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What are your "ground rules" before composing/reco
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques  
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
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