Making music should be fun right? Most of the time it is, however alot of the time it can be frustrating due to hitting the occasional brick wall. So after 30 years of experiencing this, I have come up with some suggestions below for you to try when you might find yourself struggling to finish a piece of music, no matter what the genre, these tips apply to anyone in the creative world.
16 Bars But Many Sections
You all know the story, you get one loop going and that is all you do. You cant move forward because you can not see beyond that loop. Therefore the vision you have is unclear and the track will never be complete.
So what you have to do is lay out the 16 bar loop and copy it over many times and in each different section add something different such as sweep effects or a reversed cymbal so you can hear what those transitions may sound like to give it some atmosphere.
Then add a section where you can lay some pads, then a section for a lead line. Try putting some congos in for a section or even try adding a delayed vocal sample. The point is to not try and arrange the track but to add as much as you can over the same loop so you can hear many different variations and this should then give you a much clearer vision of how you can lay out the track.
Lay these out across the screen and then add each different thing in a seperate section and therefore you will have many parts for the track which can then be laid out and hopefully into a final product.
Kick Out The Waves
Have you ever sat and waded through 150 kick drums only to find the first one you tried was perfectly fine, but now you have become so drained you have lost focus again and have simply given up. So the only way to get your track out there is to not waste time trying to find the perfect kick drum. Every kick drum is perfect in its own way for a particular track. There really is not much use in owning hundreds of kicks as you will end up more often than not using the same few you prefer. I know I do.
So pick out four kicks that are the very best. A punchy one, A duller sounding one, A 909 Kick etc, and stick with those few. If you feel they dont have what it takes, then give it a drum buss or tweak that EQ more, but dont waste time going over it with a hundred more kicks. Just use a handful, remember back in the early days of House music production, most producers had only one drum machine and that was it.
Some would have a few other kicks on a floppy disc for their Akai samplers, but they made do with the limits of their samples and sounds at their disposal, but they got records released. Hoarding kick drums is bad for your health, get rid of the majority of them and keep just a handful. Trust me, you will not regret it and you will more than likely get on with your tracks.
The End is Nigh
Do you ever make a track and start to vision the end result but can not seem to get there? If so you are not alone in this desert. You get the loop going but then cant keep it going but you can hear it in your head. So what you have to do is think about the next 16 bars, the next break down, the next build up etc. Stop trying to think that the track needs to be done all at once.
The best thing to do is get one section at a time done, If you can only muster one section a day or a week then that is still progress. Those who keep adding just a little bit at a time are the ones who eventually succeed.
The time will pass anyway and the track doesnt always have to be a masterpiece. Some of the best recordings are often the most simplest compositions. So basically if you always imagine the final product in your head and cant seem to get there, just find the time to complete one loop per day or whatever your schedule allows, and do not try and put everything into the big picture at once.
Remember an artist may see the big picture in his mind, but will only focus on one area at a time by building it up section by section. This should be applied to music production also. So if you get the intro done one day, the following day start to add a few extra elements and do not get bogged down with the whole thing. Tiny steps lead to bigger places.
Many dance tracks these days have radio edits on youtube videos more so than a full club version. With that in mind try and complete your track as a radio edit first before making the full seven or eight minute version you are trying to create. Radio edits are a good way to get all of your elements down together quickly.