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View Full Version : I think I forgot how to do music


ella guro
01-13-2010, 03:12 AM
So it's been years since I've worked much on any sort of remix, and I've done some but not a whole lot of music for the past few years. The last three months or so I've wanted really badly to start on something, but I feel like I have no direction. I just open up the program, stare at the window for a few minutes, mess around with a few sounds, and then exit without saving.

Part of it may be that I'm switching from Reason to FL and I'm having real problems getting straight what sounds/effects to use. But even with that I still have the same problem when I go back to Reason. Part of it also may be that I work better with some limitations, when I don't have complete control over everything, because when I have access to so many different sounds/effects I'm not good at making a decision about what and what not to go with. And I'm really afraid if I do just pick some instruments/effects/ideas and go with it, the results will be less interesting than if I picked another one.

Is this just lack of inspiration? Not knowing where to start? Something else? If anybody has any thoughts on how to deal with this, please share.

theshaggyfreak
01-13-2010, 03:45 AM
Constraints are good in my opinion. I used to have a TON of plugins at one point but I got rid of most of them. As far as synths go, I like to stick with what Reason gives me although I have been using the Mopho more. I really believe that the tyranny of choice can be quite a hindrance.

Moseph
01-13-2010, 03:48 AM
I'd suggest starting with a large-scale outline of some sort before you even open your sequencer so you have something to fall back on if you can't think of anything to do (this post (http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?p=632406#post632406) in the epic music thread shows a type of outlining that I occasionally do). It might be as simple as deciding, okay, I'm going to repeat this bassline for forty-five seconds, then use this bassline for thirty seconds, then go back to the first bassline. The point is to find something that makes you think about the piece as a whole before you start fiddling with details such as sound-design.

Another fun way to approach this is to take an existing piece of music that you like, break it down into sections, and build something of your own on the sectional outline that roughly follows the musical development of the original. You can pull ideas from the original if you get stuck.

If sound selection trips you up, maybe try writing notes first just using generic sounds like piano, and save sound selection until last.

ella guro
01-13-2010, 04:23 AM
Thanks Moseph, those are really good suggestions. I should take a Beatles song or something and then break it down and use a similar structure in a remix. I like the idea of just borrowing different existing ideas from different places and putting them into a different context.

I agree, tsf, that too much choice can really hinder you. I am really trying to branch out of Reason, though, because it will be good in the long run for me to know how to use multiple programs.

Arcana
01-14-2010, 08:05 PM
I'd suggest starting with a large-scale outline of some sort before you even open your sequencer so you have something to fall back on if you can't think of anything to do (this post (http://ocremix.org/forums/showthread.php?p=632406#post632406) in the epic music thread shows a type of outlining that I occasionally do).

Damn it, I know all about the concept of outlining, but you just told me that I could apply this to MUSIC? You're amazing Moseph.


Oh and as far as music goes, I find that it's best to stick with a few key sounds to start especially when you're starting out again. When I first started One Hour Compo, I was pretty lost in terms of what to do, and then eventually I just picked up an electric piano patch and played the entire song with just that instrument.

Also, I find that putting too many expectations on yourself when starting is a BAD way to make music especially if you're new to it (I don't know what your experience level is so it may not apply to you). If you tell yourself that you want to make a reggae song, and then when you put things down and it ends up sounding good, but it's salsa, you should try to avoid criticizing yourself for it and instead just go with it. I used to get very disappointed because I'd often tell myself that, today, I'm going to compose something great, and it just got me frustrated rather than encouraged.

Sir_Snooze
02-03-2010, 02:42 AM
Personally, I write music from what I whistle and hear in nature. Basically, I always start composing by writing the soundscape - the sounds which define the tune.

Then again, I always write ambient music, so...I tend to wander about with a recorder when I'm in the mood to write music. I just walk, hands-in-pockets-style, and I listen when I get home to what I've got. I know that sounds like a retarded John Cage-esque method, but it's good by me. I just take sounds that I like - a good gust of wind, some birds, those shutters on triangular bill-boards...

That probably doesn't work for other genres, though. Sorry...

ella guro
02-03-2010, 03:36 AM
That's not a bad idea! If I had a recorder, I'd do that. Makes it sound like you're a character in some disney cartoon, haha.

I'm still floundering musically, but hopefully I get back on the right track soon. I think I just need to worry about making the kind of music I like to make and not worry about making it epic or OCR-worthy or whatever.

Sir_Snooze
02-03-2010, 03:23 PM
That's not a bad idea! If I had a recorder, I'd do that. Makes it sound like you're a character in some disney cartoon, haha.

I'm still floundering musically, but hopefully I get back on the right track soon. I think I just need to worry about making the kind of music I like to make and not worry about making it epic or OCR-worthy or whatever.

Oh, when I write music, I'm a character. Last night, I recorded the sound caused when my apartment has a different pressure than the outside (I put the A/C on and opened the windows) - it's a neat whistle.

None of my stuff is OCR-worthy, and I'd be ashamed to waste the judges' collective times with it. I just fiddle with it - I take the sounds, mix 'em together, and see what happens. By the way, the sound of a breeze can be mixed to another sound. I recorded a few leaf crunches in the fall and stuck that to the wind - it's really a neat percussion...sadly, it died with my old computer.

In time, you'll get back to it. Don't make it for anyone but you - I mean, I consider my music really personal, and I don't like sharing it because it's so simple and my talent so limited. Just do it for you!

Yoozer
02-03-2010, 10:24 PM
I feel like I have no direction.

Get a digital piano and put it in a different room.

One important part of music is focus; when you're distracted by your options, minimize them. By putting it into another room you alleviate the pressure because you don't associate that room with the dreary task of making music and choices; by getting the computer out of the equation you minimize your options. Plus, if you get a decent digital piano - the keys feel positively delicious compared to most controllers. The interface is really spartan; only a few good sounds.

Lastly; if your idea doesn't sound good on the piano, you know that you have to fix that with musicianship - not with effects or catchy sounds.

So, that can be a rather drastic and expensive option, but for me, it was worth it; I've got a Roland FP7 in the living room and my playing has leapt forwards in terms of quality (plus I bought it when the UK pound had parity with the euro, which meant I only paid around 1000 euros for it instead of 1500 euros).

As for transitioning; make a selection of equivalents of what Reason does. ReDrum is obviously available, so are NN-XT/19.

Perhaps Poizone can act as a substitute for Subtractor. There's nothing like Thor but U-HE ACE may do the job.

Meteo Xavier
02-03-2010, 10:43 PM
This is a common issue in all things creatively done. I feel like I forget how to do music all the time, mostly because I've never conventionally learned how, but its just a confidence issue. If you've done music before, you likely know how to do music.

I struggle with confidence to just get started a lot these days, but just sitting down and noodling around is enough to get you started again and maybe even finish something awesome. Some of my best tracks started out me just fooling around and practicing.

Just sit down and play around.

EC2151
02-04-2010, 02:46 AM
I find that often, if I try to jump into things without having some sort of plan, I flounder around after one or maybe two good ideas.


I haven't done jack shit in a long time, but then again, schoolwork does pile up.
The composer John Adams says that if you are really into the whole music thing, then dry spells are just that: spells that come and go.

I just wait it out until a good idea finally puts itself into my head.

I've been meaning to buy myself a recorder for the longest time, because sometimes I get a good idea on the piano.
Of course, when that happens now I just quickly sketch it in my notation book, but having a recording really does help, because if not I am stuck playing the same things over and over again until I "know" a song, focusing on nothing else.