Continuing on from my tips of the 16 bar loop Hell post I wrote recently which can be found HERE I have put this bunch of ideas to help you find ways to finish tracks when you feel stuck once they start to develop. It is common for a producer to get so far and then become lost in the arrangement process and begin to lose steam.
So here are some useful tips that can help and encourage you to finish tracks or at least get them started and away from the 16 bar loop of hell.
16 Bars But Many Sections
Continuing from the previous post I wrote about the loop, 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 congas 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. Usually with a full club mix you have a minute or two for build up until things start to reach a climax.
But depending on what kind of music you produce, a radio edit of 3.30 minutes or 4.15 minutes is a good way to hear your track in a shorter version. Then after you can create the extended mix. Remember back in the 80's the Pet Shop Boys used to record the album or radio edit first as they were obviously a singles band but after the original version they would go back into the studio and extend the single for club play or get a remixer to do a version.
So this could be good for those of you who suffer with finishing a track.
Just create a short version first and get the main hook in from the beginning and if you are making a verse chorus track then this should be easy enough. But if it is a disco loop track, then listen to other successful dance tracks that over the years have been hits but have had very little in regarding production. Two tracks I can think of where radio edits were vital in their chart success was the Bomb by the Bucketheads and Disco's Revenge by Gusto. Use tracks like that as reference for how to mark out a radio version of a dance track with very little production involved.
Remembering The First Time
When you have been making music for a long time, there is no doubt at all that it can become a chore at times. The very thought of producing another track even though you want to sometimes leaves you feeling full of dread of the road ahead. You have a load of 16 bar loops and minor sketches floating around on the hard drive and you know that if you can just finish them and get them released you will make a mark on the scene of your chosen genre and things will feel good.
But this is when you need to think back to the times when you had either success with a track in the past, or a time when you produced your best work and was really pleased with the outcome. So when you feel stuck and you have plenty of loops to complete, dig out your earlier recordings and listen to them again and you will find that the feeling you had then will come back to you and hopefully spur you on to produce those unfinished tracks. It is all about inspiration at the end of the day and if your earlier music can re-inspire you then surely that is a good thing.
Also post your older tracks on your social media pages to reboost your confidence, or post the artwork on Instagram to regenerate some interest. Remember that making music should be fun and when it does become a chore more and more, you really need to step back to go forth.
Now go back to your loops and get them finished. TODAY