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That "Eureka" Moment


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This is gonna be a long post, watch out!

 

So I took a few minutes off from the PC, just sat down in front of my window and gazed into the distance. It's really because I spend alot of time doing stuff on the PC, so I need to rest my eyes every once in a while. It really helps to ease the stress of the eyes (and the mind).

 

Anyway, as I was staring in the distance I started thinking about things. Mainly about my music. I was thinking how I could never seem to finnish a track anymore. Which was odd, because I have so many ideas and so many scrap projects laying around. I could easily take bits from these scrap projects and integrate them to a full track. But whenever I would start a track, it would last at a maximum of a minute or so. After less then a minute, the track itself spins out of control. Staring at the distance, I started thinking how I used to make tracks a long time ago. And I have over 50 tracks that are finnished and that I've neatly organized into 4 or so albums. They were mainly experiment ideas, fun-music and stuff like that. I appreciated it, but I didn't want to stop there.

 

So all of a sudden, out of the blue, it hit me. It was that "Eureka!" moment. I finally realized what the problem was. See, in my early days when I just started making music I didn't really take the music-making part seriously. I would start a project with a simple beat, I would layer it around for a few minutes in the timeline and then I would work around it. Gradually adding more stuff, editing, cutting, and the works. But nowadays, the way I worked was really counter-intuitive. I spent alot of time during the past few years focusing mainly on synthesis. I would load a new project, add a synth and then just create new patches. Whenever I would create something interesting I would just save the whole project with a new name (I used project versioning instead of saving .fxp presets, just click of a button and the project gets saved with a new number in the filename which is kind of faster for synth's that don't have preset management).

 

But when I would actually start making a track this is where I would get into trouble. I had all these great elements that would work great in a track, but the problem was they do not fit in the beginning. I would start a track with an element that should really exist somewhere in the middle of a track, when the track "builds up" to the point where you play a really nice synth line or similar (A very usual element found in the build-ups of old-school goa tracks). Most (goa) tracks start out slow, they build up gradually untill they reach a certain point, then they stay in that range for a while untill they start slowing down again (By slow&fast I mean the number of elements in a track and the general effect on the listener, not the tempo). But I was working in a totally un-initiative way. I would start with a heavy element and after a while I wouldn't know how to progress further along.

 

Basically, what I just realized was that I need to start slow. I need to start with a simple beat, maybe a simple lead - some placeholders if I decide to replace them eventually. And then gradually build on top of it, adding more elements as the timeline progresses. It shouldn't matter how good the beginning of the track sounds, by that I mean in the very beginning of the production of the track.

 

See, I allways had this idea that I had to make everything perfect. Even in the very beginning. My problem was a combination of the need for perfection and my lack of patience. But these thoughts today gave me a whole new perspective. Hopefully I won't forget these words. But that's why I made this topic, just to remind myself every so often.

 

Sorry if I wasted 10 minutes of your time for nothing, but I found this as one of those 'Eureka' moments and had to share it. :)

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Sorry if I wasted 10 minutes of your time for nothing, but I found this as one of those 'Eureka' moments and had to share it. :)

Definetly not a waste! I have had the same tendency to leave scrapped projecs around for way too long, because the track just doen't really come together. Cool bits all around, but nothing conclusive. I found out that for me, it was because I had lost the playful attitude to it, and wanted all the perfect parts, all the perfect places. Only, I found out, a part can only be "perfect", if there is a context for it to be perfect in. So it's better to build up to "somewhere where something would be really sweet", and then put in something really sweet :)

 

I found this out by messing with dubstep, which I knew nothing about. Regaining the playful what-if attitude, I just did stuff, instead of analyzing stuff that would eventually come to be, but didn't.

 

- A

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Man, this is fucking unbelievable. I spent about 30 minutes searching for duplicate files, found about 900 of them just in the projects folder. This happened cos I kept duplicating folders when I was making backups. So I quickly removed them now. Also removed all of the duplicate projects that come loaded with the various sequencers. So, the numbers:

1,579 .flp (Fl Studio)

1,330 .cwp (Cakewalk Sonar)

914 .p5p (Cakewalk Project 5)

 

Which is a sum of 3823 Unique PROJECT FILES!

Ok, probably alot of these are various synth patches combined with each other, but there's tons of midi sequences and half-finnished tracks in there aswell.

 

Oh, did I forgot to mention I've got another folder where I keep my VST presets aswell?

Let's see, after I removed all the duplicates, how many unique presets do I have?

 

1,342 .fxp files.

 

And these were all made by me. I never download presets of the web, I rather create my own. They've piled up over the years.

 

Am I sick, or am-I-sick? :ph34r:

 

I would have never of thought to have so many scraps laying around. I thought 80% of those were duplicates.. but turns out they're not. There really is a ton of material in there. It's the result of that perfectionism thing that I used to talk about in psynews offtopic. I would start a project, and never finnish it. It's been haunting me for years. I gotta put an end to it tho, this just has to stop.

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  • 4 weeks later...

On sunday I read an article about A Guy Called Gerald and he was saying how important it is to stay simple-

don't let the technology get in the way of your music-making process.

 

I agree to this completely and have found that the most important thing in music making is the flow (of ideas).

In the last 18 months I've watched a lot of videos of producers in their studios and one thing I deffinately got out of it was that

I should always start with the fundamentals (rythem/beat) and go from there; even in mixdown you start with the most important aspect of a song.

I believe one of the reasons that artists make worse stuff later on in their careers is because that take themselves too seriously.

So yea, +1 here.

 

 

P.S. that's an insane amout of duplicate files!

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One's tools are like one's home. If it's only one room, and one is using one's sink for a bathroom and kitchen, then any worthwhile project is likely to fail. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if one has a mansion full of empty, unused rooms, one will feel the burden of excess in which elaborately furnished rooms go heated yet unused. One needs to find a moderate home according to one's needs in which one's tools match one's capacity to decorate it with warmth and with meaningful things, in which every space serves a utilitarian purpose, thereby achieving a sustainable equilibrium. And there should be space in the yard for expansion when necessary without putting the family dog in the kennel. :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not sure I agree with the notion that you should always start with the beat... I guess it depends on what you consider most important in your track. Either way, I always start with melodies, build a melodic structure, and find beats that, to me, best accentuate its power and emotion.

 

I generally end up coming up with melodies that fit the middle of the track as well. However, if you just mess around in the same key, you usually can quickly find appropriate melodies or ideas to build up to it.

 

Either way, I personally think it keeps things more interesting. To each their own, however.

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  • 1 month later...

I used to be the same way, getting so caught up trying to make everything sound clean right off the bat that I would forget to make a track, basically. Ive deleted gigs of these files with a single 32 beat pattern that went nowhere, but sounded clean... I always thought of it as practice but I look back now and see how much it actually hindered my learning...

 

Now I try to get the whole track out ASAP. Try to get the whole idea out before its lost or I get too preoccupied cleaning sounds. Ive found that with this approach I get much more cohesive work, quicker, and a much clearer idea of where I want to go with it and what I want it to sound like in the end (even though it usually never ends up exactly like I imagine, but thats ok its sorta like a sculpture). Once the idea is out there, its really a lot easier to chip away at the sharp edges.

 

IMO, start with whatever you feel like starting with. Usually, I start with the bass and percussion, just because, thats usually where the ideas start, but sometimes I'll have an idea for a melody or something and will start with that. I try to go with the moment and where it takes me.

 

My main "Eureka!" moment came when I realized how much I was stubbornly sticking to techniques that really weren't all that effective and decided to try something new. One should never stick to ANYTHING rigidly. What is good for one track, is in my experience rarely good for any other. They each evolve on their own.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Fifth track in a row I worked for almost a month that I decided to abandon. I couldn't find the Eureka moment to go on.

A sixth attempt has already begun *sigh*

Maybe you're being too careful. I often find that taking a risk - even though it can be very scary - can move a track along. Open up a new empty 16-bar section, set up some instruments - some you're already using, or even better, some new ones - jam a little and see if something new happens. Then find a way to tie that to the first section. A truism about life in general: The greatest rewards involve the greatest risks. I find that most of the time, if I'm brave enough to take a risk in the writing process, it ends up being a good thing.

 

It could also be that you're just too limited by your equipment - or maybe you have too much equipment, giving you too many choices.

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Maybe you're being too careful. I often find that taking a risk - even though it can be very scary - can move a track along. Open up a new empty 16-bar section, set up some instruments - some you're already using, or even better, some new ones - jam a little and see if something new happens. Then find a way to tie that to the first section. A truism about life in general: The greatest rewards involve the greatest risks. I find that most of the time, if I'm brave enough to take a risk in the writing process, it ends up being a good thing.

 

It could also be that you're just too limited by your equipment - or maybe you have too much equipment, giving you too many choices.

The main reason I give up, is that I end up in a point where I'm not interest in it anymore.

I try to fix the problem with a major chance, something that will motivate me to go on and finish it. Then I change another thing and another and soon realize that it's better to start something new as long my enthusiasm is strong.

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Then maybe you're listening to it more than you're adding to it, so the excitement wears off. Very common, and hard to avoid.

 

I think this is okay if it makes you happy in and of itself. But if you are genuinely upset that you don't finish anything, maybe try to find more equilibrium between listening and making.

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Then maybe you're listening to it more than you're adding to it, so the excitement wears off. Very common, and hard to avoid.

Yep, that's it.

I listen to my tracks many times for mixing purposes. My older tracks didn't translate well in different sound systems and I'm trying to fix this.

So I listen to my tracks with my headphones and then again with my speakers and then again with my earphones, trying to find the ideal balance.

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