Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?
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Old 01-08-2014, 08:15 AM   #1
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Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

First let me say sorry if this question has been raised already,

Hi Music peoples!
Just wanted some input on a comment made a friend of mind, it had me thinking for a second.
I was playing some tracks for a buddy of mine today and by the time I got to the 5 track he told me "I don't have an identity music wise".
It's due to the fact that I genre hop a lot, from rock to hiphop, electronic to jazz etc.
now from some of yours point of view, would you rather focusing on one genre and developing an identity or would you make anything that comes to mind when your in your creative mood? Does it matter?
Let me know, thank you.

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Old 01-08-2014, 10:02 AM   #2
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

It's hard to be specific without hearing the work that you're talking about. I can only assume he means there's nothing about each track that makes them recognisably yours. But whatever. I don't think this is really about genre though, but how you approach to instrumentation.

The thing is, most artists who have a recognisable "sound" have that sound because of the gear that they use. Some good examples of this are Minilogue, Trentemoller, Apparat etc. Great artists, very recognisable sound. That comes down to the gear that they use. Minilogue write their music using the same setup that they use live. They've used practically the same gear throughout their entire career. So it's not really a matter of their wonky melodic synths being their sound, but more that their sound is defined by the limitations of the SH-101.

The same is true for Trentemoller. Even as he's expanded his projects and incorporated other live instrumentation, his "sound" is instantly recognisable. His sound is less a product of instrumentation but more composition. All of his original works are structurally very similar. Even if their instrumentations vary, his use of harmony and melody rarely wanders too far. So his "sound" is more a reflection of the limit of his compositional knowledge.

And Apparat's "sound" is a combination of the two. He is very faithful to his gear and uses a lot of the same drums and synths in his music with very similar processing. Compositionally there are some common, albeit varying themes to his work. But he's an artist who seems to be more focussed on creative composition and arrangement than working on sound design. So once again his "sound" is defined by the limitations in his sound designs.

And that's what it comes down to. When I hear an artist with a sound, I hear an artist who is limited in some way. Is it a bad thing that you've not yet reached such a plateau? I don't know. But I wouldn't worry too much about having a musical identity...
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Old 01-08-2014, 12:06 PM   #3
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

When it comes to electronic music at least, some of the best music I've heard was that which I couldn't easily categorize into a genre. Personally I am a fan of so many different types of music that I tend to blend styles and I think that helps me end up with a unique outcome. The flipside of genre-hopping is that it is difficult to become a master of one genre, but I don't care since I'm not trying to make a career out of this anyway.

I think most of the music that fits neatly into an established genre is usually boring anyway, unless you're doing something totally revolutionary. Why do anything creative if you aren't going to challenge people and push the boundaries of what's possible?
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Old 01-08-2014, 01:34 PM   #4
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

That depends on what kind of label(s) you're on and how much creative control you have. There's really no need to be marketable if you're just doing what you're passionate about and asking nothing in return, or maybe working with small underground labels who don't give a fuck what you do. There are no rules unless you agree to a specific set of them, and if that happens I hope you're getting steady paychecks from Un1v3rsal
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Old 01-08-2014, 03:42 PM   #5
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

this is basically a smaller specific instance of the broader 'generalist vs specialist' question that tends to come up in other life aspects. when you stick within the confines of a specific genre or some kind of self imposed sound, it allows you to really refine that and concentrate on perfecting nuances that make the difference between something good and something great. and that's certainly valuable. so for those who can do that, there are clear artistic and commercial advantages (commercial ones being obvious, marketability, identity, "sound").

personally, i know i can't really do that. my music taste is just way too eclectic and i tend to get inspired by different things and go through frequent mood swings to consistently stick to one thing. i can't really imagine having to force myself to work on something i'm not feeling at that moment. for example, i tend to naturally create dark and melancholic melodies and vibes, and i have a bunch of tracks in progress that sound pretty good to me and that i'd like to continue working on. but it's the middle of the summer, and the sun is shining, and i'm constantly grilling for my family, and riding bikes with my daughter, and playing with my dog outside and just generally being way too happy to put myself into that kind of dark headspace that will certainly happen once i start looping the parts as i'm working on them. so i don't. same goes for simply feeling a certain genre at the moment. that's why i think it's great to have several ongoing tracks, especially if they are very different from each other. you just open whichever one feels closer to your mood.

so then, as far as identity is concerned, it seems like there are 3 options:

1) release everything under a single alias and just don't give too many fucks
2) release everything under a single alias, but group tracks that have a particular sound/genre/theme/vibe into distinct EPs/LPs.
3) have different aliases for different sounds.

for me, i decided to go with something that's between #2 and #3 for now, simply for my own clarity, so i have some sort of direction and intent. i identified 3 different areas i'd like to explore and created aliases for each. but these areas are still pretty broad and further groupings into EPs/LPs for cohesion kind of became obvious, once i sorted all my WIPs under their respective aliases.

though sometimes i feel like all this pontification is totally fucking pointless and #1 is the only way to do it...

but, yeah, eclecticism all the way. looking at my favorites, it's the really eclectic ones that really stand out. Ulver, Mike Patton, Aphex Twin, Between the Buried and Me, Venetian Snares...

p.s. insert obligatory "specialization is for insects" Heinlein quote here.
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Old 01-08-2014, 03:48 PM   #6
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

I've raised this question to myself lately, aswell.

And I decided not to give a fuck. I make music for myself, and no one else, so I personally don't see why that should hold me back in any way.

But at the same time I'm trying to identify the music I mainly make, and I think I'm getting close to something. At least I hope so.

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Old 01-08-2014, 05:33 PM   #7
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

Conclusion; fuck what people say and make straight music. I find these questions very restraining and demoralizing to any musicians craft. I would never play my music for anyone with that mainstream mind frame.

I'll release anything from any alias, I will make any Genre that comes to mind, this is what I call true creativity. Not some ideal mainstream narrow state of mind, that to me is a creativity killer.

Thank you fellas

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Old 01-08-2014, 05:53 PM   #8
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WillyZi View Post
Conclusion; fuck what people say and make straight music. I find these questions very restraining and demoralizing to any musicians craft. I would never play my music for anyone with that mainstream mind frame.

I'll release anything from any alias, I will make any Genre that comes to mind, this is what I call true creativity. Not some ideal mainstream narrow state of mind, that to me is a creativity killer.

Thank you fellas
Absolutely. I feel like the question you posed is mostly a marketing concern. If one were dead set on getting their music out there to a broad audience I would recommend "developing a brand".

But if you are in it for the love and you just like making music I wouldn't worry to much about it.

Also, as much as I love and respect my friends, there are some who I don't respect their opinions about music at all because the just listen to whatever they are fed on the radio. Others, while I respect their musical opinions, don't know the first thing about electronic music (people who call it all "techno"). Just something to think about.

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WillyZi (01-08-2014)
Old 01-08-2014, 06:04 PM   #9
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

I ran into this and opted to drop my alias and go with my real name. Now I'll be grouping tracks into loose genres for release. Until my fickle ass decides to do something completely different and create another "project". Ha!

Regarding identity, my composition, processing and voice creates identity, not the genre any particular tune falls into.

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Old 01-08-2014, 06:43 PM   #10
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

You got it my dudes, the question had me questioning myself and my own priorities for a sec. But you gotta keep strong though and continue to do you/yourself at all times regardless of what popular trend is.

I'm all good though!

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Old 01-08-2014, 11:28 PM   #11
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

Yeah

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Old 02-08-2014, 08:06 AM   #12
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

There's no harm in trying to nail a particular genre, if only for the sake of practice. But I'm with most of you guys... I'm just not satisfied only doing one thing. I can't bring myself to do it.

It's funny, because on the one hand being hard to categorise works against your marketability, but on the other, most really "successful" moments in music is where someone put something new into something old.

I also agree with Jaded - it's all about being involved with a particular technology platform, and developing your own sound in that respect.

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Old 05-08-2014, 05:22 PM   #13
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

I don't think Nirvana fans would be too pleased if they would have started hiphopping. You ever heard of Laibach? They are pretty decent genre hoppers but their fans expect them to do that. If you care about creating a large fan base keep to you style. If you care about doing what you feel good with don't worry about it and have fun.
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Old 07-08-2014, 12:38 AM   #14
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dippshoe View Post
I've raised this question to myself lately, aswell.

And I decided not to give a fuck. I make music for myself, and no one else, so I personally don't see why that should hold me back in any way.

But at the same time I'm trying to identify the music I mainly make, and I think I'm getting close to something. At least I hope so.
That sounds exactly like me right now. I've never tried to stick to one genre when producing or DJing. Recently I'm rediscovering my love for Techno so I'll stick to that for now (suppose it's one identity I want anyway), though I'm sure to keep dabbling in all sorts as well. I make music for myself too which makes it all the more special when someone else genuinely likes it.
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Old 08-08-2014, 01:53 PM   #15
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

Well this all depends on what you want from your music! I guess if you want to be know for a type of sound (Freemasons Remixes) then you dont drop a dub step tune. If you wanna write that other stuff you could always use another guise! Many artists do this!
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Old 21-08-2014, 09:08 AM   #16
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

I am struggling with this question. From my perspective, I can't decide which "genre" to try to learn, because I find many of them fascinating but know none well enough to reproduce their sound. When I create my own thing, its generally darker and more emo, even though my desire is to create faster, more upbeat tracks. When I try to learn something new, I have a hard time staying on my original intended direction and wander back toward my comfort zone.

Obviously both pure creativity and genre-specialization can bring people all sorts of amazing sounds. However, for a newcomer, it may be wise to just pick something and learn it until you know it well enough for it to help you learn something new.

One trick I have learned about trying to create different types of sounds is to start with different elements of the track first. Like I never started a track out with just the beat before, and always started with melody. But starting with a beat really forced my song direction to something more housey and uplifting.
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Old 25-08-2014, 08:47 AM   #17
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

We live in a postmodern world. Identity is and should be a fleeting notion in a creative context
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Old 30-08-2014, 06:39 AM   #18
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

I think that experimenting making different genres of music is a way better idea. It doesn't have to be all kinds but deff ones that you like, or like part of and take what you learn from that and apply it to whatever genres you want to focus on. Then again, if your just starting to learn how to produce your "main" genre id focus a lot on that until you felt you had a solid foundation and then go and experiment.
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Old 02-09-2014, 02:40 PM   #19
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

Make what you want. The better you get at making what you want, the more distinct and recognizable it will be. Genres are useful for discussing music, but you shouldn't try to play a specific genre unless you have a good commercial reason to. Trying to conceive and then pigeonhole yourself into an "identity" will only limit your creativity.
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Old 05-09-2014, 09:27 PM   #20
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Re: Specializing in a solid genre vs. making all kind of music?

As a producer one of the hardest things to do is to develop your own style. Having produced music of various genres, I can definitely say that this is definitely one of the best ways to develop your own style. Not limiting your creativity to certain sounds and preconceived constraints allows you to create unique techniques and sound combinations entirely your own that may become signature motifs.

That being said, larger projects should always have some sense of unity imo. A common genre is usually the easiest way to do this, but the common thread(s) doesn't necessarily have to always be genre, it could also be motifs, techniques, BPMs, concepts, etc.

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