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How long has it taken you to musically get where you are today?


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Actively musicking since 2005 when I got in to a music school. Fiddling with computer-based music since early 2007. Have had music around me all my life including half-assing some oboe, piano and guitar lessons at various ages but dropping them pretty quickly.

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Zircon in this thread is an exception if he in fact had no musical knowledge in 2002 and got a mix posted in 2004.

This is not quite accurate. I had been playing the piano for ~8 years prior to my attempts at remixing. However, I had only a basic understanding of music (major, minor, scales, quarter notes, eighth notes) since playing complex pieces does not require that you understand their compositions. It wasn't until I took music theory and ear training courses at college (2005-2006) that I would say I really started to understand what I was doing.

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This is not quite accurate. I had been playing the piano for ~8 years prior to my attempts at remixing. However, I had only a basic understanding of music (major, minor, scales, quarter notes, eighth notes) since playing complex pieces does not require that you understand their compositions. It wasn't until I took music theory and ear training courses at college (2005-2006) that I would say I really started to understand what I was doing.

Ahh, this is a bigger picture of the puzzle, then.

I don't think it's necessarily a prerequisite, but the ability to play piano (or any instrument) to some extent also appears to give you (not you zircon specifically but just in general) the ability to work faster.

I know that there are exceptions, but almost all of the video tutorials that I look at seem to feature extremely able musicians who can barely explain what they're doing. They go to the keyboard, say, "This piece needs pizzicato strings" and begin to pound out arpeggios with their fingers. Personally, I took a year of piano, and was took up piano because I wanted to start up remixing. In fact, I was totally unable to work with the sequencer until I learned some basic piano-playing. I can barely play anything, but it's enough to arrange a few melodies. However, playing it all one note at a time (or drawing it in with the mouse) is an extremely slow process and without more lessons I fear that I will never be one of those "I crank out an OC ReMix in two days" musicians.

I still stand by my previous statement of "you probably need five or more years of music experience to get featured on this web site".

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I started piano at 4. I picked up various other instruments along the way.

I started writing music when I was 9, because I was fortunate enough that our elementary school had a program for young composers. (I actually sort of wrote songs before that, but it was weird, I didn't think I was "allowed" to as a kid, so I sort of wrote them in my head so nobody could hear them. But anyway, having that program showed me that I could be a composer, even at 9.)

Growing up, my background was as an instrumentalist and composer/arranger. I would write scores out for musicians to play in a live setting. Consequently, production is my weak point, because I never had to think about things like EQing and adding the right amount of reverb.

I've actually often wondered how our experienced remixers got good at the production aspect of music, because I haven't ever heard of private lessons for production like there are for musical instruments. Although I guess a lot of people successfully teach themselves to play piano or guitar, too. I guess you can go to school for production, but I get the sense that a lot of people here just taught themselves to do it by experience, and maybe the help of books/internet. But maybe I'm wrong about that, and I should probably read through this entire thread at some point. Anyway, I find production difficult because I might be able to tell that the tracks don't have the right sound, but if I didn't have Palpable to help explain to me what exactly to do, where to EQ, which settings on the reverb, etc. I'd never be able to figure out on my own how to bring out the sound in the right way.

At the risk of tl;dr, I will make one last point:

As a guitar teacher, I've noticed something interesting about teaching adults. We tend to have a developed sense of what we'd like to sound like based on the music we like to listen to and our own personal guitar heroes. It's frustrating to us when all we can do is play G, C, and D7, and it takes about 5 seconds to get between any of those chords. There is definitely a wall to break through where it might not be that enjoyable to practice guitar because we're not at the point where we can make it sound like the songs we listen to. This is a problem with hand dexterity, something that can only be overcome with practice. If you can push yourself past that wall, eventually you get to the point where you can play actual songs, and guitar becomes a lot more enjoyable and rewarding, and this can take on a snowball effect.

And I've personally been there before, I barely played guitar at all for 4 years in the beginning because I was frustrated at the F bar chord. But I eventually buckled down and pushed through it.

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Ahh, this is a bigger picture of the puzzle, then.

I don't think it's necessarily a prerequisite, but the ability to play piano (or any instrument) to some extent also appears to give you (not you zircon specifically but just in general) the ability to work faster.

I know that there are exceptions, but almost all of the video tutorials that I look at seem to feature extremely able musicians who can barely explain what they're doing. They go to the keyboard, say, "This piece needs pizzicato strings" and begin to pound out arpeggios with their fingers. Personally, I took a year of piano, and was took up piano because I wanted to start up remixing. In fact, I was totally unable to work with the sequencer until I learned some basic piano-playing. I can barely play anything, but it's enough to arrange a few melodies. However, playing it all one note at a time (or drawing it in with the mouse) is an extremely slow process and without more lessons I fear that I will never be one of those "I crank out an OC ReMix in two days" musicians.

I still stand by my previous statement of "you probably need five or more years of music experience to get featured on this web site".

Little do you know that for at least 5 years, 99% of my remixes were done using the mouse input only, not with a MIDI keyboard. Knowing how to play the piano did very little for me, as evidenced by the poor quality of my first ~12 remixes. I attribute my fast growth to borderline obsession at getting better.

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I guess I'm kind of an unusual case here in that I'm going to school for classical composition... I just really like to do electronic stuff as well.

Started messing with FL Studio about 8 years ago, didn't get serious until 4 or 5 years ago. Been playing trombone for 9 years now, and piano before that for 3ish.

Wrote my first classical piece in 9th grade; probably have close to 300 electronic/acoustic songs from then till now. Production aspects are all self taught through experimentation; probably WAY too much wasted time there haha

For those who are wondering how to get better at writing music, the only real way is to, well, write!

I try to compose at least a little bit everyday, just to keep in touch with the staff paper/piano roll/whatever.

The last thing you want is to fight with your tools when you have that "spark" - get to know them now rather than later.

Also, five years is probably a bit too long to get to OCR quality. I'd bet you could do it in 2 or 3, depending on how much you practice. Yes, that's right. Writing music is no different than playing an instrument. You gotta practice!

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Little do you know that for at least 5 years, 99% of my remixes were done using the mouse input only, not with a MIDI keyboard.

I'm glad I'm not the only one. I was thinking about getting a keyboard one day, but I don't know how to play one and it might be more of a pain to figure it out when I could just click the notes in instead.

I still stand by my previous statement of "you probably need five or more years of music experience to get featured on this web site".

I don't know if you were serious or not, but I have to disagree. (I'm living proof of that.)

I started working with music at the end of 04, and got a mix posted in March of 05.

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I don't know if you were serious or not, but I have to disagree. (I'm living proof of that.)

I started working with music at the end of 04, and got a mix posted in March of 05.

I was being serious. Average of five years to get a song that's up to today's OC ReMix standards. If you got yourself posted after a few months of starting music from no knowledge then I would call you exceptional.

I mean, there's a whole range and there are going to be exceptions. "Experience" is kind of hard to define. If you start at the age of 4, do violin for 2 years, then don't touch it until you're 18, you don't have 2 years of music experience, really. If you buy all kinds of gear and then do only five hours a year and do that for a couple of years, that's not really two years of experience.

Little do you know that for at least 5 years, 99% of my remixes were done using the mouse input only, not with a MIDI keyboard. Knowing how to play the piano did very little for me, as evidenced by the poor quality of my first ~12 remixes. I attribute my fast growth to borderline obsession at getting better.

I find that interesting. I can't sight-sing from the piano roll (that is, I don't know how something sounds by looking at the notes on a piano roll).

As a guitar teacher, I've noticed something interesting about teaching adults. We tend to have a developed sense of what we'd like to sound like based on the music we like to listen to and our own personal guitar heroes. It's frustrating to us when all we can do is play G, C, and D7, and it takes about 5 seconds to get between any of those chords. There is definitely a wall to break through where it might not be that enjoyable to practice guitar because we're not at the point where we can make it sound like the songs we listen to. This is a problem with hand dexterity, something that can only be overcome with practice. If you can push yourself past that wall, eventually you get to the point where you can play actual songs, and guitar becomes a lot more enjoyable and rewarding, and this can take on a snowball effect.

I'm one of those people who gets frustrated at music. I listen to things and want to make them. I sit down and crank something out and it's not what I wanted to make and I don't have the skill or the technical knowledge to make what I want to make. I try making some kind of trance song and I can't do it.

I get frustrated and I try to look up "how to make trance" but you get all kinds of people like

who really can't describe what they're doing. Even though there's thousands of conventions for trance or similar music, no one's thought of writing them down. People keep trying to reinvent the wheel. Even here people are reluctant to describe or teach in technical terms what it is about a track that makes the merging of a certain kind of detuned saw and a PWN string pad work "together".

When you're old like me small things are extraordinarily more frustrating than when you're all young whippersnappers learning a new fancy hobby. :-)

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well lets see... I started doing midi sequencing about 5 years ago, but I didn't start with remixing and production (which all started with reason) until about 3 and a half years ago... and my remixes are mostly done using sequencing with a mouse, with the exception of my guitar playing (which has yet to appear in an ocremix of mine to date)

Also Arcana, your comment about sequencing with the piano roll is very interesting... i've been doing sequencing for a VERY long time, much longer than intermediate production, and as a result I have a very good idea personally of what something will sound like from keying in the notes using the piano roll without hearing what i'm doing, I suppose the longer you mess with something your good at the more experience you gain in that field.

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took me about 3 years of using FLStudio (started in 2004) before i was able to get a mix posted. prior to that i had about 5 years of instrumental experience on flute and french horn, although i haven't really retained any of it.

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I'm one of those people who gets frustrated at music. I listen to things and want to make them. I sit down and crank something out and it's not what I wanted to make and I don't have the skill or the technical knowledge to make what I want to make. I try making some kind of trance song and I can't do it.

I get frustrated and I try to look up "how to make trance" but you get all kinds of people like

who really can't describe what they're doing. Even though there's thousands of conventions for trance or similar music, no one's thought of writing them down. People keep trying to reinvent the wheel. Even here people are reluctant to describe or teach in technical terms what it is about a track that makes the merging of a certain kind of detuned saw and a PWN string pad work "together".

When you're old like me small things are extraordinarily more frustrating than when you're all young whippersnappers learning a new fancy hobby. :-)

I really think there is a need out there to have private teachers in music production for this reason. Following instructions from the internet has its limitations, and much of the information on the internet is unhelpful or even misleading (e.g. guitar tabs online x_x). You can go further if somebody is listening to your work and telling you what you need to improve and how. Even classes have their limitation, at least in my experience, because I did study music technology in college. Classes were spent with the teacher lecturing about how to use the tools (theory), and though I would make projects and submit them for grades, there was very little 1-on-1 interaction with the teacher where they could sit with me and show me specifically how to make my track sound better (application). Teaching music production is a direction I'd like to take in my own career, something I've been thinking about for a long time, but I think I'm straying off-topic now so I'll leave it at that.

All that being said, I think we are lucky to have OCR as such a great resource, because there are people here who are willing to listen to your track and try to help you improve. And Arcana, you know that if you have any questions or tracks you need help on, I am willing to help to the best of my ability. ^_^;

Also, re: young whippersnappers, I have found that some children experience a similar frustration that we might as adults. I teach many young girls who idolize teen pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. But for some, when they realize that guitar requires hard work and practice, and that having the glittery electric guitar alone does not make you sound like a rock star, they lose their interest in it and sadly end up quitting. Other children seem to have an inherent interest and curiosity about musical instruments, and find it very rewarding when they learn simple tunes, or get excited about just learning the next new note.

So maybe we can channel that child-like curiosity and excitement over learning new skills? Like focus more on the learning experience rather than comparing ourselves to the pros and focusing on our shortcomings? I don't know.

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When you're old like me small things are extraordinarily more frustrating than when you're all young whippersnappers learning a new fancy hobby. :-)

Everyone has to start somewhere.

I used to be exactly like you and had the same kind of complaints, but there's a huge age difference.

My big gripe with people in general is that people think your age is a factor.

I'll say it once right now. Age has nothing to do with it.

If you live longer, sure you might have more experience,

but your experience just depends on when you started. Not how old you are. I have maybe 2-3 years of experience with sequencing AND music production, and I'm 14. I'm not as good as guys like Zircon and bLiNd who have lived longer with more experience, but I'm also better off than some people with a lot less experience I see on the WIP forum who are also older than me. I didn't even learn anything formally; it's all just practice and self teaching. Also, getting higher ups to show you how they sequence things is a good way to learn. I learn a lot just by peeking into project files of people like bLiNd, Zircon, Darkesword, etc.

Also, in response to your keyboard playing theory:

Willrock doesn't have a keyboard. His solo's are, in my opinion, better than 70-80% of solo's I have heard in remixes on this website, posted or not posted.

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Hrm... I've been playing piano off and on throughout my life. Around 2004, I started to play around with midi sequencing. Shortly after, I started playing around with many different programs, and eventually I settled down with FL Studio as my DAW of choice. Since then, I play around with it pretty much every day. I continue to practice piano and I'm currently learning guitar.

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My big gripe with people in general is that people think your age is a factor.

I'll say it once right now. Age has nothing to do with it.

...

I'm 14. I'm not as good as guys like Zircon and bLiNd who have lived longer with more experience, but I'm also better off than some people with a lot less experience I see on the WIP forum who are also older than me.

Age does have an effect, especially with how quickly you learn and how quickly you are able to adapt your mind to something like music. Your paragraph below is supporting evidence of it, where you describe that you, someone who's young, is doing better than someone who's older. The younger you start the more of an advantage that you have.

There are a lot of studies of the effect of age on learning, and that in particular, skills that are quite mathematical and involve that are of the brain (such as music) are more difficult to pick up as you grow older. Not to mention, older people tend to have more constraints in their lives.

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Your paragraph below is supporting evidence of it, where you describe that you, someone who's young, is doing better than someone who's older.

I'm not as good as guys like Zircon and bLiNd who have lived longer

Sorry, say that again?

There are a lot of studies of the effect of age on learning, and that in particular, skills that are quite mathematical and involve that are of the brain (such as music) are more difficult to pick up as you grow older. Not to mention, older people tend to have more constraints in their lives.

Which is why people like Blue Magic who've had the same amount of experience as me still manage to be 5x better AT AN OLDER AGE?

The reason I think this whole "theory" of yours is because it's basing the abilities of humans on the "studies".

Just accept that everyone's different and call it a day. :/ You keep saying "this person being an exception" and eventually you have too many exceptions to call them exceptions any more, in which case the other people following your theory are called exceptions; at that point in time your theory is a theory for exceptions and there is no theory for the previous "exceptions" who are exceptions to your theory but outnumber the current "exceptions".

This makes the new people not "exceptions" any more. They're just a group of people who follow your theory.

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Sorry, say that again?
but I'm also better off than some people with a lot less experience I see on the WIP forum who are also older than me.

Of course someone out there, somewhere, is going to be better off than you. It's kind of hard to compare yourself to Darkesword and bLiNd and so forth because they've been like, doing music for almost as long as you've been alive :)

But, I still think that you're going to have an advantage because you started young. By the time you hit 30, you'll have spent half of your life doing "careful listening" to music, having experience with looking at project files, and having the flexibility of thinking about what music sounds like and what music is and what needs to be done for creating music in your mind.

My argument is that starting when you're 14 and doing it until you're 20 is going to be a different beast than if you started at 24 and did it until you're 30. There's so much that your brain does to hardwire itself as you grow older and it's a mental challenge for someone who's had this mental wiring to rewire the brain to think differently.

I also think that you're quite fortunate to be able to start at your age and learn from people like Darkesword and zircon and bLiNd. The community as a whole has matured significantly since it started up ten years ago. The barrier to entry is significantly lower now than it was back then, since software audio production programs are coming down so fast, price-wise. In addition, you've got so many people in this community who are able to help who simply didn't exist in the community eight or ten years ago. This actually goes as a general good thing for the community. People are better able to collaborate. We have broadband, we have screensharing, real-time voice communication, increased air travel opportunities, increased frequency of real-life meetups, and all of that. The community, even though it's grown larger, has grown closer because of the improvements in technology. Not long ago it was extremely rare to find out someone's real name. Now it's as easy as friending a single person from OCR on Facebook and then reverse-engineering that person's friend list.

Since you ninja-edited:

Which is why people like Blue Magic who've had the same amount of experience as me still manage to be 5x better AT AN OLDER AGE?

How long have you been making music for? Six years? Assuming that he started in 2004, then he has six years of experience.

The reason I think this whole "theory" of yours is because it's basing the abilities of humans on the "studies".

Just accept that everyone's different and call it a day. :/ You keep saying "this person being an exception" and eventually you have too many exceptions to call them exceptions any more, in which case the other people following your theory are called exceptions; at that point in time your theory is a theory for exceptions and there is no theory for the previous "exceptions" who are exceptions to your theory but outnumber the current "exceptions".

This makes the new people not "exceptions" any more. They're just a group of people who follow your theory.

You don't tell me what you actually think, but I'm going to presume that you mean "the reason I think you believe in this whole theory".

The real reason is that it's just an idea I had based on talking to a lot of people and asking them what their experience was before they got posted onto today's OC ReMix.

And social studies do work and are able to give some sense of generalizability to people, given certain factors. There are always outliers but there are many trends, too.

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Of course someone out there, somewhere, is going to be better off than you. It's kind of hard to compare yourself to Darkesword and bLiNd and so forth because they've been like, doing music for almost as long as you've been alive :)

But, I still think that you're going to have an advantage because you started young. By the time you hit 30, you'll have spent half of your life doing "careful listening" to music, having experience with looking at project files, and having the flexibility of thinking about what music sounds like and what music is and what needs to be done for creating music in your mind.

My argument is that starting when you're 14 and doing it until you're 20 is going to be a different beast than if you started at 24 and did it until you're 30. There's so much that your brain does to hardwire itself as you grow older and it's a mental challenge for someone who's had this mental wiring to rewire the brain to think differently.

I also think that you're quite fortunate to be able to start at your age and learn from people like Darkesword and zircon and bLiNd. The community as a whole has matured significantly since it started up ten years ago. The barrier to entry is significantly lower now than it was back then, since software audio production programs are coming down so fast, price-wise. In addition, you've got so many people in this community who are able to help who simply didn't exist in the community eight or ten years ago.

That theory makes more sense, what bothered me was your original "it takes 5 years of musical experience to get posted" theory.

In that you need to include an "age factor" and also a factor for how "gifted" someone is.

If you picked up some kid at my school and gave him the same amount of experience an education as me at the same age, there's still going to be some differences in the way our brains work.

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That theory makes more sense, what bothered me was your original "it takes 5 years of musical experience to get posted" theory.

In that you need to include an "age factor" and also a factor for how "gifted" someone is.

I still believe that this is true. Feel free to prove me wrong, but you'd have to do it not by finding one or two exceptions - you'd have to sample the population, take the average experience they have, and see what the distribution is like. Then you'd generate a random sample around the mean of 5 and do a t-test for comparison.

Maybe I'll go through this thread and see what the result is, I haven't actually crunched the numbers myself.

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I still believe that this is true. Feel free to prove me wrong, but you'd have to do it not by finding one or two exceptions - you'd have to sample the population, take the average experience they have, and see what the distribution is like. Then you'd generate a random sample around the mean of 5 and do a t-test for comparison.

Maybe I'll go through this thread and see what the result is, I haven't actually crunched the numbers myself.

In which case I wish you luck, sir.

I just hate theories because they start generalizing and setting standards for people to meet.

Everyone has their own pace.

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If you worked on music every day for 3 hours, improving your production values and becoming a good sound designer, you could easily be OCR material in a year. Too bad that it's extremely difficult to be THAT motivated.

EDIT: I didn't take the compositional side of things into account, but I don't think it would make a huge difference. Composition comes pretty naturally to me just because I hear songs in my head all the time. I don't know if it's that easy for anyone else, but I digress. Compositionally, the only thing I really struggle with is drums.

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I still believe that this is true. Feel free to prove me wrong, but you'd have to do it not by finding one or two exceptions - you'd have to sample the population, take the average experience they have, and see what the distribution is like. Then you'd generate a random sample around the mean of 5 and do a t-test for comparison.

Maybe I'll go through this thread and see what the result is, I haven't actually crunched the numbers myself.

Honestly though, again, if you just listen to my early remixes and originals you'd hear how absolutely awful they were. Those 8 years of piano experience really didn't mean much at all, and to make matters worse I was primarily relying on premade loops and sounds! I attribute my improvement (messed with music in very late '02, posted in '04) to sheer dedication. I made a hell of a lot of crappy ReMixes. I bugged people left and right for advice. I made it a point to try to collaborate with people like Unknown/Tyler Heath, Rellik and tefnek. I studied the tools out there and relentlessly upgraded my setup, from buying headphones (instead of using $20 computer monitors), to getting Komplete 2, to upgrading my computer, etc.

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