Perfectionism
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Old 06-01-2017, 04:25 AM   #1
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Perfectionism

Anyone else deal with crippling perfectionism?

Last edited by AetherSound; 06-01-2017 at 04:34 AM..

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Old 06-01-2017, 04:33 AM   #2
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Re: Perfectionism

Not really. It depends on what I'm making, I suppose. Most of my work is based around process rather than product, so whatever gets spit out the end is what it is. There's definitely been times where a certain sound or passage has eluded me and I've spent a lot of time hammering it out, but it's not every track. I guess I'm so ready to move onto the next idea that I give up on perfecting the first.

What are you trying to perfect? Is there something in particular you get hung up on?
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:08 AM   #3
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Re: Perfectionism

mostly midi, like rerecording the same part of a song

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Old 06-01-2017, 05:23 AM   #4
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Re: Perfectionism

Ah, so the performance, like where that notes are? I can see that being a thing. I certainly spent a lot of time practicing guitar when I was younger, trying to peg solos and whatnot. I totally understand wanting to get it right. Have you tried quantizing or editing after recording to get what you want?
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Old 06-01-2017, 05:28 AM   #5
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Re: Perfectionism

Like I read somewhere that during the sessions for the electric ladyland album they would rerecord sections like upwards of 50-60 times to try and recreate the feel that they were going for, so I was just wondering if you or anyone had any tips on how to deal with this or when to just call it and say it's good enough?
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Old 06-01-2017, 06:24 AM   #6
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Re: Perfectionism

Usually those are called "takes" and in modern recording software you can record lots of takes for however much of a section you want to record and 'comp' them into one single, perfected take.

For example, I always record my guitar parts one part at a time, sometimes one bar at a time. Within those parts, I record the section over and over about 4 or 5 times, then go back and listen for the best take and use that. I go on down the line until the song is done and there are no mistakes. Same goes for bass, vocals, synths and drums. I suppose if you're programming things it's unnecessary to do many takes but for recording in real time on an instrument, it's pretty much the standard way to record music these days in home studios and pro studios alike.
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:02 AM   #7
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Re: Perfectionism

Ohhhhh yes. Absolutely I deal with this.
Everything I do is midi, even my drums. I don't draw on waves or samples at all, so absolutely everything you hear was specifically designed and placed where it is.

I used to have a hell of a time picking the "done" spot.
The way I handle things now is to know what I'm aiming to do before I begin - scope it out in my head kind of thing (or in my notebook; I have a pocket notebook that is graph paper so that I can work on song arrangements without anything other than a pencil/pen and paper ).

Along with this, when I get to where I want to pick at things more, but it's functionally "done", I render it out to mp3, plop it into my phone and listen to it WAAAAY more than is healthy.
I mean, I'll put it on repeat and listen to it for two to three days straight on my commutes to and from work (my commutes are an hour long each way). After one to three days, I've racked up 2 to 6 hours of hearing that 4 to 8 minute song on constant repeat.

I do NOT touch the song on the DAW during this time. I go about life as usual, but while I'm listening that insane amount of time, I make tons of mental notes about what's wrong - what I want to fix, or ideas that pop into my head, etc...

Then, I just stop listening to it for a day (at least), or sometimes weeks (depends), but long enough to where I can no longer "feel" the song anymore.

Then I sit down at the DAW when absolutely NO ONE WILL BOTHER ME (family house), put it on the Master track, whip up the spectrum analyzer (this is purely so I can't look at the format of the song), hit play and listen very intently.

Then once I've done all of that, I flip back over and make those final changes. Once I've made those final changes, then I'll render it out, load up to the phone, back to the commute in the car playback at least a couple times (if I'm happy with it), or several more times (if something's still bothering me that I'm not sure on).

Then I'll upload it to whatever my "publishing" platform is and not come back to it for a long time (month or so).
Sometimes I'll skip this last step and just forget about the song entirely until I'm digging through my old stuff a few months later and go "OH! Hey, this is done!"

That's how my big and complex songs go, anyway.

Some songs are rapid and everything just falls into place and there's nothing to do - done in two days with everything, including final mixing settings (two days for me is about 4 to 8 hours, depending how much time I get).


But the nuts and bolts of it is: walk away.

Even though I outlined all of that, like I said, that's my big builds when I'm trying something atypical or exploring a concept - which tend to be a challenge to wield.

If I'm just making "regular" songs, then I have a hard and fast rule for myself:
You have to do it in under 2 days or toss it to the "dirty laundry pile" (an insanely high pile of scraps and unfinished songs).
You have to know what it is you're doing before you sit down.
You have to NOT be fighting yourself through it (it has to flow - fight technicalities all you want, but don't struggle to find the groove. If you can't find the groove, toss it to the dirty laundry pile and move on).
"Good enough" is good enough. Just make sure speakers don't explode and you can reasonably hear everything, and then walk away.

Whenever I feel myself starting to nit pick on a regular song, I remind myself of my rules, yank myself out of my pedantic tangent, flip to a different spot, and move on.
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:03 AM   #8
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Re: Perfectionism

Quote:
Originally Posted by AetherSound View Post
mostly midi, like rerecording the same part of a song
Do you find yourself liking it the first listen and then not the second? If that's the case, you're chasing the emotional high of hearing it the first time and not actually judging the sound.
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Old 06-01-2017, 07:24 AM   #9
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Re: Perfectionism

I program stuff, but I am programming to an idea I have in my head. I sometimes have to do a few variations of a pattern to find what I'm looking for, but I often find that what I'm looking for just turns out to be still right on the quantization lines, but maybe shifted a sixteenth or some little thing like that. The only thing not on quantization lines for me is when I need to shorten notes some to keep them from bleeding into each other in particularly fast sequences (and some of my synths don't trigger if two notes are right on top of each other, so that needs to be accounted for).

But as far as playing goes, if it were me, I'd just quantize the shit out of it, if I could choke something out of my floppy noodle fingers at all.

Then, if we're talking bigger picture perfectionism (mix, vibe, etc), there's stuff I've gotten so hung up on I knew it would be better to drop the song and come back later with a fresh perspective. I have songs "in progress" that are over a year old (and I've only been doing this for 2 and a half years) that I can't figure out. I'm ok with that though, I have plenty to work on. If I did nothing new and just finished all the stuff I've started, I still wouldn't have to go after those songs for awhile, and I'd learn a lot on the way to them. I'm confident there will be a day when I know exactly what those songs need and I'll be able to finish them the way I want to. I seriously dove into a song that was two years old a few months back and was able to get it a lot closer to where I wanted it (after trashing almost all of it), but it was still off, so I put it back on the shelf, for now.

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Old 06-01-2017, 07:26 AM   #10
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Re: Perfectionism

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Originally Posted by AetherSound View Post
Like I read somewhere that during the sessions for the electric ladyland album they would rerecord sections like upwards of 50-60 times to try and recreate the feel that they were going for, so I was just wondering if you or anyone had any tips on how to deal with this or when to just call it and say it's good enough?
Totally depends on what you're trying to accomplish. It's art, so everything's fair game.

Maybe you have a personal rule that says you will only use a complete take and not comp between them.

Or maybe you'll record 10 takes and see how the sound is progressing as you discover new ideas or elements.

Or maybe you'll record a bunch of takes and comp together the bits and pieces you like.

Or anything in between.

Ultimately the only rule that matters is if it sounds good, it is good. Do whatever it takes to achieve that. If you're getting hung up on something then change the rules or the process, or just leave it alone and come back to it later with new ears. I understand the desire to get something right, but if it's crippling you're ability to finish music, that's not productive and you need to change the way you're working.
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:22 PM   #11
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Re: Perfectionism

no perfectionism here, i used to have issues w perfectionism, but i realized that it was just an excuse and me being scared of releasing shit that people thought sucked.

now i just release shit and let the cards fall where they may.

that said:

i comp the shit out of parts, be them vocals, or stringed instruments, anything audio recording-wise really, i do a lot of loop recording in Ableton and then pick the best parts out and comp them together.

with midi things i tend to "bang in there" and then edit w the mouse, although i do prefer to "get it close" w the recording because too much mousework for me kills the creative flow.

for me the end result is far more important than how i got there.

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Old 08-01-2017, 04:46 AM   #12
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Re: Perfectionism

yeah i don't really like comping so i have to record everything in full
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:47 AM   #13
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Re: Perfectionism

Great replies thusfar everyone =)
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Old 08-01-2017, 04:57 AM   #14
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Re: Perfectionism

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yeah i don't really like comping so i have to record everything in full
With the music I play that wouldn't be easy. One mistake on the last part, DO OVER.

Nope.
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:56 PM   #15
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Re: Perfectionism

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yeah i don't really like comping so i have to record everything in full
Then get better at your instrument and get over this crippling perfectionism?


What kind of music are you making???

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Old 08-01-2017, 06:17 PM   #16
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Re: Perfectionism

Didn't mean for that to come off as rude, that said, your profile says you like stuff like tipper, in a genre whose hallmark is resampling and manipulation of little bits of audio I'm unsure why you'd be so concerned about parts being comped or not.

Maybe you're just making this more difficult than it needs be?

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Old 08-01-2017, 08:32 PM   #17
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Re: Perfectionism

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yeah i don't really like comping so i have to record everything in full
Well it sounds like the larger issue is the discrepancy between how you like to work and your results. I used to prefer doing it all in one take (granted I was working with programmed drum machines and sequenced synths), but found while I prefered this process in many ways it wasn't giving me the results I wanted. Changed my method. Problem solved.

Maybe it isn't crippling perfectionism, but rather crippling inability to compromise that is the core issue? Just saying maybe @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
and @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
are using this comping method successfully for the very different kinds of music they make, probably something to look into.

Its not a term I'm familiar with but from context clues it sounds like just recording things a bunch of times then cutting out and piecing together the ideal performance from those takes. Basically how I work these days too, even though I'm playing synth parameters rather than notes as I rarely play notes live.

OP you've got me curious now what kind of music it is youre making that requires the single take method...

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Old 08-01-2017, 11:18 PM   #18
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Re: Perfectionism

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that's exactly right. To 'comp' means to compile takes. When I play guitar or bass parts I just record one set of 4 or 8 bars in a song (with a small overlapped 'lead in' so I can crossfade into the next part seamlessly) and go over that part about 3 or 4 times, then press stop and then listen to each take and decide which one sounds best, then usually delete the other takes.

Sometimes there's part of one take that's good and another part of a different take that's good, so those actually get split and then comped together. Pretty easy and straightforward when you see it visually.
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:51 PM   #19
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Re: Perfectionism

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that's exactly right. To 'comp' means to compile takes. When I play guitar or bass parts I just record one set of 4 or 8 bars in a song (with a small overlapped 'lead in' so I can crossfade into the next part seamlessly) and go over that part about 3 or 4 times, then press stop and then listen to each take and decide which one sounds best, then usually delete the other takes.

Sometimes there's part of one take that's good and another part of a different take that's good, so those actually get split and then comped together. Pretty easy and straightforward when you see it visually.
Ok. Right on. I do a lot of this then...if/when I take something to a final product.

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Old 09-01-2017, 12:14 AM   #20
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Re: Perfectionism

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OP you've got me curious now what kind of music it is youre making that requires the single take method...
It generally works pretty well with bands that benefit from a live rough-around-the-edges feel. Punk, garage rock, some jazz and more experimental stuff, anything where improv is a big deal. It can really breath some live into things. Take Blitzkrieg Bop, program it in a sequencer with tight quat and get the cast of Glee to sing it - you now have the worlds most boring stupid song, because you just removed all the attitude and balls from it. The fact that it's got that live energy on the recording, warts and all, is pretty much all of the charm.

There's also stuff like Classical recordings. 100 people playing simultaneously doesn't really lend itself to punching in or comping tracks, and part of the attraction of the music is the ability and rigidity of the performers themselves.

How that works for electronic music, I'm not sure. Maybe if you're recording all hardware freakout-jam. On the other hand I'm not really interested in a loose, sloppy techno track. It's not really what the feel is about. I guess it depends on the genre, but electronic music isn't really what I associate with live takes.

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