What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:01 PM   #1
Fireboy
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What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

I've been playing around with music for a few years now, and only in the last year or so when I've really started to get serious about making music have my tracks started to sound alright. Each track is better than the last, I'm more efficient, I can keep up a flow for longer.

Often I get to a point where I can't think of anything else to put into a track, so there's this habit of getting stuck and not finishing a track cause I feel like it needs just one more thing, even though it sounds good already.

I'm sure this happens to you guys. I was wondering on your opinion. Should I arrange it to completion and start on a new one? I read this article recently which talks about just pumping out tracks in the early stages in lieu of getting distracted with a "masterpiece" mentality.

Opinions? Personal experiences?

This is all very exciting, and the more I create the more confident I'm getting in creating. Thanks.

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Old 08-03-2016, 05:10 PM   #2
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

this is the point you should look to start stripping a track back imo. if it really gets that far and you don't feel satisfied then the sequencing and flow is off, and you've potentially so much going on that it obscures the subtle nuances needed that really make any track work. sometimes less really is more
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:38 PM   #3
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

What Ben said. The temptation is always add more stuff. Whether it is a new instrument that will play a significant role or ear candy. If what you are making comes down it being popular music in some way, most pop songs are quite minimal in many regards. There have been many fine bands three piece bands that only employ three instruments and a vocal track (or two). That isn't much at the end of the day really.

Once you gain more experience you will have a sense of what is enough in a track. The other really great thing to note is that in electronic music we tend to play with timbre more than many other types of music. You can get a lot of mileage out of a instrument and a simple melody or harmony if it has an evolving timbre.

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Old 08-03-2016, 05:52 PM   #4
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
What Ben said. The temptation is always add more stuff. Whether it is a new instrument that will play a significant role or ear candy. If what you are making comes down it being popular music in some way, most pop songs are quite minimal in many regards. There have been many fine bands three piece bands that only employ three instruments and a vocal track (or two). That isn't much at the end of the day really.

Once you gain more experience you will have a sense of what is enough in a track. The other really great thing to note is that in electronic music we tend to play with timbre more than many other types of music. You can get a lot of mileage out of a instrument and a simple melody or harmony if it has an evolving timbre.
Sorry, I'm not sure I understand. What do you mean by timbre? Could I have an example?
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Old 08-03-2016, 06:12 PM   #5
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

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Old 08-03-2016, 07:51 PM   #6
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

You are thinking verticly (stacking layers), you need to start thinking horizontally (how elements change and are arranged over time).

Bring things in and out, focus on transitions.

Create an automation track that doesn't automate anything but is a line that represents the busyness/energy level of the track. Try to arrange the parts you have to reflect that.
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Old 08-03-2016, 08:19 PM   #7
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

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Originally Posted by mnkvolcno View Post
Create an automation track that doesn't automate anything but is a line that represents the busyness/energy level of the track. Try to arrange the parts you have to reflect that.
I use a midi track and label clips w what is happening in that region. Super helpful, especially when working on client material that is new to me.

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Old 09-03-2016, 04:46 PM   #8
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

If there is nothing to add, the song is either done or you need to take something away.

Or, it could be that your track just needs to be mixed and mastered to give it that finished polish that you are looking for.

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Old 09-03-2016, 05:05 PM   #9
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

throw in some more pads (even if you have a lot already) and sfx, add more percussion sfx here and there, always works even if song is already too complex, the "if you think you are doing something wrong you are on right path" philosophy fails 90% of time

Last edited by D42K732202; 09-03-2016 at 05:13 PM..

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Old 10-03-2016, 01:37 PM   #10
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

When that happens for me I usually keep making new stuff, and if your not sure where to start try experimenting with the steps in your workflow;

A:
1. Find a cool combination of notes (aka chords) you like on track 1
2. Find a few more chords and put them in a sequence that sounds nice (envision the purpose/meaning of the song (though that could be your first step))
3. Start using single notes from the chords (or notes that sound good) in a rhythmic way on track 2

- boom that's part one of your workflow, now you may wanna work on drums:

B:
1. Choose or make your own samples
2. Find what frequencies you like about each individual sound and isolate that frequency
3. Start combining sounds that sounds good together until you are pleased with what you've done

C: Now that you have drums you may want to reorganize the rhythm of your melody and chord placement with your drums until you figure out a structure.

D: Start working on the sound design of your chords/melodies and decide if you want more spatial atmosphere or busy short/dry plucks or whatever for each individual sound (you may want to add more tracks at this point to add more diverse textures

C: Now that you've got drums, sounds and melodies/chord progressions start experimenting with mixing (compression, eqing, effect racks etc)

D: try grouping tracks your working on and automate rhythmic effects on the grouped track so it effects them all
E: Bounce to audio and play with stretching to find new sounds
F: start all over again and keep going until you want to start over with the same or new workflow
G: Try putting effects and having different things happening in different frequencies of the same sounds, to do this you either duplicate the sound and take out the highs/lows/mids and automate different effects or eq to get cool movements etc etc etc


Last edited by Dhji; 10-03-2016 at 01:43 PM..

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Old 11-03-2016, 10:51 AM   #11
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Re: What do I do when I can't add any more to a track?

A track is only finished when you decide to stop working on it. Sometimes it's good to just look at something as a learning experience and move on with the knowledge. Other times it can be good to work on the one song for 2 months.

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