How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

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Citizen
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How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Citizen » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:59 am

I'm still only just starting to finish tunes, but I'm curious to know how long people spend on the various stages of a project. I find by FAR I spend the largest portion of my time on arrangement - is this normal? :P

On average:

Basic loop/concept/16/32 bar loop: one session/afternoon (this will usually contain 70-80% of the elements that will be in the final track
Arrangement 3 days - 7 days...depends ... then maybe more tinkering later :wink:
Mixdown 2 sessions... then maybe more tinkering a week later with fresh ears.

I'm only getting my feet wet with sound design, but I kind of do that as a seperate process, and incorporate them into projects later - rather than making sounds from scratch on the fly.

Just wondering how other people work - keen to hear your thoughts! :D


Citizen
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Citizen » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:01 am

Ooooooooookaaaaaaaaaay.

8O

distaudio
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by distaudio » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:49 am

Arrangement and composition is where it is at.

You can put all the coolest sounding noises, crazy oscillating bass lines but if you don't have the basis of a good song underneath it. You can forget it.

Citizen
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Citizen » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:17 am

Agreed - but how long are you spending on each part of the tune making process?

Sage
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Sage » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:43 am

Forever. Songs need time to evolve and change, something a lot of electronic producers kind of not realise. When I play in bands, how we'd playing a song 6 months down the line could be totally different to when we composed it.

distaudio
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by distaudio » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:13 pm

Citizen wrote:Agreed - but how long are you spending on each part of the tune making process?
Too long


simmerdown
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by simmerdown » Thu Jan 10, 2013 7:37 pm

if working intently you should lose track of all time and space

JMFOne
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by JMFOne » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:35 pm

I usually stumble across parts rather than specifically work on things but I reckon I could spend about 30mins getting a patch out, then another 30mins tweaking it and making it sit right and also seeing how I can automate it.
Arrangement doesn't take me long but I often have to back into session to create extra content so about 8 hours on arrange. About 4-8 hours on mix downs.
15" Apple Macbook Pro, mid 2012, 2.6GHz 8GB RAM 750GB HD, Ableton Live 9.2, Virus TI Polar

jestermgee
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by jestermgee » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:23 pm

Trust me, it varies significantly and is dependant on a huge range of things.

If you are just starting then be prepared for huge chunks of time to just disappear without trace. You would think that as you gain more experience it gets quicker and it sort of gets more efficient but as you discover more techniques and knowledge, you start using more techniques and knowledge in your production making them better, but consuming more time.

There are also a lot of external factors that govern how long shit takes:

- Mood
- Weather
- Family (kids busting in or screaming outside your room, the missus interrupting etc)
- Deadline (if doing work for a client, this will govern your attention to each part)
- Fatigue (Not having the ideas left or desire to continue)
- Indecision (Perhaps you liked a part and then heard it back and now you are not sure)

Then there is the blinkers syndrome where you have spent so long on a really cool piece in your room with headphones on you havent bothered to take a step back and maybe spend time testing on other systems or showing other people and then you think you have a killer track and whow a close friend and they start up a conversation 10 seconds into the track... That means they aren't interested and you realise the levels are all over the shop on his system and it's lost its impact so you tweak for weeks but because you have already shown your mate you can't really show them again so you just put it aside for a while and pick it up again in 6 months.


My advise would be unless you have a deadline, take as much time as you want. If you spend a whole day just on arrangement and don't even get it all mixed, hey I am sure you learned a few things.

If you want to make things more "streamlined" and structured, here are a few things I like to do:

- Write Shit Down. When you think you are out of ideas or you have created a great loop, listen to it and start thinking what you think you want to do (Create a lead in, make the kick punchier, add a lead instrument etc). Write it down then walk away. You WILL keep thinking about the track and getting more ideas but when you go back to it, get the notes out and start on those BEFORE trying anything else that was in your head. Cross them off, then repeat the process. A little time to digest does wonders.

- Take a break. I like to complete something, save to a new file/version then just go out and do something and come back. It allows your imagination to recharge.

- Teach yourself. It is hard to do everything from start to finish when you are limited on what you know. Hit youtube and watch some videos on the parts you are doing to see how others do it. Drop through forums for a bit and read crap like this.

- Be prepared to fail! Not every idea you come up with will make it through to the end. What I like to do when a track stalls or I find myself spending too long on nothing at all is I decide I have lost my way and I move the project out of my main "in progress" folder to an "Incomplete" folder so I don't see it any more. Then I move to something else. Sometimes when I go back through my incomplete tracks I get a fresh idea and either start it up again or change it completely. People approach this differently so do what you feel works.

- Render your tracks often. When I get tracks started I like to create a render file that is backed up on my server automatically and available to my Media Centre and internet access. That way I am able to play the tracks anywhere I am and often I will load them up in the car (AirPlayIt on the iPhone is great for this) when stuck in traffic and start getting ideas.

Meh, that's probably enough to explain what is almost unexplainable.

Tarekith
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Tarekith » Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:15 am

I can usually get a basic groove or combination of loops I record together pretty quick if I'm in the right mood. Maybe a few hours?

Arranging, editing, overdubs, creating transitions, etc is where I spend most of my time, and like a lot of people it just varies on a ton of factors. On a good project, I might take 3-4 days to get a track 95% of the way done. 2 weeks is more of an average, and some have taken 2 years.

Mixing and mastering doesn't really take me long, it's usually mixed as I go, then I just slap a limiter on it to get the volume some more.

Citizen
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Citizen » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:29 am

Great points guys - really appreciate your input!

Ok, so it seems that most people spend the bulk of their time on arrangement. I guess it is by its nature, going to be one of the most time-consuming processes.

Personally, if I were to describe my arranging process, its a pretty 'self-determined' process - by which I mean that its simply a process of removing all the bits that 'annoy' you, and deciding where the tracks 'need' a change.

Here is my question:

How do you know when you have 'enough' elements in your track to move onto the arrangement stage? :?

I find that I'm either swinging too far in either direction:

• I either make LOADS of FX samples, and sounds while its still a 16 bar loop - and then half of them get thrown out when I do the arrangement...

...OR...

• I don't have quite enough elements, and when I sketch out my arrangement it feels a bit boring/repetitive, and I need to create new parts and sounds.

Does this get easier to gauge with experience?

jestermgee
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by jestermgee » Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:45 am

I don't have quite enough elements, and when I sketch out my arrangement it feels a bit boring/repetitive, and I need to create new parts and sounds.

Does this get easier to gauge with experience?
It does to a degree. Again, it's a personal thing but what I believe you need to do when you realise it sounds as though "something is missing" is to find that something and put it in. Sounds stupid I know but from my experience (and I am still learning these things after 15 years) if you can hear something is missing or wrong you need to go from that >>> to figuring out what is missing.

One reason I have been into making music and sound design is because I love listening to music. It helps the mind make connections and you can always listen to songs you heard from long ago and have it drum up memories. We like to have associations with things. So if I think something doesn't really sound too great I just start listening to others music from professionals to some of the guys on here. Just to see what they do. Then see if anything you have heard will fit what you are doing.

Keep doing what you are doing and don't worry about finishing everything 100% until you can dial in what you need to do to call it complete. Experimenting and playing is part of the process and should be fun to do. If it is not, you are doing it wrong.

Tarekith
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Re: How long do you spend on various parts of a tune?

Post by Tarekith » Fri Jan 11, 2013 3:10 am

I tend to work almost the opposite. When I first start sketching out ideas for a song, I tend to write way too many parts initially. So I go through various phases of editing out things that over time just aren't working for me. I write new material later on in songs too, but even then I tend to record more than I need and then pick out the best bits to keep later.

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