Writing a multiple track project?


#1

So I know many of us have completed EPs, LPs, etc…

I’d love to get a combined thread in regards to writing out a complete thought with at least an example of the finished works included.

I personally haven’t really finished anything in that regard and would love to see some workflow ideas related to that. It’s very hard, for me, to combine multiple projects over x days/months. Every time I do this and just throw old mixes together they don’t seem to have any cohesion.

Is there a final mix step in doing so? Do you have a mix template to import tracks to? Do you simply just focus writing projects in a templated project where they live together? I’m curious.

I recently wrote 5 tracks but can’t live with it because they were written so long ago, now, that I don’t have the same mindset. I still want to add, but they’ll probably end up dead projects, just like the other stuffs.

I’ve had decent history with single tracks but still lacking EP/LP writing.

Share your thoughts on your experiences and if you have it, the release or project you’re referencing.


#2

All my previous stuff was incomplete experimental crap…I’ve only made three wholesome tracks recently that are compositionally sound and mixed…they are in the same style and complement each other well…but lately ive been lacking inspiration due to trying to deal with other peoples stress in addition to my own stress.

I may start combining/remixing some stems from the old projects that I have into and add new stuff to it whilst combining everything…but as for now I’ll just give it some breathing room till I can produce something new.


#3

Yeah, it’s tough for me too. I also have a dozen or so half finished tracks laying around figuratively in my HDs. And also a few older ideas or finished tracks I really want to revisit to update to my new style.
That said bands tend to write things in a certain period of time, but kinda together and that typically give it a sense of the tracks being part of a whole. Then they would record them at a studio. Then publish, tour etc. And that’s what makes an album or whatever seem coherent.
Now for me being a part timer, I think there’s a few things I need to do to get better at finishing stuff to have more of a « together » project vibe.
1 I need to hit record way more often, I’ve lost so many ideas that I never recorded.
2 I need to organize my ideas into simpler chunks, to hammer out the bass and rhythm parts before trying to play leads and melodies imo, so I can really learn my own tracks.
3 once that’s done and I have enough tracks in that stage, I need to work on them as a more cohesive project, not so they sound too close, but so they can complement each other. Then,
4 I can finish each one as part of that whole, even if they were started a long time apart.

Now I know a lot of bands that borrow melodies or ideas from their own songs to give their albums a cohesive feel, give that a try too!


#4

I don’t have any ideas. Only write for a year. Then take all the tracks that you got and make an album out of them.


#5

I think 1st you need to have an idea of what you are going to do before you start. You can’t start making tracks and expect them to come out the other end as an album. Think about what it is you want to end up with and choose a subject to work on. A project so to speak.

It’s funny you should start this thread now, as I.m just starting on a project , that will end up being of album length. Now, I’m a part timer who does this for fun, but It will probably help me along, if I’m helping other people at the same time.

The project is “Punk Punk” or more precisely "SciFi Punk Punk ". The idea came to me after Roo started the SciFi thread up. So, basically the idea is to create a track for various different Sci-Fi Punk Genres. SteamPunk, DieselPunk, TeslaPunk, BioPunk, CyberPunk, Post Cyberpunk or Cyberprep, etc.

Now to keep things coherent going to keep one sound, that will be in every track, which is set up on my MS 20 mini though a Boss MD2 pedal. This sound will not be changed from it’s current setting. Everything else will come from my JV1010 with occasional support from the Prophecy and Micron and the odd sample here and there.


#6

I am working on an EP right now. It started 2 years ago and the tracks are not really much like what I started with. I ended up making several other starts that did not fit, so I sort of whittled the ideas down to 4 good, relatively cohesive tracks. There are a lot of ideas I have for next time to make it easier for me, here are a few:

  1. decide on a style and stick to it
  2. get samples/ideas collected, even into one project. you can see what fits in general, and then start paring off things into separate tracks once you hit upon a few good ideas
  3. Stick to a similar process and effect VSTs. Don’t use a different reverb on each track, pick an “instrument” and stick to it. (esp for verb and delays for me…I went down a deep rabbit hole with that)
  4. Do not spend ages (like I did) screwing with sounds, esp backing effects in. I spent sooo much time later going back and fixing things f.e. when I decided to change a tempo…that x4 tracks. Ugh.

My 2c anyway. Glad if it helps.


#7

Dont mix the tracks until they are all composed.


#8

I’m sitting on one EP right now and about half way through making another. Having released one terrible EP before these two that I have in progress, I can tell you a few of the things that are different.

  1. I did not start any of them with the intent of becoming an EP.
  2. What ties them together for me is mixing and writing style. Even if the instrumentation is a little different (though I do make use of similar bass instruments throughout most of them), you can tell it’s all coming from one person around the same time.
  3. With the currently complete one versus my previous one, the biggest difference is how much tweaking I went back and did after I thought the album was done. Again, I didn’t start with the intent of making an EP, so I did have to go back and make things a bit more similar to one another. I didn’t do nearly enough of that with my first EP. With my current one, I spent 6 months just on post-production and edits to bring the tracks more in line with each other. With the EP’s worth of material I’m currently working on, my style has developed enough that I know when to make a track a single and when to reserve it for the next EP, so hopefully I won’t need to do that again.

#9

Take my experiences with a grain of salt; most of my releases (and every one of my physical ones) were in the noise, vaporwave, or extreme experimental electronic categories. I’m typically not trying to create some magnum opus concept album; I just like to capture as much raw energy as I can with whatever new techniques I’ve found to be exciting at the time.

  • Personally, I like to write everything fairly close together. If I take more than a few months or years to write something, my evolution and current style will have likely evolved on a too-noticeable level. Basically, if I get better in one area, the deficit in my earlier tracks will likely reveal itself on a somewhat embarrassing scale.

  • Typically, I like to write before I even bother with much bus mixing, especially when it comes to effects on the master. If I don’t have cohesion and uniformity in my basic style without that added pzazz or glue, then likely it’s never going to sound like a completed album or EP when I later try to force it out.

  • I really like to take breaks, and time off. Time rejuvenates my juices, but it also reveals all the horseshit that’s clogging up my mixes. Sometimes, if I come back a week later, I can finally hear the too-reverby shit going on in the background, the true lack of balance, and the sense that a track was just rushed. Taking time to fill in those details is important, but the lack of detail tends to only reveal itself once I’ve shelved it for long enough.

  • If I’m the one doing the ‘mastering’, then I’m playing it safe. I’m not an ME, so I have to be especially careful with this process and essentially take the less-is-more approach. If the mixes are already to my liking, all I might really need is some light compression and a limiter (I can hear some of you cringing already). It’s easy to screw it up, but if I’ve done my ‘sculpting’ prior, then I should technically be pretty happy with the sound as it is. And if the label likes it, even better.

  • If I’m wearing multiple hats, I never do it in the same day. If I’m writing today, I’m not mixing today; if I’m mixing today, I’m not even touching the master; if I’m doing sound design today, then I’m not even arranging. Somehow if I keep it separated and neat enough, my productivity skyrockets. If I start jumping around every 5 minutes, all I’m really going to achieve is a rushed, clusterfuck of an album or EP that nobody wants to listen to. And trust me, I’ve made that mistake. That’s how I learned to fucking stop it.

The best part of all, though, is that everyone has their own style. Doing it your way will obviously create something highly personal and meaningful to you, and isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Stressing about the process isn’t really worth it, IMO, because nobody will ever release the perfect album, and no matter what you do, some will fucking despise it and others will actually listen.

It’s a journey worth taking, for you. That’s what I think, at the end of the day.


#10

This is key for me.
The stuff I released under the moniker Automageddon was all developed around the same concept/technique and produced in the same way.
This is because I think deciding this in advance helps me having a singular voice, rather than sounding like a bunch of various tracks put together.

Did I achieve this goal in my releases?
Not sure. If I look at my bandcamp discography, then I would say:

  • Ovanta: Definitely a consistent release, meant to feel and sound like a certain type of 90es Italian Industrial (maybe my best solo release)
  • Crunch/Grind Mechanism: Consistent in style but overall poor in quality;
  • From Isolation To Misanthropy: Not overly consistent, slightly better produced.

Recently I noticed my sound is more consistent, despite different tools, so I believe I sort of developed my own signature, but as I’m putting less work into music, I struggle finishing tracks.


#11

Ive done a combination of all of the above. There have been times that I’ve taken a block of time to compose an EP, and then there have been times that I’ve been working in a particular style for a number of months (years?) and combined those to create an album.

With the former, and due to the nature of the project (instrumental doom metal) I was able to use a template session, as I knew the drums and bass tones I wanted to use were going to be consistent across the board. The guitars were the bigger changing variable tone-wise. That template and the relatively short amount of time I spent writing the EP (about 2 weeks from writing to mastering) made the mixing go quicker than if I were creating a new drum kit and elements (“electronic music style”) for each tune.

Here is the EP I am discussing:

More typically, I tend to write tracks as I go, knowing that I’ll have some downtempo stuff w vocals, some prog house or dub techno tunes, or some electro industrial music. I sort of write whatever I am feeling and put the resulting sessions in folders that correspond to each genre i work within (important: create bounces of the WIP tracks to reference so you dont need to launch each session when one is taking inventory!). When I feel like I have a cohesive set of tunes I’ll mp3 the works in progress and create a potential playlist in iTunes (or media player of choice) to decide if

  1. i feel like there is enough material for potential release, and:
  2. if the tracks are cohesive enough to be released side be side.

If #1 is good and #2 needs work I’ll go back to the sessions and make the necessary mix or sound design changes to keep things “in line” and then repeat the playlist process to evaluate.

When I’m happy with both 1 and 2 I’ll take no bus fx renders of the tracks into a new session for mastering.

Thats how I developed these 2 releases, over time with some changes in the end to “tie the room together”

Anyhow, long post is long… this is my process and my 2 cents.


#12

Thanks for the replies everyone. Keep’em coming. :upside_down_face:

I also changed the name of the thread, by request.

I’ll be coming back to this and reading everything once I get back to my computer and fooling with stuffs.


#13

If you like I can keep you updated with what I do on the Project I’ve just started here.


#14

To ad to what I said earlier and to echo what others have said–you really need some kind of central idea/theme/vibe that will hold the whole thing together before you get too deep in. I think you’ll want to be composing songs simultaneously and reworking them together. And while I know a lot of creative mixing is part of composition, I would wait and mix the tracks all together after the composition phase is complete for all of them.

I wouldn’t ever expect a bunch of tracks anyone wrote over a years time with no intention of them being an album to really ever sound cohesive.


#15

[quote=“relic, post:14, topic:2887”]I wouldn’t ever expect a bunch of tracks anyone wrote over a years time with no intention of them being an album to really ever sound cohesive.

[/quote]

this right here is why i at least TRY to stick to a handful of genres. I have a load of tracks that i’ve written as one off’s to scratch a particular creative itch but I dont expect to release them. For example, the handful of tracks that I’ve done that are quite Tycho-ish.


#16

The central idea I get. Instruments, types of sounds and such. But the mixing element usually damages my own personal cohesion. I’ve started dropping projects into “demo” folders that I like named by the month and year. The list keeps getting smaller but I have been able to go back and strip out old projects to renew notes and put in new drums or layers, so that’s been partly interesting.

Where that goes, I don’t know yet.

The last group of tracks I was thinking of pushing out as a combined effort is sort of stale now. While they’re old tracks, minus the little intro/intermission part, they were all written within hours/days of each other. But then I took a break, fizzled out more like, and came back to them and tried writing another few tracks. One which was a sub to the netlabel OG project(which I actually have an alt version now), that I may use as well. It really didn’t sit with the other ones.

But I still blame @relic for linking me to the Future Garage thread(I was afk from the forum at this point). :cheers: And @nostromer and the others for posting in it.

I don’t think i’m “nailing it” but that’s sort of where I’m headed with my current explorations.

I also bought a Volca Keys because I wanted to try out a cheap but effective chord box for some stuffs. One I could use over projects as a layer to keys or drop the piano stuffs for it. Still don’t know. But having fun, none the less.

Sorry for the long post but I feel like this is a good thread for that. As I can’t wait to listen to the music posted and the outcomes of other’s projects, before or after release. I’m glad that you guys dig the thread/question.

Some side notes to a few things I’ve read:

@bfk Personal shit is always going to affect your time making stuff. Especially as we get older. Shit sticks more. =/ I was probably about your age, when I started to do this. It helped me funnel negative thoughts and it’s only gotten easier my dude.

@TheTeknomage Yea, I’d love to hear it. Could even start a thread journaling your ride(which that actually sounds neat). I feel like that would be a decent sub-forum assuming people used it. A place the community documented their daily or weekly experience from writing out a mulitple track project. Hmmmm…

@relic I think that’s a rough thing for me. The don’t mix part. Obviously nothing gets too heavily done over but I think I need a better project template to get some similarities between projects. Because Sometimes, mixing stuff or rather gain-staging is a priority to make things sound better. So that in itself is probably very counter-productive. At least, for me, I think I tend not to save chains. They sound really good for what I put it on, aren’t easily reproduced and I lack the thought later. So actually, maybe that’s one step I can do to help cohesion is start making racks in Live. Saving my own effects for some of my effects, etc. Then mixing might not be so up front an idea.

@Auto-meh-geddon

And no. You Crunch/Grind Mechanism was awesome. When I had a cd player in my car it was usually in there as an alternative to streaming music. Problem now…my computer doesn’t have a cd/dvd rom for me to rip the music from to reinstall it to my library. =D


#17

Well. I could do, if people are interested I guess.


#18

Long post incoming. I’ll continue about album-making.

I would’ve said that I go blind without any idea what I really want by rapidly burst-firing rough small projects for a couple of months to see what sticks…. That’s what I used to do, however, it’s kind of inaccurate anymore but I still use similar approach to at least get something going. But here’s a thing – I have a background of releases and there’s this history of style and concept so I need to consider my current artist’s profile as an example of how I am progressing and how can I evolve from a current stage even more. I used to make ambient, then I moved to some cinematic/score-electronic that evolved into full cyber-futuristic-hell.

In general, you need to know how albums work. You have to listen to full albums and you might notice how some of them progress and can go up to 1 hour and still be very interesting. I do care about concept albums, that’s what really works for me. You’ve to notice that not every track suppose to be the biggest banger, there are filler tracks (which is not a negative term in my book) that suppose to glue other tracks together, etc. Album introduction, an epilogue…

I start from scratch, no templates. Once I get 2-4 demo tracks that feel are related to each other I can use them as the basis for an album and start building around them. Now I can narrow sound design techniques, reconsider the concept, expand the existing tracks to some degree. Sometimes I go back like years ago and find some abandoned project and grab something from it if I see I can use some of the layers for a new build, brings some really interesting discoveries you completely forgot about.

Weird/cool tip: I upload whatever I got at any time to Bandcamp and create draft albums. This works like a visual cue to me because BC is that platform where I’m used to see/listen to full albums only. I put some spoof track names and cover art to pretend it’s an album I’ve just released and this surprisingly provides more of third-party listening experience because it’s a much more different platform than your DAW or music player. Best thing if you haven’t listened to it for a while. This helps me to visualize and see what sticks out or seems to be missing, you can move tracks around, try a different tracklist, replace the other files. I know it isn’t something amazing but for me it just works™. I go through many versions of an album just like that, replacing tracks, reworking some of them till I feel I can’t take it anymore and this makes me hate life. Then I know it’s ready to fuck off to internets. Happens annually.

General bro pro tips:

  • Don’t limit yourself with a predefined idea in mind what album needs to be. At least make some music first. It’s often that concept shifts quite a bit while you’re progressing with tracks, most of the time for a better.
  • Not everything you start is worth finishing. There’s always lots of crap in between and that shouldn’t be a barrier for an album realization, just start something new instead if you’re stuck. By doing that some new fresh ideas will just stick to you sooner or later.
  • Mix on a go. Don’t leave it for later unless you really want to hate that one track because you messed up somewhere in its early production stage.
  • Hot take: compiling bunch of tracks you made last year is just a track compilation, not an album.
  • Don’t spend too long on same projects. You can ruin your favourite music ever if you continue listening to it over and over again day after day. At some point your brains goes like “bro I don’t think I like this anymore” and then you’ll end up crying into a pillow because life is unfair.

#19

Just what I’m playing around with at the moment and a test to see if the player comes up.Which it doesn’t so left click.