is done.
if i 'have' to switch between eq-ing, re-amp and fx chains and mixing it's leading nowhere. and usually i mix the best when i invest a few days inna row 60 -90 min max each day until i i'm there where i want.
otherwise, yeah it's awful.
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Post by thevegasnerve » Sun Jan 14, 2018 9:28 am

Dcramer wrote:I find that to get something bigger, like an album done, it helps if I envision a theme, sound, and set of techniques for the project. By setting some musical limits and thematic structure, I find it easier to start filling in the spaces :party:
This is the approach I now embrace that includes selecting the instruments I am allowed to use. That usually gets tested at some point! And of course not allowing myself to move to the next project is a big part of that. Picking a theme would be a lot of fun too, haven tried that at least consciously.

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Post by slumberjack » Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:44 am

thevegasnerve wrote: not allowing myself to move to the next project is a big part of that
i run like 3.5 solo projects with different setting on mainly the same gear.
it's relaxing because i switch from one to another by intuition and i never get bored that way. for like almost half a year i haven't made a single bleep for the noise project and then last week i just recorded a song out of 'nothing' (by testing out a new module as i remember).
with various project in different themes you're able to go back and forth constantly and you mights learn skills that came only because a certain dedication to that certain theme / workflow / concept. skills you can use then in your other project / alias / aka.

don't be afraid of moving around projects.
working non-linear, more process oriented and not product related has freed up my mind more than anything else.
> WTB ADDAC502 <

www.stefanrudin.bandcamp.com / www.soundcloud.com/stefan_rudin / www.youtube.com/user/slumberknut



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Post by aokjoey0 » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:52 am

My issue has been deciding that my stuff is worthy of public consumption, not completing anything. I finally pushed stuff out on SoundCloud and have a YouTube channel set up for publishing videos from my studio under my alter ego. Apogee Kick.

The comments suggesting limiting scope I can whole heartily concur with. It must work for Dcramer, listen to the quality and admire the quantity of his output!

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Post by soundshaper » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:13 pm

slumberjack wrote:
thevegasnerve wrote: not allowing myself to move to the next project is a big part of that
i run like 3.5 solo projects with different setting on mainly the same gear.
it's relaxing because i switch from one to another by intuition and i never get bored that way. for like almost half a year i haven't made a single bleep for the noise project and then last week i just recorded a song out of 'nothing' (by testing out a new module as i remember).
with various project in different themes you're able to go back and forth constantly and you mights learn skills that came only because a certain dedication to that certain theme / workflow / concept. skills you can use then in your other project / alias / aka.

don't be afraid of moving around projects.
working non-linear, more process oriented and not product related has freed up my mind more than anything else.
I use to be able to work like that when I was using software instruments and effects more often. I didn’t finish as much tho. Once I got back with my good friend and music counterpart we did all live take recording and mixing all analog. That was tedious but fun, yet impossible to move on until finished. Too many knobs!

Ironically, we have of late been experimenting with iOS and Ableton to write some more progressive songs for live performance. And the whole point of that I guess is to be able to skip around and play any of the songs at anytime.

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Post by thevegasnerve » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:46 pm

slumberjack wrote:
thevegasnerve wrote: not allowing myself to move to the next project is a big part of that
i run like 3.5 solo projects with different setting on mainly the same gear.
it's relaxing because i switch from one to another by intuition and i never get bored that way. for like almost half a year i haven't made a single bleep for the noise project and then last week i just recorded a song out of 'nothing' (by testing out a new module as i remember).
with various project in different themes you're able to go back and forth constantly and you mights learn skills that came only because a certain dedication to that certain theme / workflow / concept. skills you can use then in your other project / alias / aka.

don't be afraid of moving around projects.
working non-linear, more process oriented and not product related has freed up my mind more than anything else.
I think that a non-linear workflow can be very productive for many. It’s all dependent on how you are wired. I have learned that a very rigid Socratic Method instills discipline to my mind and challenges it with its constraints. I find it actually calms me down. There is still plenty of room for creative processes during the composition process.

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Post by slumberjack » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:32 am

thevegasnerve wrote:
slumberjack wrote:
thevegasnerve wrote: not allowing myself to move to the next project is a big part of that
i run like 3.5 solo projects with different setting on mainly the same gear.
it's relaxing because i switch from one to another by intuition and i never get bored that way. for like almost half a year i haven't made a single bleep for the noise project and then last week i just recorded a song out of 'nothing' (by testing out a new module as i remember).
with various project in different themes you're able to go back and forth constantly and you mights learn skills that came only because a certain dedication to that certain theme / workflow / concept. skills you can use then in your other project / alias / aka.

don't be afraid of moving around projects.
working non-linear, more process oriented and not product related has freed up my mind more than anything else.
I think that a non-linear workflow can be very productive for many. It’s all dependent on how you are wired. I have learned that a very rigid Socratic Method instills discipline to my mind and challenges it with its constraints. I find it actually calms me down. There is still plenty of room for creative processes during the composition process.
sure. it's not only the easy way, there are doubts all the time if i should worj on one project only. but actually as you say about your workflow: it's the only way possible (at the moment). ;)
> WTB ADDAC502 <

www.stefanrudin.bandcamp.com / www.soundcloud.com/stefan_rudin / www.youtube.com/user/slumberknut



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Post by slumberjack » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:35 am

soundshaper wrote:
slumberjack wrote:
thevegasnerve wrote: not allowing myself to move to the next project is a big part of that
i run like 3.5 solo projects with different setting on mainly the same gear.
it's relaxing because i switch from one to another by intuition and i never get bored that way. for like almost half a year i haven't made a single bleep for the noise project and then last week i just recorded a song out of 'nothing' (by testing out a new module as i remember).
with various project in different themes you're able to go back and forth constantly and you mights learn skills that came only because a certain dedication to that certain theme / workflow / concept. skills you can use then in your other project / alias / aka.

don't be afraid of moving around projects.
working non-linear, more process oriented and not product related has freed up my mind more than anything else.
I use to be able to work like that when I was using software instruments and effects more often. I didn’t finish as much tho. Once I got back with my good friend and music counterpart we did all live take recording and mixing all analog. That was tedious but fun, yet impossible to move on until finished. Too many knobs!

Ironically, we have of late been experimenting with iOS and Ableton to write some more progressive songs for live performance. And the whole point of that I guess is to be able to skip around and play any of the songs at anytime.
i work on a desk too and with volatile memory for some of the devices.
so i bring an idea to a point where i have to record, and then a lot of
things are already pretty set as i i don't like to much working on the screen and overdubs are work intensive so i try to choose them carefully.
> WTB ADDAC502 <

www.stefanrudin.bandcamp.com / www.soundcloud.com/stefan_rudin / www.youtube.com/user/slumberknut



Carefully crafted dj set meandering between deep house, minimal and electro.

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Post by decklyn » Sun Mar 11, 2018 3:15 am

If you're having trouble it can help to drop in a finished piece and copying the structure.
Then you can focus on the creative parts without trying to worry about the structure.

I race to complete. Thats my trick. Get it done, post it, move on. Ive been writing quite a lot of music lately despite how busy i am otherwise.
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Post by calaveras » Tue Mar 13, 2018 1:42 pm

whinger wrote:I started by uploading weekly to Instagram. Then once I got comfortable with that, I took the best of those one minute songs, extend them to full length. The during some time off from work over the holidays, I released the ones that worked as an EP.

I find little goals that add to each other, to be the best way to trick me into doing productive work. So the one minute thing is pretty easy to do, then only the best get worked into full length, which is easy, because they're the ones that excite me. And so forth. You can eat the whole elephant, you just do it one bite at a time.
I did something similar for a while back in Myspace days. (remember Myspace?). I used to post a song to my band/solo project profile ever week. Kept that up more or less for about 5 years.
Now that I am going back through the recordings and organizing it, I had a pretty good ratio of trash to treasure. I'd say at least a third are worth releasing on their own merits. And another third are at least interesting filler. The rest are just noisy, wanky garbage.

I have kept productive, such that I am writing and recording a little bit every day. But damn, the sheer number of things I have littered across two computers and my hardware set up is daunting. For instance. I came up with a really savage beat last year. Recorded some bass guitar and synths on to it. And did a rough mix. Very nice in a post punky industrial rock kind of way. Then I got busy with work and forgot where I saved it!
So my only option is to go through all the other projects on my trashcan mac and finish them until I cross paths with this mysterious number that I can't recall the name of. Which is motivation in itself.

One thing that I have noticed, which is a shortcoming of being a solo electronic artist/musician producer who self records. Back in the day there would be track sheets that went along with each project. These described things like which mic is on which instrument, and what track on the multi it belongs to. Sometimes even including all the info about the outboard used in the mixdown.
This was the job of the assistant engineer or 2nd assistant or tape operator.
When you work by yourself, you dont take notes. You just keep working until you are burnt.

I think moving forward I am going to start dropping simple track notes in to each project folder. And probably start making folders per year, and even per quarter. It's just too much of a mess now!
This may seem kind of like extra work. However, most of my sounds are coming from hardware sequencers, eurorack and monosynths. Of course I'll never get that modular patch back. But sequenced stuff on my Elektrons. There is no reason I shouldn't be doing a better job of saving those patches and patterns.

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Post by StateAzure » Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:51 pm

I can't recommend FAWM (February Album Writing Month) enough! I just did my 8th FAWM and it's been incredible for me for figuring out how to finish tracks, plus the community there is really amazing.

Until I joined FAWM, I really struggled to finish anything. One major part of that was because I was previously using Cubase, which I struggled with due to it being bloated, unstable (At the time) and not very speedy with its workflow (moving to Studio One Pro was a big help). FAWM though it was really pushed me to stop procrastinating and just find ways to finish tracks FAST, without worrying much about production quality etc. I think the challenge and the limitations really help in this regard, and if you're somewhat successful, you'll hopefully walk away with your own little tricks and perhaps new workflow process for getting shit done.

Quality and production can always be sorted out later.

PS. When FAWM month isn't running, I still procrastinate unfortunately :hihi: Haven't found a solution to that yet!

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Post by Standup » Fri Mar 16, 2018 12:55 pm

FAWM taught me how to finish stuff too. 14 songs in 28 days requires you to figure out how to take an idea, develop it to it’s conclusion, and move on. More than half of what I do in February during February Album Writing Month is silly or limited in scope or didn’t rise to what i had hoped for and I won’t revisit it.

But 1/3 or so are pleasant surprises, songs that have a future.

http://fawm.org/fawmers/standup/

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Post by StateAzure » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:54 pm

Standup wrote:FAWM taught me how to finish stuff too. 14 songs in 28 days requires you to figure out how to take an idea, develop it to it’s conclusion, and move on. More than half of what I do in February during February Album Writing Month is silly or limited in scope or didn’t rise to what i had hoped for and I won’t revisit it.

But 1/3 or so are pleasant surprises, songs that have a future.

http://fawm.org/fawmers/standup/
There's also 50/90 which begins in July if I remember. I don't find that quite as much fun and inspiring, but if you like FAWM and want more it's worth trying. 3 months of intensive song writing is a bit much in one go for me, but I still give it a shot and end up with some half-decent usable tunes usually.

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Post by Standup » Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:08 pm

In 50/90 there’s a lot going on in the summer. I usually end up with 5 songs in 90. Or maybe 20. For me FAWM is more intense and focused. The goal of 90 songs in the summer just seems unlikely, I have too many other things going on.

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Post by Andrew Montreal » Sun Mar 18, 2018 7:53 am

I recall someone quoting Stravinsky on the topic of completing music (though I can’t confirm that it was a legit quote). The idea still stands though...

Obstructions. Place limitations on yourself when you begin working on a piece. They can be random limitations such as: I will only use three instruments; this piece will start slow and have one fast section at the end toward which I will build; the musical progression will be such and regardless of what is inside those chordal movements, those will move change; so on.

I have found it helpful. I just completed a score where the instrumentation was limited to trumpet, piano, bass, guitar, marimba, percussion. It was so much easier to complete because my creative side wasn’t being sidetracked with, “Oh, wouldnt it be cool if I added a Minimoog drone here?” or “A wall of saxophones... that’s the ticket!”

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Post by jensenluxvid » Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:24 pm

Forcing yourself to finish it in just one day. This makes you plan out what you are doing in such a way that the goal is actually achievable. I've produced the most when I followed this rule, but I don't always. I also have all sorts of jams that I meant to edit up later into songs, but never did.

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Post by mentalu » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:55 pm

When I was starting out I found it helpful to visualize my favorite songs and look at their structure. Looking for patterns.

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Post by calaveras » Sat Mar 31, 2018 10:48 pm

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?

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Post by thevegasnerve » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:11 am

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.

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