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Advice Thread for Beginners Use

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I've been trying to get back into remixing again recently, and have had some issues that I've been working on myself. So I've been wondering, what advice do you all have on the topic? Not looking for anything specific, so just post anything you think could be relevant to a beginning remixer, it can't do much but help us :)

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1) Learn the ins and outs of a few synths you think you may like, but not too many so that you can get as good with each one as possible. This will help you think about what sounds fit best together in your own opinion (and objectively to anyone) and what aspects of the sound design of a particular sound needs improvement in your own opinion (and objectively to anyone).

2) Familiarize yourself with DAW shortcut commands so that your workflow isn't hindering your learning speed as much as if you didn't know any DAW shortcut commands.

3) Do A/B comparisons of EQ changes, compression edits, reverb tweaks, etc. until you realize which one you subjectively like better and which one objectively sounds less detrimental to the sound. Make sure you can say that you subjectively like better the one that objectively sounds better. That way you aren't teaching yourself backwards, and you can tell (without explicitly comparing to another similar sound/atmosphere) whether or not your edit will be more universally well-received. This is a form of ear training. Having good audio equipment in the first place will help.

4) Actively listen to tracks you admire the production of, and try to analyze why something works well or why something doesn't work well (subjectively to you or objectively to anyone).

5) Learn at least basic music theory. i.e. What key are you in, is it major or minor, what's the tonic / root note, and what sounds harmonically reasonable.

Edited by timaeus222
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Understand what you're doing. If you don't understand what you're doing, mess with it and read stuff about it until you do.

Understand what others are saying. Disagree all you want, but understand it anyway.

Make something every day. If it sucks, that's fine. Dig it up later and figure out why it sucks. If it doesn't suck, figure out why. Understand music.

Music isn't just theory, and isn't just sound design. Learn both.

I have some reading material in my sig. Read that, or something else about how to do this stuff. Read stuff about making music.

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Strive to make your workflow more efficient. I find it helps you pick up your work easily and be less confused as the songs become more complex.

What i mean by this is things like:

1. Have the right tools for the way your mind works. if youre a piano player, get a keyboard for not entry. if youre a synth-head and you find point and click automation to be tiresome, pick up a "block o knobs" type controller. This is arguably something you learn over time, but its worth investing some time into figuring out what works best.

2. make your studio a "no distractions " space. If you dont have a dedicated studio, find a quiet place like a library to work on your mixes in when your home space is too distracting. I often do tracking for my mixes at a coffeeshop.

3. Label all of your channels by what they are (Ex: Main lead, subbass etc...)

4. Put channels with Similar functions next to each other in the mixer/arrangement views of your Daw, and color code them the same. To me , this helps the mix feel less cluttered when i come back to an old mix that i want to update. I dont have to scroll back and forth between the melody and harmony if theyre not on opposing sides of my arrangement view or mixer. color coding helps you quickly identify parts that play similar roles as well

5. It depends on the daw and personal preference, but if you have the option to show all of your automation for a channel alongside of it, do it. having it just show when youre working on the automation works, but just having all your automations shown there when you open a channel helps keep you from forgetting to change automation as well when you move audio bits around. This may not be a deal for everyone though. i use ableton, so i gets annoying to switch automation views all the time.

Lastly, Dont go nuts with plugins. if you have a titan of a computer, do whatever you want, but in tune with the organization theme of this post, i find its easier to keep track of sounds and how theyre being affected if i dont have 15 plugins on each channel that i have to keep track of. Its also likely, that youll be less crazy with unnecissary effects

bottom line Whenever possible, keep your workflow well organized and labelled, and learn what tools and processes work for you. never settle on something if it doesnt work.

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1. Learn as much about theory and composition as you can and never stop learning it. A well composed piece is always well composed, but a piece with shitty composition and great production is still a shitty track.

2. Do every genre of music. By that I don't mean "I used to do trance, but now I do dubstep!" I mean music that uses completely different ensembles.

3. Learn how to write for specific ensembles/genres. Something that I struggled with and still do from time to time is that you can't treat an orchestra like a rock band and you can't treat synth dominated EDM like it's an orchestra. While the same theory applies, the genres all handle melody, harmony, and rhythm in their own way and that is what truly makes the genres different.

4. Learn to write modal and atonal music as well and learn what kind of style is useful to achieve the sound you want. If you have to make a really dark, evil-sounding piece, your I IV Vs and pentatonic melodies aren't going to get the job done. In that case, writing something based purely on the phrygian mode might work better

Those are some thoughts that immediately come to mind.

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Understand what others are saying. Disagree all you want, but understand it anyway.

This is crucial. This is why I always show all my WIPs to my fiance, who knows absolutely nothing about music production or composition whatsoever. She'll say things, what she likes, what she doesn't, and even though she may not exactly know what's actually going on, I can still use it to make my track better.

Even critique from less experienced musicians can be taken into account when making your tracks better. For example, a rather noobish producer recently did a lengthy critique on one of my tracks, "A World in Motion", and although he was incorrect about a few things, I was still able to use what he said to make my music better; such as when he said that one of my rhythm guitars was playing a "wrong note" at a certain time, I was able to evaluate what I was doing (each guitar was actually playing something different at that time, they weren't actually supposed to be playing the same thing) and pinpoint exactly why he would think what he was thinking (my execution on that specific production technique wasn't as good as I thought I was).

Another critical piece of advice, though; know when "criticism", and I hesitate to call it that when referring to certain statements, is utterly useless. You'll know it when you see it.

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Fear not, you're still way better at this whole music thing than me (although I don't set the bar very high). So what you're doing - keep doin' it.

Have fun and enjoy things you do! Thats what I meant. You can learn and understand lot of things if you like what you doing.

I still have no idea about minor/major, key or whateva theory stuff.. thats not good, but no so bad:tomatoface:

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Any advice I give would vary depending on the goals of the person asking.

If your goal is to just do this for a little while and move on, then you can just have fun doing it and not really take it seriously.

If you want to get into music as a real passion and possible career, then you have to take it seriously. And by seriously I don't mean doing it 19 hours a day. You can spend a month digging a hole using a potato or use a shovel and get the same work done in a day.

1. Start learning music theory (yes it matters).

2. Start learning how to listen to music. This means trying to hear mixing elements and techniques like compression, panning, reverbs etc. Once you start listening to music analytically, you'll have a better grasp of how a mix comes together.

3. Plan your time out and stick to a schedule. If you don't do this then you'll really be wasting a lot of time.

4. Learn theory again! Yes it still matters! Put it into your music regimen. An hour of theory/ear training a day will make a RIDICULOUS difference in just a few weeks.

5. Practice your instrument (if applicable, and really it should be). Practice seriously because you need to eventually be able to play whatever comes into your mind, that way you can write music more clearly and efficiently.

6. Practice and learn using complete concentration. If you're trying to learn or work with distractions around, you might as well not do it at all. Eventually you'll know all that you need to know and you'll be able to work in most environments, but until then you need to make sure to devote 100% of your concentration to anything musical that you do. (there's a reason you can't talk during class).

You can do things casually if you want, but the results wont be comparable. Whether anyone here knows it or not, each and every musician is at constant competition with his/her peers (be it mostly light hearted and friendly/supportive). No matter your skill level, there are hundreds of others at that same level who are working harder than you, and learning more than you are. Take your craft seriously and it'll pay off big.

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5. Practice your instrument (if applicable, and really it should be). Practice seriously because you need to eventually be able to play whatever comes into your mind, that way you can write music more clearly and efficiently.

I agree with Snaps overall. If you get good at both audiation and music theory it will allow you to realize your musical ideas most effectively.

When I think about it, any time I'm really into writing something and it turns out just the way I want it to be, it was usually because I was doing a good job at transcribing the music in my mind and using the theory knowledge to guide it further.

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