Arranging

Dugg Funnie

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#1
So I've been in a depressing rut these last few months. I can come up with a groovy drum loop, and a decent bass sound and maybe a 4-8 bar groove to go with it, but I keep getting stuck there. Now I know that, like any skill, to get better you have to keep doing it and push through the bullshit and pain. But in a vague sense I'm asking how to do that? I've recently been getting into more glitch and neurohop stuff (i.e. Culprate, Reso, KOAN Sound, etc...) and I know it'll obviously not be an overnight thing to get at that sort of level, but I just feel like I can't write worth fucking shit and it's annoying. I know I have to cultivate a sense of FINISHING songs but whenever I go to expand on a loop I'll sit down and work for hours and not come up with anything decent repetitively and then it's stops being any sort of fun or relaxation and it's frustrating as hell.


So my questions are:

1. How do you push through the nonsense and writers block to finish a tune
2. Any tips on cultivating and living the mindset of finishing songs as opposed to getting analysis paralysis and trying to over-engineer everything before you're even finished.
3. Any general tips on composing and arranging parts that sit well with each other, I mean note to note and chord to chord movement, not sit well in the mix (though that's important too)
 
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#3
Hey, I'm new here. I'm also new to producing, about a year so far. I don't wanna make myself seem like a pro or anything close to that but if you are having a hard time moving forward in a song after getting 8 brs down you just need to look at some music theory. Frankly after 8 bars, you are limited to where you even CAN go. I know exactly what you are saying though and it is frustrating as hell. I have recently stopped trying to acquire plugins, samples etc and just went back to drums and piano. Very simple kick snare loops and piano. I would suggest trying to get a good grip on keys and scales and then determining the next chord progression actually comes sort of naturally once you realize certain rules of thumb, like major thirds and perfect fifths etc... now having said that...I also have a hard time finishing songs lol. Anyway that's how I'm approaching it, going back to theory and trying to forget all about compression and eq'ing etc.
 

dj mw

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#4
Finishing tunes is one thing I can do, to my developmental detriment at times I think. Yet I find - and this fits my character because I am less creative and more critical - that it's best, once I have 4/8/16 bars that I like, to just loop the fucker up to 4-5minutes or whatever and then brutalise it. I find it a lot easier to see what's there and change it to what what I want than to visualise it and put it down on a blank page. This obviously no help.

As to cultivating a mindset, once I am at that critical stage with a tune where I love the groove, the fucker is in my head, I am thinking about it all the time and not to finish would be a betrayal. Again, that's no help.

As to tips, music theory is important. I have a book 'music theory for computer musicians' which is helpful. Funny though because if I think about my favourite dnb tunes and there is very little musicality involved. No help again
 
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#5
Also, sorry I don't know your current level of musical knowledge but mines pretty limited and this is where I started a couple months back on just theory and such. It's boring but every once in a while you go "Ahhh, I see!" and it's those moments that make music I think. Anyway, try this guy out he's got some good vids and he explains things well. If you want like, step by step coverage on how to make dnb then another good guy to watch is Kev Willow, if you can stand his accent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Y01jIorpeA
 

lostnthesound

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#6
So my questions are:

1. How do you push through the nonsense and writers block to finish a tune
2. Any tips on cultivating and living the mindset of finishing songs as opposed to getting analysis paralysis and trying to over-engineer everything before you're even finished.
3. Any general tips on composing and arranging parts that sit well with each other, I mean note to note and chord to chord movement, not sit well in the mix (though that's important too)
  1. Take a break from the tune for a couple days. Don't listen to it or look at the project file. Avoid it at all costs, then return to it with a fresh set of ears. The ability to push through the frustration is what separates yourself from the pack in terms of skill development and advancement.
  2. If you find you've spent 15-30 eqing a sound, you've probably already sucked the life out of it. Often times I'll go back to an earlier version of a tune a notice it packs much more dynamic range. Why? Because somewhere through my multitude of project versions I watered down sounds due to overthinking/over EQing. Ear fatigue is a phenomenon which can quickly turn a promising tune into a flat, muddy mess. My advice, limit your time on a single sound to no more than 5 minutes, and don't solo that sound unless you're performing a surgical EQ cut. You want to hear how your EQ changes affect the sound in the mix as a whole. Often times, particular sounds can come off as quite awful when soloed, but natural within the context of the whole mix.
  3. Drop some tunes you're currently feeling at the moment into your DAW. Take notes of where the changes occur and the number of corresponding bars within each section. Use this as some inspiration and then adjust it accordingly to your own tune.

Cheers.
 

sam the dnb man

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#7
Best piece of advice I could give on this matter...

Listen to other forms of music. Try and be inspired by other genres. I find listening to metal extremely inspiring when it comes to arrangements and patterns.
I generally find that there is no point in being influenced by a track within the same track as it is stuck within your subconscious and you may end up having elements that imitate that track.
 

lostnthesound

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#8
Finishing tunes is one thing I can do, to my developmental detriment at times I think. Yet I find - and this fits my character because I am less creative and more critical - that it's best, once I have 4/8/16 bars that I like, to just loop the fucker up to 4-5minutes or whatever and then brutalise it. I find it a lot easier to see what's there and change it to what what I want than to visualise it and put it down on a blank page. This obviously no help.

As to cultivating a mindset, once I am at that critical stage with a tune where I love the groove, the fucker is in my head, I am thinking about it all the time and not to finish would be a betrayal. Again, that's no help.

As to tips, music theory is important. I have a book 'music theory for computer musicians' which is helpful. Funny though because if I think about my favourite dnb tunes and there is very little musicality involved. No help again
Nonsense. There's always musicality involved within every song even if the melody or hook isn't in your face. It's not limited to scales, keys, melodies, etc. But other factors such as tempos, variations in arrangement & sequencing, creative processing...more so, how the artist made use of the previously mentioned factors.

If a song truly had no musicality, it would not be a song. It would be a jumbled mess of inconsistent rhythm & aurally unsatisfying sounds...any Justin Bieber track for example (ZING!).

Cheers.
 

sam the dnb man

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#9
Well I suggest you to look at some song structure videos and try to imitate.
Please don't do this.

The new generation of producers are all youtube addicts. They tend to find all their knowledge online instead of actually putting the hours in.
Listen to some music and try to develop your own techniques, instead of imitating others.
 

sam the dnb man

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#10
Nonsense. There's always musicality involved within every song even if the melody or hook isn't in your face. It's not limited to scales, keys, melodies, etc. But other factors such as tempos, variations in arrangement & sequencing, creative processing...more so, how the artist made use of the previously mentioned factors.

If a song truly had no musicality, it would not be a song. It would be a jumbled mess of inconsistent rhythm & aurally unsatisfying sounds...any Justin Bieber track for example (ZING!).

Cheers.
This is true.
Musicality has different definitions in different parts of the world. Western music is a series on consecutive tones whereas a lot of african music is based on rhythmic sections with no melody
 

lostnthesound

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#11
Best piece of advice I could give on this matter...

Listen to other forms of music. Try and be inspired by other genres. I find listening to metal extremely inspiring when it comes to arrangements and patterns.
I generally find that there is no point in being influenced by a track within the same track as it is stuck within your subconscious and you may end up having elements that imitate that track.
/\ This!! I've lost count of how many times listening to a different genre has really helped me out. To add, Sam's warnings of subconscious imitation is definitely a true phenomenon. I remember writing a tune once and thinking to myself "what a great hook," only to realize a couple days later that I nearly copied the hook note for note from a Loadstar tune I had on repeat a month earlier.
 

equilibrium

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#12
1. How do you push through the nonsense and writers block to finish a tune

Don't. Quit the project and start a new song.

2. Any tips on cultivating and living the mindset of finishing songs as opposed to getting analysis paralysis and trying to over-engineer everything before you're even finished.

Out of 300 songs maybe 1 will be that good.

3. Any general tips on composing and arranging parts that sit well with each other, I mean note to note and chord to chord movement, not sit well in the mix (though that's important too)

Listening to Max Martin, Stargate, pop music and exceptionally arranged electronic music/soundtrack music.
 
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lbolive

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#13
I saw a video somewhere where this guy gave this amazing tip on how to move out of the loop mode and into a proper arrangement.
Typically people will write an arrangement from the bottom up.. That is, you'll start writing an intro, or you'll have a drop then will add bits etc.. you start small, then move towards a larger arrangement covering the full 5-7 mins you'd expect in a DnB track.

Why not take a top-down approach.. and basically take a loop and fill out the entire 5-7 minutes of the arrangement with that.. then start trimming it down. Ie, cut a swathe where the breakdown should sit, strip things down during the intro etc.. I've found this helped me complete track a few times already, so I highly recommend that method!
 

dj mw

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#14
Nonsense. There's always musicality involved within every song even if the melody or hook isn't in your face. It's not limited to scales, keys, melodies, etc. But other factors such as tempos, variations in arrangement & sequencing, creative processing...more so, how the artist made use of the previously mentioned factors.

If a song truly had no musicality, it would not be a song. It would be a jumbled mess of inconsistent rhythm & aurally unsatisfying sounds...any Justin Bieber track for example (ZING!).

Cheers.

Fairdoos. I think I am a victim of semantics here. It seems that what I intended when I wrote 'musicality' matches no actual definition of the word.
 

lostnthesound

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Fairdoos. I think I am a victim of semantics here. It seems that what I intended when I wrote 'musicality' matches no actual definition of the word.
All good my man! I do hear where you're coming from though. There are some nasty basslines and squelching leads that sound almost as if they're literally straight-up noise. Nonetheless, beneath all of the distortion, filters, automation, etc. there lies a sound associated with a note somewhere...though it may be damn near impossible to find. :)

Cheers.
 
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#17
I saw a video somewhere where this guy gave this amazing tip on how to move out of the loop mode and into a proper arrangement.
Typically people will write an arrangement from the bottom up.. That is, you'll start writing an intro, or you'll have a drop then will add bits etc.. you start small, then move towards a larger arrangement covering the full 5-7 mins you'd expect in a DnB track.

Why not take a top-down approach.. and basically take a loop and fill out the entire 5-7 minutes of the arrangement with that.. then start trimming it down. Ie, cut a swathe where the breakdown should sit, strip things down during the intro etc.. I've found this helped me complete track a few times already, so I highly recommend that method!
Yeah I think this method is called subtractive sequencing. It's a good technique.
 
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#19
Yeah I think this method is called subtractive sequencing. It's a good technique.
^this. A couple of friends told me to do this when I was struggling to get past an intro etc. make 8-16bars with everything in it: Drums,bass, pads, fx, vocals etc. then copy and paste the loop from the first bar to past the drop, then delete the tracks as necessary. I.e first 16bars you may not want the kick, snare and bass, then 2nd 16 bars you may want to bring in the kick so only delete the snare and bass, and so on and so on. I hope that makes sense.
 

dj mw

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All good my man! I do hear where you're coming from though. There are some nasty basslines and squelching leads that sound almost as if they're literally straight-up noise. Nonetheless, beneath all of the distortion, filters, automation, etc. there lies a sound associated with a note somewhere...though it may be damn near impossible to find. :)

Cheers.
I get ya but it's more that, for example, I enjoy learning music theory and this leads me to write some chord progessions on a piano and an interesting melody around those chords. Then I try to make a tune from this and struggle like fuck to reconcile this with my idea of a drum and bass tune. Then I stick on Bullhead by Misanthrop, skank the fuck out, then ponder my motives for writing chords and melody in the first place.
 
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