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Old 27-05-2015, 12:08 AM   #1
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Advice Needed!

Backstory: I am 16 years old, love electronic music, and am very inspired to make it myself.

Question: How does one reach the point where he/she can hear the song they want to make in their head and then produce it in decent time? Lately I have been hearing track ideas in my head but as soon as I get into Ableton, I am at a standstill and I don't know what to do. My problem is that I don't know if the reason for this is because I do not have the resources I need (using crappy laptop, somewhat decent headphones, not very many drum samples, only one VST [Massive], no real studio, etc.), or if it is because I just simply do not have enough experience. I mean, I have only been working in Ableton for 2 months. I know the interface inside-out and I have learned A LOT about EDM production over the past few months, but I don't know if acquiring the skill as mentioned at the top is ONLY done through experience. A few days ago, I watched a great video of Seven Lions going through the elements of his track "A way to say Goodbye", and I was thinking...does he ever come to a point in his song development where he doesn't know how to make a sound he wants, or does it just come relatively easy to him because he has the resources (good studio, many VST's, TONS of drum samples, etc.) It seems as if nothing is standing in the way of his creative flow. Obviously experience is what is most important when it comes down to it, but I really feel like my lack of resources is holding me back at the moment and it is very frustrating! I just want to be in a position where I can make the ideas I have come to life in my DAW, and I would like to know peoples opinions on what they think is the best way achieving that goal.
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Old 27-05-2015, 12:28 AM   #2
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Re: Advice Needed!

2 months isn't enough time. Make music for about 20 years and then see how you feel.

Your resources dictate a good portion of your overall output, but I can assure you that having the best sample packs and loops will lead you nowhere fast. Unless you want to play around and get a feel for things, you might find yourself making some real sounds of your own for a much more rewarding and personal experience.

Learn lots, don't rush it, and don't give up. EDM won't be cool in a few years, so consider that as well.
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Old 27-05-2015, 12:42 AM   #3
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Re: Advice Needed!

If you've only been at it a few months, lack of resources has nothing to do with it. It is lack of experience and knowledge (at only a few months you can't know much about anything, sorry, just a fact). You probably do feel like you've learned a ton--but the fact is you can always learn more. I do think there is a saturation point for learning technical/mixing stuff and the rest is down to experience. We are talking years.

I've been doing this kind of stuff for about a decade now and I'm only at the point where I'm pretty confident in my mixes. Only just at the point where I think I can pull off writing a fairly interesting tune.

Honestly at this point having more choices is only going to get in your way. Even for me, I mostly use two hardware synths to make all my sounds: one analog monosynth and digital polyphonic synth. I fill in the blank with VSTs when I'm in the middle of arranging. I don't say this to tell you to go buy hardware (I'd recommend the opposite actually and say don't buy anything). I say to say: you don't need a room full of gear or gigabytes of samples, or piles of VSTs...

Do you have Ableton Suite? If so, that should be plenty to keep you busy for a year or so. The chances that you've gotten to the level where those tools are holding you back in any way, frankly, isn't possible.

kvlt and I both have seen posts like yours a thousand times (literally a thousand!).

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Old 27-05-2015, 02:15 AM   #4
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Re: Advice Needed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azarachi View Post
Question: How does one reach the point where he/she can hear the song they want to make in their head and then produce it in decent time?
You don't. Well you can. If you give up on making music and instead work to become a producer and then spend the next four decades working on production. I reckon after forty years you should have access to enough talent to know who to call to make the sound in your head so that you can record it.

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Lately I have been hearing track ideas in my head but as soon as I get into Ableton, I am at a standstill and I don't know what to do.
That's because you don't know what you're doing yet.

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My problem is that I don't know if the reason for this is because I do not have the resources I need (using crappy laptop, somewhat decent headphones, not very many drum samples, only one VST [Massive], no real studio, etc.), or if it is because I just simply do not have enough experience.
Now, if you considered how many tracks have been made exclusively with the Ableton Suite, and you were honest with yourself, you'd already have your answer.

I mean FFS Live has eleven instruments dude! That's eleven instruments you could be using to make sounds. Beyond that, Live has 35 effects bro! 35!!!!

Dynamics & Distortion: Amp, Cabinet, Compressor, Dynamic Tube, Glue, Limiter, Multiband Dynamics, Overdrive and Saturator.

Delays: Chorus, Flanger, Grain Delay, Phaser, Ping Pong Delay, Reverb and Simple Delay.

Now that's half of the devices Live offers. Pray tell, what more do you need? Can you honestly say that you've learned all 35 effects back to front and found them inadequate to their tasks? And if, after a couple of months, you have come to this conclusion, then brah you're a superstar and we should be asking you for tips.

Honestly man, when I think about what I was doing when your age I was pretty much making noises and then plugging in effects and seeing what they did. I remember loving the combination of microphone, flanger and reverb. Endless luls with my mates.

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I mean, I have only been working in Ableton for 2 months. I know the interface inside-out and I have learned A LOT about EDM production over the past few months, but I don't know if acquiring the skill as mentioned at the top is ONLY done through experience.
Well yeah dude. Going to school and "learning" something doesn't mean that you can do something. It just means you've learned how to do something. Actually learning to do something requires that you actually do it... over and over again.

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A few days ago, I watched a great video of Seven Lions going through the elements of his track "A way to say Goodbye", and I was thinking...does he ever come to a point in his song development where he doesn't know how to make a sound he wants, or does it just come relatively easy to him because he has the resources (good studio, many VST's, TONS of drum samples, etc.) It seems as if nothing is standing in the way of his creative flow.
Well of course it looks that way. When you have someone sitting down and showing you a session file for a project that's not only finished, but released, then of course it looks like they know what they're doing. Think about it dude. You're looking at the finished results of a project. When he shows you how he made a particular sound in a minute, that minute doesn't represent how much work was done to get to that point. It just shows how long it takes to apply a particular method. It probably took him hours, days or weeks to get the sound to that point.
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Old 27-05-2015, 09:58 AM   #5
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Re: Advice Needed!

Short answer nope no shortcuts and everyone twiddles and tweaks to get what they want.some is at the composition/production phase some at the mix stage....the rest is covered in the answers eloquently given by Relic and Jaded.

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Old 27-05-2015, 02:06 PM   #6
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Re: Advice Needed!

^ The only thing I forgot is that there are heaps of tutorials you can do to learn how to make a sound using a synth. I've watched a few from this one guy who does heaps of massive tutorials for progressive, trance or melodic sounds. Lots of Deadmau5 and similar artists.

These kinds of tutorials are a great way to learn more about making sounds. I find that by the time I follow these tutorial and copy the sound I have a ton of ideas of what to do with it or where to take it. Then of course, once you follow the tutorial and replicate the sound, that's when you can have fun and play a few rounds of "What does this button/knob do?" and "How can I fucking wreck the shit out of this and break stuff?"

I think a lot of people who know nothing get very discouraged because they think that what they're doing sounds shit because they're comparing their work to releases. But that doesn't matter. It's no fun if you do it that way. It's more fun just to just see what happens.
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Old 27-05-2015, 08:09 PM   #7
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Re: Advice Needed!

How long do you think it would take you to be proficient at, oh say, the piano? Longer than two months I presume and that's only one instrument. In Live / the computer composition environment you're talking more than several plus any effects and mixing / dynamics tools. Just because this is music on a computer doesn't mean it'll be different than anything else. In fact its probably harder.

You also have to learn a multitude of jobs here too. Writer, engineer, mixer, to name only a few. Its literally impossible to measure how long it will take you to become proficient in even some of those areas. Most who are would tell you they're still learning.

You could probably practice every day and bang out a tune in a relatively short order but, from what I've seen, people who do that burn out before they even begin. And besides, you're "barely 16." There's no rush.

Pull up those boot straps because, hopefully, you're in for a long haul.

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Old 27-05-2015, 09:52 PM   #8
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Re: Advice Needed!

I think a lot of creators don't hear stuff in their heads and then create them. I think a lot of the creations are works in progress (continual work) until they sound good or bad enough to quit. Musical control is somewhat of an illusion.

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Old 27-05-2015, 10:38 PM   #9
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Re: Advice Needed!

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Originally Posted by Nystagmus View Post
I think a lot of creators don't hear stuff in their heads and then create them. I think a lot of the creations are works in progress (continual work) until they sound good or bad enough to quit. Musical control is somewhat of an illusion.
Many of my best creative endeavors where things that took on a life of their own, so to speak, not end products I bent into shape by force of will--though that works too sometimes. I think knowing which of these paths is appropriate for any given song/ep/lp takes a lot of experience. And thirdly, knowing when to ditch something and move on is important as well.

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Old 28-05-2015, 02:58 AM   #10
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Re: Advice Needed!

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How long do you think it would take you to be proficient at, oh say, the piano? Longer than two months I presume and that's only one instrument.
Man. A friend from high school did all of the grades by year 10. He was super talented so after high school he went to university to study piano. I think it was another five years or so of studying and performing that he was comfortable saying that he knew how to play the piano. But even then, he wasn't satisfied that his abilities were sufficient.

That's kind of the thing if you determine to master something. It takes a fucking long time, and you will never be satisfied. Like you look at some of the modern composers' works and then hear them talk about themselves. For the most part, they are deeply unsure of themselves. And it's true of all kinds of great artists. Contempt in their early work is always evident as they grow, and often for the current work too... if it's any good.

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I think a lot of creators don't hear stuff in their heads and then create them. I think a lot of the creations are works in progress (continual work) until they sound good or bad enough to quit. Musical control is somewhat of an illusion.
I can think of only two instances where this has truly happened for me. The first was when I had a bunch of sounds ready to do something with but no ideas and I was watching CSI and a few lines of dialogue were like *BOOM* in my brain and I immediately turned the TV off, went into the studio, downloaded the episode and ripped the audio and grabbed all of the sounds together and it just rolled out.

The other one was when I made a cool bass / kick loop and opening the bass up made it growly as fuck. Then I ran it through guitar rig and it kicked me in the balls. So I copied it, whacked an arpeggiator on it and started busting out a lead and it sounded dope as fuck. Then the track just wrote itself and I burned it to CD, walked out the door and down to the club and handed it to my mate who was DJing and watched an empty dance floor turn into a riot.

That tune was fucking sick. I spent an hour on it and it was sick. It got signed to a massive label, I had my pick of remixers and offers for more work. Then my computer got fried and the only copy in existence was low-bitrate demo and a CDR. That's when I started auto-archiving my audio folders to my FTP.
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Old 28-05-2015, 08:30 AM   #11
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Re: Advice Needed!

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Originally Posted by Azarachi View Post
Backstory: I am 16 years old, love electronic music, and am very inspired to make it myself.

Question: How does one reach the point where he/she can hear the song they want to make in their head and then produce it in decent time? Lately I have been hearing track ideas in my head but as soon as I get into Ableton, I am at a standstill and I don't know what to do. My problem is that I don't know if the reason for this is because I do not have the resources I need (using crappy laptop, somewhat decent headphones, not very many drum samples, only one VST [Massive], no real studio, etc.), or if it is because I just simply do not have enough experience. I mean, I have only been working in Ableton for 2 months. I know the interface inside-out and I have learned A LOT about EDM production over the past few months, but I don't know if acquiring the skill as mentioned at the top is ONLY done through experience. A few days ago, I watched a great video of Seven Lions going through the elements of his track "A way to say Goodbye", and I was thinking...does he ever come to a point in his song development where he doesn't know how to make a sound he wants, or does it just come relatively easy to him because he has the resources (good studio, many VST's, TONS of drum samples, etc.) It seems as if nothing is standing in the way of his creative flow. Obviously experience is what is most important when it comes down to it, but I really feel like my lack of resources is holding me back at the moment and it is very frustrating! I just want to be in a position where I can make the ideas I have come to life in my DAW, and I would like to know peoples opinions on what they think is the best way achieving that goal.
Thank you
There's a lot of really good and useful answers on this thread but please don't feel daunted by the responses. If you're into it because you love it, its well worth the effort. Even if you only spend a little time dabbling and decide not to gain a high level of expertise, you may find that you get unexpected rewards in your general level of creativity in other areas of interest too, as well as a lot of personal satisfaction.

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Old 28-05-2015, 02:40 PM   #12
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Re: Advice Needed!

Don't give up OP! : )

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Old 28-05-2015, 04:20 PM   #13
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Re: Advice Needed!

i don't think op is coming back...

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Old 28-05-2015, 04:25 PM   #14
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Re: Advice Needed!

Done got scared away...bunch of meanies..

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Old 28-05-2015, 04:27 PM   #15
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Re: Advice Needed!

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Done got scared away...bunch of meanies..
When I try to scare away students during the first week of class it never works, I come on here...works like a charm w/o even tryin...

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Old 28-05-2015, 04:29 PM   #16
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Re: Advice Needed!

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When I try to scare away students during the first week of class it never works, I come on here...works like a charm w/o even tryin...
I know something that might work, but that might cost one job
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Old 28-05-2015, 04:40 PM   #17
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Re: Advice Needed!

Set reasonable goals. Learn new things every day. Surprice yourself. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Stay curious. Turn frustration into a will to "solve" the current problem.

Good luck on your journey!
//The old guy

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Old 29-05-2015, 03:47 AM   #18
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Re: Advice Needed!

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Originally Posted by Stercogburn View Post
There's a lot of really good and useful answers on this thread but please don't feel daunted by the responses. If you're into it because you love it, its well worth the effort. Even if you only spend a little time dabbling and decide not to gain a high level of expertise, you may find that you get unexpected rewards in your general level of creativity in other areas of interest too, as well as a lot of personal satisfaction.
Thanks for the words of inspiration Stercogburn
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Old 29-05-2015, 01:24 PM   #19
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Re: Advice Needed!

I wish I could go back to the beginning when everything was so out of my realm, new and exciting. Not understanding one bit but still fiddling with everything for pure creation. All my tracks were godsend in my own head and I felt I was doing something completely new and unique. Now I realize I don't know shit and my tunes aren't anything groundbreaking . It sure is a hell of a lot of fun though

OP: if you stick with it you'll realize how much there is to learn and you will never be satisfied or learn half of it but that is the point. Keeps you wanting to push yourself further and further
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Old 29-05-2015, 01:58 PM   #20
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Re: Advice Needed!

The beginning was so frustrating. If I could go back, I'd immediately stop trying to emulate other artists and embrace my inner creativity. Luckily there's always new territory and room for everyone to grow, so that excitement is still with me, personally. Hope it stays that way with you, OP.

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