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How do you manage to actually record and finish a track?
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Author How do you manage to actually record and finish a track?
Wakeman
Its a small problem but i cant seem to get around it.

I get into the "studio" and start making some techno, you know, get a sick drum loop going on the rytm.... some bleep bloops here n there, some metallic samples, I get in the zone and start changing the loop slowly. A little bit of hats here, maybe a different clap, oh actually i'm bored of the bassline, what if i patch this like this instead and before i know it im working with a completely different loop that sounds nothing like the other or i've heard the loop for so long that i hate it and have to change it.

Not sure u get me, but question is how do you actually manage to build the track start to finish? do you just record the whole session and re arrange in chunks post record? do you plan everything from before? do u record multiple short loops and put em in order? I can't seem to finish a complete track from start to finish. is it a matter of finding my own method? do i suck at production?

Any one else got this issue?

EDIT : Yes its 4am and my eyes are bloodshot
lisa
Loads of folks on this forum would just record the whole session and that’d be it. One session = one track.

When I have a loop I like I record it with a few changes during the recording. It often turns out to be like 7-8 minutes long. Then I start the arranging and mixing process to get it down to 4-5 minutes and sounding ok. Often I feel that something is missing so I’ll add a melody or such. After 30-40 hours I have something that I like and want to publish.
Wakeman
lisa wrote:
Loads of folks on this forum would just record the whole session and that’d be it. One session = one track.

When I have a loop I like I record it with a few changes during the recording. It often turns out to be like 7-8 minutes long. Then I start the arranging and mixing process to get it down to 4-5 minutes and sounding ok. Often I feel that something is missing so I’ll add a melody or such. After 30-40 hours I have something that I like and want to publish.


Yeah that makes sense, it's really frustrating when starting something you like and losing it especially with the nature of eurorack, perfect to come up with something on the spot but never permanent. I think i need to just hit that record button before i start jamming and dealing with the mess later, and try make it a little easy on myself and record in a stem like structure. Thanks for the input
Futuresound
Wakeman wrote:
Its a small problem but i cant seem to get around it.


I'd say it's a huge problem, probably the single most common roadblock for most people!

Since moving to hardware, I've found two answers, but I'm still refining the process:

- record absolutely everything you do, then piece things together in a DAW later.

- Try to separate writing, arranging and mixing phases. When you're writing, just get ideas down. Then, do your arrangements, resisting the urge to tweak what you wrote unless really necessary. Then record and mix, again resisting the urge to write or arrange unless absolutely necessary.

I'm liking the second approach a lot better. It requires a lot of work, especially when structuring a track - DAWs are still the best tool for this job, but I'm making it work with Cirklon, and I'm sure other sequencers work too.

The 'Making Music' book from Ableton is a great collection of ideas for how to begin, continue and finish music. It applies to all workflows, not just Ableton.
magnetsandlasers
My goal is live performance, so my tracks are all single takes. I build a patch up with a number of different parts and variables, then practice on it before hitting the record button. Record a bunch of takes then choose the best one, hopefully before the patch has grown stale! Rinse, repeat. This is fun!
Smokey
Wakeman wrote:
do you just record the whole session and re arrange in chunks post record?

Yes! That is my favorite way! Jam/record, edit, arrange, repeat until satisfied.

Wakeman wrote:
do you plan everything from before?

Sometimes I have an idea I want to work out, sometimes I don't. Too much planning kills some of the fun for me.

Wakeman wrote:
do u record multiple short loops and put em in order?

Yes, this is really fun with Ableton and Push 2. I'll record loops and samples and them play with them while recording in arrangement mode.

Wakeman wrote:
I can't seem to finish a complete track from start to finish. is it a matter of finding my own method?

For me it is all about finding my own method. Once I figure out what works for me, and the equipment is ergonomically accessible, it all comes together pretty quick. You also have to realize that a track is never "finished" until you the creator says it is. The track wouldn't mind having all your energy and attention for the rest of your life. It's your creation and you can say when it's finished.

Wakeman wrote:
do i suck at production?

seriously, i just don't get it I'm not one to judge!

Wakeman wrote:
Any one else got this issue?
I don't currently. I was blessed to grow up in a punk and noise scene that gave a wide range what was considered songs, tracks, music, bands, etc... but my stuff ends up being WAY less polished than some artists who I admire.
Wakeman
Futuresound wrote:
Wakeman wrote:
Its a small problem but i cant seem to get around it.


I'd say it's a huge problem, probably the single most common roadblock for most people!

Since moving to hardware, I've found two answers, but I'm still refining the process:

- record absolutely everything you do, then piece things together in a DAW later.

- Try to separate writing, arranging and mixing phases. When you're writing, just get ideas down. Then, do your arrangements, resisting the urge to tweak what you wrote unless really necessary. Then record and mix, again resisting the urge to write or arrange unless absolutely necessary.

I'm liking the second approach a lot better. It requires a lot of work, especially when structuring a track - DAWs are still the best tool for this job, but I'm making it work with Cirklon, and I'm sure other sequencers work too.

The 'Making Music' book from Ableton is a great collection of ideas for how to begin, continue and finish music. It applies to all workflows, not just Ableton.



Yeah thinking about it could be as i'm not that used to hardware recording since i used do everything with a DAW as one does when just getting into production so now i got all geared up im finding it difficult. As i do like the second idea i think the first process might fit me better as its the whole planning part of the process that can throw me off and "ruin my vibe" if you get me. Yesterday i decided to just record everything i did, but something tells me i'm going to start dreading the re arrangement process haha. Just looked up a cirklon and it looks like a hell of an upgrade from my sq-1 haha, but i might look into a midi cv interface to have the pattern on my DAW.

Thanks for the input and ill look into the book!
Wakeman
magnetsandlasers wrote:
My goal is live performance, so my tracks are all single takes. I build a patch up with a number of different parts and variables, then practice on it before hitting the record button. Record a bunch of takes then choose the best one, hopefully before the patch has grown stale! Rinse, repeat. This is fun!


To be honest thats the one way ive actually finished anything, back when i used alot more samples and software i used a UR-44 and a Novation Launchpad, it used to work, i can kinda mix in and ad fc with ur-44 and trigger new scenes/breaks/drops with the launchpad and create a kind of backbone that would only need a slight polish. But now more hardware is involved i guess i find it harder to create the scenes on the rytm, maybe i need to get a little more comfortable with it, but yeah the patch grows stale alot quicker nowadays, im not sure why, maybe its the freedom of having alot more control of the sound?

i might consider trying to involve the ur-44 again but im running out of the little desk space i have haha.

thanks for the tip grin
Wakeman
Smokey wrote:
Wakeman wrote:
do you just record the whole session and re arrange in chunks post record?

Yes! That is my favorite way! Jam/record, edit, arrange, repeat until satisfied.

Wakeman wrote:
do you plan everything from before?

Sometimes I have an idea I want to work out, sometimes I don't. Too much planning kills some of the fun for me.

Wakeman wrote:
do u record multiple short loops and put em in order?

Yes, this is really fun with Ableton and Push 2. I'll record loops and samples and them play with them while recording in arrangement mode.

Wakeman wrote:
I can't seem to finish a complete track from start to finish. is it a matter of finding my own method?

For me it is all about finding my own method. Once I figure out what works for me, and the equipment is ergonomically accessible, it all comes together pretty quick. You also have to realize that a track is never "finished" until you the creator says it is. The track wouldn't mind having all your energy and attention for the rest of your life. It's your creation and you can say when it's finished.

Wakeman wrote:
do i suck at production?

seriously, i just don't get it I'm not one to judge!

Wakeman wrote:
Any one else got this issue?
I don't currently. I was blessed to grow up in a punk and noise scene that gave a wide range what was considered songs, tracks, music, bands, etc... but my stuff ends up being WAY less polished than some artists who I admire.


Sorry i cant format the reply as well as you did, im not used to muffwiggler(or any other forum) yet grin

Yeah im currently going to try the first method of just recording everything i do and dealing with the mess after haha, only thing worrying me is having a collection of Ableton recording that need re arranging, although it might work out as ill have a collection of unfinished tracks that would only need a polish before release.

I get what you mean about planning stuff out, it heavily ruins it for me but i can see why it could work when trying to achieve something specific.

I used to work with alot of loops when i used to use samples and drum loops with my UR-44 and a novation launchpad, its actually the one way ive ever finished anything but that was quite some time ago, i think im going to try and re-incorporate them somehow, only problem is im running out of desk space :(

I really enjoyed your outlook on whether a track is finished as thats another problem of mine, i never know when to call it finished and after a long time working on it i might just decide that i suddenly hate it, not sure how im going to get over that, maybe i just need to get better haha. None the less that advice will stick with me for ever so thanks for that. Long story short ive got a few things to work on Rockin' Banana!
Scories
lisa wrote:
Loads of folks on this forum would just record the whole session and that’d be it. One session = one track.

When I have a loop I like I record it with a few changes during the recording. It often turns out to be like 7-8 minutes long. Then I start the arranging and mixing process to get it down to 4-5 minutes and sounding ok. Often I feel that something is missing so I’ll add a melody or such. After 30-40 hours I have something that I like and want to publish.


Good advice here. When you jam, you have to go with the flow and build up upon a specific mood in time. But later on, you have have the right to make arbitrary decisions during the post-production process: play with your music as if it was some kind of a play dough; change the context, add/substract vital elements, whatever...

I find it more satisfying when you can add some ideas that comes from your mind rather than just interacting with gear.
wiggies
I work on a patch, sometimes for several days. My intention is to program something that will play and change on its own with minimal intervention on my part. Sometimes it's all from the modular; sometimes I do sequencing from the computer with Numerology.

Once I've got something I like, I hit record. Then I'll play back, see what I don't like in it, adjust, and go again. Sometimes I'll do multiple takes at different speeds or different keys or quantized to different scales.

Eight tracks into the DAW. I will play some with levels after, but not to the extent that I'm doing lots of mixing. Mostly just getting the levels where they sound mostly OK together throughout the whole piece. I will add some slight effects in the DAW (reverbs, compression mostly).

If the piece is too long (I start getting bored after repeated playbacks) I will find a good shorter section to extract.

Then publish.

I should probably learn to do actual editing in the DAW but so far, I'm enjoying what I'm doing and sometimes getting things I like.
naturligfunktion
You are not alone, I also find it difficult to finish tracks. Im trying a new approach now, which has evolved pretty natually as a result of me being a better musician and that I start to know my gear better. So that is my first advice: be patient. Remember to practice and the result will eventually show.

Second advice is to always record.

Third advice is to tune your VCOs and the bass drum. Makes editing easier later on.

After a while you will have several recordings and from there it will be relatively easy to add or subtrackt elements necessary in order to make a full track. Arrangement is always difficult, I struggle a lot with that, but I got the tip to take a song that you like, but it on a track in your DAW and mirror its arrangement. Will try that soon.

wiggies wrote:
I work on a patch, sometimes for several days. My intention is to program something that will play and change on its own with minimal intervention on my part. Sometimes it's all from the modular; sometimes I do sequencing from the computer with Numerology.

Once I've got something I like, I hit record. Then I'll play back, see what I don't like in it, adjust, and go again. Sometimes I'll do multiple takes at different speeds or different keys or quantized to different scales.

Eight tracks into the DAW. I will play some with levels after, but not to the extent that I'm doing lots of mixing. Mostly just getting the levels where they sound mostly OK together throughout the whole piece. I will add some slight effects in the DAW (reverbs, compression mostly).

If the piece is too long (I start getting bored after repeated playbacks) I will find a good shorter section to extract.

Then publish.

I should probably learn to do actual editing in the DAW but so far, I'm enjoying what I'm doing and sometimes getting things I like.


This is very similar to how I have started to make music and I think it is a good approach, at least for my aesthetic. I still spend A LOT of time in the computer. Can get a bit obsessed with it, but I also, sometimes find it funny. But I notice that I am starting to produce material that does not need that much more editing later on, which is nice. Makes the whole track-making-process faster.

Anyways, fourth tip is based on wiggies approach: Patch a nice patch and make several recordings of it. Some of my favorite tunes are made in this manner, for example this one:

https://soundcloud.com/naturligfunktion/lost-in-the-forbidden-forest

(had to promote myself a bit hehe cool
Muzone
I tend to have two approaches - main one is to randomly wiggle but record everything and bash a track pout of the edits, this is probably the most fun but least productive.
I find I'm much more productive if I do at least some planning with respect to theme, structure and sounds then work the track up in sections.
naturligfunktion
^^ I also find to have some sort of structure, thought or concept to be useful in term of "productiveness". I particularly find that to start jamming, do that until something interesting comes up, and then take that initial sound as a building block for the new project, to be very fun and useful.

e.g. it may be that I come across a vicked sequence. Then I check the scale it is playing, and what the root note is. Then I check the gate pattern for the main sequence, and try to build the rest part of the songs around those key ideas.
Wakeman
I think what i'm going to try is what many of you suggested and just record everything i do for now(since i didn't even used to do that) and try to create "phases" while im jamming to make sure i have something to work with. I do generally have an idea of what "sound" i'm going for, but its generally pretty vague, it is usually along the lines of "i want heavy techno with some metallic percussion" or "some chill house that sounds lo-fi with some vocals", i'm not really capable if envisioning anything more specific than that. Overall its more of like inspiration from other artists that i might replicate with my own twist,

I guess it boils down to me not having a process when it comes to recording anything i do yet + not being that experienced with my hardware.

My plan right now is mostly from what all you helpful people suggested, so first im going to try and just record everything i do and hopefully be able do polish some of that stuff off, once i get more used to my equipment i can hopefully develop some ideas i might have in mind rather than interacting with gear as "Scories" stated, as i tend to do that.

I need to also find the right balance of tweaking and over tweaking when it comes to creating a whole different loop than from what i started with. I like the idea of importing a track i liked and comparing my structure of the track to it since that way i can have some sort of guideline.

Hopefully ill have something to show you guys in the near future grin
in the meantime this is something i made in 2014 one the few tracks i actually finished lol : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxkGMROSLo8

Thanks for the help as the recording process when working with hardware was pretty vague to me and i didn't seem to find any videos around it, especially when it comes to the specific genre.

TLDR : I'm going to record everything i do and start of as i do normally by jamming, Practice with my gear, Involve alot of strategies you guys recommended, and hopefully start having a few tracks on a plate rather than a bunch of loops that get forgotten.
Wakeman
wiggies wrote:
I work on a patch, sometimes for several days. My intention is to program something that will play and change on its own with minimal intervention on my part. Sometimes it's all from the modular; sometimes I do sequencing from the computer with Numerology.

Once I've got something I like, I hit record. Then I'll play back, see what I don't like in it, adjust, and go again. Sometimes I'll do multiple takes at different speeds or different keys or quantized to different scales.

Eight tracks into the DAW. I will play some with levels after, but not to the extent that I'm doing lots of mixing. Mostly just getting the levels where they sound mostly OK together throughout the whole piece. I will add some slight effects in the DAW (reverbs, compression mostly).

If the piece is too long (I start getting bored after repeated playbacks) I will find a good shorter section to extract.

Then publish.

I should probably learn to do actual editing in the DAW but so far, I'm enjoying what I'm doing and sometimes getting things I like.


What your doing actually sounds pretty amazing tbh, i have nowhere near as much smarts to get my modular to play for me haha, i dont even think i have enough modules to do so, But when it comes to mixing i think i'm going to try and use my UR-44 to try get some volume levels a little decent when it comes to blending in new sounds.
Muzone
Wakeman wrote:
..... try and just record everything i do and hopefully be able do polish some of that stuff off


Good plan, is far easier to delete a session you don't like than recreate that session when everything just clicks, but you didn't hit the record button smile
Wakeman
Muzone wrote:
Wakeman wrote:
..... try and just record everything i do and hopefully be able do polish some of that stuff off


Good plan, is far easier to delete a session you don't like than recreate that session when everything just clicks, but you didn't hit the record button smile


yeah i think its the closest i can get to anything for now, Today was a daunting day haha, went in confident but it after almost a whole day i still got nothing i like. Ill try again next time :(
Muzone
Wakeman wrote:
[..... i still got nothing i like. Ill try again next time :(


yeah, but what you don't like today might be useful next time - even if it's just to listen back with fresh ears and think "yeah, that twiddly bit in the middle was quite good, hey that gives me an idea......."
smile
Wakeman
Muzone wrote:
Wakeman wrote:
[..... i still got nothing i like. Ill try again next time :(


yeah, but what you don't like today might be useful next time - even if it's just to listen back with fresh ears and think "yeah, that twiddly bit in the middle was quite good, hey that gives me an idea......."
smile


Yeah good point grin
wiggies
Wakeman wrote:
wiggies wrote:
I work on a patch, sometimes for several days. My intention is to program something that will play and change on its own with minimal intervention on my part. Sometimes it's all from the modular; sometimes I do sequencing from the computer with Numerology.

Once I've got something I like, I hit record. Then I'll play back, see what I don't like in it, adjust, and go again. Sometimes I'll do multiple takes at different speeds or different keys or quantized to different scales.

Eight tracks into the DAW. I will play some with levels after, but not to the extent that I'm doing lots of mixing. Mostly just getting the levels where they sound mostly OK together throughout the whole piece. I will add some slight effects in the DAW (reverbs, compression mostly).

If the piece is too long (I start getting bored after repeated playbacks) I will find a good shorter section to extract.

Then publish.

I should probably learn to do actual editing in the DAW but so far, I'm enjoying what I'm doing and sometimes getting things I like.


What your doing actually sounds pretty amazing tbh, i have nowhere near as much smarts to get my modular to play for me haha, i dont even think i have enough modules to do so, But when it comes to mixing i think i'm going to try and use my UR-44 to try get some volume levels a little decent when it comes to blending in new sounds.


Switches, clocks, step sequencers, shift registers, euclidean patterns, and slow LFOs.
Bath House
Some things that have worked for me, because yes it's an eternal struggle:

1. always be recording, always. Space is limitless and cheap. Record in the background no matter what you're doing. Let it roll for hours.

2. Set up/invest in inputs/etc. so that you can record everything as individually as possible; every input, every effects return, etc. goes to its own channel. This might be 8 channels, it might be 100. Go for as much as you can. It gives you flexibility later to edit and mix.

3. Record a master clock alongside the audio that you can sync back up to later. MIDI through something like a USAMO or SND Acme, or even something like SMPTE or FSK. Whatever lets you come back tomorrow or six months later, sync up a sequencer, and be right back where you started.

4. As a corollary to 2 and 3, using Live and a launchpad or push that you can mount near your hardware goes a long way to just having a thing right there that's ready to be armed and capture audio that's in sync at any moment without thinking about stopping, setting up and arming a track, etc. They can be pretty damned invisible and in that moment when you land on a groove, smash that button to grab a clip - even a clip that's a few minutes long!

5. What finally worked best for me was getting a sequencer to make the hub of EVERYTHING I'm doing - in my case the Cirklon - combined with #3. I can program the entire song sequencing my entire room of gear, even effects, before I ever even need to record a note. I live in the sequencer; if I'm doing something cool, it gets captured as a scene and I'm on to the next.
slumberjack
i've seen multiple workflows now from tedious to super relaxed.

working with a soundcard and a few hardware boxes can lead to following two options:

1. daw is your master

you create loops, sequences, sounds and/or play the keys and record that into your daw which is the master, the outboard gear is slaved. record an individual track for about 3 minutes while taking your induvidual sound into somewhere totally different. then process clips out of that, you might even get two other tracks out of one short single track recording. then repeat that with the next sound you created already in the sequence or create one after the other. since you always got the first few steps of the initial track which you can chop up, i might don't even need to save any sound or patch after tweaking the hell out of it.

you will get a decent amount of tracks in your project if working like this! it's a quick workflow and because you said your familiar with a launchpad you will be able to arrange quite fast while just recording your clips launching and turning off. if you know jay haze for example, that's how he's working with ableton and all people familiar with him worked with are getting ableton worked that way.

2. otb is you master

you create an arrangement with your outboard gear while your daw is slaved to the midi chain. this might be a 1 up to serval bars loop or a finshed arrangement in songmode in a (or various) sequencer(s) or what i call a half arrangement (which is like the first 3-4 minutes arrangement until the mainpart is full-on) with playable end (where you start to jam to finish the arrangement - which is a nice way of recording imho).
now you record each track after another - which i prefer more when working with a loop. so you start with the first track, then overdub the second and so on. this can lead to intense and unforseen drastic changes!
or you record multichannel. or stereo bounce all tracks together which is great for finishing track because you cannot edit anything after your session. but it's a pita if you fucked up a few bars and it's might be impossible to cut'n'glue afterwards. but some say this is where the magic lies - imperfection can be a big deal and the essence in your work...

this is the way i work.

so far so good but i might didn't reveal anything new to you.

as i wan't to oppose opinions above:

it's better you work on every aspect of a song permanetly. you constantly want to eq individual tracks, adjust the track level, work on the effect routings, change a timbre on the synth, adjust the sample, pick out a note or two here, add a step there add movement to the arrangement and so on.
if your work like this you will keep the bigger picture of a sequence / arrangement / composition and avoid to get stuck in details or get your precious work fucked up and loosing to vibe. but be aware with all these tweaking and adjustments: keep it sublte, less is more. you can freak out on a filter or modulate one parameter from time to time but you always have to find your way back where you were. when you've done your first couple of takes you still can go wild afterwards...or the next day.

i've learned this from a drawing teacher. if you wan't a really nice drawing you cannot go from a > z in a linear way. you have to start at some point but you then after the first sketches on your paper you might develope the foreground a but the process the trees on the right after you put a few strokes on another part of the picture. the whole point in this is keeping the picture alive.
if you work in a too linear fashion your picture starts to get constructed and the inspiration will transform into thought which break your creativity and intuition - at least that's the thing with me. other maybe are totally different BUT if i compare the energy i get out this focus, the resulting inspiration and fun to the people i work with it's at least like 5:1 in favor for me. be sure i'm not bragging...it's not a joke. your intuition is path of a an animated spirit which you kill by thoughts and raise by unliniar workflows.

tame yourself and try to find a loop with 3-5 track that feels right and stick to it for a while before you move on. again: and stick to it. i know it's hard because you can do so much by adding another layer. but every house needs a proper fundament. as i said above: work slowly with little adjustments here and there to avoid killing your vibe and ending up frustated because you screw the sequence that gave you chills and goosebumps 5 minutes ago.
slumberjack
tbh i was using this 'recod everything' rule for a year or so. in the end i had hours and hours of single track or stereo recording i never was going to use anyways so i deleted them. for me there's no use in endless editing.

it's best when it's done as tight or spot on as possible because again you avoid getting lost in a sea of possibilites...

..jus me two cents. peace!
evanc
this was a great read, thanks everybody. got some good things to try adding to the process.

what i do right now? i just jam out until i find a main loop i like, then i try to figure out a flow for it to be performed in 1 take. practice that flow for a while, then start recording takes of it.

after i have a bunch of takes, with slight differences in approach, then i sift through them for the ones that will make it into the actual track.

not the best workflow, though, so i appreciate all these great ideas.
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