Not being able to reach the point you want in a track
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Old 02-10-2015, 04:07 AM   #1
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Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Something that usually happens to me is: I have an idea for a track and start working on it. I know where to start and I know where I want to get. But halfway through there I either completely forget what I wanted to do after the beginning or I just simply get stuck in the beginnin not being able to make it sound the way I want it to.

What are your thoughts on this? I believe it is not uncommon and everyone eventually comes up with a methodology.

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Old 02-10-2015, 04:52 AM   #2
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

A good book I was reading suggested starting from chords instead of starting from melody. And then when you get stuck, maybe flip.

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Old 02-10-2015, 07:10 AM   #3
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

This may sound funny, but if I have an idea for a track and I don't want to lose it, sometimes I'll record myself singing, humming, or beatboxing it just to get the general vibe--that way you can always listen to it for inspiration. Something else you can do is write a detailed list of what you are imagining (example notes: "airy texture for intro, goes into syncopated, rhythmic part, then high plucky notes come in"...whatever it is, just write it down quickly).

Also, sometimes it's tempting to roughly sketch out a track first...but, if you have a really specific idea for how the intro is going to sound, for example, don't move on until you get it how you want it, while it's still fresh in your head! Be detail-oriented. Keep working until you like it, then move on and you can listen with fresh ears later to see if it still matches what's in your head.
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:35 AM   #4
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

I will say the opposite
Don't be too hung up on how you think a track should be
If it takes a life of its own and goes in a different direction that is also cool no need to fight that

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Old 02-10-2015, 01:56 PM   #5
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Quote:
A good book I was reading suggested starting from chords instead of starting from melody. And then when you get stuck, maybe flip.
Even when you have a considerable amount of ideas for a particular track in your head? To me that seems to work whenever I have nothing. Could you refer to that book?


Quote:
This may sound funny, but if I have an idea for a track and I don't want to lose it, sometimes I'll record myself singing, humming, or beatboxing it just to get the general vibe--that way you can always listen to it for inspiration. Something else you can do is write a detailed list of what you are imagining (example notes: "airy texture for intro, goes into syncopated, rhythmic part, then high plucky notes come in"...whatever it is, just write it down quickly).

Also, sometimes it's tempting to roughly sketch out a track first...but, if you have a really specific idea for how the intro is going to sound, for example, don't move on until you get it how you want it, while it's still fresh in your head! Be detail-oriented. Keep working until you like it, then move on and you can listen with fresh ears later to see if it still matches what's in your head.
I imagined myself trying to create a system like yours and record myself. Taking notes might also be useful, gonna try that. But working hard on the intro is where my problem is right now, when doing that I end up forgetting the ideas I had for the rest of the song. But if a sketch everything I end up forgetting how I really wanted it to sound at the beginning. It is a bit frustating.

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I will say the opposite
Don't be too hung up on how you think a track should be
If it takes a life of its own and goes in a different direction that is also cool no need to fight that
That is actually my main form of composition. But sometimes I lose great ideas because of that. I was thinking into training myself for another form of composition.
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Old 02-10-2015, 02:36 PM   #6
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

I'd personally also recommend to not get too hung up on a specific idea for a track. Certainly if you have something you want to accomplish, write it down and keep it in front of you as your road map. Like, "I want to contrast a really uplifting, airy string section with a hardcore DnB section with a really gnarly synth bass." Something like that can be a great way to keep yourself on track and as the idea develops you can add on to it and make sure you're sticking to your original intent.

I think the problem comes when you say, "I have an idea in my head" and then you make a track and are disappointed that it's different from what was in your head. The problem is that you don't have an idea in your head. You have bits and pieces of an idea in your head. Our brains are great at retaining (or imagining) crucial bits of information, and then pretending to fill in the blanks so it feels like a complete idea. So when you sit down and start composing, it sounds like you're not recreating what's in your head when in reality your head is just freaking out now that you're actually asking it to deliver on all these wonderful things it promised you. It's like when your facebook friends post political memes and you ask them to come up with sources and statistics.

So, personally, I think it's better to focus on capturing the general vibe or feeling of what you have in your head, and let the specific ideas develop naturally as you start fitting the puzzle pieces together. That doesn't mean you should never try to incorporate specific ideas, but don't be disappointed when the sound coming out of the DAW is different than the sound in your head cause that's just how the process works.

It might also just be a matter of further developing your skills. It's easier to write a hip hop tune if you don't have to stop halfway through and learn how to design an 808 in Massive and research what notes are in the harmonic minor scale.
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Old 02-10-2015, 06:35 PM   #7
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Also if you have an idea start by composing that part, no need to write a track in the order it plays ie don't start from the intro if you have an idea for a break

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Old 02-10-2015, 07:25 PM   #8
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Expectations; they're very real.
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Old 02-10-2015, 08:14 PM   #9
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Quote:
I'd personally also recommend to not get too hung up on a specific idea for a track. Certainly if you have something you want to accomplish, write it down and keep it in front of you as your road map. Like, "I want to contrast a really uplifting, airy string section with a hardcore DnB section with a really gnarly synth bass." Something like that can be a great way to keep yourself on track and as the idea develops you can add on to it and make sure you're sticking to your original intent.

I think the problem comes when you say, "I have an idea in my head" and then you make a track and are disappointed that it's different from what was in your head. The problem is that you don't have an idea in your head. You have bits and pieces of an idea in your head. Our brains are great at retaining (or imagining) crucial bits of information, and then pretending to fill in the blanks so it feels like a complete idea. So when you sit down and start composing, it sounds like you're not recreating what's in your head when in reality your head is just freaking out now that you're actually asking it to deliver on all these wonderful things it promised you. It's like when your facebook friends post political memes and you ask them to come up with sources and statistics.

So, personally, I think it's better to focus on capturing the general vibe or feeling of what you have in your head, and let the specific ideas develop naturally as you start fitting the puzzle pieces together. That doesn't mean you should never try to incorporate specific ideas, but don't be disappointed when the sound coming out of the DAW is different than the sound in your head cause that's just how the process works.

It might also just be a matter of further developing your skills. It's easier to write a hip hop tune if you don't have to stop halfway through and learn how to design an 808 in Massive and research what notes are in the harmonic minor scale.
Hmmm, that's very interesting. I never though about brain tricks in this sense. But sometines the idea comes incredibly solid to me and if I build it according to the flow I always end up with something incredibly different. The other day I was thinking about creating a funky-electro-breaks track and somehow I ended up with a slow tempo trip hopish with a jazzy bossa nova feeling track (which I happen to enjoy). I guess that it might be a reflection of what I really know how to do giving where I come from, even though not all my tracks end up like that. And as you said, I lack proper skills to go in the direction I originally imagined. And I guess I will only confirm that if I keep trying.

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I know, stupid me to come up with them.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:04 PM   #10
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Let it rest. Take a break. Play it in your head.
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Old 10-10-2015, 09:45 PM   #11
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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Originally Posted by tood View Post
I have an idea for a track and start working on it. I know where to start and I know where I want to get.
start from the destination and then do the start. worked for me many a time.

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Old 10-10-2015, 11:35 PM   #12
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

I feel that the current time is a difficult time for music composers because of how music has changed.

It's not like the 1980s where melody and harmonies were significant.
It's not like the 1990s where synth layers were exciting enough.

It's hard to do melody and harmonies in electronic music.
And it's hard to not get stuck making boring repetitive loops.

It takes a lot of talent to know how to do styles that are neither of those and still sound good.

And there's not much for inspiration.

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Old 19-10-2015, 12:30 PM   #13
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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Originally Posted by Nystagmus View Post
I feel that the current time is a difficult time for music composers because of how music has changed.

It's not like the 1980s where melody and harmonies were significant.
It's not like the 1990s where synth layers were exciting enough.

It's hard to do melody and harmonies in electronic music.
And it's hard to not get stuck making boring repetitive loops.

It takes a lot of talent to know how to do styles that are neither of those and still sound good.

And there's not much for inspiration.
sad, but true... :/
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Old 19-10-2015, 09:04 PM   #14
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Icon3 Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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Originally Posted by vashima View Post
sad, but true... :/
There's still alot of other stuff that can be done though.
Sorry if I sounded pessimistic.
Never give up, man.

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Old 20-10-2015, 03:22 AM   #15
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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Originally Posted by Nystagmus View Post
There's still alot of other stuff that can be done though.
Sorry if I sounded pessimistic.
Never give up, man.
Nah I wont, I understood where you are coming from. There is so much music now days that it is hard to not notice all the things that have been beaten into the ground. It kinda makes me feel Jaded sometimes. Though, there is always innovation that comes from stagnation; wether it be personal or collectively.
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Old 20-10-2015, 04:55 AM   #16
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

Maybe this is a little OT, but the funny thing is people don't even dance at raves/nights/parties whatever anymore. Starting in about 2008 when I went to WMC in Miami nobody was dancing at any of the parties I went to there. Or if they were it was that really cautious white guy shuffle. After that I went to Movement a couple times and plenty of bigger local events and weekly events. At most I see people like kinda half-ass mosh pitting or fist pumping really enthusiastically.

I dunno, I've stopped caring about making dance music or music specifically for DJs and that has been really freeing. If people aren't going to dance, why should I make that kind of music?

I'm a bit more free form in my compositions and maybe it is part of the reason my music is awful 75% of the time. But I don't think in terms of ABACBA or 16/32/8/32/16 bar DJ structure. I just let things evolve and change and really it ends up being more ABCDEFG... ad infinitum ...

I usually don't sit down with a specific idea. I'll twiddle about and make a basic patch then start noodling for chords or a melody. Sometimes I'll start with a beat. And just let the track go where it wants to go. I'll usually get a loop going, record all my tracks to audio, chop stuff up and arrange a bit and then go back and do variations, new patches, etc and fill things out a bit more, then I'll get to a point where I might delete all my audio for a certain part, lay it out in MIDI, then record the audio again for the whole track while tweak parameters and FX live. Sometimes I even start by writing out chords or melody with a beat. And just loop the beat while I record audio and tweak, then I can chop that up and use it.

That is what I've always done with my best poems, like I'll come up with a brief narrative, or metaphor or image and that main idea is what gets me off the ground.

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Old 20-10-2015, 06:50 PM   #17
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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Originally Posted by cedarbread View Post
This may sound funny, but if I have an idea for a track and I don't want to lose it, sometimes I'll record myself singing, humming, or beatboxing it just to get the general vibe--that way you can always listen to it for inspiration.
That's something I do too.
The hard thing is when you have multiple layers of melodies in your brain ...
Knowing how to play an instrument can help you quickly get those melodies before they get off you brain.

That being said, it's very common for me to have something in my mind, to start my software, plug my instruments, load some samples ... and then realize I forgot what I had in mind ...

Another common thing is to begin to write what's in you head, but while searching for the exact notes, what was in your head gets modified, and finally never came out as you originally thought.

I think it's a problem a lot of musicians / producers have, that's why learning to play an instrument or to write down sheets is a big help.

Cheers!
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:56 PM   #18
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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Originally Posted by tood View Post
Something that usually happens to me is: I have an idea for a track and start working on it. I know where to start and I know where I want to get. But halfway through there I either completely forget what I wanted to do after the beginning or I just simply get stuck in the beginnin not being able to make it sound the way I want it to.

What are your thoughts on this? I believe it is not uncommon and everyone eventually comes up with a methodology.
If I suffer from this and I can't bounce back and achieve the grand sound playing in my head, I just.... let it go. I make the track as well as I can. Striving for perfection causes more harm than good, especially when it impedes severely on productivity.

The way I see it is that your listeners don't know the perfect version of your track. They hear what's released as is, and while they may think "Oh, this could have been done better," the improvements they make in their mind still aren't half as great as what you, the composer, imagined. I strive to make music above all else, and in order to do that, I can't get lost searching for the perfect sound for too long. So, if I lose it, I say "eh, fuck it" and continue anyway.
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Old 06-12-2015, 01:35 AM   #19
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

I usually sit down to write without a clear goal in mind except for "I feel like making a loud/quiet/happy.sad/angry song." Nine times out of ten the track starts as something and then ends up going in a direction I never intended, and it's ALWAYS cooler than I thought it would be if I just stuck with the obvious path, so let go of your goals and rock out.

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Old 06-12-2015, 02:04 AM   #20
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Re: Not being able to reach the point you want in a track

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I usually sit down to write without a clear goal in mind except for "I feel like making a loud/quiet/happy.sad/angry song." Nine times out of ten the track starts as something and then ends up going in a direction I never intended, and it's ALWAYS cooler than I thought it would be if I just stuck with the obvious path, so let go of your goals and rock out.

THIS THIS THIS!

as hippy dippy as it sounds too, the moment you restrict anything in the process of making a tune you're restricting the creative flow. that flow is where the gold lies, the music you listen back to and wonder where he fuck it came from, how the fuck did i actually make it, did i even make that track? granted not every track you make will be like that, but dropping any restriction ups the chances of that happening for sure

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