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Making Longer Songs

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RedFuelTank
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Making Longer Songs 2011-02-20 14:42:36 Reply

I'm having trouble making longer songs.

I have trouble continuing songs after I finish composing about 3-4 measures for all instruments.

- Do you guys work on each instrument one at a time throughout the whole song? Or do you do what I do as well?

I have this notion that every second of each song has to be interesting in some way.

- That's not true is it? Techniques to prolong songs can have positive effects on the listener as well, right?

---------------------------------

Any tips and tricks to shorten work time would be greatly appreciated.


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InvisibleObserver
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-20 15:09:05 Reply

At 2/20/11 02:42 PM, RedFuelTank wrote: I'm having trouble making longer songs.

This is probably more common an issue then you may think.

I have trouble continuing songs after I finish composing about 3-4 measures for all instruments.

So to make it longer, I'd recommend just doubling up your stuff so it loops, and like alter the way one or two instruments play/end the measure.

- Do you guys work on each instrument one at a time throughout the whole song? Or do you do what I do as well?

If you aren't strong at writing, and you write everything parallel to another to be very integrated in what is played, you're going to sputter out and have difficulty keeping it up, and making your song sound coherent. Repetition isn't a bad thing.

I have this notion that every second of each song has to be interesting in some way.
That's not true is it?

Nope, often one changing instrument is enough to engage, its difficult while listening to focus and take in the auditory information of every instrument, so writing everything to be constantly changing often can be over-bearing.

Any tips and tricks to shorten work time would be greatly appreciated.

You're going to have to push through the short-song-ailments. If you just copy paste what you have to be like 5 times longer you now have the issue of too repetitive instead of too short, which you can then focus on solving that new problem.


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RedFuelTank
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-20 15:46:32 Reply

Thanks for the reply, InvisibleObserver!

What you say makes a lot of sense. I'm working on a song right now using your tips, in fact.


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KKSlider60
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-20 16:13:10 Reply

At 2/20/11 02:42 PM, RedFuelTank wrote: I have trouble continuing songs after I finish composing about 3-4 measures for all instruments.

- Do you guys work on each instrument one at a time throughout the whole song? Or do you do what I do as well?

It depends on what I do or I want to do. For instance, abstract experimental tracks last a few minutes while some other tracks might hit the 10 minutes mark. Regarding instruments, I sometimes have a clear idea about the number of instruments I could use and I play around with them until I am satisfied with the results. I first choose the samples to reproduce, I modify them - if required - and I build the tracks soon after.

I have this notion that every second of each song has to be interesting in some way.

True. But length also lies into this statement... If you give importance to every bit of your track, length will be a secondary thought, as you make your way through.

- That's not true is it? Techniques to prolong songs can have positive effects on the listener as well, right?

Again, it depends. In case of purely textural or meditative Ambient music (Steve Roach-like, for example), the longer a piece is, the better the effect. In some genres, repetition and looping could blend well, if used sparingly.

Any tips and tricks to shorten work time would be greatly appreciated.

I can give you tips to actually spend further time on your works. XD
I know it's not easy to let your ideas come true, for a number of reasons... limits regarding your DAW such as instruments, samples, interface limits, etc. Time will eventually pay you off with experience, and it will make you sure if you're doing right or wrong. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and learn from them. Experiment with every single bit of information your DAW gives to you.

I hope I was helpful, in some ways ;D
KKS

SymbolCymbal
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-20 16:23:12 Reply

A good exercise in making songs longer and making song structure is to make 4 separate loop type songs in 2 or 3 separate keys but in the same BPM

Then open a fresh project in your DAW and start placing your pre made loops. As you start doing this you will notice areas that can be used as lead ins, segways, fills, etc. And you will start writing parts to the song to combine different parts.

Basically what you are doing is remixing your own work.

Not sure if that makes any sense but i used to do that when i had a hard time finding out what should come next in a song to create a whole piece.

Rottenbeard
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-20 16:34:25 Reply

InvisibleObserver was mostly right on I think. I'll also add that repetition to a degree is necessary in order to give the listener something to latch on to. Whether it be a repeating melody or harmonic backing. While there's certainly nothing wrong with having the song change constantly without ever repeating any obvious motif (lots of classical music does this, which I don't much care for personally because, as InvisibleObserver stated, I find it overbearing) most people I think like to listen to something that has an obvious progression that they can follow, which is why pop music (which exists at the extreme end of this style of writing) is so popular. Lots of simple, repetitive melodies that are easy for people to latch on to and remember.

You don't need to make your music super simple like mainstream pop, of course, but don't be afraid to repeat a bar a few times musically. Just don't loop it completely over and over because THEN it gets boring. Repeating bars but varying instrumentation, intensity or overlaying different melodies over top the same backing can go to great lengths to increase the impact and impression your song has while also increasing its length.

I'm certainly no professional musician, but those are my thoughts on the matter based on my own love for music and my own experiences writing it! Ultimately, as always, just do what feels right for the song for you :)


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blackattackbitch
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-21 02:02:43 Reply

I'm actually experiencing a similar issue myself. I used to be able to compose 3-5 minute tracks with relative ease, even though it would take ages to do. Nowadays though, I'd be lucky to hit the 3 minute mark.

I usually compose section by section, meaning that I put together all the instruments and melodies I want for one section, think of what that'll lead into, then move into the next section and do the same thing. The only problem with this method is that I run out of ideas once the song hits the minute or 1:30 mark. Casualties of this method include a song that I simply decided to end after 46 seconds and another song that was based on an unfinished earlier song of mine. The problem with the latter song? The unfinished song it was based on was actually LONGER than the finished new version.

Buoy
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-21 03:36:40 Reply

Making long*er* songs
Make an outline of what you want the song to be like before you start jamming out a simple 4 bar idea
I mean 4 bar ideas are great but usually don't lead to entire songs.

Making really long songs
Start listening to 70s prog and I imagine it'll come naturally

S3C
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-21 03:55:21 Reply

At 2/20/11 02:42 PM, RedFuelTank wrote: I'm having trouble making longer songs.

I have trouble continuing songs after I finish composing about 3-4 measures for all instruments.

- Do you guys work on each instrument one at a time throughout the whole song? Or do you do what I do as well?

I would have a hard time just doing one instrument at a time! It would be difficult to get a good feel of the song or what I'm going to do. Just get the rhythm section and support structure to the track at the least. Well I guess it depends on the context really, if I just start off from an arbitary melody, I might go to a chord melody arrangement in one or two instruments and then flesh the full track out with several. But I still would write more than one "voice" simultaneously.

I have this notion that every second of each song has to be interesting in some way.

I agree. But its not as hard as you may make it out to be- your four measure loops may sound awesome for each second it lasts, and if its good enough, you should be able to loop it ten times without it getting boring. So maybe that's a minute of interesting music, right there. Evading repetition wont necessarily make your song more interesting in some way. Some times its just subtle, well executed differences that can keep the listener engaged.

--

I usually can get a good two-four minutes of music worked out, with all the sections and such, but my problem is not being able to create the "glue" to make the piece feel overall complete and well meshed together. Halp?


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ACINO
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-21 15:57:48 Reply

At 2/20/11 02:42 PM, RedFuelTank wrote: I'm having trouble making longer songs.

I have trouble continuing songs after I finish composing about 3-4 measures for all instruments.

- Do you guys work on each instrument one at a time throughout the whole song? Or do you do what I do as well?

I have this notion that every second of each song has to be interesting in some way.

- That's not true is it? Techniques to prolong songs can have positive effects on the listener as well, right?

---------------------------------

Any tips and tricks to shorten work time would be greatly appreciated.

There is a one really simple trick. Listen tons of different songs. Im sure you will get ideas to make your songs longer too=)

DefinitionThePoet
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Response to Making Longer Songs 2011-02-21 16:16:54 Reply

I know when it comes to composing music, often you can get music-block? which is similar to Writer's block... I'd suggest checking out some different music, not like yours, so you can get different view on that music, that may very well spark some idea.