Author Topic: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?  (Read 5339 times)

Bertie South

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 248
  • Honor: 46
  • BERT
    • myboyfriendbob
    • View Profile
Just been watching that Noisia vid that Mr. Zo linked to way back, and from what matey (Nik?) was saying, it seems like he spends time just making sounds, independent of actually having a specific use for them. So when it comes to making a track, he's already got a bank of sounds to work from, and at that point his time is pretty much all spent on composition and little/none on sound design.

I really like the idea of this way of working, partly because it really bothers me to be making progress on a track then get stuck because I don't have the sounds I need. But to really have a good bank of sounds to work from, especially if you make them without a specific use in mind, you could spend roughly forever just on sound design, and you'd never get round to actually making tracks.

I'm just curious as to how other people work - do you divide your time strictly between sound design and composition? Or do you just do whatever you need or feel like doing in the moment? Or a mix of both?
« Last Edit: February 08, 2016, 11:20:14 pm by Bertie South »
Drum 'n' bass mixes: https://soundcloud.com/beenisss
Neither drum 'n' bass nor mixes: https://soundcloud.com/myboyfriendbob
Mixes, but not drum 'n' bass: https://mixcloud.com/Beenis

Marrow Machines

  • Mid
  • ***
  • Posts: 788
  • Honor: 101
  • Electronic Music
    • marrow-machines
    • MarrowMachines
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 11:38:08 pm »
"you have to cross the bridge when you get to the bridge."

Take that into consideration when making a track. there's no definite answer to your question outside of, how much time you're willing to spend and have on the components that make up your track.

and this is why i do sound design first, and then make music. If i like the sound, given it works in the range i want it to be in, then i know i can find a purpose for it whether it be a lead, pad, or sound effect. I just adjust accordingly to my group and channel settings.

It's not rigid man, you just have to be open to the fact that you may not get what you want that day and settle on something different that you know will be a cool addition to the track.
Josh Huval: Honestly, the guys who are making good art are spending their time making it.

FarleyCZ

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 493
  • Honor: 93
    • farleycz
    • farleycz
    • View Profile
    • I tried to code a page, look!
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 11:39:16 pm »
Mix of both. Usually pretty separate until the point when I need the sounds to work together in some way. That's when I start to sound-design as I go.
...also sometimes while sound-designing, melody comes up that works just with that given sound. If I feel it's worth the attention, I go to composition or "mixed" mode again.
"Earth is round right? Look at it from right angle and you'll be always on top of the world."
...but don't overdo it, because that's called being a d***k.

Bertie South

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 248
  • Honor: 46
  • BERT
    • myboyfriendbob
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 11:52:41 pm »

Take that into consideration when making a track. there's no definite answer to your question

For sure, this is why I'm curious to see how other people approach it. I think having a hardware synth inclined me to spend some time just on sound design, but now I spend most of my time in front of the arrange window and it doesn't happen.

Thinking about it, I guess what I'm really interested in is songwriting rather than composition, to the extent that they're different things. Is it common for people work on sound design completely independent of writing tunes?
Drum 'n' bass mixes: https://soundcloud.com/beenisss
Neither drum 'n' bass nor mixes: https://soundcloud.com/myboyfriendbob
Mixes, but not drum 'n' bass: https://mixcloud.com/Beenis

FarleyCZ

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 493
  • Honor: 93
    • farleycz
    • farleycz
    • View Profile
    • I tried to code a page, look!
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 11:59:23 pm »
Is it common for people work on sound design completely independent of writing tunes?
Probably, though I find it kind of impossible. Probably another bad habit, dunno.
"Earth is round right? Look at it from right angle and you'll be always on top of the world."
...but don't overdo it, because that's called being a d***k.

vinceasot

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 344
  • Honor: 32
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2016, 01:36:09 am »
just go with how you feel?

if you wanna finish off tracks, finish them and if you wanna play with sythesizers, play with the synthesiser

just make sure the time you are using is spent wisely and you're always learning

Marrow Machines

  • Mid
  • ***
  • Posts: 788
  • Honor: 101
  • Electronic Music
    • marrow-machines
    • MarrowMachines
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2016, 02:25:36 am »
People to me seem to make careers off making noises.

It's not a baaaaaaaad thing, but if you're versatile and want to be considered versatile, then you'll have to learn both. In terms of music. But for pure sound exploration, you don't have to do a damn thing with music.

What you can do, is literally not make any music for like......... six months, and just make some weird noises and stuff. And you'll be pretty good at that point if you attempt to make a weird noise every day. Plus you'll have a decent library to turn to.

Another way is to organize your older sounds into a folder. Go through them, organize it like; subs,bass,leads,pads,melody,sound effect, riser, wubs. Or you can go for a more descriptive approach;atmosphere, chill, RAADD, GNARLY, BANGER, horror, emotional, delayed out, reverbed out. stuff like that.

Analyze your older stuff, because that's in your tool box and is most with in your reach to study.

try to make the sound better with new knowledge or leave it as is.

BTW, song writing is composition. But the song and composition can be what ever you want it to be. you could literally string together fart noises for 4 minutes and call it a song.
Josh Huval: Honestly, the guys who are making good art are spending their time making it.

FarleyCZ

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 493
  • Honor: 93
    • farleycz
    • farleycz
    • View Profile
    • I tried to code a page, look!
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2016, 08:16:08 am »
BTW, song writing is composition. But the song and composition can be what ever you want it to be. you could literally string together fart noises for 4 minutes and call it a song.
Hmmm. Feeling inspired. :D ...it turns out, you wouldn't even need to record them for yourself. :D
https://vimeo.com/31632294
"Earth is round right? Look at it from right angle and you'll be always on top of the world."
...but don't overdo it, because that's called being a d***k.

alex 1

  • Sub Bass
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Honor: 6
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2016, 01:20:18 pm »
You know what bothers me, I have a bank of around 200 zebra presets, that I've been building over a couple of years. Some of these sounds are so unusual and unique, I can't believe I made them.
And yet, whenever I'm working on a track, the last thing I think of doing, is looking through my preset bank! I'll sit there for hours trying to perfect that evolving vocaly pad sound, not even realizing I probably got a better sound already made.
But yeah, sometimes I do remember, and look at those presets like a kid in a candy shop, so its definitely worth spending time, making a bank up, for sure

FarleyCZ

  • Low Mid
  • **
  • Posts: 493
  • Honor: 93
    • farleycz
    • farleycz
    • View Profile
    • I tried to code a page, look!
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2016, 06:29:05 pm »
You know what bothers me, I have a bank of around 200 zebra presets, that I've been building over a couple of years. Some of these sounds are so unusual and unique, I can't believe I made them.
And yet, whenever I'm working on a track, the last thing I think of doing, is looking through my preset bank! I'll sit there for hours trying to perfect that evolving vocaly pad sound, not even realizing I probably got a better sound already made.
But yeah, sometimes I do remember, and look at those presets like a kid in a candy shop, so its definitely worth spending time, making a bank up, for sure
That makes two of us. Same thing. Big folder of custom Zebra presets, but frequently designing new one when actually composing. :D That synth is just too good. :)
...though in my case it's probably caused by stupid naming. Like: "galaxy congress", "hyper kid", "liquid muse", "crossover station". I mean ... I have them categorised, but it's still pretty much unsearchable.
"Earth is round right? Look at it from right angle and you'll be always on top of the world."
...but don't overdo it, because that's called being a d***k.

alex 1

  • Sub Bass
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Honor: 6
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2016, 10:03:30 pm »

nah, mine are just asking to be used

electric bass (slap) 001
fx spooky violin
perc loop - tek tom
vfx loop 001

to pick a few. really no excuse, i just totally forget, because im so focused on what im doing.

but yeah, the synth is awesome, its really the only synth i use regular, and i even use the fx version for delays and stuff. the way i see it, if i cant make it on zebra, then i probably cant make it

T_T

  • Subsonic
  • Posts: 7
  • Honor: 1
  • juke ok
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2016, 09:44:42 am »
I think separating sound design and composition is a very good practice if you can keep a strict timetable.

If you think about it, sound design during composition just doesn't make sense. You don't tune your guitar halfway through the track. Traditional composers don't pore over counterpoint theory while writing their cantata. Should we really add the stress of sound design into the composition process when it's already so difficult to stay in that 'flow' - that cerebral zone you don't want to be dragged out of when you have to spend thirty minutes designing a decent sub or pluck, making the notion of a full track in any reasonable length of time seem impossible?

Although, if you do decide to cut the umbilical cord between the two elements of producing, you need to take care that they don't fall away completely. However you plan on storing your patches, you need to be able to access the right one at the right time. If you have to spend thirty minutes looking for the preset you made earlier, what's the point?

Procrastination is as always a problem. That's why a 'timetable', whatever that may mean to you, is important. For example, you might work on tracks during the day (i.e. when you could potentially finish the track in one sitting) and work on sound design during the night, when you only have an hour or two to spare. You might work on sound design and other associated production elements during the week, and then on the weekend sit down and say to yourself "Right, this week I have prepared everything I need, I MUST write something now, good or bad."

It's hard in the beginning because you presumably won't have many presets to work with, but it will pay off in the long run as you will not run out of steam on sound design and lose inspiration, and you will also be able to spend more time perfecting synth patches.

Marrow Machines

  • Mid
  • ***
  • Posts: 788
  • Honor: 101
  • Electronic Music
    • marrow-machines
    • MarrowMachines
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2016, 05:45:27 pm »
I think separating sound design and composition is a very good practice if you can keep a strict timetable.

If you think about it, sound design during composition just doesn't make sense. You don't tune your guitar halfway through the track. Traditional composers don't pore over counterpoint theory while writing their cantata. Should we really add the stress of sound design into the composition process when it's already so difficult to stay in that 'flow' - that cerebral zone you don't want to be dragged out of when you have to spend thirty minutes designing a decent sub or pluck, making the notion of a full track in any reasonable length of time seem impossible?

Although, if you do decide to cut the umbilical cord between the two elements of producing, you need to take care that they don't fall away completely. However you plan on storing your patches, you need to be able to access the right one at the right time. If you have to spend thirty minutes looking for the preset you made earlier, what's the point?

Procrastination is as always a problem. That's why a 'timetable', whatever that may mean to you, is important. For example, you might work on tracks during the day (i.e. when you could potentially finish the track in one sitting) and work on sound design during the night, when you only have an hour or two to spare. You might work on sound design and other associated production elements during the week, and then on the weekend sit down and say to yourself "Right, this week I have prepared everything I need, I MUST write something now, good or bad."

It's hard in the beginning because you presumably won't have many presets to work with, but it will pay off in the long run as you will not run out of steam on sound design and lose inspiration, and you will also be able to spend more time perfecting synth patches.

I think this is more of an ego thing than any thing. Your brain also needs rest after you've done something for a long time.

Real life example is this, I can do a heavy home work assignment for the entire day, and go to bed completely drained. I've gotten better at it, but for the most part i can't continue to just slam myself during one day and expect to have it be a meaningful experience.

That's what some starting producers do with out knowing. "oh i gotta do all these things now because if i don't i won't get signed to spinnin records by the age of 13" or w/e.  I think i've mentioned this some where or on this topic, that you do neeeeed to distance yourself after you've spent time working on any thing. it's not a break for 15 mins, it's knowing when to call it a day and come back the next. You're not loosing any progress. In fact, the time that you spend away from your project will be more beneficial for the next session. It'll also help reduce burn out.

My computer science teacher, before i changed majors, said that you some times need to step away from the computer to get those "aha" moments. That's when you come back to your computer and go "this is what needs to happen." and then you get a new found vigor and inspiration. Then you work and get tired, and feel more accomplished.

You have to understand and respect that these ideas will be here longer and have been here longer than you've been alive. You're not gaming the system by working hard at this, you gotta work smart.

I've worked hard, and it's tiring and fatiguing. i work smart, and i get better results and still work just as hard.
Josh Huval: Honestly, the guys who are making good art are spending their time making it.

Red X

  • Sub Bass
  • *
  • Posts: 69
  • Honor: 4
  • Hi
    • Jeremy-Pompa-1
    • EDM_4U
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2016, 04:01:34 am »
I was so use to presets that I decided to get into sound design and man its tough but setting a day that i just make sounds for no reason is something I HAVE to do

oxbloodoxblood

  • Subsonic
  • Posts: 17
  • Honor: 1
  • Gold River
    • oxbloodoxblood
    • oxbloodoxblood
    • View Profile
Re: (How) do you divide your time between sound design and composition?
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2016, 08:03:56 pm »
Usually I just open my DAW with the intention of making some sounds. I make a few patches, save them as presets and close the DAW. If I really find myself attracted to a pattern with one of the patches, I'll start building a song out of it. This helps my creative process be spontaneous.