The paradox of knowing
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Old 31-12-2013, 08:00 PM   #1
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The paradox of knowing


Hello there. I am new to this forum as you can tell from my post count, but I have been 'ghosting' the place for some time now even before I created an account. I wanted to start a discussion, if you would allow me, on the idea of knowing too much about music production. To the point where you realize you have no clear way about making music anymore.

And to make this a little less ambiguous, I am NOT talking about how to make a "hit" track. No, I am simply talking about how to produce music by enjoying it. Having fiddled around with mostly electronic music for the past 4 years or so, I have come to the conclusion that I do not know what I like anymore at all. I am aware of so many musical qualities and so many production techniques that I don't see the point in making music anymore... if that makes sense. I don't know what I like to be honest, and since I don't know what I like I cannot strive to produce it. The paradox is that I still listen to and enjoy music ALL the time, in fact I cannot live without it to be honest. But if you look at my playlist, you wouldn't be able to pinpoint what I like about all these different tracks. I just do, they sing with my soul, and I don't know exactly how or why, even though I can describe the qualities that I like.

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about or have I lost my mind? It's been a real nightmare for me lately... I WANT to make music but every time I start a track I get lost in the incredible amounts of different ways I can think of making it and cannot settle with just one way. :killme:

I apologize, I know this is kind of a stupid question, it's kind of like saying "Hey I can enjoy art but can't make it for shiiiit. Why is that?" Gee I don't know, maybe it's because there's no real talent...

I'd appreciate any thoughts, good or bad

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Old 31-12-2013, 08:30 PM   #2
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Re: The paradox of knowing

Best thing to do in my opinion is just start simple. In your musical studies, you'll end up finding things that you enjoy hearing and enjoy playing. Different harmonies and progressions will start to appeal to you, and you'll begin putting simple things together to help emphasize the emotions you get from them. Same can be said for production technique and what you learn when you're noodling around on your instrument of choice.

I think if there's anything that can be said for what connects the music you enjoy, it could simply be that it is all music. That's perfectly fine - it takes a lot for me to personally not enjoy a song because I can appreciate what's being put into the composition though musical theory. Even if something is relatively simple, there can still be a context I can relate to emotionally because I can break it down into theory. I don't ever feel one can know "too much" about music that it holds any artist back.

Maybe over time, you've simply listened to so much different music that you aren't experiencing anything new or unique from your own experience? That is the kind of philosophy that lead to a lot of the electronic music technique we hear today. As artists, we experience much of the same thing - especially in a commercial and consumerist sense - and that is why we strive to create for ourselves something unique.

I feel one of the worst things you can do is get into your "studio" headspace with the idea that you're going to create something, some fully intact composition or musical score. Learning to play an instrument and composing take much time, and people who have been doing these things for decades still learn new things about themselves and their music. Mostly I find it's easier to improvise, jam it out with technique you're learning, and find melodies or harmonic progressions based on what keys or modes you're noodling around in.

Now for the presumptuous bit: 4 years isn't a whole lot of time to be writing music, maybe the academic standard has gone stale? Are you taking music classes or pursuing musical theory online? You can only learn so much from simply listening to music, and often times an impasse when composing can be attributed entirely to being unable to progress theory-wise - and the same could be said for production techniques, sometimes there is only one way for you personally to push your composition into the next section.

Also, welcome to the forums.

EDIT: Pardon the terrible way I word things. I am generally a good person.

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Old 31-12-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
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Re: The paradox of knowing

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Originally Posted by V&DM View Post

Hello there. I am new to this forum as you can tell from my post count, but I have been 'ghosting' the place for some time now even before I created an account. I wanted to start a discussion, if you would allow me, on the idea of knowing too much about music production. To the point where you realize you have no clear way about making music anymore.

And to make this a little less ambiguous, I am NOT talking about how to make a "hit" track. No, I am simply talking about how to produce music by enjoying it. Having fiddled around with mostly electronic music for the past 4 years or so, I have come to the conclusion that I do not know what I like anymore at all. I am aware of so many musical qualities and so many production techniques that I don't see the point in making music anymore... if that makes sense. I don't know what I like to be honest, and since I don't know what I like I cannot strive to produce it. The paradox is that I still listen to and enjoy music ALL the time, in fact I cannot live without it to be honest. But if you look at my playlist, you wouldn't be able to pinpoint what I like about all these different tracks. I just do, they sing with my soul, and I don't know exactly how or why, even though I can describe the qualities that I like.

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about or have I lost my mind? It's been a real nightmare for me lately... I WANT to make music but every time I start a track I get lost in the incredible amounts of different ways I can think of making it and cannot settle with just one way. :killme:

I apologize, I know this is kind of a stupid question, it's kind of like saying "Hey I can enjoy art but can't make it for shiiiit. Why is that?" Gee I don't know, maybe it's because there's no real talent...

I'd appreciate any thoughts, good or bad
I have a feeling that you not knowing what you like has to do with genres and not the artists themselves. Which is where I think you've gone wrong. Saying I like drum and bass, or I like dubstep....that's what I'd refer to as a sheep mentality...and correct me if I'm wrong here and I do not mean to offend by that statement...but for me, when i like something, it's a band or a song ,not a genre. I'm partial to certain kinds of music, sure, as most people are, but I tend to look at new music in terms of "is this a goodband/artist" not "is this xxxxx genre and does it conform to that genre's standards" which you know, is a bit confining if you think about it.

Maybe that's your issue, maybe not.
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:36 AM   #4
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Re: The paradox of knowing

Pretty much agree with the above. The problem is that the ideal way of making music is not by thinking about it. Music has never been a rational thing. The music which has lasted and will last over the years is the music which is less connected to genres and rules, that's just how it is. The kind of stuff which created itself, to the point where even the creators can't really "explain" it.

Really, just sit down and play around. The beginning is always pretty random, then the ideas will arrive. It's the only advice I can give.
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Old 01-01-2014, 01:08 PM   #5
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Re: The paradox of knowing

just make stuff and dont think about it

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Old 01-01-2014, 08:02 PM   #6
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Re: The paradox of knowing

Maybe you guys are right... thinking about it too much usually kills the creativity. Still, I don't think this is precisely my problem, because I do have lots of ideas... I just can't bring them down to earth in one concise track that makes sense. It'll be all over the place if I didn't stop to think about it. But then as soon as I think about it I get lost in what to pick exactly....

Maybe it would be a lot better to just try things out when I feel I get stuck thinking. It's kind of counter intuitive but I'll have to try because I have nothing else right now.
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:01 PM   #7
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Re: The paradox of knowing

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Originally Posted by V&DM View Post
Maybe you guys are right... thinking about it too much usually kills the creativity. Still, I don't think this is precisely my problem, because I do have lots of ideas... I just can't bring them down to earth in one concise track that makes sense. It'll be all over the place if I didn't stop to think about it. But then as soon as I think about it I get lost in what to pick exactly....

Maybe it would be a lot better to just try things out when I feel I get stuck thinking. It's kind of counter intuitive but I'll have to try because I have nothing else right now.
Throw your production techniques out the window. Let the song come first, notes are like a base color pallette, you can put them on anything, what makes your song isn't what techniques are used, or even what genre its boxed into. Thing is, you can play a song by any artist at any time period using any instrument in the known universe. As long as you can get tones out of it and it you're good to go. But without the core of what makes music music, you end up with a lifeless skeleton. You're probably at the point where you can hear a pattern of notes in your head already and just hear a song playing with nothing around you. You don't have to take whats playing in your cranium and put it on paper unless you feel something strong in the force of that brain spin that says "This has to come out NOW!"

Take that brain spin, and put it on paper/DAW, just the midi, just the notes. Don't set any tempos, don't add any drums. Just focus on the melody. After you've identified what that melody means, give it some friends, a few chord progressions to tag along with it, a few blips and beeps. Whatever it is, give the melody what the melody wants not what you want. If you give it what you want 9 times out of 10 you'll genretize it and kill the damn thing before it even has a chance to breath.

Don't be concise, don't be overly thoughtful. Give your newly born melody a name. <------Now its alive, and has a soul. From that point its all about taking your melody from baby no instrument raw sine midi notes to adulthood where it went out and married a bass and had little arpeggio children and counter melody grandkids. Remember its not about the synth or the genre or the technical prowess, Bachs concerts can be played in any genre by any instrument. And ABC'D Twinkle Twinkle and Ba Ba Black Sheep have shared the same melody for over a century.

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Old 01-01-2014, 09:15 PM   #8
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Re: The paradox of knowing

you don't hear your sound in your head? i do all the time.
chase that and try to re-create it
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:40 PM   #9
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Re: The paradox of knowing

Sounds like you've arrived at apathy. It's a good place to be. You can potentially make it work to your benefit.

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Old 02-01-2014, 12:16 AM   #10
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Re: The paradox of knowing

Thread title makes a good song title, I'M TAKING IT
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Old 02-01-2014, 05:54 AM   #11
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Re: The paradox of knowing

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Originally Posted by Akiak View Post
Pretty much agree with the above. The problem is that the ideal way of making music is not by thinking about it. Music has never been a rational thing. The music which has lasted and will last over the years is the music which is less connected to genres and rules, that's just how it is. The kind of stuff which created itself, to the point where even the creators can't really "explain" it.

Really, just sit down and play around. The beginning is always pretty random, then the ideas will arrive. It's the only advice I can give.
This right here.

I was showing a friend of mine who I work with Live the other day. He's a musician too but the kind that plays in rock bands. I opened up a recent completed project and walked him through what was going on as the track played through. Then he asked me to start clean and make an eight bar loop.

Shortly there after I had something looping and he was sold on the software. Shortly after that he asked me how I would get from what was playig to a completed piece like the first thing I had showed him.

I tried to muster an answer to make it sound like I had one but then said...

Honestly dude I dint have a clue how to tell you how it gets there because it just kind of does.

The best advice i could give is you just have to keep pressing forward and finish tracks no matter what. All of my best pieces have been pulled out of the brink of total full on suck at one point in time throughout the composition phase. Often times they are on the brink for much longer than they take to get to a place where I'm happy with them. Sounds like a cop out of an answer but all of the sudden they just have a way of getting there provided I don't abandon them before it happens. Of that I'm guilty far too much because it doesn't happen on the quick.

But that's what I love about production the most, the uncertainty of it all. Going from total fail to something that's listenable takes something out of you. That's where the best works come from though because whatever the track takes out is left right there in the work.

Pretty fucking rad if you ask me.

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