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WIPs / progressive house early stages
« on: April 02, 2017, 02:26:59 pm »
yesterday i turned toward my darth vader coffee mug and said 'you know what buddy I think it's time to cycle through some older ideas and tighten them up'. just wondering what your thoughts are on these, i am also open to the idea of collaborating to finish them

Finished Tracks / deadmau5 remix contest entry feedback.
« on: February 08, 2017, 02:12:21 am »
Hey guys two things:

1. Did you know deadmau5 put out a remix contest? It's on splice sounds' website.

2. What do you think of mine? My main concern is that the composition maintains a good pace and doesn't confuse the listener since there's so much going on at times. I really wanted to explore melody and make things solidly-structured without being repetitive.

here's the link:

Inspiration/Creativity/Motivation / Finding ways to boost creativity
« on: January 15, 2017, 03:43:27 am »
Hey guys, thought it would be cool to get a bit of a discussion going about our creative philosophies. To start I thought I'd share some things that really helped me develop a sound that I was proud of. The main motivation for doing this is that this is stuff I wish I had known earlier, so this one's especially for people starting out. It's going to be a bit of a read so maybe grab some chips. Being passionate about my craft, I tend to word things matter-of-factly and apologize in advance if this reads like I'm trying to preach, these are just things that have worked for me.

1. Bigger Screen

If you're the kind that loves layering and detail this is for you. I went from maybe  20-30 tracks per song to 40-50 just by getting a bigger screen. Not saying more layers equals better, because more often than not elegance is the standard to aim for. Nonetheless there was a certain 'busyness' I was trying to achieve in my sound and being able to zoom out the display to see more tracks made it feel more natural to get more intricate. Like eating more with a bigger plate.

2. Taking things outside the box.

This has become a bit of a cliche at this point, but I have a slight issue seeing these ads with Hans Zimmer or deadmau5 saying a kid could make a hit on a laptop or that you could make compelling music on a phone. Huge thanks to them for sharing their creative process with the world, but I just don't like how the company edits the videos to make those statements the selling point. They're saying 'look, this MASSIVELY successful producer said this! You feel good don't you, buy our product!' Maybe I'm just salty because I can't afford either masterclass by two of my favorite music makers of all time, but that's not the point.

Could you make great music by hitting a tin can and recording it in the bathroom on your iPhone speaker? Absolutely. But, getting your hands involved in the process with quality gear can really give your tracks life as well as immense personal satisfaction. When I have more fun, I feel more motivated to make music, and what's more fun that opening up a new toy?

 If you want a good technical argument, workflow really improves. Adjusting parameters in real time with your bare hands is heaven compared to boring yourself to death for hours drawing automation curves, and playing live gives you complete real-time control assuming you know how to play what you want. Automation is an oh-so-necessary evil, but the less you have to do of it, the better your workflow and happier you are. Same thing with drawing midi.

I'm sure you've heard of the gear trap. I've fallen victim to it, buying all this stuff thinking it would improve my sound just because it was rated a 5 on gearslutz, which is a great website btw. Maybe the key to avoiding the trap is to either go through it and after you've sold enough stuff you never use realize that you're suddenly making more music, or just understand that you're going to have to be patient and learn to make music with what you have before expanding. Want your mixes to sound better? Don't buy 5 pro mixing plugins, get better at mixing then make an informed decision on which plugins might enhance your sound based on your good habits. None of this is to say don't 'experiment' with your purchases, that is pretty much how you amass your toolbox to start after all. A tutorial on mixing by Dave Pensado might inspire a plugin buy that at first does nothing for you but over time you begin to understand its functionality in certain situations through trial and error. You might find months down the road you're not using it anymore because an eq move takes care of the issue. Either way, you'll probably waste money at some point. Oh well. Life. Do watch Dave Pensado's videos, they're a sea of knowledge and wisdom. The higher the level of producer you learn from, the better of a litmus test you have to discern sound from not-so-sound advice, especially technical advice. Try not to take any piece of advice as gospel on how to do something or how to approach music. Find what resonates with you the most. 'Rules aren't made to be broken, they're made to be ignored'. Dave Pensado said that. It resonates with me. Does it resonate with you? If not, feel free to argue. This isn't just about tweaking knobs and making lovely melodies. Every. Single. Successful. Musician. Has their own philosophy behind their craft.

3. Not going into the studio with any intention.

Trusting my instincts and laying down something simple in the moment and building it up from there has not only done wonders for workflow (not having to obsess over it sounding 'wrong' because it's its own thing!) but it's made music a more exciting experience. Surrendering my analytical mind and listening to what the song was trying to tell me allowed flow to take over with consistency. We like things to be well-thought out. We like to have control over our lives. I'm realizing that a lot of life skills carry over into producing, and one of those skills is getting the most out of a given situation regardless of the means at your disposal. You learn how to tweak. You learn how to experiment and adjust an idea tastefully. You develop instincts through sheer trial and error, and over time you learn to trust them. Music making starts to become more and more observational and less contrived, and starting a song becomes like planting a seed rather than building a foundation. I do end up going into a session with an idea of where to start, but the point is I no longer waste time in forcing things to sound exactly as they sound in my head.

4. Knowledge.

When I decided to put my all into this craft, I wanted to gain an insight into how successful artists approached music making. I studied everyone from Jimmy Page to Brian Eno, read countless biographies and watched a lot of production masterclasses on youtube. If you study physics, there's no getting around Newton's work, or Einstein's, or Fermi's, or Planck's, or Maxwell's. Without knowledge of what's happened before you, what springboard are you going to use to launch yourself into new territory? You going to reinvent the wheel? Study your influences, respect them, and in time you'll discover that it helps rather than hinders your pursuit of an original sound.

Research also made music less intimidating. Pros use EQ 8. Getting deep into the stories of how great music was and is made gives good sense of direction. I used to think great music was this quest for perfection, knowledge liberates you as an artist in that you learn that it's not the case.

Be open minded. I saw a thumbnail of a video on mastering and at first thought it wasn't worth a watch (when you watch enough tutorials that they all start to sound the same, you think you know enough about that topic), but I watched it anyway. I found out that when mastering it's often useful to have a ceiling a fraction of a decibel below 0db because errors in compression algorithms when turning your song into an mp3 can cause clipping of a signal that's at 0db. Really useful piece of information considering I plan to get a body of work out this year.

5. Understanding that I am just a guy making music until further notice, while understanding that with vision and incremental goal-setting, I can constantly be improving.

We make music because we love it. Sooner or later we have a choice to make: try to make something of it or keep doing it as a hobby. The former requires a belief in yourself that transcends criticism, but in order to improve you need to have the capacity to be self-critical and sometimes brutally honest with yourself. You don't have to kick yourself, just be real. If you wake up one day and think your music sucks, and believe me you will have those moments, it's not the end of the world, just figure out what leads you to believe that. Personal growth is nothing more than adaptation. Honing your sound is identifying specific areas of weakness and over a period of weeks to months improving one of those aspects. It's really that simple.

Update: To expand on the topic of studying your influences, in your search for a unique sound it helps to have an understanding of how your favorite music developed over time and where it evolved from. Getting at the heart of something helps you take it in a new direction in a way that isn't just over-complicating an already well-developed sound

What sort of 'hacks' have you guys found that improve your music making?

To give a short explanation, I was really in my feelings when I made this and wanted to have a lot of things going on melodically to create a really pleasant, immersive experience. Is there anything that throws you off?

WIPs / Feedback on vibey prog house track!
« on: January 12, 2017, 06:10:04 am »
Hey all! To give some background on what I'm trying to say musically: simple enough to follow, detailed enough to get lost in, not trying to blow your ears off. I'm excited to have begun the process of going through my projects and polish things up, but my fear is that I'll start overthinking and over-complicate things. So my question is: how complete does this feel? Feel free to be as blunt as you like, I haven't had much honest criticism of my work and am really craving it at this point. In case the link doesn't work, here's another embed:

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