MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index
 FAQ & Terms of UseFAQ & Terms Of Use   Wiggler RadioMW Radio   Muff Wiggler TwitterTwitter   Support the site @ PatreonPatreon 
 SearchSearch   RegisterSign up   Log inLog in 
WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

What are your "ground rules" before composing/reco
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author What are your "ground rules" before composing/reco
Daisuk
I often find myself writing these little notes to myself that I discover while making music. But I often "forget" them, as I somehow think the music making process becomes more tedious by having to think of them. Yet, after I've disregarded them for a session, and I end up recording something, I often regret not having followed the ground rules afterall.

So do you have any ground rules you follow while composing/recording?

Here are a few of my own that I aspire to apply to every composition (although I use that term very lightly for my own stuff), more or less:

- Pay attention to velocity/accents with every sound element used, it makes the track come alive
- With every sound element used, make it move (by modulating it), if only just a little, stale sounds, no matter how pretty they sound, can get boring in the long run
- Start with the higher frequency stuff, and build your way down (helps getting too much bass and mid frequency mud in the mix, I find)
- No matter how great that 4 bar loop is, force yourself to make AT LEAST two variations to it, and at least one SHIFT (like a break) that completely changes the track - recording loops are pointless and boring (this is one I'm working hard at at the moment).
- Don't start with a melody, focus on sound design elements first and work the (subtle) melody into it later, this usually makes the track more interesting, as too obvious melodies are often boring.
- Give every element in the mix space, try not to have more than three elements at any one time going, if possible (this one is a bit too vague).
- Apart from this, don't pay any attention to the usual "rules" of electronic music - a track doesn't necessarily need a "lead" or a "kick" or a bassline or whatever else. Get weird or die trying.

Those are some of mine. I have more, but I can't remember them right now.

Would love to hear if any of you guys have anything similar, and whether or not you manage to follow it. smile
mt3
All are very good. Others/similar:

* articulation is animation
* thou shalt not leave any CV inputs unmodulated/unpatched
* don't use sequencers to create events; use them to modulate events
* don't quantize to standard scale tunings
* don't use standard scales
MindMachine
That's a lot of words and rules.

I record live- no tracks. I put pieces of colored mask tape or post-it notes where I need to 'compose' things. If it is more involved I just take a pad of paper and make notes: which instrument/channel at what time, how to add effects, when to kill or fade out,... etc.

Notes make a difference. My music is amateur but I enjoy the process too.
Michael O.
The only ones that have really stuck for me and have found general use in my work are:

-Record everything, and edit the good parts later (not least because what strikes one as mediocre in one context and at one moment may later sound downright inspired in another)

-Often times less really is more effective (in terms of arrangement, embellishment, etc.)

-If it sounds right it is right (the one true nearly definitive rule of music, at least for me)
chaosick
Daisuk wrote:
I often find myself writing these little notes to myself that I discover while making music. But I often "forget" them, as I somehow think the music making process becomes more tedious by having to think of them. Yet, after I've disregarded them for a session, and I end up recording something, I often regret not having followed the ground rules afterall.

So do you have any ground rules you follow while composing/recording?

Here are a few of my own that I aspire to apply to every composition (although I use that term very lightly for my own stuff), more or less:

- Pay attention to velocity/accents with every sound element used, it makes the track come alive
- With every sound element used, make it move (by modulating it), if only just a little, stale sounds, no matter how pretty they sound, can get boring in the long run
- Start with the higher frequency stuff, and build your way down (helps getting too much bass and mid frequency mud in the mix, I find)
- No matter how great that 4 bar loop is, force yourself to make AT LEAST two variations to it, and at least one SHIFT (like a break) that completely changes the track - recording loops are pointless and boring (this is one I'm working hard at at the moment).
- Don't start with a melody, focus on sound design elements first and work the (subtle) melody into it later, this usually makes the track more interesting, as too obvious melodies are often boring.
- Give every element in the mix space, try not to have more than three elements at any one time going, if possible (this one is a bit too vague).
- Apart from this, don't pay any attention to the usual "rules" of electronic music - a track doesn't necessarily need a "lead" or a "kick" or a bassline or whatever else. Get weird or die trying.

Those are some of mine. I have more, but I can't remember them right now.

Would love to hear if any of you guys have anything similar, and whether or not you manage to follow it. smile


Be well rested, well fed, and feel like an idea is bursting out of me like an eel jumping out of the water to crunch a juicy crab in its mouth, so that I have just GOT to lay that mother down.
Dcramer
Naked... w00t
johnnywoods
Personally, I feel like this sort of thinking comes into play more with how I set up my studio than how I actually compose. Especially in a mostly modular environment, I like to have everything set up so when I start playing around, everything is ready to be synced, tuned, and patched to make recording as effortless as possible. Then, even if I'm just setting out to have a quick noodle before bed, if inspiration strikes, everything is ready to push the red button and get as many instruments as possible involved.
Some of my favorite tracks have come from accidental inspiration... being ready to flesh out a random noodle with other instruments is paramount for my process.
chaosick
johnnywoods wrote:
Personally, I feel like this sort of thinking comes into play more with how I set up my studio than how I actually compose. Especially in a mostly modular environment, I like to have everything set up so when I start playing around, everything is ready to be synced, tuned, and patched to make recording as effortless as possible. Then, even if I'm just setting out to have a quick noodle before bed, if inspiration strikes, everything is ready to push the red button and get as many instruments as possible involved.
Some of my favorite tracks have come from accidental inspiration... being ready to flesh out a random noodle with other instruments is paramount for my process.


Yep, though I like what AFX said, https://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/reader/aphex-twin/#syro

"Pitchfork: Is rearranging the studio part of your compositional process?

RDJ: It's constant. When I look at commercial studios, I think, “Oh, they're all so nice and tidy,” but it's because they don't actually write music in them. They're just for producing stuff that's already been written. Whereas if you're writing stuff in studios, it's always changing, and you're always swapping equipment around. I just really wish I could bloody keep the same setup for more than about five minutes, because then I would actually get good at that setup. But I just get bored and swap things out. Fucking ridiculous.

If it takes you three years to set up a studio, and you've made one track with that setup, then the logical thing to do is not change anything and just do another one using the same set of sounds. Which I've done, and it's always really good because it's all ready to go. But I just can't keep it the same. I’ve always got to change something. All the tracks I’ve done in the last five years were made in like six different studios. It gets a bit complicated."

Now I just need 5 other studios..
chaosick
Dcramer wrote:
Naked... w00t


My room is too cold for that, no heater grate!
deepr
I know this is a quite vague concept but I try never repeating the structures -
specially arrangement and timbres - of my tracks.

I also like to vary my creative process so if today I sit down and start to build a track from the drums tomorrow I will start a new project with the melody and so on.

Ah! And something very important when I am recording low frequency elements is to pay attention to unwanted distortion.
lonefront
I love making rules but the only one I truly keep around is that each rule must be broken (within reason, lol)

For example I was adamant about only using material that had been fully patched in the modular environment and recently broke that rule by embracing waveform recording to resample later into Ableton. It isn't dramatically changing my workflow but I got some great results!
Ray Diode
When i’m stuck, I sometimes find Brian Eno’s oblique strategies are
useful http://stoney.sb.org/eno/oblique.html
lisa
Ray Diode wrote:
When i’m stuck, I sometimes find Brian Eno’s oblique strategies are
useful http://stoney.sb.org/eno/oblique.html

I’m not very impressed by those. Loads of mumbo jumbo like ”Trust in the you of now” and ”Question the heroic approach”. To be helpful it needs to be more tangible.

Someone should write a new set, relevant to a modular studio session.
Homepage Englisch
In a longish session: find the amount of FX that sounds perfect to you. Then tone it down by 10%. You'll thank yourself later

Get out of your comfort zone, but come back to what you're good at.

Never do things for the sake of doing things.

Don't be confined by genres.

Never feel guilty.

Studio and live environments are totally different things.

Keep it simpler than that. Even if.

Cheat all the time. If you can't program a hi-hit to your liking or can't find a drummer, sing "ts ts ts" and sample it.

It's okay if you're shit at playing an instrument. But you should know music theory by now.

Leave headroom.

Opinions of others do matter. Cherry-pick the people though.

Apply non-attenuated LFO to your ego. Pamper it. Fuck it.
irrlicht
Daisuk wrote:
recording loops are pointless and boring (this is one I'm working hard at at the moment).


most of the posts here are definitely smthing to remember, but i don't get that one.
thats what im mostly doing at the moment - sampling whole loops in 2 or 3 variations and tweaking/slicing/resampling them afterwards
calaveras
I was in a variety of punk, metal and 'other' bands before I got into doing electronic music.
One of the things that always bothered me was the adherence to pretty boring song structures.

So whenever stuff starts to sound too 'square' I'll go back and edit the number of measures to an odd number. Or change the time signature to 5/4 and so on.

OTOH I refuse to edit myself while I am in the initial phase of creation. If the track is starting to turn into a retro 80's g-funk track I will just let it happen. I can always go back and corrupt the groove later.

But if I am questioning my choices while I am making them it will just suck.
Mostin77
Must have beer
CF3
My only ground rules are related to audio engineering standards. Like headroom and clipping. Neat workspace. Creatively, as soon as I start setting ground rules the other half of brain will want to break them (that guy is a serious dick).

A lot of stuff is instinctual and taste driven. I turn shit on and it either happens or it doesn't. If it doesn't, I move onto more mundane tasks like sample editing, prep work, organization, studio maintenance, etc. As long as stuff is getting done I'm happy.

So maybe my ground rule is: Keep it movin'
Moskowitz
Single ground rule: Have an idea

Could be 'do house' or 'make a set of ambient tunes with only analog synths - no drums' or 'make something similar to something I like' - I always strive to make a something rather than an anything.

Never do I just 'mess around'
GuyaGuy
lisa wrote:
Ray Diode wrote:
When i’m stuck, I sometimes find Brian Eno’s oblique strategies are
useful http://stoney.sb.org/eno/oblique.html

I’m not very impressed by those. Loads of mumbo jumbo like ”Trust in the you of now” and ”Question the heroic approach”. To be helpful it needs to be more tangible.

Someone should write a new set, relevant to a modular studio session.

The point is that they are open and open you to think about your project in a new way. If they just said things like "Make the bass thumpier" or "Modulate the modulators" it would be something completely different.
GuyaGuy
Daisuk wrote:

- Pay attention to velocity/accents with every sound element used, it makes the track come alive
- With every sound element used, make it move (by modulating it), if only just a little, stale sounds, no matter how pretty they sound, can get boring in the long run
- Start with the higher frequency stuff, and build your way down (helps getting too much bass and mid frequency mud in the mix, I find)
- No matter how great that 4 bar loop is, force yourself to make AT LEAST two variations to it, and at least one SHIFT (like a break) that completely changes the track - recording loops are pointless and boring (this is one I'm working hard at at the moment).
- Don't start with a melody, focus on sound design elements first and work the (subtle) melody into it later, this usually makes the track more interesting, as too obvious melodies are often boring.
- Give every element in the mix space, try not to have more than three elements at any one time going, if possible (this one is a bit too vague).
- Apart from this, don't pay any attention to the usual "rules" of electronic music - a track doesn't necessarily need a "lead" or a "kick" or a bassline or whatever else. Get weird or die trying.

I don't have hard and fast rules like this. Sometimes a part without variation makes it more effective, for example. Or, try as you may to avoid the trap, the basic lead/pad/bass approach works perfectly for some songs. And sometimes a song starts with a melody so it can be good to start with that. So I view "rules" like this more as "things to consider." In other words, they're good to consider to check yourself if you're falling back on old habits, using cliches, or making static recordings.
Panason
Daisuk wrote:
- Apart from this, don't pay any attention to the usual "rules" of electronic music - a track doesn't necessarily need a "lead" or a "kick" or a bassline or whatever else. Get weird or die trying.


I know most folks here are more on the experimental side of things but if you're making dance music (esp on the house side of things) there are most certainly rules regarding rhythm, dynamics and structure . If you're not aware of them it will be very hard to make anything that a DJ will want to play..
circadianeyes
Try evolve the song as it goes and add details that keep it interesting. Sometimes with ambient music something can drone on for a bit too long.
hsosdrum
If you want to make sure you never miss out on capturing something that turns out to be magic, turn on the recorder before you begin to play and keep it on until you're done playing. If you didn't play anything worth saving, record over it the next time you sit down to play — no harm, no foul.

The above is much easier if you're recording onto digital media, but can also be made to work with analog media. (I used to have a band that improvised about 90% of the time. Every time we played we recorded everything on cassettes — this was 1989 – 1992 — from the moment we began playing until the very last note.)

An other thing this strategy will do is cure you of "Red-Light Nerves". You get so used to the record light being on that it stops adversely affecting your ability to create and perform in-the-moment.
Sinamsis
I would say I generally start with a specific goal or concept. A "sound" that I'm trying to achieve. Then I set some ground rules on what instruments I will use, or at least start with and then fill in as needed. I don't have a rule with what I start with, and often it will start as just making a patch on a fixed architecture synth or the modular and as I'm designing the sound it inspires me to do something with it. Otherwise sound design will be directed by the goal in mind. Sometimes I will start with programming drums, and often that is if the goal is to play in a "unique" time signature or with polymeters, etc.

Past that I agree with many of these thoughts:

- Repetitive loops get boring. I'm pushing myself to create more variations. Not just drums. Synth sequences, etc. I've also been taking that a step forward and trying variations in patches as well to create some movement and keep things from stagnating.
- I make a conscience effort to not crowd the mix, at least not off the bat. It's a real struggle for me. Another part of this is focusing on making each voice rich and interesting. With less voices in the mix, each piece becomes all the more important. In a crowded mix a boring pad or lead or bass or whatever could be over looked. Not when you're keeping it lean.
- I don't start with a specific frequency spectrum, and if I do I usually fill the low end and work up. I generally find myself making bright, abrasive sounds, so I focus on the lower frequency spectrum to make sure the final sound has some fullness to it. That said, I've made more of an effort to consider where a sound might fit in the mix before adding it.
- I really try to avoid the verse chorus, or A B approach to structuring pieces. I try to not fall into the same patterns either. Ha, sometimes I fail. But I do like to try to keep song structure interesting.


But yeah, I guess these are rules as to how I approach composition. But otherwise I try to keep things fresh and interesting.
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Page 1 of 2
Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group