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timaeus222

How you got or could get "good" at composing, producing, or playing music?

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This is somewhat related to "what is the first 'good' song you wrote?", but not exactly like it.

The first time I liked my own music because of production quality rather than because I wrote it was when I collaborated with Chimpazilla on a Yoshi ReMix. That, however, wasn't the turning point for a shift towards thinking that I had finally gotten "good" at production (that was the biggest arrangement progress for me, actually).

The turning point for my largest improvement in production quality was when I had acquired around half a year's worth of independent sound design experience. I was, crudely put, dinking around on Zebra2 for half a year before I really understood what I was doing on it. When I understood (after tons of experimenting and NOT reading the manual for some reason :tomatoface:) what each knob really did and what I should expect when I turn specific knobs and touch stuff on the synth, that's when I could tell my music was finally "good", or not "bad". I could finally start evaluating production based on sound design, and not just mixing, EQ, etc. Essentially, sound design was the major step into improving my own objective sound quality.

What was the reason/cause for the turning point of your own music composition, production, or playing skills from "meh" to "hey, this is actually pretty good"?

OR

If you don't consider yourself "good" in your own opinion, what have you tried to improve your abilities?

Edited by timaeus222

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How: I really do feel that an Increased understanding of music theory, becoming a better guitar player and writing with notation rather than with DAWs helped me realize my musical ideas more than anything else. In regards to the latter, I've often mentioned that I was a music technology Luddite until 2010. At that point, I started writing most of my music using the piano roll or playing it in via MIDI keyboard in real time. Though I certainly feel I wrote decent music in that time, I believe it was nothing compared to what I wrote, but never recorded in the times before then and now. I've returned to writing with my guitar, tab and notation and I feel it is how I write best.

The reasons why are many and varied.

- I'm much more familiar with using sheet music and guitar tab

- It removes the distraction of searching for the best sound to compose with.

- It allows me to practice playing the piece I have written in its entirety before I record it. I believe this is the best way to improve technical skill on an instrument as well.

- It gives me an easy to read, visual representation of everything that is happening in the score. This allows me to better understand how all of my instruments will work together and makes it easier to write counter-melody.

- I find it easier to plan and layout a composition and/or arrangement with notation software than with a DAW

and many more.

Turning point: I'd say I was the best guitar player I ever was when I was 15-18 years old. If I wasn't working, partying, or skipping school, I was playing guitar. One summer vacation, I didn't hang out with any of my friends or go on any trips. I just played guitar till my fingers hurt and kept auditioning band members or jamming at open mic nights. I had no interest in doing anything else but playing and writing music. Looking back, if I would have taken the plunge and moved to a city with a better metal music scene like I always talked about doing....good things might have happened.

Turning point 2: Age 18. I got tired of most members of bands I'd play with never being serious about actual music and decided to just do shit on my own and see if I could break into writing music for video games. This is when I started to write other genres; mostly electronic and funk music. Around this time is when I found the OCR forums and some members here told me about FL Studio. This is a turning point because obviously, this is when I learned about virtual instruments, DAWs etc. and how I could make recorded music, collaborate and learn from others across vast distances.

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I'm still on my way up of achieving "good" status but I just wanted to comment.

Turning point: I'd say I was the best guitar player I ever was when I was 15-18 years old. If I wasn't working, partying, or skipping school, I was playing guitar. ... I just played guitar till my fingers hurt

I feel this applies to me exactly except with drums. I brought my sticks everywhere--I'd play on the dashboard while my brother was driving, I'd bring it on vacations and play on my legs, pillows, ironing boards, the back of my arms. There's this weird disconnect for me between how good I was at drums and how easy it was for me in high school, to now, where everything regarding music production is a slow, frustrating struggle.

Anyway, to try and answer the OP, I've been halfheartedly trying a lot of things, such as making bad remixes (PRC), making bad original music (OHC), buying music books (and never reading them), but I feel the biggest stride for me so far was the recent WCRG because my teammates were kind of obligated (hehe) to listen to my track and give me feedback, that helped a lot, in addition to the reviews by other competitors.

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Erm, I wouldn't say I'm good at all, but I approach learning anything, especially art, in three basic ways:

- Do it.

- Do it mindfully.

- Accept and acknowledge crap, and move on.

Do it: You just have to sit on your ass and DO the thing you're trying to get better at. Reading 10,000 blog posts on composing isn't going to make you better; you have to compose. As a writer, I've written 5 novels in the last 2.5 years, and now I can say they're worth reading.

Do it mindfully: I used to tell my students that "Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes habits. PERFECT practice makes perfect." If you're "doing it" above but you're not being mindful about ways you can get better, you're going to stay stagnant or, worse, create bad habits. If I practice my piano scales at blinding speed with errors, I get really, really good at playing them really, really poorly. This is the part where I'm also reading, learning, asking questions of experts, and then trying to apply it to what I'm working on.

Accept crap: I have lots of unfinished projects, both in writing and in music, that are crap. But each one of those turds came with a golden nugget of learning (or corn, I never could figure that out). Those hunks of steaming poop don't define you as an artist, and you have to let them go and acknowledge that they taught you something that you can then apply to #1 and #2 (no pun intended)

The real lesson is you gotta put in the time. If you're interested in this kind of stuff, Malcom Gladwell wrote a book called Outliers where he explores "geniuses" and how in many cases it just becomes an opportunity for a person to put in monumental amounts of time into one activity.

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I hesitate to say I've gotten "good" at anything musical, because that implies there is an objective bar somewhere. I have gotten "good" enough at arrangement and production to have tracks passed by the panel here (and that Yoshi collab with Timaeus is a DP!), so I'm quite pleased with that. Yeah, that collab was a turning point for me too, and it remains my favorite track I've ever worked on.

As per the feedback I get, I seem to have some decent arrangement ability. As for production, I'll say it is getting better, and I feel this is true when I send a track to five people I trust very much and they send back only minor crits. This just happened on my latest track I wrote. I'm pleased with that, it tells me I'm moving in the right direction, but it's not gonna make me lose my humility anytime soon. I just try to keep everyone's crits in mind, and try not to make the same mistakes again, while at the same time always trying new things... things I haven't tried before, things I'm scared of or feel incapable of. Why not, try everything. :-)

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Its a constant process for me. There isn't a single moment. Probably the biggest turning point overall tho... was anger actually lmao. To cut a long story short, someone basically told me my music sucked... so I made this remix - http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02135/ - as kind of a "fuck you" to that person :P Yes i'm a prideful arrogant son of a bitch who will end you if you decide to say ANYTHING negative XD

That was a "turning point" - but i'm always improving.

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Its a constant process for me. There isn't a single moment. Probably the biggest turning point overall tho... was anger actually lmao. To cut a long story short, someone basically told me my music sucked... so I made this remix - http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02135/ - as kind of a "fuck you" to that person :P Yes i'm a prideful arrogant son of a bitch who will end you if you decide to say ANYTHING negative XD

That was a "turning point" - but i'm always improving.

Calm down, Will. Your music is awesome. That track is awesome. You are awesome. No need for anger, haha!

(and you, Timaeus, and Argle are three of my five "highly trusted" friends) :-)

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I realized my turning point is right now.

Sound design. Any time I get new gear/soft/instrument, i'm trying to understand how is it work/sounds/sit in the mix and why.

So, I had lot of turning points.

-first guitar

-first amp(created by me)

-first "daw"(CoolEdit pro 2 - Adobe Audition)

-first amp-mic records

-magix daw

-new guitar

-amplitube(first)

-OCR

-Addictive Drums

-bass guitar

-first OCR project(still in progress xD)

-new magix daw

-First guitar gear

-new synth

-new guitar

-new synth(etc)

-orchestra

-guitar processor

I hope "turning points" will be endless 8-O

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WARNING a wild WOT appeared.

I am a newbie to music, my music that i do are mainly samples. I want to get good at remixing and in a few dozen years (like 12) if I keep at it, I hope to submit to ocremix expect my 1st submission to ocremix in 2026 ;)

I keep experimenting with new sounds, new blends, new styles, and release at least one track per month on soundcloud. i am hoping that at least one of them will be an eye-popping "Whoa, sick track!", unlikely now that it would happen but soon it will xD

Back to the OT... What makes a good music composer / remixer: 1) Experimentation, 2) Love for music, 3) Practice, and of course 4) Patience.

1) You need to constantly experiment to see what you can muster up, and think heavily outside of the box. You don't want people to say "This track sounds like 500 other tracks I heard before". Trust me, you will get this a lot so you will need to constantly be on your toes and experiment with new ways to make people say "Damn, This track is sick!".

2) You need to love music, if you don't constantly work with music then you will loose motivation to continue with your music projects, then you will have to "force" yourself to commit to music leaving you to say "meh" and move on to something else. If you don't like making music, or even listening to music then remixing and producing and composing will become a "job" or a "chore" rather then a "hobby" or an "interest".

3) Practice. If you make 500 bad tracks, somewhere in that 500 there is bound to be 1 good one. Find it, and make that good one better. This goes with dedication and inspiration.

4) Patience is key when dealing with music production and composition. If you see yourself "flying off the handle" alot when trying to edit or compose, then you just need to take a step back, and find the fun in it again then start over.

Those are my tip and what helps me. I wuv music, i am a fan of every genre (maybe not every artist or every track) but all genres are of my liking. from traditional rock and roll to japanese-western-celtic-pop.

Since I wuv music of a wide variety then helps with the inspiration for me to continue making a bunch of projects hoping that at least one of them one day will be good enough for an evaluation on ocr.

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Unlike most people posting, I do actually feel like I gain "levels" at points. My baptism by fire was my Espers album - the production on that was nothing short of a ***damn nightmare made flesh. I actually had a fucking out of body experience during one stress filled day of production with a result I still can't explain.

After months and months of putting that sumbitch together, my computer crashed in post-production, meaning I wasn't able to get instruments to sound more realistic or mix it down properly - it had to go straight to mastering, and even THAT was a problem because somehow Zircon (who was mastering it and saved the whole product) only received half the instruments from one or two tracks and I had to recreate them WITHOUT the original samples and synths I had on my computer at the time.

It was like, let's say to win a bet, these high school nerds literally Frankenstein'd a homecoming queen out of what they could get from the local graveyard and somehow ended up winning that bet... and everyone's thinking, "Well, all said and done, she actually really doesn't look that bad." despite it being very obvious to everyone, at the same time, that a patchwork corpse just walked away with the homecoming crown.

And yet, after that, I felt like I'd just graduated high school and got accepted into college. I "passed the test", so to speak, and now had real room to grow and improve - and I have ever since.

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Lots and lots of awareness when I listen to my own tunes compared to those of others to figure out where I'm lacking seems to be what was most crucial for me. That and distilling my observations gleaned from that process into actionable ways to improve my next track has kept me leveling up consistently ever since I started a couple of years ago. I don't really feel like any one track or moment has been a defining turning point for me. It's just been a gradual improvement from track to track since the get-go.

And I agree with Joe that being mindful, always cognizant of what you're hearing whether it's your music or someone else's, is what's most important. You can learn so much by observation and reflection that you can't from frustrated, aimless "doing."

Edited by ectogemia

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There definitely are milestones which, upon completion, will reward you with a noticeable upgrade to your skillset. I've found that when you complete something big the increase in your abilities is primarily due to the extreme focus and concentration it takes to get yourself to see a project all the way through.

For me personally it's a matter of learning from other people and teaching myself how to properly learn and practice. It used to be that when I would practice many years ago, I would space out and do repetitive pattern based finger exercises and ear training, followed by some light theory. But the way I (and most people I know) practiced was to just zone my brain out and let muscle memory/inertia take over, and I wasn't really concentrating on what I was doing. This didn't really get me far, or at least nowhere near as far as writing and recording a song would get me, and I realized it was because of the concentration involved in doing something musical as opposed to mindless practice drills.

As long as you practice your craft (with proper concentration), keep making music and most importantly of all pay attention to what you're doing and how you're doing it, you'll improve at a steady level. You'll improve even more when you have a group of peers to compare and contrast your work against.

The biggest jump in my abilities came as a result of the old VGmix2 workshop forum. I met a plethora of new people there who were much better than I was, and I made sure to open dialogues with them and really put myself in an uncomfortable position of being very harshly judged. It was a very brutal and honest experience, but it really got me to a level where I never imagined I'd be in terms of production, performance and composition. I also made some life long friendships there that continuously challenge me musically. Most important of all it gave me the perspective to see the massive gap between where I thought I was and where I actually was, which is a very humbling experience that I carry with me every day now.

All of that really drove home the point that I wasn't "good", and that I could never get "good". It's all about doing the best you can with the tools and skills you have at any given time, so good and bad are relative and don't really apply. There are things you will do better than someone, and things others will do better than you.

From my point of view I see myself as a novice. I've been serious about music for about 15 years now, and most of that time was spent feeling things out and testing the waters while trying to put out music that somewhat represents the songs in my mind. As I do more I gain a deeper perspective on how needlessly I overcomplicate the way I work and approach the process of making music, and the process is becoming more natural.

TLDR: Experience is the only way to improve. Repetition is not experience (how long will it take you to get to LVL99 fighting the slimes at the beginning of the game?). Seek out new challenges and keep an open mind.

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(how long will it take you to get to LVL99 fighting the slimes at the beginning of the game?)

Trick question. The max level in Dragon Warrior is 30.

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Spending years doing covers helped a lot for me. It's pretty much reverse engineering. After a while you just realize that it's not magic, that there are principles in everything that can be observed and then replicated.

Its a constant process for me. There isn't a single moment. Probably the biggest turning point overall tho... was anger actually lmao. To cut a long story short, someone basically told me my music sucked... so I made this remix - http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR02135/ - as kind of a "fuck you" to that person :P Yes i'm a prideful arrogant son of a bitch who will end you if you decide to say ANYTHING negative XD

That was a "turning point" - but i'm always improving.

Also known as the John Coltrane Method.

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After a while you just realize that it's not magic, that there are principles in everything that can be observed and then replicated.

I wish people would actually explain these principles out better instead of just saying, "Derp, just listen to a shitload of music and fiddle with stuff and you'll get it."

Yeah, well, you can't learn to build a house right just by staying in one for a few weeks and banging your tools everywhere. Every time I ask for advice or how to do something (because MIDIs and tutorials currently available only go so far for the most part), that's by and large the first and often only answer I ever get. Drives me nuts.

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I wish people would actually explain these principles out better instead of just saying, "Derp, just listen to a shitload of music and fiddle with stuff and you'll get it."

Yeah, well, you can't learn to build a house right just by staying in one for a few weeks and banging your tools everywhere. Every time I ask for advice or how to do something (because MIDIs and tutorials currently available only go so far for the most part), that's by and large the first and often only answer I ever get. Drives me nuts.

Unfortunately that generalization IS accurately describing the "real" way to recreate sounds. Practice synthesis, find tutorials that tell you generics, infer, and practice the actual recreation. Fortunately I am indeed working on a very in-depth generic-approach synthesis tutorial for a boatload of various sounds to be put on OCR's tutorials page someday.

Edited by timaeus222

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I wish people would actually explain these principles out better instead of just saying, "Derp, just listen to a shitload of music and fiddle with stuff and you'll get it."

Yeah, well, you can't learn to build a house right just by staying in one for a few weeks and banging your tools everywhere. Every time I ask for advice or how to do something (because MIDIs and tutorials currently available only go so far for the most part), that's by and large the first and often only answer I ever get. Drives me nuts.

Plenty of musicians are self taught. A critical ear and willingness to be hard on yourself can give plenty of improvement. Maybe the questions you're asking are too vague or broad. If I asked, "how did Garry Kasparov play such great chess", I don't think there is any satisfying answer to that question. He had a talent for it and put in relentless work and effort.

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Plenty of musicians are self taught. A critical ear and willingness to be hard on yourself can give plenty of improvement. Maybe the questions you're asking are too vague or broad. If I asked, "how did Garry Kasparov play such great chess", I don't think there is any satisfying answer to that question. He had a talent for it and put in relentless work and effort.

Pretty much. You get better by knowing where to look for what you don't know and practicing what you do know.

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Plenty of musicians are self taught.

I don't understand what this means here. Because others are self taught, I need to be as well? Is that why others cannot give better advice than assuming you're a music savant who just didn't think to do that?

Maybe the questions you're asking are too vague or broad. If I asked, "how did Garry Kasparov play such great chess", I don't think there is any satisfying answer to that question. He had a talent for it and put in relentless work and effort.

Sometimes they have been too broad or vague, but most of the time it's a communication barrier or the other person just can't be arsed to be more specific. Half the time, they're not even trying to answer it, focusing more on why I can't just absorb things by osmosis like they did, then I end up having to explain my bizarre brain makeup, then others groan because I'm playing the aspie card again, and only half the topics ever produce anything useful to me.

Sorry to go on ranting about this, but this is a constant source of irritation and I've yet to truly pinpoint what the problem is. :P

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I don't understand what this means here. Because others are self taught, I need to be as well? Is that why others cannot give better advice than assuming you're a music savant who just didn't think to do that?

Sometimes they have been too broad or vague, but most of the time it's a communication barrier or the other person just can't be arsed to be more specific. Half the time, they're not even trying to answer it, focusing more on why I can't just absorb things by osmosis like they did, then I end up having to explain my bizarre brain makeup, then others groan because I'm playing the aspie card again, and only half the topics ever produce anything useful to me.

Sorry to go on ranting about this, but this is a constant source of irritation and I've yet to truly pinpoint what the problem is. :P

I've been feeling this a lot lately. I recently joined a band as bassist with this excellent self-taught guitarist, but he doesn't know what a scale is, what a semi-tone is compared to a whole tone, what quarter/eighth notes are, or even any chord names besides major or minor, even though he only plays blues type chords. I ask him what rhythms to play and he can't even tell me so he tells me to played around with it. So I wing it and he gets pissed that I can't "feel what I should play in a song."

I might be a slave of sheet music, but a good musician should know what is making something sound a certain way at a basic level (not physics-wise, but music theory-wise) and should be able to communicate it, or at least have the desire to and the drive to learn it. Communication is a big part of creating music.

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I don't understand what this means here. Because others are self taught, I need to be as well? Is that why others cannot give better advice than assuming you're a music savant who just didn't think to do that?

Sometimes they have been too broad or vague, but most of the time it's a communication barrier or the other person just can't be arsed to be more specific. Half the time, they're not even trying to answer it, focusing more on why I can't just absorb things by osmosis like they did, then I end up having to explain my bizarre brain makeup, then others groan because I'm playing the aspie card again, and only half the topics ever produce anything useful to me.

Sorry to go on ranting about this, but this is a constant source of irritation and I've yet to truly pinpoint what the problem is. :P

I hate to sound like a dick, but the problem might be you. I haven't seen other people on this forum that get repeatedly frustrated like you do. idk what to say. I don't really have anything useful to offer anyone about my experiences. It's all been a long string of micro-improvements based on trying to address weaknesses.

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