If I was really honest, I'd have to admit that the majority of the tracks I've written that have been picked up and flogged by DJs have been written in less than an hour and a half. I've formulated hour live sets from the ground up in an afternoon. Generally, anything that takes me longer than that to write is not going to be played by DJs.
It doesn't mean that it's not going to get played, it just means that the audience is going to be engaging on a different level than a dance floor. That's not a bad thing. But the key to writing dance music is to not overthink it. It's not complicated, it's simple. There's no hidden meaning or sub-text. It serves a function. Write it quickly, get it out, get feedback, gauge crowd reactions, refine. Then repeat.
For me, that's the largest part of the process: Addressing the reactions to your music. How does a large room react to the music, how do the people in that room react, which parts work for the DJs, which parts do the audience pick up on? That's where you are informed about the qualities of your mix. That's where your ideas of what makes something good are either validated or critiqued.
I do that too. Not really a skeleton structure but more of a sketch. I just take a few essential instruments, kick snare hats bass and maybe a synth and just start with that and just keep on writing with those instruments. Then I usually stop near the end because the end is often mostly just repetition of something that happened before with a breakdown.
I don't do it in a day or as quickly as possible. I just force myself to keep on writing instead of making an intro and a drop and spend 2 weeks making that awesome while having nothing for what comes after that.
But I have also noticed that too much pre planning, like writing it out on paper or empty clips doesn't work for me. Then it becomes too forced for me. Maybe in 20 years if I am still making tracks I might be able to conceive an entire songs in my head but not now. I need to find out in the moment what works.
But yeah, I find it a really nice way of working. Write the sketch in a short time and then spend a lot of time on making it awesome. I also find it easier if you are going to use audio from synths or effects. I write the sketch, make it more awesome and then replace or layer midi synths with audio from synths.
Yeah, they arranged their songs in a day... because they're glitch hop artists. Most of the MIDI arrangement can just be copied over for an entire album. At the same time, if you've pretty much streamlined your process and set up templates in advance, it might all flow together in one day. I still think designing sounds and unique patches should take the longest and be set aside for an additional day, but that's just me. Those guys use presets though, right? (I keed)
its not like ppl specifically try to make things super fast... it just doesnt really take all that long when u have done it 1000 times before
Yeah, I don't think it's something that's exclusive to electronic musicians. I think any form of songwriting is going to be organic in nature. I've had plenty of times where we've been in the music room with a bottle of scotch and some smoking jackets, and we come up with something awesome. The more you play music the quicker it comes to you and if you get into the habit of doing something musical every day, you eventually will come up with something that's worth writing down.
And the more I read about pieces of music, the more I think this is how it's made. For every artist there is a moment of clarity, where everything else is quiet and they can hear the song and they get down as much of it as they can using whatever they have at hand. Then it's just a matter of piecing it all together.
The faster I can compose and structure a track, the more consistent and complete it feels. I like to mix quick and fast; the piece needs to feel expressive and alive. The longer I take, the more technical and dead everything seems, and I often lose interest. I'll fuss about some tracks for days after, but the majority of the initial creative burst is usually in the first 2-3 hours.
On the rare occassion that I spend days on a piece, it usually sounds nothing like I intended at the end.
just did it yesterday, i created the main chords progression/chorus in like 2 hours at night, then next morning arranged/mixed everything, you learn a LOT by doing that, especially when you're not forcing yourself to do it
but while it can work for simple straigh forward beats ( aka what most of dance oriented songs are supposed to be ) its not realistic to do that for complex composition, forcing this methode into something wich is supposed to take way more time to finish can lead to very bad results
Yeah usually the track is 90% complete in 1-2h indcluding sound design. The rest is just mixing and adding little things and changes. I usually find it hard to get to the same mindset after a few days so all the creative work must be done in the beginning.
1 - sound design / minor sketches: these 2 are intermingled, because one sound will usually lead me to want to make another (eg "ooh this drum is dirty, i want a dirty bass to mix in with it").
2 - major sketches and jamming: just shit out tons of musical ideas with the sounds you have. you're looking to ride inspiration here, and be free and fast in creating different musical things. the moment you get bored of something, just make something different
3 - arrange. take the cream of the major sketches and use them as the basis of the song, and throw them up on a time line loosely.
I have to move fast from idea to 90 % finished to not lose the creativity and/or the focus. The last 10 % might be what takes 90 % of the total time in the end, with mixing, contemplating, re-evauating and re-re-evaluating
I usually take a couple of days just to sleep on an idea and explore some other options. I know that Deorro made yee in 45 minutes and hard we'll made spaceman in a half hour.
Walking away from something and giving it a rest is a discipline that pays off at times. Unless your in a hyper-creative vortex, Get a sketch out and have the restraint to walk away so you do not waste your time on a weak track.
So i've heard from a few glitch-hop artists vespers and ill.gates to name a couple, that they try to write the song as quick as possible.
Basically they do all their sound design first, then they try to come up with a rough plan of the whole song... in a day. Then they do all the fine details and mixing.
Who else does this? and could explain a bit on it. It takes me forever to bounce out a bunch of different bass modulations/Sounds, then to play around with stretching, chopping to make it all fit into a coherent piece.
Are any of you super speedy at this? and what helps your process (Speed wise)
Yeah but they're terrible.
In contrast consider how long edIT took to make "Crying.." and "...Air Raid...". It's not a magical mystery.
p.s. I jumped the gun but I still stand by my statement!
Originally Posted by Chaotix
Well I'm not exactly talking about banging out the track in a day, as in being completely finished. The sound design before you start the track can take say a week. Then when you have all your sounds, going in and making a rough skeleton of the whole song in a day. Then after the mixing and little fine edits can take two weeks to three. So in all it took a month roughly to make the whole song.. but I'm just talking about the arrangement in a day.
Last edited by Son of Akira; 18-12-2014 at 03:32 PM..
Wow. One day huh. I've come up with countless 8 or 16 bar loops in as little as an hour, but never arranged a whole track that fast.
Sometimes the lines between sound design, arrangement, mixing, etc blur. For example, while mixing I hear something that I didn't hear before, inspiring another sound- then I have to go all the way back to sound design when I should be mixing. I guess that's why some say to only mix audio files so you're forced to stick with the decisions you've made and not tool your track to death.
Making music is much like drawing a picture or making a movie. Before you get down to the fine tunement, you need to have the rough idea of what to do, like a sketch or a manuscript. Sure you might change minor things in the process, but without a plan it all fails and becomes a mess.
Personally i do the song in one day, like all of it. Then i try not to listen to it for a week or so, then listen to it again once i've forgotten what i thought about when i did the different parts, making my opinions on my own song subjective and then i edit the song once more. Works fairly well, i must say.
This has been my experience, as well -- with both electronic and classical writing. I've been finding that the pieces I feel are the most successful were the ones that I sketched out (even in really rough outlines) in one or two sittings. Then, once I have a clearer conception of the form and how parts relate to one another, I can go back and shape the details. Otherwise, if I try to start from the beginning and proceed only after a section is *perfect*, my brain gets lost and the ideas seem to fizzle out.
This is just the process that has worked for me; I've seen others have great success with different approaches.
This is my approach also. In the past I used to work on a particular section or chunk until it's perfect but i found out that you loose a lot of ideas. I think it's best to do basic arrangement and after not listening the track for 3-4 days go back and fine tune.
One technique that can help is to create a main rhythm, and jam over the top of that with synths. Then start arranging from that. But the trick is to delete the main rhythm once the song get's going and create a brand new rhythm on top of the tune that fits better than the orginal which was really just a glorified click track suffering from loopitis. You can do this variation with any instrument, really. That way the sounds can gel together much better and you can cut out spaces for the sounds to go or open space for the underneath sounds to be heard.