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MJP
Jun 17, 2007

Are you looking at me Senpai?

Grimey Drawer

I've been trying lately to get into making electronic music - synthwave, trance, drum & bass. I've done this two or three times over the last year or two and just gotten inundated in the music theory basics and how to operate and work with Ableton Live. Approaching both simultaneously has caused me to just give up, so I took my time and have what I think are the basics of theory - minor and major scales, basic chord theory/chord leading, etc. and I'm better at working with Ableton. I've done this after working with an inexpensive old sequencer and I feel like I can make something.

The only thing is that to me, a blank slate that is limited by my own imagination and requiring no end goal is just kinda huge and imposing. Cities Skylines is one thing - at least there, you have an objective. "Grow your city, here are your tools." With making music, it's so huge.

There's online melody creation tools but not too many that are useful. There has to be a weak link here: me. I'm not exactly a creative type. I liked Legos as a kid, but I only liked building based on instructions. I presently like building Gundam models, but again, those have objectives and constraints. Making My Own Music is a big-rear end thing, even if I feel intellectually ready to take a shot at it.

How does one become better at being creative? I've always been good at analytical stuff, but I would love to just be able to make some lovely music as a hobby and participate in the genres that I really enjoy.

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Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



MJP posted:

I'm not exactly a creative type. I liked Legos as a kid, but I only liked building based on instructions.

How does one become better at being creative? I've always been good at analytical stuff

there are a lot of different approaches that suit different kinds of personalities. some people get their ideas by improvising, losing themselves in the music, channeling emotion. but you don't seem like that type.

What I would suggest is this: start by thinking about specific songs you really like and start breaking down what it is about them exactly that makes you like them so much. Why do those songs in particular appeal to you more than others by the same artist, in the same genre? Once you've figured out these musical elements that are making these songs really work for you, you can start learning how to imitate and build those particular musical elements by yourself - whether that's a particular bass synth patch, a beat, or a song structure. Then try modifying them in small ways, or combining them in ways you haven't heard, and go from there.

Earwicker fucked around with this message at 21:36 on Jun 13, 2017

Telephones
Apr 28, 2013


You have to start making things and keep making things. You will be unable to define a personal aesthetic or creative vision without making things. Yes you need tools or technique to make things, and you have these, so open Ableton and do whatever you feel like. Continue to do this repeatedly.

shame on an IGA
Apr 8, 2005

Get into shit, let it out like diarrhea
Got burnt once, that was only gonorrhea




drugs

shame on an IGA
Apr 8, 2005

Get into shit, let it out like diarrhea
Got burnt once, that was only gonorrhea




butt drugs

barnold
Dec 16, 2011

...but i didnt finish




the biggest hurdle for you is going to be "critical listening". this is an actual thing in music. listen to music you like and make a list in a notebook of EVERY sound or instrument that comes into the mix, and when it comes in. this will probably mean you have at least 15-20 different percussion sounds, maybe as many different synths, probably a few less basses, and then SFX on top of that.

while you're doing this, and it will take you many listens to get a complete list, make notes about how each instrument or sample sounds. does it have reverb? is there delay on it? how is it EQ'd into the mix, high or low? if you don't know what any of those things mean as they pertain to music, it's time to buy a book and do some reading.

real poo poo, go out and find a copy of Modern Recording Techniques by David Miles Huber. it's a fat book, probably a little pricy, but if you really enjoy making music, it's a book you'll use for the rest of your life

Ralph Hurley
Aug 3, 2009







If you have chosen electronic music to be your medium for creativity, the first and most important step you can take is to avoid and maybe abandon genre cliches. The world does not need more trance, drum n bass or synthwave.

The palette of electronic sounds is practically infinite. Sequencers like ableton allow you to use an enormous variety of synth plugins and many of these are free. Just try messing with the settings on a synth, learn how they work until you start to find sounds you like. Let the sounds themselves determine the music you make. Also YouTube is full of tutorials.

Music theory is a good thing, but you don't really need to be an expert in chord structure to make decent electronic music. In fact, one of the greatest innovations that electronic music offers, going back to the early experimental days, is the ability to incorporate non traditional and even non musical sounds into your compositions.

Maybe you do just want to make trance or whatever but I think with learning to play any kind of music if you get hung up on trying to copy a particular style you're going to end up frustrated when you've made something mediocre. Try making something personal or even just loving weird. And yeah have fun.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Ralph Hurley posted:

If you have chosen electronic music to be your medium for creativity, the first and most important step you can take is to avoid and maybe abandon genre cliches. The world does not need more trance, drum n bass or synthwave.

The palette of electronic sounds is practically infinite. Sequencers like ableton allow you to use an enormous variety of synth plugins and many of these are free. Just try messing with the settings on a synth, learn how they work until you start to find sounds you like. Let the sounds themselves determine the music you make. Also YouTube is full of tutorials.

Music theory is a good thing, but you don't really need to be an expert in chord structure to make decent electronic music. In fact, one of the greatest innovations that electronic music offers, going back to the early experimental days, is the ability to incorporate non traditional and even non musical sounds into your compositions.

Maybe you do just want to make trance or whatever but I think with learning to play any kind of music if you get hung up on trying to copy a particular style you're going to end up frustrated when you've made something mediocre. Try making something personal or even just loving weird. And yeah have fun.

Pick a song you like and try to copy it. It will sound like poo poo, and nothing like the song you are copying, but you'll have a structure. Now listen to it, as its own piece of music. What does it need more/less of? play five tracks of keyboard noodling over it, one after the other, then listen to each track against the piece. As you go, if a passage sounds poo poo, mute it.

Bam you've made a piece. Now: do it again.

Stairmaster
Jun 8, 2012

nope just me lain


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9C_HReR_McQ

Jacobus Spades
Oct 29, 2004

Oh wow!

I'm not a musician but as a creative this is what I would suggest:

Hum. A lot. Hum in the shower. Hum during your commute. Scat along too. Drum on your desk. Go wild and let loose with it, don't let your inhibitions get in the way. You just might find something work using when you improvise.

"Sketch" out some ideas in your preferred composition tools. The great thing about synthesizers is that you can iterate as much as you want, so if something sounds like poo poo you can move it around, rearrange the measures, change the tempo or the instrument... and you don't have to set out to make a complete song every time you sit down to compose.

Try composing with a theme or story in mind. Use the instruments as voices to portray that story. For electronic music it tends to be easy listening so you can't get as wild as an orchestral piece but you could come up with something akin to a video game soundtrack, which is more or less designed to be more immersive and less engaging.

Do something every day. Whether you put down 10 notes or 100, every individual thing you do towards the goal of composing puts you that much closer to it. You'll also stretch out your creative muscles so that you build the habits that will help put you in a creative mindset more easily, and also keep you out of the "artist block" funk.

Finally, I'll let you in on a little secret: there's really no such thing as "eureka." For creative people their minds are constantly churning through information in the background and that burst of creativity is the culmination of piecing elements together into a whole, it doesn't just come from nowhere. Admittedly some people are (much) better at pulling from this source of creativity than others, but as you work towards being creative and developing the skills and experience necessary to produce novel material you'll rewire the parts of your brain that interpret the world around you. Eventually as you practice composing you'll hit upon something you're truly happy with; sure it may not be the most professional sounding piece, but as the sum of your hard work it will prove your efforts. That will be the fuel that drives you to create more.


Aw man green's my favorite color.

DavidAlltheTime
Feb 14, 2008

All David...all the TIME!


Sometimes when I want to make a music but I'm not feeling very inspired or I don't really have a direction to travel, I'll just lay down a simple bass line or drum beat, and let that be my starting point for what comes next. Sometimes I even use nature sounds I've recorded. This creates a constraint and suddenly the wide open world of music you're talking about in the OP is reduced significantly. There's lots of other good advice in this thread as well. Did you know we have a sub-forum for music making called 'Musician's Lounge'?

Solice Kirsk
Jun 1, 2004

.


Buy a Korg Karma, select one of the multi instrument patch banks, start hitting keys.

Grand Prize Winner
Feb 19, 2007




I'm assuming you play keys, but do you play any other instruments? A friend of mine who makes beats said that he got a lot of ideas by going to jam sessions with his trumpet.

puking pentagrams
May 6, 2017



Start with percussion. Then add a simple bass line. Throw some chords on top with a soft synth. If you have the "operator" synth in ableton 9 (I still use the old 8 suite and never bothered to upgrade) mess around with that and make your own sounds.

FM8 is a good plugin. Become familiar with all the pre-made percussion kits in the drums folder. Make whatever type of music you want and most importantly have fun.

You're gonna think it sounds bad at first but that's totally fine. The hardest part IMO is mastering everything and tightening up the eq. Huge pain in the rear end but worth it when you're driving down the road blasting your own music and it doesn't completely wreck your speakers/eardrums.

E: I don't have any recommendations but go on youtube for really anything you need. If I remember right I used to watch a guy whose channel was called eartrash or something.

EE: I found this. Might help?

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC7ou0ryoToOvSOvrb0Y11bA

FreudianSlippers
Apr 12, 2010

Shooting and Fucking
are the same thing!



1.Smoke weed
2.worship Satan.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



FreudianSlippers posted:

1.Smoke weed
2.worship Satan.

checks out

BoneMonkey
Jul 25, 2008

I am happy for you.



I'm not a music guy, art is my bag but being creative to me is filling your brain up with useless crap and letting it bang together till something interesting combines.

Like man I like drum and bass and I like Mongolian throat singing, I wonder if I could make both together work?

Or just go loving ham on your program of choice, get a bunch of weird and brutal samples together and then force them to make something worth listening to.

That's often how I compose an interesting drawing. I layout some pleasing geometric shapes and then force whatever I want to draw into said shapes.

20 Blunts
Jan 21, 2017
Probation
Can't post for 8 days!


Since I'm assuming you don't naturally "hear" music in your head you want to create, I would start by looking at the music you like and finding some dissatisfaction with it. If no one reasonably popular is making the sounds you want, and you are sick of scouring the fringes of the internet or whatever, maybe its time to try your own hand at it.

I think most "music" people who don't just let Pandora/the radio run, tend to have a smaller que of albums they might be digging at any time. For me, that que rarely does it for me, it doesn't cure my musical itch, so I keep creating new stuff as much as possible. Which again, I think its already been posted that you must simply, create.

Konomex
Oct 25, 2010

a whiteman who has some authority over others, who not only hasn't raped anyone, or stared at them creepily...

You're gonna want to find a cross roads late at night, somewhere in the backwoods. You're listening for fiddling or something, maybe synthpop.

Canine Blues Arooo
Jan 7, 2008

when you think about it...i'm the first girl you ever spent the night with



Grimey Drawer

All of the following should be prefaced with, 'I think'... I'm don't want to suggest any of this is some kind of magical truth in any of this, but rather that this is how I look at music composition and production without having to say, 'this is my opinion' at the end of every sentence.

---

I really, really disagree with the idea of building music with some kind of structured approach (Start here. Add this stuff. Do this next). I think music is at it's best when it's inspired, or whimsical, or otherwise spontaneous. Trying to 'build a song' is going to result in a song that feels built out of some predefined set pieces. It's boilerplate and bo ring. Whatever your process is, I think it's way more difficult to build something wonderful if you are trying to, if that makes any sense.

Now I'm going to say weird things, so let's go explore weird parts of my brain. There is this weird piece of my brain where I can feel almost absolutely creative in the twilight of consciousness. The moments before I fall to sleep are moments where I have total, deliberate control of the creative forces of my brain. I can hear whole scores of original works in my head, but if I try to snap out of that state to jot it down, I lose it all. I've become pretty good at learning to focus on an idea, a motif, or some theme and commit that tiny bit to memory, in hopes that I can break off of that later. That's the 'creative process' that I used a lot. I don't know how to teach people to leverage those moments, or how to extend that mental state to several minutes, or if it's just a quirk in my head and not universal, but it's something to maybe be aware of if you are looking for a font of creativity.

If you are looking for more direction than that, maybe try working off of a simple motif. Ori and the Blind Forest has a whole soundtrack built on the back of 9 notes, and it's absolutely beautiful and stunning. I know a couple people who try that as a means of channeling something more creative.

I feel like both personally and from talking to others, that trying to force creativity is a great way to hit writer's block. Avoid some kind of structure and experiment, both with and without direction. Try to recreate circumstances where you feel most creative and see if you can channel that more effectively with practice.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Canine Blues Arooo posted:

All of the following should be prefaced with, 'I think'... I'm don't want to suggest any of this is some kind of magical truth in any of this, but rather that this is how I look at music composition and production without having to say, 'this is my opinion' at the end of every sentence.

---

I really, really disagree with the idea of building music with some kind of structured approach (Start here. Add this stuff. Do this next). I think music is at it's best when it's inspired, or whimsical, or otherwise spontaneous. Trying to 'build a song' is going to result in a song that feels built out of some predefined set pieces. It's boilerplate and bo ring. Whatever your process is, I think it's way more difficult to build something wonderful if you are trying to, if that makes any sense.

Now I'm going to say weird things, so let's go explore weird parts of my brain. There is this weird piece of my brain where I can feel almost absolutely creative in the twilight of consciousness. The moments before I fall to sleep are moments where I have total, deliberate control of the creative forces of my brain. I can hear whole scores of original works in my head, but if I try to snap out of that state to jot it down, I lose it all. I've become pretty good at learning to focus on an idea, a motif, or some theme and commit that tiny bit to memory, in hopes that I can break off of that later. That's the 'creative process' that I used a lot. I don't know how to teach people to leverage those moments, or how to extend that mental state to several minutes, or if it's just a quirk in my head and not universal, but it's something to maybe be aware of if you are looking for a font of creativity.

If you are looking for more direction than that, maybe try working off of a simple motif. Ori and the Blind Forest has a whole soundtrack built on the back of 9 notes, and it's absolutely beautiful and stunning. I know a couple people who try that as a means of channeling something more creative.

I feel like both personally and from talking to others, that trying to force creativity is a great way to hit writer's block. Avoid some kind of structure and experiment, both with and without direction. Try to recreate circumstances where you feel most creative and see if you can channel that more effectively with practice.

I dunno - i think the only way to do it is to do it. Your creativity works for you, not the other way round. Just make music even though it's dumb and bad. Waiting for the perfect moment is a bad strategy.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 10:46 on Sep 10, 2017

Crazy Achmed
Mar 13, 2001



Well, it's not exactly drum & bass but these guys are a blast to see live. On that note: go out and see live music. Weird experimental small-time local bands at dive bars. If a track comes over the background music that interests you, ask what it is and go check the artist out after you get home. Or if you can't go out to these sorts of places, have a look around to see if there are any unusual radio stations in your area; if there's a university-run one then chances are good it'll play a wide variety of stuff that you might not hear on more commercially-minded stations.
There's a whole wealth of inspiration out there that never gets enough publicity to come to you; you generally have to go to it.

If you're feeling especially adventurous, try collaborating with other people. You mileage may vary in trying to come up with stuff absolutely from scratch, but having somebody (or several somebodies) to bounce ideas off and build on them together can be incredibly productive and also fun

sebmojo posted:

I dunno - i think the only way to do it is to do it. Your creativity works for you, not the other way round. Just make music even though it's dumb and bad. Waiting for the perfect moment is a bad strategy.
Also this. Smash some random keys together on your keyboard and sooner or later you will find an unusual but cool-sounding chord/progression. Forget about theory (for now), work with what sounds good to your ears. Hell, punk was built around people not knowing how to play their instruments or sing.

Crazy Achmed fucked around with this message at 11:30 on Sep 10, 2017

BoneMonkey
Jul 25, 2008

I am happy for you.



Crazy Achmed posted:

Well, it's not exactly drum & bass but these guys are a blast to see live.

Holy gently caress this so awesome and actually totally up my street!

FreudianSlippers
Apr 12, 2010

Shooting and Fucking
are the same thing!



BoneMonkey posted:

Holy gently caress !

The preferred nomenclature is "immaculate conception".

dk2m
May 6, 2009


Here's my take, and totally just my own opinion. But I know exactly where you're coming from.

The way I see it, electronic music requires a fundamentally different approach compared to traditional instruments. To me, that's because your palette is virtually infinite. With a guitar, you may spend years practicing, but you'll always sound like a guitar (unless you're using crazy pedals). That limits you to a ton, which is both good and bad. There's really only so much you can do with it to be sonically interesting. You could say back in the day, electronic music was limited by the hardware and space of your studio, but none of that matters today. Every hardware synth, drum machine or effects kit is up for grabs. But this is the beauty of electronic music. You can make tracks crafted and composed entirely out of one noise synth that doesn't even have tonality. You can make sweeping orchestral pieces, a simple 4 track dance tune, a track that's made of various samples of you just breathing into a mic, and on and on. I honestly don't think spending time on music theory is even really that important at this point. Just stick with the C scale until you feel like branching out. I would never, ever say this to someone learning a physical instrument though.

So there's two paths here - the technical sound design and the creative aspect.

Sound design is way under appreciated, but it is crucial. Since you're analytical, this is where I can see you having the most fun. By sound design, what I mean is the process by which you actually create unique and interesting sounds. IDM guys like Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares, Autechre pushed the limits originally, but today you have a crop of new guys across any number of genres doing this. Culprate, Koan Sound, Chee, Noisia, Audeka, Moody Good, Uppermost, Reso, etc. The way I started, I refused to use patches. I would learn from them, but would consciously avoid using them. It forced me to understand how a synth works, how to EQ properly, how and when to use effects, and how to properly make sounds. I try and create my own basses, pianos, percussion, etc by this process. It's slow going at first, but eventually you'll have enough of your own patches saved up where you won't have to reinvent the wheel everytime.

Getting a good grasp of concepts like filters, oscillator types, waveforms, resonance, automation, LFOs, modulation, etc will allow you to "craft" what you hear in your head, and even if it doesn't, you're guaranteed to make some weird, crazy poo poo that most likely no one else ever has. And honestly, that's way better.

There are a number of tutorials on sound design, and it's entirely an engineering process. But coming up with something unique and YOURS is not only incredibly satisfying, but will add value to your creative side when you get there. Also, people may say to get this or that physical hardware, but honestly it's overkill until you're invested into making music. Get the basics down first. Again though, this is just my opinion. I personally just don't see why you'd want to get into a weird and nerdy hobby like electronic music to be a glorified patch assembler, but the effect of that is the prevalence of the same loving sounds everywhere.

On the creative side, this is where it may be daunting. The easiest trap to fall into is just getting stuck in loop hell, where you'll spend a lot of time on whatever 8 bar loop and have no idea where to go from there. I broke out in a few ways:

1) Have a theme. It can be an idea, or maybe a mood, or just a sound/sample you really like. Similar to jazz, it's something that centers the piece concretely and it gives you an anchor to build the rest of the piece around.

2) Copy an existing form. This one is good for starting out, but becomes a bit of a crutch later on. Find a song you like and break it down into pieces - intro, drop, verse, bridge, second drop, etc. A bit boring, but it's tried and true.

3) Find stems from other artists. Remix competitions are everywhere on Soundcloud and you can find artists giving away stems. Learn from them or incorporate it into your own track.

4) Just make a poo poo ton of music. Seriously, they will initially be terrible but who cares! It doesn't have to be a full song - maybe just a minute or 2 of music. Upload them all and listen to them! Often times, I'll just be in my car and play some 1 minute track I made and realize, holy poo poo it'll sound really good if I do this, or gently caress, I really need to remove that. Good art takes a long time, with many many revisions.

5) Sample things. Knock some pans together. Rub an eraser. Record your dog drinking water. Be on the lookout for cool sounds to incorporate into your track. It'll get your creative juices flowing.

6) Most importantly, have fun with it. I was watching The Office, and Kevin had a line where he asked if Oscar went on a gaycation. I thought it was funny, sampled it, and made a short track.
https://soundcloud.com/stosz/gaycation/s-RzLOc

WerthersWay
Jul 21, 2009



MJP posted:

I've been trying lately to get into making electronic music - synthwave, trance, drum & bass. I've done this two or three times over the last year or two and just gotten inundated in the music theory basics and how to operate and work with Ableton Live. Approaching both simultaneously has caused me to just give up, so I took my time and have what I think are the basics of theory - minor and major scales, basic chord theory/chord leading, etc. and I'm better at working with Ableton. I've done this after working with an inexpensive old sequencer and I feel like I can make something.

The only thing is that to me, a blank slate that is limited by my own imagination and requiring no end goal is just kinda huge and imposing. Cities Skylines is one thing - at least there, you have an objective. "Grow your city, here are your tools." With making music, it's so huge.

There's online melody creation tools but not too many that are useful. There has to be a weak link here: me. I'm not exactly a creative type. I liked Legos as a kid, but I only liked building based on instructions. I presently like building Gundam models, but again, those have objectives and constraints. Making My Own Music is a big-rear end thing, even if I feel intellectually ready to take a shot at it.

How does one become better at being creative? I've always been good at analytical stuff, but I would love to just be able to make some lovely music as a hobby and participate in the genres that I really enjoy.

You're asking "how can I become more creative at art?" Which is... not really possible to answer. But also made it pretty clear that you're more of a left-brain type of person. You like video games and physical games where you build with instructions and objectives, even though both allow you to do whatever you want without the instructions. And for many people, the point of Legos or city-building games (I have a lifelong addiction to Civilization games) are to AVOID the instructions and objectives.

There's no good answer. The real answer is: Listen to a wide range of music from adolescence till now + focus in and listen to a ton of electronic music that inspires you + expose yourself to a wide range of other influences (everything from paintings to photography to poems that could spark something in your head).

I'm a comedy writer and the rest of my family are in the arts (acting, painting, musicians, writers, etc.). There was no "This is how you become creative." It was just exposure to tons of art and finding out what you were passionate about and hopefully your brain chemistry and life situation made it possible for you to pursue the arts. My youngest sister was exposed to all the same stuff and raised the same way, but she's entering a scientific field and has shown little interest in pursuing a creative profession or hobby. Why? Who knows? If I see an amazing old photograph, it might spark something in my head. If my sister sees it, she might just see an old photograph. The way you described yourself, you might be on the left-brained side of that equation. Doesn't mean you can't answer this question; it just means it'll be harder.

Here's a video of the producer Ski Beatz making the beat for Jay-Z's song "Dead Presidents". Look at all the various influences he had to recall, digest, stretch, mold, and manipulate to turn into the beat for one of the greatest songs of all time. Much of what you're asking has to come internally from experiences and memories you've had.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RY8EIoMelFc

WerthersWay fucked around with this message at 22:21 on Sep 11, 2017

Jacobus Spades
Oct 29, 2004

Oh wow!

So are you creative yet?

Davinci
Feb 21, 2013


Creativity is a muscle. You just need to exercise it. Lift weights until you can lift heavier weights, make songs until you can make better songs. It's all a numbers game and the more you do it the easier and more automatic it will be.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Davinci posted:

Creativity is a muscle. You just need to exercise it. Lift weights until you can lift heavier weights, make songs until you can make better songs. It's all a numbers game and the more you do it the easier and more automatic it will be.

I've done a crapload of professional theatre and music and my experience is that the best way to make art is to get someone else to give you a deadline.

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



Davinci posted:

Lift weights until you can lift heavier weights, make songs until you can make better songs.

This is true but it's just as important to constantly listen to music as it is to constantly make it. As many different kinds as you can. Influences are a huge part of most musicians' development, and of course its also a good way to learn specific techniques.

WerthersWay
Jul 21, 2009



sebmojo posted:

I've done a crapload of professional theatre and music and my experience is that the best way to make art is to get someone else to give you a deadline.

Can we get a mod to permaban the dude until all 12 of us subjectively agree that the 2 minute house beat he made is art?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010



Legit Cyberpunk



Mordecai Sanchez posted:

Can we get a mod to permaban the dude until all 12 of us subjectively agree that the 2 minute house beat he made is art?

lol the op hasn't actually posted since June, this thread is just us pumping each other up into an art frenzy YEAH DO IT GO GO GO ART THAT MOTHERFUCKER LIKE U STOLE IT GOOOOOOOOOO

JacquelineDempsey
Aug 6, 2008


sebmojo posted:

lol the op hasn't actually posted since June, this thread is just us pumping each other up into an art frenzy YEAH DO IT GO GO GO ART THAT MOTHERFUCKER LIKE U STOLE IT GOOOOOOOOOO

Eh, fwiw, I'm enjoying it, been in a bit of a slump and there's some good suggestions. It reminded me of one of my old tricks for coming up with interesting beats: the coin flip. I'd take some graph paper, assign each row "kick", "snare"', etc, then literally flip a coin for each square, heads being a hit, tails being a rest. Then I'd copy that into my dr-5 or whatever beat making software I was using. Sometimes it would sound like a hot mess, but sometimes it would come up with a nice chunk that I could expand on.

I used to use graph paper index cards for this and flip coins on my lunch breaks. Good way to make use of dead time and have a handy project to work on as soon as I got home. An icebreaker, so to speak. One of my albums has a whole track done in this way, oh-so-creatively called "Index Card". (I really suck at coming up with good song titles.)

D.Ork Bimboolean
Aug 26, 2016



sebmojo posted:

I've done a crapload of professional theatre and music and my experience is that the best way to make art is to get someone else to give you a deadline.

Its not so much the deadline itself by the constraint that defines a structure for you. The human mind curls back on itself in a tight ball of familiarity and conservatism when confronted with boundless freedom.

Or to put it more pretentiousness, to think outside the box, you must first be intimate with the shape, size, and texture of the box before you can truly understand what being beyond it feels like.

When you are attempting to produce art, your brain doesn't work in a contextless void. All the experiences, ingrained methods, assumptions, expectations, all of that becomes mental pigment that sloshes together chaotically.

Also, if you ever feel yourself funked and frustrated, naps are golden. Give your brain some time to get its poo poo together and you'll be shocked how productive it will let you be.

Earwicker
Jan 6, 2003



D.Ork Bimboolean posted:

The human mind curls back on itself in a tight ball of familiarity and conservatism when confronted with boundless freedom.

its true, but deadlines are hardly the only (or healthiest) solution to that. limiting your palette or theme can help enormously. especially given how many amazing sounds are now accessible to anyone with a DAW and kontakt, I find its really helpful to pick a specific - and generally small - set of instruments and tones/atmosphere for a particular project and stay strictly within that, at least at the beginning phase

sound design, especially when it comes to synth patches etc is fun but it can also be a dangerous rabbit hole that you can fall into before getting to the actual writing music part

Earwicker fucked around with this message at 17:00 on Sep 15, 2017

the old ceremony
Aug 1, 2017

by FactsAreUseless


EvilGenius
May 2, 2006
Death to the Black Eyed Peas

I visited my parents recently and took home a load of minidisks that had around 6 years worth of my finished and unfinished music. There are several cliff-edges of creativity in there, where I suddenly stop recording full-length tracks that I'm still proud of and start recording 64 bars of lovely doodles. In hindsight it was always because I was trying too hard, not listening to anybody else's music, and taking it too seriously. I took a natural break from it after I got married and had a kid. When I came back to it I started to think about ways I could be more productive and creative. A few things I did -

-Take the time to immerse yourself in other people's music, and make sure it's not just the same genre you want to make. If you only listen to 3 or 4 dub step artists, you're just going to recreate one of their tunes.
-Don't ever record your unfinished tracks and listen to them back. You'll numb yourself to them and lose all objectivity. You'll be excited to hear it again when you boot up your music software.
-If you do the above and your track sounds poo poo the next day, bin it (this is possibly a personal thing, I used to spend far too long trying to make dead end ideas work).
-related to the above, only spend time on tracks that excite you. This is probably the most important point. It should be fun. You should get a buzz out of your idea, like you get from other people's tunes.

Oh, and theory should help you construct a tune. Don't reach for it in the hope that is going to give you ideas, because it won't.

EvilGenius fucked around with this message at 06:52 on Oct 8, 2017

Convoolio
Oct 31, 2005



- Always Be Recording
- Get out of midi to audio as soon as possible while working
- Steal arrangements. Like just drop a track into ableton or whatever and do what it does when it does it
- Envelopes. Envelopes!
- Compressors are fun for 'zooming' into sounds

The hard part is already over: the 12 tone scale sounds awesome, and you have a machine that plays perfectly in time, always.

cda
Jan 2, 2010


sebmojo posted:

Pick a song you like and try to copy it. It will sound like poo poo, and nothing like the song you are copying, but you'll have a structure. Now listen to it, as its own piece of music. What does it need more/less of? play five tracks of keyboard noodling over it, one after the other, then listen to each track against the piece. As you go, if a passage sounds poo poo, mute it.

Bam you've made a piece. Now: do it again.

This is the best advice in this thread. "Pick an X you like and try to copy it. It will [sound/look/taste/etc] like poo poo, and nothing like the X you are copying," is basically the only advice anyone needs in any kind of creative endeavor. The only thing to add is that the more you do this, the farther away the original should be. Like for drawing, start with tracing, then copy by looking, then copy from memory, then copy your copy from memory.

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Waltzing Along
Jun 14, 2008

There's only one
Human race
Many faces
Everybody belongs here

Do you know how to play piano? If not, start there.

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