Sound structure is dragging me back
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Old 12-01-2016, 09:19 PM   #1
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Icon13 Sound structure is dragging me back

  • track just wont glue together loops don't go with each other very well
  • "introduce percussion instruments one by one" doesn't work and totally sounds like ass in most cases
  • because lack of vocals chorus-verse will not work track will end up too repetitive
  • i have no idea how to make intros, and run out of ideas
  • cant kill repetition no matter how many loops and different instruments i add
  • hihats sound out of place no matter what, and no its not frequency\tone issue, they sound out of place in rhythmical way no matter how i try to apply them to 4 on the floor beat
  • i run in same problems i had when i started
  • i don't know how to bridge different sections of song

Last edited by D42K732202; 12-01-2016 at 09:24 PM..

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Old 12-01-2016, 10:11 PM   #2
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

you do realize that this pretty much reads like 'gaiz halp, how do i muzak?"?

just about anybody can dick around with a DAW for half an hour and throw a few things together that passably sounds like music. what happens next is really what it's all about.

what you have written there is a pretty decent check list/lesson plan for you to focus on. instead of trying to create more of the same crap and being frustrated, why don't you take some time to focus on one element at a time, until you can get a grip on it.

like, you seem to have issues with rhythm/percussion. great. spend a week educating yourself on it. maybe watch some videos on basics of drumming. even if you have no intention of being a drummer, it's helpful to think like one. you can find charts/diagrams/sheet music/whatever for some basic rhythms in any genres. try to replicate them in FL. you're bound to learn something. alternatively, to get a physical feel for it, without actually investing in a drum kit, is to buy a pair of drum sticks and a drum pad. learn some rudiments. shit, just find a bunch of sticks outside and use a bucket.

for bridging different parts, maybe time to learn at least some basics of music theory. basics of scales, chords, and chord progressions.

alternatively, you can CRITICALLY listen to the music you like and want to emulate. and i do mean CRITICALLY, with complete focus. not having something on in the background while you are sitting around hitting the bong. sketch the structure of the tracks with empty midi clips. intro here, part A here, little break there. you can do it by sections. you can do it by instruments. maybe read up on actual classical forms (sonata, etc) just to get some ideas. doesn't matter if you don't give a shit about classical music. you can still learn something from it and apply it to whatever it is you are doing.

not sure why you think you can't do verse-chorus type shit without vocals. your synths can take the place of vocals. you don't need to have vocals to convey the same idea of having contrast between sections (quite/loud, sparse/busy, slower/faster, etc).

learn to focus on one element at a time. like, zoom in your complete attention just on the high hats and listen to nothing but the high hats. what are they doing throughout the track? maybe they are doing a crapload of variation. or maybe it's just straight 16th notes that are always there. you never know, until you really pay attention.

to kill repetition, you have to be meticulous with your phrase endings. something always needs to be changing. there needs to be anticipation that something else is coming in the next measure. anything from cheap things like white noise or reverse cymbals that fade into the very end of your last bar. to changes in melodic phrases, rhythmic phrases, instrumentation (dropping off your percussion or doing a drum fill), introduction of next elements. that last one is big. don't always introduce your new element on the 1 of the next measure. use it to tease the listener before. introduce it at the end of the previous section, but maybe in an altered way (filtered, quieter, playing a slightly different thing than what it will be playing once it really kicks in).

you need variation. lots of different way of generating this based on what you already have, instead of gluing a completely unrelated part. for example, if you have a melody with chords, you can try to copy the melody and then come up with different chords for it. or keep the chords and come up with another melody. or keep the melody and then create another melody that makes sense when you play them together (some kind of counterpoint). then use the new melody to create another melody that works with that. boom. now you have 3 melodies that should all sound somewhat related. you can use them separate or together. combine with the chord approach from above. now you have lots of little section to play with. or take that original melody and keep the same notes, but change the rhythm. or the other way around. keep the rhythm, but move the notes around. so now you have lots of little things that are different, yet kind of related because they share at least some commonality.

it's also ok not to ever repeat a section or a part. like, you can take any one of those variations from above and use as an intro, never to repeat again. another more sound-designy way to generating intros is using whatever comes later in the track as source material for further fuckery. take some two-note snippet from the middle of your melody. run it through fx, resample it, throw it into some granular synth, fuck it up. combine with other little snippets. now use all that material as some kind of an intro. it's different, yet still somehow related because it came from something that will be coming later in the track. again, it's that whole teasing thing. very satisfying hearing some little sound and then relating that little sound to some other thing that suddenly appears 3 minutes later.

i dunno, all of this is pretty generic advice. i guess it's a generic question. kind of depends on the genre and what it is you want. some shit just sounds much better when it is loopy as fuck. but it has to be super groovy and hypnotic. which brings us back to sticks and buckets. so just start there.
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Old 12-01-2016, 11:36 PM   #3
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

Quote:
Originally Posted by iDoG View Post
you do realize that this pretty much reads like 'gaiz halp, how do i muzak?"?

just about anybody can dick around with a DAW for half an hour and throw a few things together that passably sounds like music. what happens next is really what it's all about.

what you have written there is a pretty decent check list/lesson plan for you to focus on. instead of trying to create more of the same crap and being frustrated, why don't you take some time to focus on one element at a time, until you can get a grip on it.

like, you seem to have issues with rhythm/percussion. great. spend a week educating yourself on it. maybe watch some videos on basics of drumming. even if you have no intention of being a drummer, it's helpful to think like one. you can find charts/diagrams/sheet music/whatever for some basic rhythms in any genres. try to replicate them in FL. you're bound to learn something. alternatively, to get a physical feel for it, without actually investing in a drum kit, is to buy a pair of drum sticks and a drum pad. learn some rudiments. shit, just find a bunch of sticks outside and use a bucket.

for bridging different parts, maybe time to learn at least some basics of music theory. basics of scales, chords, and chord progressions.

alternatively, you can CRITICALLY listen to the music you like and want to emulate. and i do mean CRITICALLY, with complete focus. not having something on in the background while you are sitting around hitting the bong. sketch the structure of the tracks with empty midi clips. intro here, part A here, little break there. you can do it by sections. you can do it by instruments. maybe read up on actual classical forms (sonata, etc) just to get some ideas. doesn't matter if you don't give a shit about classical music. you can still learn something from it and apply it to whatever it is you are doing.

not sure why you think you can't do verse-chorus type shit without vocals. your synths can take the place of vocals. you don't need to have vocals to convey the same idea of having contrast between sections (quite/loud, sparse/busy, slower/faster, etc).

learn to focus on one element at a time. like, zoom in your complete attention just on the high hats and listen to nothing but the high hats. what are they doing throughout the track? maybe they are doing a crapload of variation. or maybe it's just straight 16th notes that are always there. you never know, until you really pay attention.

to kill repetition, you have to be meticulous with your phrase endings. something always needs to be changing. there needs to be anticipation that something else is coming in the next measure. anything from cheap things like white noise or reverse cymbals that fade into the very end of your last bar. to changes in melodic phrases, rhythmic phrases, instrumentation (dropping off your percussion or doing a drum fill), introduction of next elements. that last one is big. don't always introduce your new element on the 1 of the next measure. use it to tease the listener before. introduce it at the end of the previous section, but maybe in an altered way (filtered, quieter, playing a slightly different thing than what it will be playing once it really kicks in).

you need variation. lots of different way of generating this based on what you already have, instead of gluing a completely unrelated part. for example, if you have a melody with chords, you can try to copy the melody and then come up with different chords for it. or keep the chords and come up with another melody. or keep the melody and then create another melody that makes sense when you play them together (some kind of counterpoint). then use the new melody to create another melody that works with that. boom. now you have 3 melodies that should all sound somewhat related. you can use them separate or together. combine with the chord approach from above. now you have lots of little section to play with. or take that original melody and keep the same notes, but change the rhythm. or the other way around. keep the rhythm, but move the notes around. so now you have lots of little things that are different, yet kind of related because they share at least some commonality.

it's also ok not to ever repeat a section or a part. like, you can take any one of those variations from above and use as an intro, never to repeat again. another more sound-designy way to generating intros is using whatever comes later in the track as source material for further fuckery. take some two-note snippet from the middle of your melody. run it through fx, resample it, throw it into some granular synth, fuck it up. combine with other little snippets. now use all that material as some kind of an intro. it's different, yet still somehow related because it came from something that will be coming later in the track. again, it's that whole teasing thing. very satisfying hearing some little sound and then relating that little sound to some other thing that suddenly appears 3 minutes later.

i dunno, all of this is pretty generic advice. i guess it's a generic question. kind of depends on the genre and what it is you want. some shit just sounds much better when it is loopy as fuck. but it has to be super groovy and hypnotic. which brings us back to sticks and buckets. so just start there.
Good to see people giving some good lengthy advice on the forum. Thanked!

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Old 12-02-2016, 04:42 PM   #4
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

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Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • track just wont glue together loops don't go with each other very well
I think this is an issue of your mindset rather than your content. Stop thinking of everything as a loop. It's not a loop. It's an asset or it's an element, or it's something descriptive like a vibe or a feeling or an anything but a loop.

All of your sounds are things which either add or subtract from the value of the whole. Does this sound add value? Yes. Then keep it. Does that sound? No. Then fuck it off.

Also, with regard to the glue. If you have a kick, snare and hi hat, then it's not enough to just put the kick on every beat and the snare on every second and the hi-hat on every second eighth note.

Each hit has to have a relationship with every all of the other hits in your patterns.

Like if every hi-hat is hitting at a velocity of 100 on every hit, then change it. Push-Pull. i.e. vary the velocity between a range of highs and lows across many bars. So say in a single bar you've got a harder hit on the first hat and softer on the second, then straight away the hat leads into the snare.

Same with the kick and the snare. When both hit at the same time, drop the velocity on the kick a tiny bit... or, sidechain the kick to the snare so that the kick ducks when the snare hits... or bus them into a group and squash them with a compressor... or send them out to a distortion circuit and mix this back in with the dry sound.

Electronic music is less about the technique of music and more about the technique of processing signals.

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Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • "introduce percussion instruments one by one" doesn't work and totally sounds like ass in most cases
Well what is your intent? What is the vibe? The feeling? What are you trying to say? What are you trying to evoke in the listener? What is your purpose? Is the purpose to convey an emotion or idea? Is the intention to encourage motion like dance or some other kind of movement?

Instead of "introduce percussion instruments one by one" because this is oft parroted advice, instead ask these questions of yourself. Then of the track. Then ask this of the technique of "introducing percussion instruments one by one".

Why one by one? What is the purpose of this and what will it achieve? Is this relevant to what I am trying to achieve?

Then ask the same questions about other people's music that is similar in the sense that it resonates with you and your musical goals. Did they use this technique? If so, what is the effect? If not, what technique did they use in their introduction? Was it effective? How could I do that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • because lack of vocals chorus-verse will not work track will end up too repetitive
Yeah, well without a choir there's not really a chorus. But considering all of your answers to the questions above what does it tell you about repetition? Is it really a bad thing? I mean, most 4four tracks are pretty repetitive. Like if there's a kick at the start of the track, then in the first 32 bars then that's 128 repetitions of a quarter note pattern. If there's a snare every second beat, then that's another 64 repetitions of a pattern. If there's a slight shuffle on the fourth beat, another 32 reps. If there's a double kick every two bars, then that's 16 repetitions. And if there's a drum fill every eight bars. Well that's another four repetitions.

So at 128bpm, in under a minute, you have produced 128 + 64 + 32 + 16 + 8 different repetitions of four five patterns with just a basic snare and kick.... and the repetition of music gets pretty exponential from there.

Maybe instead of trying to avoid repetition, try embracing it. Got a cool synth line. Well instead of trying to compose some melodic shit with it, just sit and fuck with the parameters while it loops for an hour or two and see what happens and keep the good bits.

I can guarantee that at least half of all good electronic music is largely arrived at via some variation of this technique.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • i have no idea how to make intros, and run out of ideas
Kick Snare Kick Snare.
Kick Kick Snare.
Hat Kick Hat Hat.

There's three intros for you right there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • cant kill repetition no matter how many loops and different instruments i add
Well if you add one instrument, and then you add another instrument. Well you're repeating yourself.

I would also listen to what you've written and ask yourself whether it's repetitive within the context of itself or if it's repetitive within the context of music at large.

I often think that this feeling that work is repetitive is more to the fact that it sounds so like other people's music. Like often when I load in 909 kick samples, I love playing around with them for fun times and I'll often drop in a nice 909 kick at the very beginning of a project just so I have a kick drum.

But then hours later once I have accrued a set of elements (not loops), then it sticks out like a sore thumb because every track ever produced has a 909 kick drum innit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • hihats sound out of place no matter what, and no its not frequency\tone issue, they sound out of place in rhythmical way no matter how i try to apply them to 4 on the floor beat
Do you choke your hats? That is, when you hit the open hat does it stop playback of the closed hat, and vice versa? If not, learn how to do this right away and always choke your hats in opened/closed pairs. This technique will instantly make your hats sound more realistic and thus less out of place.

And I cannot stress that you need to pair a closed and open hate enough. Drums are kind of like food and drink, in that you have to pair them with appropriate compliments. If you have an open hat, you need a closed hat with similar tuning to pair it with. Don't just take one hat from this and another from that with totally different pitch and styles. If you don't attempt to tune, or at least use tuned pairs of drums, it will sound unnatural.

Thing with electronic music is you still need to consider the physical aspects of creating the sounds you're using. If a hat is open, it can't be closed and if it's closed it can't be open. It's one or the other and even someone who knows nothing about drums will pick up on hats that are closed and open at the same time just as a result of a lifetime of listening (even passively) to drums being played. Like the brain is super super good at recognising inconsistency and artificiality.

So you have to think about how the drum is played and... also how the drummer plays them, because a drummer doesn't hit drums at 16 discrete and equidistant points along a line. Drummers play to a rhythm that kind of follows along behind those points rather than synchronising with them.

Drummers also have very little precision when it comes to where or how they hit the drum. Literally no human on the planet can apply a price amount of force using their muscles. Everything human is more in the ballpark than on target.

Like what I was saying about velocity earlier and how raising the velocity on the hat before the snare has the effect of leading into the snare... That's a simulation of one way the drummer might hit those drums in succession. They might swing their arm up and come down on the cymbal and into the snare in the one swing.

Honestly, you want to do better drums. Get on YouTube and watch drummers drumming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • i run in same problems i had when i started
Well you are still essentially the same person as you were when you started. Like all of the bad habits you have now are most likely going to stay with you your whole life without a significant effort on your part.

Basically, all of the shit that you struggled with at the start will pop up throughout to throw spanners in the work from time to time. It's cool. Just keep at it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by D42K732202 View Post
  • i don't know how to bridge different sections of song
I think the problem of how to approach electronic music can best be summarised by this vocal sample from this obscure 90's minimal techno track I have:

Quote:
I don't really call it music I call it tracks.
I kind of feel like this is true of all electronic music. To me, most of it doesn't fit the definition of a song:

Quote:
the act or art of singing

a short poem or other set of words set to music or meant to be sung
I don't really think most electronic music fits this description.

Instead, I think that electronic compositions are closer in definition to classical musical forms:
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But then in a modern context, I think that the art of the track is a musical form in and of itself. And more broadly than the terms in the glossary above, I think most electronic music takes on the form of the track.

A track is a discrete signal in a mixer. It's something to be combined and summed with other information as opposed to standing on its own, with a beginning, middle and end.

Think about it. How many live electronic acts have you watched where they come onstage and play their first track. Then they pause for a second before starting the next track. Then they go straight into the third track and then stop to take a break and swill some beer and chat with the audience before launching into the fourth?

That's just not how electronic music works.

Shit, I've seen some amazing live shows where the artist spent an hour just slowly ramping up the tempo and increasing the intensity of the sounds with drums progressively getting harder and weirder while they fucked with several variations of a theme. I couldn't tell you which of their tracks they were playing because they were too busy playing their instruments.

So just stop trying to confine yourself to traditional parameters like introutro verse:chorus and instead just focus on fucking shit up in the middle bits. If a synth loop is repetitive it doesn't matter. Does it sound cool? Can you fuck it up and make it sound weird?

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Old 12-02-2016, 08:38 PM   #5
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

^Funny how so much of @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
questions and @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
's advice, if you changed the specifics of music to the specifics of writing, sounds exactly like the questions I get from beginning writers and the advice I give them.

I'm not going to say anything else as this has given me a great idea for an essay/article. I've got about 650 words down so far. I'll be right back...

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Old 12-02-2016, 09:14 PM   #6
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

Creativity, man..if only we could all have it all of the time.

There's really no need to add anything to what's been posted here already by the guys..there's more than enough "food for thought" to get you up and running..but you need to want to do it...not just like the idea of doing it. I think that's the main killer for people..they start out living the dream and fine the reality of producing is not really like what they expected it to be.

The whole thing about using loops is they are basically fine as an individual element in a track..but building a complete track out of them isn't really going to work. Sure, you might get lucky and fit some that sit well together, but most times that's not the case and you're going to have to edit the shit out of them to get everything to "glue" together just right.

LSS..you're going to need to learn to actually make music..and don't post back saying you know how to already..'cause if you did, you wouldn't have started this thread in the first place. If you seriously want to learn to make music, then pay attention to what the guys have said here and try to put it into practice..there's really no reason you can't..if you really want to.

Last edited by A.M; 12-02-2016 at 09:21 PM..

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Old 12-03-2016, 02:20 PM   #7
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

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Creativity, man..if only we could all have it all of the time.
Well, you can.

Creativity isn't something magical that comes from the ether or anything mystical like that. It's a mindset and a discipline. Creativity is something you do, and it's a myth that we need to be inspired to do things, otherwise how the fuck do we all make it to work / school etc every day? Think about carpentry. Once you know how to construct a table, it's very easy to create many more tables.

But the thing is, there's no point creating more tables unless you have people who want them...

I think this is the big challenge in personal projects, like say music, because there's very little chance that there's anybody saying to you as an artist, hey I need you to produce something that sounds like this.

Someone posted earlier about pretending to be working for a client. But this is something that's impossible to simulate without an actual human fulfilling the role. See, the thing is that a client's going to tell you what they want and then you're going to go away and do exactly that and then they're going to completely change their mind and then you go away and make those changes then they ask you to change it back.

There's a lot to be said for not being able to choose whether to act on criticism of your work. When you do a personal project and somebody says, "Yeah it's cool. But you should do..." You have a choice whether or not to act on that advice.

Thinking along the vein of the pretend client scenario, I would take the role-play further and treat all feedback from people you present your work to as client requests.... So, whatever anybody says you should do to a piece, go away and do it. Then come back to them and tell them what you did and let them listen again. Then whatever they tell you to do, go away and do that.

I can guarantee that if you give it a go and are serious about it, you will have no problem with channeling creativity because every time you sit down to work on that project, you will have a list of jobs that you have to do. Even if you're not inspired, there's work to do.

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Old 12-03-2016, 04:50 PM   #8
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

You basically just said that knocking out the same shit over and over is the definition of creativity.
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Old 12-03-2016, 05:13 PM   #9
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

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^Funny how so much of @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
questions and @[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
's advice, if you changed the specifics of music to the specifics of writing, sounds exactly like the questions I get from beginning writers and the advice I give them.

I'm not going to say anything else as this has given me a great idea for an essay/article. I've got about 650 words down so far. I'll be right back...
I seriously hope some mod f'd with my post in good fun, because if not I'm going back to my guy and asking in a polite but stern voice that he shouldn't lace his pot with PCP.

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Old 12-03-2016, 06:45 PM   #10
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

Possible solution: try abandoning your idea of how a song should be structured. This is why there are so many genres. Also, what you said about your drums kind of hits home with me because percussion is without a doubt my biggest weakness in terms of inspiration. My solution? I simply won't put drums in most of my tracks. Sure, I'm not likely to get on the radio any time soon, but I removed a discouraging barrier that helped me continue to have fun making music.
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Old 12-10-2016, 01:40 PM   #11
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Re: Sound structure is dragging me back

For me the thing about making music, or for that matter making any art is that we will always struggle not to be boxed in by the accepted permutations of the form. There's nothing wrong with that if it's what you want to make. As others have said; study those forms, and some of the theory behind it, and keep making stuff even if it's s**t, because sooner or later something will click, and you will make something reasonably worthwhile.

On the other hand, if you aspire to make something outside the accepted permutations of the form, you will have to enter truly creative territory. The bad news about that is you still need to know something of form and theory - perhaps not as much as if you are making something that fits square within your favourite genre, but enough to know how to break the rules and step outside the boundaries intentionally rather than simply at random.

Either way, above all else use your ears - train yourself to listen with purpose. In that way you will learn what hits your sweet spot, whatever the expectations of the form or the theory might say.

Personally, I consider myself only minimally competent in terms of technique and grasp of theory, but I like to think I do know how to listen, and I have an incurably inquisitive approach to equipment, software etc - as in: How far can I push this thing outside its intended parameters and function, and will it sound OK if I do?

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