If I don’t feel excited about it, it probably means I missed the mark. If I nail a sound, I don’t really ever stop feeling kind of proud that I pulled it off. That feeling can sometimes even increase over time, even if I’m a solid 3.0 on RYM
The ‘magic’ of music comes and goes for me in waves though, so sometimes I need to just step away for a few months. It’s always better when I come back.
Having too many other hobbies helps this process along
Making tunes is basically a hobby for me. As for techno and house, my tracks sound decent next to a “commercial” track in a DJ mix these days but I’m far from “nailing it”. I’m trying to discover that magic that makes me want to listen to and dance to most of a dance track. That minimalism is so hard to do. That riff that the audience just wants over and over.
I’ll add that learning techniques or stuff from others doesn’t always apply correctly to your own stuff but elements of most things we learn, can be applied.
I took like a quick moment listening to future garage stuffs and really wanted to push that into my focus but I have no context from where it came. Besides my enjoyment of dub drums and lofi sounds, I still just make my own stuff. It doesn’t really apply to my things but I learned some things from the endeavor.
I’ve pulled back on some of the things I was trying to do and stuck to some of the other things. I’ll get there but I don’t want to butcher projects on the way to it.
I got a lot of bones out of the projects. I just need to keep the elements I want and flesh out ideas around them. Not all things are lost because you lose interest, there is probably something in there you like that can help you brainstorm something new.
But if you just don’t like it, stop and come back to it later. Maybe fresh ears, soloing shit. etc etc.
It’s good this thread came up when it did because I was having similar thoughts recently.
Living during these times has made me wonder why I bother making music. Who am I making this music for? What’s the point? If I share it’s going to be drowned in the flood of information. If I don’t share then it’s like it never existed. Why spend so much time working on something that no one will ever know existed? Why bother putting effort into anything if it all gets lost in time anyway?
I get that there are positive ways to look at this nihilism, but I don’t really buy those views myself. These kinds of thoughts always take me out of the experience.
I think having a project or goal 1,000 percent makes me a better musician but I do just enjoy the process. If I knew for an absolute certainty that my music mostly wouldn’t get heard and would never make someone say “nice beat” for a minute that wouldn’t stop me from making it.
A lot of people, particularly musicians, fall foul to the Dunning-Kruger Effect
Basically we think we’re better than we actually are at that moment in time.
It’s only after some time has passed that we look back in hindsight and realise we actually weren’t as good as we thought we were. But that’s alright, it’s actually a good thing, because it means we’ve reached a point where we’ve improved and are able to assess and fix the flaws we hadn’t previously noticed.
I’ve been through several iterations of the musicall slump, and I’m currently in one right now. What I usually do is just stop making music and start doing other things related to music. The past month I’ve put music creation aside and instead started researching, collecting, and organising loads of learning resources. Mixing and mastering videos and books, producers techniques and mixing livestreams of my favourite artists that are available, sound design videos, some resources on topic I might get into like to get into in the future like DSP programming or audio programming with things like CSound, etc, one or two music theory books, and I got some new plugins to play around with for sound design. I’ve compiled all the digital resources onto one external hard drive for future reference and I have the books stored beside me in my room.
I intend to try and study everything I’ve got as time goes on and not rush myself back into the music creation because if the love for track creation isn’t there I figure there’s no point in forcing it. If I get bored of learning technical stuff like mixing and mastering study, or synthesis study, I’ll switch over and play with some of the plugins I got to see what I can produce with them, or I’ll go research some generative music techniques, or create weird DSP chains in my DAW and see what kind of sounds I can. Other times I’ll take tracks I like and listen to small sections of them on a loop and try to figure out how the sounds were made, what processing was done to them, I’ll deconstruct the rhythm into all it’s parts and try replicate it for practice using my own samples, which I usually then smash through more DSP chains and granulators to see what happens. By the end of all this I usually have a massive collection of sound design files.
Which brings me to the next thing I’m doing. Project and sample organisation. I’ve put everything I’ve ever made onto an external hd, all the tracks and project files, all the samples I’ve downloaded, all the sound design I’ve ever made, 4 years worth of music. And I’m gonna organise it all, and make one massive project library and sample library that I can pull from at any time. The main thing really is the sample library. I usually make sounds as I go when I make my tracks, and it hinders my workflow, so I decided I wanted to have a sample library of all my sounds ever to pull from so I don’t have to break my workflow for so long when I want something new. I’ve put this organisation on the back burner for 4 years and now that I have track creation burnout this is the perfect thing to take my mind off the slump while still being able to work with audio.
Next on my list is a DAW switch from Renoise to Ableton in the future. I feel like I can’t make the music as detailed and complex as I want in Renoise because of the visual representation of information versus Ableton so the thoughts of switching seems refreshing and promising to me for my track creation. I’ve also considered exploring Reaktor and Max/MSP as well. While switching DAWs is costly if feel like breaking the familiarity of working with one DAW is beneficial for electronic music production. It makes you think about composition and production in a different way, things difficult in one DAW become easy in another and vice versa, making things fresh and exciting again. And you can then always cross platform between different DAWs for different purposes.
So I guess you can do any of those things to keep you occupied while you wait for your inspiration to come back. And it will come back eventually, and at the fucking weirdest time trust me. I moved from my home in Ireland to halfway around the world to Australia, lived in Sydney for for 6 months, didn’t make a scrap of music, not one piece, had no interest, moved to a rural farm for 3 months of work, lived alone in a shed, milked cows 8 hours a day, and it was the most productive music period I’ve ever had in the last 2 years.
Also drugs don’t work for me, I just get sucked into the high of being on drugs and want to listen to music to relax rather than have to sit and use analytical thinking to make important decisions about minute details of sounds. Trying to create a kick drum would just send my on an 8 hour mushroom trip of tweaking a sine wave kick but never actually deciding on when it sounded good. I don’t think they work for anyone really, I think it’s just a myth people like to think is true because it’s associated with the glamorous rock n roll lifestyle. Even Keith Richards himself said that when he tried to write on drugs all that came out was shit. Drug use seemed to just be a way for famous people to cope with and take the the edge off of being in the spotlight.
Keith talks about drugs and creativity from 15:40 onwards
You’d actually probably be better off just trying to do something much safer for your health like what Salvador Dali did, where he would sit in a chair with a key in his hand left hand and a pan placed on the floor beneath it, he would begin to drift off to sleep and as he did he would see images in his mind, the spoon would fall, hit the pan, and he would wake up just before he fell asleep, the image would still be in his mind and he would then paint it as best he could. I dunno if it can be replicated with sound, but I’ve once or twice heard a melody in my mind as I was falling asleep, and even Aphex Twin claims to have tried to practice lucid dreaming to make melodies in his sleep so it’s possible but probably not practical. Still better than risking a dependency on class As in the hope of making better music
I know you have a love for Woulg and Vaetxh’s musical style from posts you’ve put up on here, I do as well. So if you wanna go down the mixing study route first I suggest checking out the Woulg stream on Twitch, which also get posted by someone to youtube after the stream. If you’ve not already heard of them that is.
I personally can’t make anything creative when drunk or high, but I totally agree on inspiration coming from sleep or dreams.
I tend to have my best ideas in the evening, usually before going to bed and while waiting for my wife to be done in the bathroom so it’s my turn.
I write them down, keep them in mind, take them to bed with me and many times fall asleep with them. Some stay with me in the morning, so I write them down first thing.
Keep a notepad by your bed or near the area where you think.
Or there’s the opposite way, treat music like your job, it can be great but sometimes it’s a chore. Do. Not chase inspiration, just work. Open your daw and get working even if you don’t feel like it. Stick to it, you’ll get things done.
My other hobby is making videogames and it takes a lot of my creative energy so usually if I’m working on a project I can’t make music.
And that is fine, I recently got back to music and my juices are flowing. Also getting a new hardware synth helped…