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Top 7 tips you probably forgot~

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GronmonSE
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Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 02:18 AM Reply

I've been uploading my work on Newgrounds for the past 5 years, and in the spirit of New Years, I've decided to make a contribution to the community for all its provided me. This is also a thanks to all the people who have bothered reviewing my music but never got a respond back or a review in return. I'm horrible at reciprocating, so here's my attempt to amend that.

Regardless of how experienced you are or how much know, take the time to read these 5 tips that you might have forgotten when making music. These are small details that make your workflow easier, help you get more creative, keep you motivated, and even improve your skills as a side-effect. Here we go...

1. Be creative.

Probably the most obvious tip that comes to mind. Creativity is what makes you produce in first place. Everybody thinks and feels differently, which in turn makes them express their music differently. The second you stop trying to be creative as a musician is the second you get stuck and stop growing. Anyone else here ever had a creative block? Of course we all have, and it's not because we can't pump out new melodies or create new sounds, it's because -we stop trying to-. We start sticking only to what we know; we get comfortable. Always try out new techniques, find new sounds if you feel you new more. Personally, I'm a jack of all trades, I know a wide variety of techniques and I do a wide variety of genres, but I haven't mastered any of them, but by trying out new things, I can integrate everything I know into every new track. It's a world full of possibilities, and the more you learn, the more comfortable you'll be navigating new territory.

2. Don't slack.

Procrastination and laziness kills. You get out of music what you put into it. The harder you work and the more persistent you are, the more pleased you will be with your product. You know that repetitive drum beat in your track that has the listener bored to death? Add a fill to it. You know that frequency in a particular instrument that is making your song sound muddy? Cut it out. Is your song clipping? Fix it. It all makes a difference, and slacking is worse than taking a shortcut. It's the equivalent of stopping at a marathon when you're halfway there. And it will most likely show in your music. Push yourself to finish the songs that you like and polish them.

3. Stay motivated.

This is another personal problem I have, I lose motivation a lot. This usually happens when you work on a song for too long or when you fall in love with a work in progress but lose interest because you over-listen to it. Make music for a couple hours, take a break, let your ears rest and listen to your music the next day. Obvious "mistakes" (I find them subjective, but everyone knows what they don't like about their own work) will pop out and you'll be ready to tackle them because your ears will be fresh. Don't get obsessed, remember to eat, work out, and get enough sleep. Seems pretty obvious, but the healthier you are, the more focused you will be when making music.

4. Keep an open mind.

It's not really a production tip, it's more of a general life tip, but it still applies and it correlates to creativity. Step out of your comfort zone, listen to music you normally wouldn't enjoy, and keep your expectations low, because expectation is the source of all disappointment, and you could be pleasantly surprised by what kind of things might be around the corner if you openly embrace them. Groundbreaking things are created by open-minded people who are not afraid to take risks and jump into the unknown. Give it a shot.

5. Streamline your workflow.

Do you ever find yourself spending more time setting up your DAW than actually making music? Do you forget your brilliant ideas before you even write a note because you're too busy finding the right synth? Create a template for your DAW with instruments, sounds, and synths that you will most likely use, it'll save you a lot of time and help you get your ideas down quickly. It's very simple (most programs allow custom templates) and you'll spend less time worrying about your THC-filled brain forgetting what you were singing in your head.

6. Sometimes less is more.

Since this is not thread on any specific production technique, I'm not going to teach you how to EQ or use compressors (I can barely do that properly yet myself anyway), but keep in mind that overdoing things can make your song worse. I'm not saying you should go minimalist, but keep your soundspace clear so people can enjoy everything that is going on in your song. Don't overcompress, don't overEQ, don't add a thousand details that take away attention from everything else. Keep it simple at first and add things as you see fit, but keep the big picture in mind.

7. Have fun and love what you do.

Now how obvious is that? If you're not having a good time working on a song, what's the point? Most of the time your listen CAN tell how much work you put into your song, and the more fun you're having, the more motivated and creative you will be. Seriously, it's that simple. Some of us may have forgotten that at some point, but we still make music because we love it. You are a musician, and most importantly, you're an individual. Be original. Love what you do but don't fall in love with yourself, be humble and learn from others. Take your time to do your research, learn new things, and practice.

These are all things I've forgotten down the road, and I don't even follow all these things myself, but they're constantly hovering over my head, because they all lead you to being a better musician. Hope my mistakes help others, thanks Newgrounds.

The-iMortal
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 02:48 AM Reply

Agreed. Happy new year!

deadlyfishes
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 03:04 AM Reply

At 1/2/13 02:18 AM, GronmonSE wrote:
5. Streamline your workflow.

Do you ever find yourself spending more time setting up your DAW than actually making music? Do you forget your brilliant ideas before you even write a note because you're too busy finding the right synth? Create a template for your DAW with instruments, sounds, and synths that you will most likely use, it'll save you a lot of time and help you get your ideas down quickly. It's very simple (most programs allow custom templates) and you'll spend less time worrying about your THC-filled brain forgetting what you were singing in your head.

I don't know if I agree with this one. I like templates, but I hate them at the same time. I like them because they're easy to just load and start writing music right away, but they limit you to always use the same stuff, not saying they will actually limit you, but you will be prone to using the same instrumentation again and again. Also, my templates literally take about 15 minutes to load. I have an EXTREMELY fast computer, it's just that I have a full-on epic orchestral template with everything you can ever think of. It's not ideal for most of us to load something like that every time or most of the time.

I think what is actually needed is for you to set some time aside to get to know your DAW, and it's components so that when you need something you'll know exactly where that sound is or how to make it.

One way or another you're going to need to learn your software enough that your comfortable with it.

Just my two cents on this one. Everything else are some good tips that we should always keep in mind!


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Blackhole12
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 04:28 AM Reply

Templates can be good, but I keep noticing all these new artists that have a unique sound... and then just keep using the same damn sound over and over and over until they're beating the skeleton of a dead horse on a desert with a dying sun. It's stupid.

I take for fucking ever to make a song, but they all have their own unique soundscapes. Then again, Trancecrafter does something similar and he NEVER finishes anything but I think he's just a perfectionist.

Axel7
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 10:35 AM Reply

At 1/2/13 04:28 AM, Blackhole12 wrote: Templates can be good, but I keep noticing all these new artists that have a unique sound... and then just keep using the same damn sound over and over and over until they're beating the skeleton of a dead horse on a desert with a dying sun. It's stupid.

I take for fucking ever to make a song, but they all have their own unique soundscapes. Then again, Trancecrafter does something similar and he NEVER finishes anything but I think he's just a perfectionist.

lol at the first paragraph XD

I have a friend like that, he did manage to finish ONE song though..............AAANNNNNNNNNND as I was fetching the link, it got blocked on youtube for copyright bullshit...I thought remixes didn't get blocked so long as the singer was credited -_-

I always start with templates...only thing is when I make House/Electro, I have specific massive sounds i created that I modify afterwards to be different than the last song I used it in ^_^, that's easier

GronmonSE
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 03:05 PM Reply

Yeah, templates can be in direct contradiction of creativity, but I feel like they're good starting points. I, for example, always have a rhodes, a piano, an orchestral soundfont, and a drumset soundfont loaded on startup, but I end up changing the sound on most things as the song develops. It's quicker than having to individually load everything you want and you don't have to limit yourself to what you have on your template, it just makes the process of writing down the song quicker and painless.

Of course, it really depends on what process you follow in first place and your genre of choice. Given that composition is the most important thing to me, it works.

Thanks guys, I appreciate the comments.

deadlyfishes
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 03:24 PM Reply

At 1/2/13 03:05 PM, GronmonSE wrote: Yeah, templates can be in direct contradiction of creativity, but I feel like they're good starting points. I, for example, always have a rhodes, a piano, an orchestral soundfont, and a drumset soundfont loaded on startup, but I end up changing the sound on most things as the song develops. It's quicker than having to individually load everything you want and you don't have to limit yourself to what you have on your template, it just makes the process of writing down the song quicker and painless.

Of course, it really depends on what process you follow in first place and your genre of choice. Given that composition is the most important thing to me, it works.

Thanks guys, I appreciate the comments.

Ever think of upgrading to actual sound libraries?

I've used soundfonts for years until I actually started working professionally doing music for games/films/media. I still have them and I never really use them anymore.

You should check out EWQL Symphonic Orchestra, LA Scoring Strings, and anything from 8dio.

Price and computer power might be the only hindrances here, but even some cheaper ones might be a huge step up for your productions and the nice sounds you will create might influence your writing as well!

BTW if you can find it somewhere, "squidfont_orhcestral" is what has been my all time favorite orchestral soundfont along with "orchestral essentials"

If you want to hear some examples of some high end orchestral sample libraries you can check out my YouTube channel to see some of them in action! Link is in my signature. As of 10/31, my official site is down for a couple of days :(

I want to make a post introducing the basics of film scoring sometime, might address some points you have made here!


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Ultimate-fish
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 03:37 PM Reply

Took some of these tips and pinned them to my desktop. You're a saint, truly.


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Blackhole12
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 2nd, 2013 @ 11:18 PM Reply

Squidfont has potential licensing problems where its only supposed to be used for noncommercial purposes. For a better selection of high quality soundfonts, check this blog post.

There are a lot of good soundfonts out there, but obviously none of them will touch EastWest and 8dio. But uh, those costs hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, which is way out of the budget range for midrange composers who are probably incapable of living off their compositions in the first place. I really don't like this, because I'm a programmer, and I have access to lots of very high quality tools and libraries that are completely free. In contrast, there's multiple competing sampling engines (kontact, play engine, directsound, SFZ, I don't know what else) that all have a bunch of libraries that cost enormous amounts of money and are completely incompatible with each other unless you like remapping several thousand wav files by hand. There are very few midrange sampling libraries that are still of decent quality but don't cost an arm and a leg. It's similar to the Photoshop situation except there's a whole bunch of photoshops that all hate each other and all cost way too much money.

It's all very stupid.

LemonCrush
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Buoy
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 3rd, 2013 @ 01:19 PM Reply

At 1/2/13 02:18 AM, GronmonSE wrote: 1. Be creative.

no thanks

GronmonSE
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 3rd, 2013 @ 05:58 PM Reply

At 1/2/13 03:24 PM, deadlyfishes wrote:
At 1/2/13 03:05 PM, GronmonSE wrote: Yeah, templates can be in direct contradiction of creativity, but I feel like they're good starting points. I, for example, always have a rhodes, a piano, an orchestral soundfont, and a drumset soundfont loaded on startup, but I end up changing the sound on most things as the song develops. It's quicker than having to individually load everything you want and you don't have to limit yourself to what you have on your template, it just makes the process of writing down the song quicker and painless.

Of course, it really depends on what process you follow in first place and your genre of choice. Given that composition is the most important thing to me, it works.

Thanks guys, I appreciate the comments.
Ever think of upgrading to actual sound libraries?

I've used soundfonts for years until I actually started working professionally doing music for games/films/media. I still have them and I never really use them anymore.

You should check out EWQL Symphonic Orchestra, LA Scoring Strings, and anything from 8dio.

Yeah, I've been using squidfont for years. I have a small sound library of perc mostly. The reason I never acquired EWQL software is because of my current setup, I only have 2GB HD left in this computer, so until I get an upgrade, that ain't gonna happen.

I want to make a post introducing the basics of film scoring sometime, might address some points you have made here!

Sweet.

@Buoy: Whoa, it's SBB. Haven't seen you in a while.

Thanks for the link, Blackhole, bookmarked.

Buoy
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Response to Top 7 tips you probably forgot~ Jan. 3rd, 2013 @ 06:39 PM Reply

At 1/3/13 05:58 PM, GronmonSE wrote: @Buoy: Whoa, it's SBB. Haven't seen you in a while.

i have stayed all these years. And seen so many people leave. And they only come back for like a weekend long visit every other year ;_;