How to decided when experimenting and writing
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Old 13-02-2013, 08:56 AM   #1
Jasper90
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How to decided when experimenting and writing

Okay first of hello! I'm 22 and been a musician for 15 years. Mostly playing alternative/indie rock as well as dabbling in singer/songwriter/acoustic piano rock and various forms of metal. I've started amateur recording as a way to cheaply put on paper my ideas during a time when I was in a two man band seeking a third and fourth. I was a bit obsessive and wrote everyone's parts for them so I needed a way to put all the ideas in my head down as they were easier to show than to explain half the time. I have long listened to electronic/synth/industrial music and have recently got into dubstep a little. Now I'm a solo artist (with intention to one day join or start a band again) and I find myself wanting to incorporate the modern sounds of electronica and dub into my music.

I do not know if I'm in the right place or forum or website or whatever but I thought I'd try here. Basically my question lies not in the how to (I'm currently learning and self teaching through many tutorials and trial and error) but in a more composition based area. So as I said before I want to add elements of electronica to my music. Part of my issue is that I find it hard settling on any one style. For instance I do like the pleasant dreamscape sounds of synth in a more light hearted acoustic song (Owl City) but I also like the more philosophical experimental electronica/clean guitar combo (radiohead). Mostly however my music tends to be more alt. rock/metal and what I'd like to do is incorporate synth into my more moderately paced songs (ala the killers/ Bravery etc.) and I'd like to incorporate dub into my more metal sounding songs as well as my orchestral classical compositions (Korn's newest album, Muse).

I could easily write a song in each one of those styles, and I do! but how do I make them all fit on one album I suppose without making it all sound completely out of whack and too different from each other? like Muse for instance (my biggest musical inspiration mostly their old stuff) has a way (especially as I said with their old stuff) for making all their stuff sound like THEM. no matter what style they are trying out it just sounds like Muse. No matter what. How do I ensure that in my own composition?



Also secondly and more frustratingly, most of all my older writing has all been very guitar and piano based. Even in my heavier songs, I usually found a place for piano and strings somewhere in there. One of the hardest things I came across was when writing a riff, deciding on things such as wether or not the riff should be played by guitar or piano, whether the riff should be played over the top of power chords or piano chords. Well not that I want to incorporate electronica in my music. I am finding that exact same dilemma fifty times as hard. I suppose I'm having trouble finding a balance. Muse did it so flawlessly in black holes and revelations so I'm listening to that for ideas, but its tough. I don't know where the electronica/dub elements should end and traditional alt.rock elements begin. I suppose my music should mostly be guitar and drum work with electronica stuff thrown it but I don't know how to do it appropriately. I find myself writing riffs on guitar, thinking it sounds sick, then out of curiosity playing it on a synth only to find I think it sounds sicker, but then the guitar work starts to get pushed out of the composition. How does one decide which instrument gets the riff? which instrument fills it out? are there guidelines and rules as to how to make sure everything blends and works and compliments?

I realize this has been extremely long but for anyone who has stuck with me I would appreciate experienced advice.

Thanks!!

-Michael

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Old 13-02-2013, 09:20 AM   #2
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Re: How to decided when experimenting and writing

One thing I find works really well is to just open a project and record EVERY imaginable part that you think you might possibly want. Use it as a sketchpad, create way more than you need, go nuts, be self-indulgent, record ridiculous solos if you want to, do whatever.

Then take all the audio files, put them in a new project, and mix the whole thing. Prevents you from getting stuck making those decisions, and if a synth part and guitar part are clashing because they're the same - you can layer them or take care of it in the mix instead of stressing about it while writing.

Don't compare yourself to Matthew Bellamy.... He has a ridiculously extensive musical background. If I'm correct he's a classically trained pianist at the highest level. These are not people you should compare yourself to. Make YOUR OWN music. Do what you want. Write parts you like. If it doesn't come out the way you wanted it to.... So be it.
Authors often say that they start out with intentions for a book, but by the time they get to the end of it the characters have taken on lives of their own, and they almost aren't doing the writing by the end. Its a weird metaphor but I think it applies to music well. Don't try to make someone else's music. Let your creation take on a life of its own. Obviously there's a time to struggle to make something sound like you want it to, but don't struggle to make it sound like another song.

Hope that helped. Vague questions belie vague answers. Good luck.
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Old 13-02-2013, 11:01 AM   #3
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Re: How to decided when experimenting and writing

Thanks for your help, you made a lot of sense.

I never thought of just throwing it all in and then stripping it back or lowering volume as needed, that makes a lot of sense thanks for that. I find myself listening to professional music and realising they dont throw in nearly as much as I tend to do. I know there is a reason for that so I try to keep it in mind. I suppose it is about finding my own style, but the thing is, I need to shape my own style and decide what that is first. I guess I'm having trouble in that regard.

Also for the record, I didn't mean to compare myself to the great Matthew Bellamy, or Chris or Dom or any of them. Being my main inspiration and actually trying to BE them are two different things, but I understand exactly what you are saying.

thanks again.
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Old 13-02-2013, 11:32 AM   #4
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Re: How to decided when experimenting and writing

If anyone has any other advice though on guidelines on how I would go about designing what it is I am trying to do? I realise that statement is very vague as it is my own personal style but think basically when it comes to slower stuff: a cross between old school weezer, owl city and maybe embrace? and then when it comes to faster stuff, think metal but instead of a breakdown, its like...a skrillex bass drop with some djenty guitar or something.

sorry I know its vague but my mind runs like a thousand miles per hour I feel like I like I need some sort of method.

thanks

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