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I'm not scared of writing music. However, I do feel very outclassed by many composers because I rarely hear melodies or arrangements in my head. 99% of what I write comes from pure improvisation. This makes me feel inferior to people who can have an entire song in their head.

That's actually quite impressive to me. I wish I could improv more.

I'm the "hear it in my head" type.

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I'm not scared of writing music. However, I do feel very outclassed by many composers because I rarely hear melodies or arrangements in my head. 99% of what I write comes from pure improvisation. This makes me feel inferior to people who can have an entire song in their head.
^^ pretty much this

Believe it or not, many of my ideas come to me while doing the most mundane things. I think I get some of my best ideas while taking a shower. What sucks is when I totally forget what I wanted to do by the time I get down to the studio.

The courses I'm taking from Berklee have started to get me to see writing music in a more logical way. Starting to write things in notation has been working really well for me. Sometimes I'll just sit and compose 16 bars that has melody, harmony and bass lines. I then stash that away for when I need ideas. You can really come up with a lot of variations from 16-32 bars.

Writing in notation also gets you away from thinking about sound design. In this setting, the only thing that matters are the notes themselves. It's quite liberating and you get to experience the big picture.

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Writing in notation also gets you away from thinking about sound design. In this setting, the only thing that matters are the notes themselves. It's quite liberating and you get to experience the big picture.

Interesting, this is why i love it when OCR has discussions like these. For me it's the opposite. when i was hauling around manuscript I felt like I was looking at the grammar too much rather than making a statement. That distracted me because i always felt like what i was doing was not complex or interesting enough and would give myself grief over that. Being interested in arranging something drew me back just enough to help me learn while keeping things simple.

Writing can be very pleasurable if it's going well. Other times it can be like sticking a knife in your leg. :)

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I don't write much because I'm afraid of wasting material, figuratively speaking.

I'm trying to save my best melodies for when I can make them shine, but I'm not quite sure when I'm ready. Though I've been doing this a long time, I am not a practiced composer. Just a bunch of short, random sketches and then a very small few completed songs that everyone knows about.

I have a very big lack of composing skills.

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Writing can be very pleasurable if it's going well. Other times it can be like sticking a knife in your leg. :)

My only problem with the way that I'm writing now has to do with scoring to film/video. There is no DAW out there that has a comprehensive notation system. Logic has some of the basics but not enough to be usable when you're used to using something like Finale. Going back and forth between my DAW and Finale is somewhat of a pain. This is the only part of my work flow that is a bit rocky.

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I get some of my best ideas while taking a shower. What sucks is when I totally forget what I wanted to do by the time I get down to the studio.

Lol same here

I write MIDI files in Guitar Pro. It does the job...

With vertical + multitrack view it's great. You can really focus on the composition, harmonies and stuff.

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Great thread! Lots of interesting insights.

I'm not afraid of writing my crappy music. It's fun. Maybe I'm in denial though, and mistake fear for boredom. :) I've also finally noticed that when I'm making something and it seems crap at the time, it surprisingly often sounds a lot better the next day. So these days I just keep going instead of giving up. I'm also learning to not be afraid of editing anything I already wrote (I just keep a backup copy/a muted track of the previous version in case I want to go back).

--Eino

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Great thread! Lots of interesting insights.

I'm not afraid of writing my crappy music. It's fun. Maybe I'm in denial though, and mistake fear for boredom. :) I've also finally noticed that when I'm making something and it seems crap at the time, it surprisingly often sounds a lot better the next day. So these days I just keep going instead of giving up. I'm also learning to not be afraid of editing anything I already wrote (I just keep a backup copy/a muted track of the previous version in case I want to go back).

--Eino

If there's something that doing One Hour Compos have taught me, it's that someone out there will find even the weirdest crap that you make interesting in some way.

In that respect it is encouraging to be able to go back and fix things up. Unfortunately I have also been told to "start over" a few times (mostly when trying to do remixes for album projects) which is pretty discouraging but that's why album directors exist - they're there to make the hard calls and you as a musician have to accept that sometimes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Writing music doesn't scare me. I have alot of ideas and am good at translating them to midi, so its a ver automatic process for me. Production is where I slip up usually :P I put it down, listen back, edit... sometimes do pattern improvs (for solos) etc, moan like a bitch when I realize it sounds muddy and too reverbed blablabla

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Setting up projects is the worst, naming channels and linking and grouping and all that then mixing and mastering is something I don't enjoy much either. Composing is what I truly enjoy.

That's why professionals use templates. :P

To make a personalized template, you have to be able to know what is something you usually always do and something you only do sometimes.

Example:

I always route all of my drum sounds to a single track for drum mastering. In my template, I have 8 sampler channels, 3 Slicex channels, and a Battery 3 all routed to their own mixer tracks, then to one mixer track called "All Percussion". This is done every time I open FL Studio automatically.

However, sometimes I use two synths for a layered bass/something else sound. I don't always do this, and it's not guaranteed, so in my template, I don't route two synth tracks together automatically. It's your call, but the best thing to do is make a huge template that accounts for every situation.

The problem with this is you end up spending resources quickly; when you put a parametric EQ 2 on every track in the template (like mine), it ends up starting your CPU usage a lot higher than 0. I have a 4 Ghz Core i7 powerhouse, and my templates never go below 15 at max buffer, usually 20-30 at recording-acceptable buffers. This is also because I already have Kontakt 5 routed, and I load Absynth, FM8, Massive, Sytrus, and Kore Player. I have wave candy's in the screen corners and a wave monitoring plug in on the master, as well as a ready to enable Maximus on the drum master track.

So the key is to get all the stuff you need for working and maybe some stuff you might need. When you're done with that, make the project look pretty. Add generic color schemes like rainbows or gradients to your channel list, mixer and playlist tracks. Set the icons for stuff, too. Go crazy with the organization and look/feel because you only have to do it once.

Here's what mine looks like

The Alchemy, MiniMoog, and Zebra are greyed out because they're not actually loaded. This template is still experimental, and I'm probably going to add spaces for blank "choose a VST" because I sure probably won't just have one of every synth in every song.

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I love to compose music. So it definitely doesn't scare me.

Now, when it comes to all this mixing and production stuff....yeah that scares the shit out of me because I know I suck at it.

Though I recently decided to switch the courses I'll be taking in University next year to music composition, production and all that jazz so maybe there will come a day where I don't totally suck at mixing....fingers crossed.

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Though I recently decided to switch the courses I'll be taking in University next year to music composition, production and all that jazz so maybe there will come a day where I don't totally suck at mixing....fingers crossed.

What school are you going to? I majored in music and life has been really tough. I took some computer music classes that were supposed to teach stuff like this but honestly i didn't actually start learning anything about it until after I graduated. let me put it this way, i learned more about music production watching a month's worth of material from Graham at Recording Revolution than i did in my four years at school.

Also when I was sending scores out looking to become a composition major I got told by several teachers that Atonal and Minimalist music was what was being taught. Lots of Schoenberg, Philip Glass, Tone Rows and the like. Which wasn't what I wanted to do.

Today, since music doesn't pay easily i wouldn't pay to earn a degree in music when there is so much out there on Youtube, OCR, Gear Slutz etc. If you were going into Music Education that's a little bit different of a story, but job placement has been really tough. Some schools down south have cut out anything not examinated by the state which means all art and art related classes.

Good luck to you if you choose to pursue this but make sure you do some research before getting too far into it. You may end up back where you started but in a ton of debt. :<

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Neblix: Thanks for the example picture and your input. The problem for me is that I can't have as many instruments loaded as I would like (cpu and sometimes ram limitation). Otherwise I would load a whole bunch of them and not use the ones that are in the template. I could load commonly used instruments (such as for Orchestra, that I have template for since it doesn't change much).

(I have an all-round template that I start from which is Kontakt+16 midi outs with the automation knobs set up, adding Para EQ2 to every channel is probably a good idea since that's what I do every time anyways).

Genre templates might be something I'll do. The main chore for me is naming the midi outs and the FL mixer names since for some reason you can't link the names from midi outs to the FL mixer?

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I don't think musical composition scares me at all--if I'm attempting a new genre or chord progression or melodic/textural idea, I look at it as a fun new challenge.

That said, sometimes the sheer amount of work I need to put into translating the music I hear in my head into a working sequence is daunting. I'll start a project, have an awesome idea in my head, but then push my chair back a half hour later having only completed the one drum pattern I wanted, or something.

I should probably put together a template of SOME sort, heh. Problem is, I don't like using templates because I see that as railroading myself into using the same sounds over and over, which I don't really like to do. MUST HAVE NEW SOUNDS. :<

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Writing, composing and the process itself never scares me; I love the music that I do and enjoy putting a song together.. until the end and you'd have to finish said song and actually make it sound professional. It's the completion of a song that scares me because of many reasons. I never feel like "Now it's there, I should change nothing anymore".

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Awesome topic here are some cents of mine. (I'd say 2 but everytime I post on this forum I tend to have long posts)

Humans generally hate uncertainty, and creativity, literally constructing things and concepts from (usually) almost nothing is the most uncertain thing you can ever do. Especially if you do this for a living or are just getting in to it. But not only is there uncertainty in the seemingly infinite freedom you have in creating, but there's uncertainty in sharing your work. What does it mean if you can build a world of beautiful art if no one appreciates it. You can enjoy everything of your own creation, but what does it mean if no one else does. But that is why we do what we do, regardless of skill level there is fun to be had in this "frighting" freedom.

Personally, like Modus said I find writing fiction harder. Mostly though because I don't (have to) take my music composition seriously, and I'm still learning. There's absolutely no reason for me to be tough on myself or for me to write to please people yet. That said I thrive on feedback and seek it all the time...

I'm not scared of writing music. However, I do feel very outclassed by many composers because I rarely hear melodies or arrangements in my head. 99% of what I write comes from pure improvisation. This makes me feel inferior to people who can have an entire song in their head.

I don't think that they are skills that build upon one another. What I mean is that, I feel that they are literally different ways of composition for people of different styles. Improv grants you more freedom and flexibility in the long run and it is much easier for you to start from scratch if you don't like the way its going. I've always seen people (like me sometimes) who hear things in their head and try to reproduce them as chasing some ideal state that might be doomed to fall flat (like pursuing a person who might not like you back). Mind you, there are people who hear things that will all the time work out on paper, for many people having the skill to do so or to replicate what is in your head is its own headache like proto kinda got at.

I'm still just a hobbyist, but when I first started I used what little I remembered of my meager theory and piano practice I remembered to create rifts and melodies without forethought and I have slowly transitioned to creating or making works from my head. What I've found personally... there's nothing lost in trying either method of composition. And I know you of all people know this, but as long as you get the job done at the end of the day and you know you gave it your all, that's all that matters (well and having fun).

No I enjoy writing music. What I do fear is not getting a response. This goes for other things as well. Recently I just have had to accept that sometimes I won't get a response but it's worth trying because if I don't try I'm absolutely not going to get any response.

I'm a creature that thrives off of feedback and I feel I don't get it as often as I should, which kills me. I use to stop writing when I didn't get feedback from my friends. I know especially since I'm just starting out... no one wants to hear something that they either expect or know isn't going to sound as pleasant as something they would hear that has been produced. Because I'm a writer, I've started viewing music as worldbuilding, not just in the sense that my music helps me visualize my writing, but the music itself is another world for me to explore. It's propelled my internal motivation a ton. And at the end of the day, even if it's crappy, I rather enjoy listening to something I made. After all I did it... and hey it might be even better than the last thing I made.

It's great reading all the responses on this thread, and writing anything creative, be it words or music, is something that does scare me quite a bit. I love doing it of course, but a perfectionist part of me keeps thinking 'this melody is too boring' or 'this instrumentation isn't the best', and I end up with lots of ideas I can't bear to string together. In the end, I'll obsessively listen to a 8 bar passage over and over again, trying to tweak small parts here and there to match what I'm hearing in my head, though of course it hardly ever works out as planned. I suppose I'm secretly thinking 'if this isn't going to be good, then what's the point of doing it at all?', which probably isn't a very healthy mindset to have haha. And when I hear another composition I enjoy, I'm thinking in the back of mind 'will I ever be able to write something like that?'. Okay I think I'm starting to use this thread to voice my countless insecurities/inadequacies, so I'd better stop this post before it degenerates into precisely that.

I think that creativity is all about embracing those insecurities in tandem with the freedom it grants you, because the insecurities I dont think will instantly go away. For me I know mine come from time, do I have enough time to improve and possibly make some type of living (maybe partly) from my craft. It might be similar for you, but if uncertainty comes from something you can't control embrace it. My caring makes me realize that I am in fact alive. That combined with progressive improvement that creates the "piratical" aspects of the creative experience.

From what I can tell, criticism, even constructive criticism, hurts ppl's confidence, which can turn them into perfectionists that - yes - make better music, but also have trouble being satisfied with their works and therefor finish fewer tracks.

I know this applies to me. I started going over some of my old tracks the other day. Found a whole lot of great stuff that i just abandoned for whatever reason. Haven't subbed anything to ocr for at least a year. Haven't finished any tracks for my allegedly upcoming original album(s). Sure, there's rl and project reasons for this, but the time I spend just listening to my unfinished works and tweaking stuff could just as well be spent actually finishing stuff.

Dunno if I'm scared to write - I write a lot - but I do find myself discouraged when I hear good music. I keep thinking I could tweak my stuff to make it as good as the stuff I listen to. I don't want to publish it in any way until it sounds as good. I don't think that's what the artists intended. :D

Wonder what I - and others - actually need to get stuff done. Encouragement? More specific constructive criticism? A kick, somewhere? A muse? A promise of money? A fan club? A spine?

I know you probably know this as well, but all produced things are in part products of good internal motivation. If anyone is too scared to create (or in terms of other stuff just even produce work) they need to assess why it is they wanted to do the thing in the first place. For me a new song is a new opportunity to explore a new world and possibly augment my creative writing experience.

Great thread! Lots of interesting insights.

I'm not afraid of writing my crappy music. It's fun. Maybe I'm in denial though, and mistake fear for boredom. :) I've also finally noticed that when I'm making something and it seems crap at the time, it surprisingly often sounds a lot better the next day. So these days I just keep going instead of giving up. I'm also learning to not be afraid of editing anything I already wrote (I just keep a backup copy/a muted track of the previous version in case I want to go back).

--Eino

Lol I'm pretty much exactly the same way. I started composing from boredom, with no real practical skill about 2 years ago. Just recently I have a system where I date drafts and store copies, really cool. I use to not be afraid to experiment, but now I really just don't give a fuck. I was starting to fall into an entrapping system of not progressing forward unless some arbitrary criteria was met, but now I have creative freedom to the freaking max.

Tl;dr

scared/intimidated/nervous? you have a reason why you started writing, evaluating your process and comparing it to others' shouldn't become your hindrance. All you need to do is remember why you started doing this, use it to motivate you.

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I should probably put together a template of SOME sort, heh. Problem is, I don't like using templates because I see that as railroading myself into using the same sounds over and over, which I don't really like to do. MUST HAVE NEW SOUNDS. :<

A template doesn't mean you have to load sounds. It doesn't even mean you have to load any settings on any plugin of any sort. I get angry when people refuse templates because "I use different things every song!" :<

So do I, and I have probably the most detailed template I have ever seen. The key is putting in slots, not actual instruments. Have 10 MIDI Outs for Kontakt because you know you never load more than 10, for example, but don't actually load anything. Just have the routing set up.

Have 10-20 empty sampler channels named "VSTi Here" and give them their own EQ. Then when you decide you want a VSTi of some sort, load it right into the slot. Bam, its own mixer track with its own EQ. And if you want to send it to the same track as another instrument, FL lets you just send a mixer track right to another one. I don't see that as pigeon holing, I see that as having something set up to do what you're always going to do anyway.

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That said, sometimes the sheer amount of work I need to put into translating the music I hear in my head into a working sequence is daunting. I'll start a project, have an awesome idea in my head, but then push my chair back a half hour later having only completed the one drum pattern I wanted, or something.

This.

If it happens, then I'm probably not going to finish the tune. This sort of impotency kinda keeps me away from my music rig more often than not.

If I start a tune and don't have any initial roadblocks, then it's pretty much a guarantee I'll finish it within a day, if not, then two days.

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Here's what mine looks like

Well, this confirms that I do need a larger computer monitor.

I'm sure someone's already mentioned everything I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway.

I listen to a lot of music, and the few times that I'm not listening to music is when I start playing it in my head. I usually get all sorts of ideas that never survive the trip to my DAW, and if they do I can't seem to visualize them properly before they mutate into some other idea or disappear entirely.

Composition is another thing I'm not-so-good at, but mostly it's sound design that gets me. I think my problem is that I always try to do sound design before I actually get the melodies down, which usually gets me nowhere.

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I usually get all sorts of ideas that never survive the trip to my DAW, and if they do I can't seem to visualize them properly before they mutate into some other idea or disappear entirely.

Almost always, my ideas become something completely else quite soon. I find this a fun process. But when I kind of "succeed" in doing what I envisioned, I get the most dubious about the outcome. I have no idea if it's any good.. come to think of it, those tracks usually are left unfinished. I should make an effort to finish that kind of a track to see if it ends up any good. Should be interesting.

--Eino

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