Sign in to follow this  
kyleh93710

Composing Questions

Recommended Posts

Hey everyone at OC, I know there is a Introduction section for saying hello, but I have a couple of problems as well so I decided to make a SUPERTHREAD (lol) of a hello and my problems.

First off obviously I'm new because none of you have seen me post before or anything. I've listened to all the OCRemix Music for around a year and I figured that its time for me to try to make remixes. I've played around with both FL Studio 7 and 8 for 2 or 3 months(not near enough time, I know), and played around endlessly with VST's and VSTi's as well as soundfonts, samples, effects, etc. I've also watched numerous FL Studio tutorials from people like NFX from warbeats, who has numerous good little tips and tricks in his youtube videos.

I guess I better get to my point before you all fall asleep on your keyboards.:sleepzzz: I have been trying to get started remixing a song, and have been playing around with the melodies of the song in different songs trying to get a start on a remix. The thing is, is I just can't get it rolling. It's hard to explain, but my songs sound so basic, so unprofessional, and even early in the remixing process it just doesn't sound good at all, and I can tell. Whatever you may call it, writer's/composer's/remixers block, inexperience, or lack of confidence, I have a problem.

I was just wondering to all those remixers out there that produce such great music, how did you guys get started? Did your first remixes turn out at all good? How can I get started, and maybe get some feedback on my really crappy remixes as I start out, and get tips to get better and better and maybe in a year or two be a good remixer? Zircon, djpretzel, darkesword, and others that slip the mind, how did you guys get started, your music is awesome! If you guys have any other suggestions, please do not hesitate at all to speak your mind. I have checked out the competitions section and plan on at least remixing some PRC choices for practice.

I have read Zircon's tutorial and a little of Mc's, but if there are any sections on any tutorials you think I'd want to read, please tell me.

Also, if you recommend a different program than FL Studio to use, please tell me, I just need to get started.

Thanks guys, and hey to all of you crazy music makers.

EDIT: I decided this would be better to put in the Remixing Section so I moved it.:-P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

no one's first song is any good.

there is also the wip section (work-in progress) to get feedback from other ocr'ers, as well as the #ocrwip chat on irc.

i think the best thing i can suggest, is to listen to songs in the genre/style that you are emulating, and listen critically to parts/instruments, and then deconstruct the layout/arrangement. imitation and repetition will help teach you the basics pretty well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Composition is a fickle mistress. For some people the ideas just come naturally and others have to approach it systematically. A few general pointers (that work for me, again, this is different for everyone):

- Conceptualize before you start. Think of the musical genre you're aiming for, the instrumentation, listen to some bands whose sound you're trying to recreate, get some melodic ideas in your head etc. That way you can immediately start composing once you sit down behind your sequencer.

-(Shamelessly stolen from Darkesword) Divide your instrumentation in groups. There are very few musical genres that are exceptions to this rule, but usually you can say that there's a bass instrument that plays the lowest notes of the chord, a 'rhythm' instrument plays/defines the chords, a lead instrument that plays the melody as well as percussion of some sort. Familiarize yourself with the role of each of these four groups, what you should or shouldn't do (chords on the bass-instrument, ouch), and how you can utilize each of these groups effectively.

- Plan ahead, keep a keen sight of the entire song, don't write it measure by measure. You need some kind of structure (even if it's as simple as verse-chorus-bridge) so your whole song seems intentional and not just a random sequence of musical idea's.

- Do NOT SKIM ON PERCUSSION. Seriously. Especially if you're emulating an acoustic drum kit. Percussion is important to such an extent that it can make an awesomely catchy tune sound repetitive and bland. On the other hand, if your percussion is dynamic enough, you can get away with a relatively boring progressions/melodies (there are boundaries of course). I generally spend twice as much time sequencing drums as all the other instruments combined, so that should give you an idea of the importance of percussion.

- Similarly, the bass gets underestimated way too often. A good bassline does not only fill out the song, but it gives it a better rhythmic feel because of the amazing interaction with the drums.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to you both for the advice, it will be taken into consideration. I think I know what you are getting at Tensei when you were talking about the instruments. Think of my music as being played by multiple people with different roles in a song. When I listen to OCremixes, as I am trying to more and more, I am picking up techniques and ideas and trying to hear what they do when filling a song. And I'm sure time is always a factor when remixing, and as you said no first song is really a good one. Is this how you guys got started making music and remixing (If you do)? In the WIP section?

Again thanks for your advice and more is welcomed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Productivity.

10 songs of which 9 suck give you 1 good song.

1 song of which 90% sucks gives you 1 crappy song.

Write. Write again. Keep writing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
- Do NOT SKIM ON PERCUSSION. Seriously. Especially if you're emulating an acoustic drum kit. Percussion is important to such an extent that it can make an awesomely catchy tune sound repetitive and bland. On the other hand, if your percussion is dynamic enough, you can get away with a relatively boring progressions/melodies (there are boundaries of course). I generally spend twice as much time sequencing drums as all the other instruments combined, so that should give you an idea of the importance of percussion.

- Similarly, the bass gets underestimated way too often. A good bassline does not only fill out the song, but it gives it a better rhythmic feel because of the amazing interaction with the drums.

These two tips are definitely true, I still often leave my bassline and percussion too late and kick my self later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yeah, get a rhythm section/loop going to get the basic groove. get the bass/sub tight with the rhythm.

it's easier to make everything else fit around this, than it is to change all your arrangement to fit the groove afterwards.

and i'll also second the idea of breaking your songs down into parts/sub mixes.

helps you figure out what your song "needs"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you know basic music theory, like chords and keys? If you don't, learn a little bit of it.

Also, try to write original music too. Don't just try to arrange or "remix." That helped me a lot when I was starting out.

As for a professional sound, that really comes with practice. Yoozer had the right idea: just keep writing stuff, post it up for feedback, and take the criticism to heart.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To go contrary to DS, I started out making originals in Cakewalk, but I think my skills really took off when I started actually just trying to recreate sounds I heard in other songs. Not that his advice wouldn't work for you, but I may as well offer the approach that worked for me.

One of my remixes on this site started because I tried to recreate Daft Punk's "Around the World" (I'll leave it to you to figure out which one). I ended up modifying huge chunks of the song in the end, of course - new melodies, instruments, structure - but that's how it was born. Trying to recreate other songs gave me a solid understanding of how songs break into instrument groups, and what sounds sound good together. And sometimes, it can inspire a totally new song.

But skills still take time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a question, but in what order do you guys do songs? By order, I mean do you guys start with the drums first, and then go with the melody, bass, fills? What order do you guys make your songs?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It depends. And it doesn't matter where you start really. If you have an idea, then start there. A good place to start might be with kick on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4.

I usually end up doing wooshes and ambient pads last though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alright, thanks for all the advice, but here's my last question really. I was wondering if any mixers out there that use FL Studio have any free time over the summer possibly. I ask this because maybe if there are any mixers who would want to maybe do a small remix or two with me somehow for the sake of my learning process, not so much me mixing, but possibly some FL mixer out there could show me the ropes and show me some techniques. I could pick up a couple things on the way. I don't know if you guys catch my drift, but it'd be like one of those watch and learn type deals, where I could contribute minimally but get a whole lot out of it. That's totally fine if none of you are interested as I understand if you guys don't want to waste time on me when you could be at the pool or mixing your own songs.

Just throwin it out there.

Thanks for all the advice to everyone though, its been really helpful and I'm getting slightly better every time I sit down and mess with FL Studio.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes messing around is good. I believe beat drop made a song with all FL presets and included FL plugins once for beginners to look at. I don't know where it is. sorry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get some composition textbooks, study composition. Import songs you like into MIDI editors and spend hours analyzing them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would consider doing some basic generic tutorials for everybody sometime, let me know a few things you could use help with (everyone who would like some help should let me know a topic or two they would like a tutorial fruity loops project for and let me know either via PM or in this or some other topic) and I'll see if I can whip up something... no promises though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not particulairly proficient in styles, I'm more planning to do basic orientation tutorials for newbies, such as "this is the step sequencer, you load channels here, here's how the piano roll works, you can do this with it..." etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now we have two people with their first name and zip code in their alias? What's the deal?

Also, I was totally going to say what Yoozer said.

nice catch

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for a professional sound, that really comes with practice. Yoozer had the right idea: just keep writing stuff, post it up for feedback, and take the criticism to heart.

The problem with this is that the level of "criticism" that comes back often leaves a lot to be desired. As a professional amateur on the WIP circuit, I've seen no end to useless, vague, ideas of what I need to do to fix a song. "Make it sound more dramatic on the second part." is an example. Ok, how do I do that? What chords or instruments should I use to create that effect? Also, which second part? What level of drama? Do you have an example? No, of course not. "Its too muddy and you need to transition better!", Yes, because I intentionally made this song too muddy and didn't transition enough when CLEARLY I have more than enough talent to do so. One person even told me to "give it a story and make it sound like you're romping through a garden".

.....What?

I think perhaps posting it on and expecting real results on the WIP board is a waste of time. They never tell you what you need to do to fix it, they just tell you to fix it. My suggestion would be to seek out a professional songwriter/composer (hell, every 2nd rate town has one) and see if you can mentor under him/her for a fee. Its more of a pain in the ass and costs something, but be much more worthwhile in the long run.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyway, here's some of the things I've done to improve my sound structure.

In the actual building of a song, depending on if your DAW lets you upload MIDIs, go get a shitload of them, of your preferred genres, and just study the notes that are written. See what instruments produce what effect and how they contribute to the song. Solo a channel, like the drums or bass, and see how they sound alone because thats likely how you will be building your instrument channels (it also takes away a lot of that "well my bass lines suck but this guy's is real" mentality. When you hear it by itself, it doesn't sound much different than yours), then slowly add the channels back in and see how they sound and react with one another. See what similarities they share, if any, in what notes are being used.

Next thing to do is try your hand at it with the MIDI right above you. Try to write a rhythm or chord pattern like the one being used in the MIDI. See how it sounds. If you want, take portions of that MIDI and make your own stuff on top of it. Take a drums and bass and make your own string chords on top of it, see what happens. Just don't use it and call it your own.

In the sound mixing, I don't know if Zircon said it yet, but don't use Reverb in the master effects channel. In fact, I wouldn't use the effects master channel until your finishing up the song. What I've tried doing to some success is just modeling the sound channels as I'm going along.

My best advice in your overall mindset and method is just to start at the beginning and painstakingly get everything working right away before you create the next section. Its a longer process, but 30 seconds of awesome music is better than 4 minutes of mediocre.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this