Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Angstrom
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by Angstrom » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:09 am

One thing which can be a problem is making music which is influenced by the physical space you inhabit. So you set out to write something suitable for an MMA basejumping festival for ADD teenagers, a high tempo in your face balls to the wall adrenalin hellstorm. But three days later you have made "music for a man in small spare bedroom full of synthesisers wearing headphones at 2am in a residential area" . A minimalist plaintiff complex structure of fractal beats, suitable for the place and headspace where it was created,

To combat this I sometimes find an image, or clip of film which embodies the vibe of the piece, and I use it as an anchor to make sure I don't drift lazily to my default position. Something you can look back at and check you are still aiming in the same direction.

I think that book by David Byrne solidified my ideas on combatting this problem.
Chapter One
CREATION IN REVERSE

I had an extremely slow-dawning insight about creation. That insight is that context largely determines what is written, painted, sculpted, sung, or performed. That doesn’t sound like much of an insight, but it’s actually backward from conventional wisdom, which maintains that creation emerges out of some interior emotion, from an upwelling of passion or feeling, and that the creative urge will brook no accommodation, that it simply must find an outlet to be heard, read, or seen.
...
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-mc ... usic-works

fishmonkey
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by fishmonkey » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:40 am

great post Angstrom.

another thing is that when you fit hi-tech music making into small time windows it tends to fracture your workflow into discrete steps which makes things less 'organic', and divorced from an in-the-moment energy and vibe, especially when you have too many hi-tech toys to play with. and these days it's so easy to collect too many tools that you will never have enough time to master (especially if you have some money and not enough time).

the loop-based mentality is a trap too. anyone can make music with loops, but relatively few people do it in a musically interesting and moving way. i'm especially sensitive to rhythm, and most loop-based music sounds dead to me, the repeating patterns and turning things on and off on at this bar and that just sounds so obvious and cold, especially when it's done by people with modest rhythmic chops.

i used to make much more music when i had much less equipment and software to distract myself with. i was quite inspired recently watching some of Nils Frahm's live stuff where he uses a handful of equipment, a Rhodes, Juno, Space Echo, and a few other bits and pieces to sculpt stuff on-the-fly. i realised that i would be much happier and more productive with a similar approach...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

JoshG567
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by JoshG567 » Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:19 am

Some of the best, really musical things that have happened for me lately have come when I'm committing ideas to arrangement and I wind up with a gap in a track somewhere. I have ideas on other tracks that maintain continuity, but somehow my synth stopped a few bars back and it's about to come in a few more later and it isn't doing anything at the moment. With no a priori idea of what I'd have put there, I'll noodle around a few minutes and end up dumbfounded with what happens.

Just gotta put in the time with the daw, stuff eventually happens.

Stromkraft
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by Stromkraft » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:10 pm

Angstrom wrote:three days later you have made "music for a man in small spare bedroom full of synthesisers wearing headphones at 2am in a residential area" . A minimalist plaintiff complex structure of fractal beats, suitable for the place and headspace where it was created…

To combat this I sometimes find an image, or clip of film which embodies the vibe of the piece, and I use it as an anchor
I think I keep that visual or audial in my music producer mind, but to use an image or another focal point is a nice idea. This could be even more useful when collaborating, also when participants may have different takes on what an image may mean sound wise, but that's why you're collaborating in the first place, I think.
Make some music!

Stromkraft
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by Stromkraft » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:20 pm

fishmonkey wrote:anyone can make music with loops, but relatively few people do it in a musically interesting and moving way. i'm especially sensitive to rhythm, and most loop-based music sounds dead to me, the repeating patterns and turning things on and off on at this bar and that just sounds so obvious and cold, especially when it's done by people with modest rhythmic chops.
Didn't you just describe not only much "loop-based" music, but also much sequencer based music? Repeating a MIDI clip isn't much different from repeating an audio clip.

Music "characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats"* — or as I prefer an "hypnotic groove" — mustn't mean that every repeated set of bars or section is exactly the same, just one more time. Certain producers seem to think that's unavoidable. But as with everything else, it's a choice you make.


*As worded in the UK Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 that among other things targeted UK rave culture.
Last edited by Stromkraft on Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Angstrom
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by Angstrom » Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:38 pm

JoshG567 wrote:Some of the best, really musical things that have happened for me lately have come when I'm committing ideas to arrangement and I wind up with a gap in a track somewhere. I have ideas on other tracks that maintain continuity, but somehow my synth stopped a few bars back and it's about to come in a few more later and it isn't doing anything at the moment. With no a priori idea of what I'd have put there, I'll noodle around a few minutes and end up dumbfounded with what happens.

Just gotta put in the time with the daw, stuff eventually happens.
I agree, because that happens for me too. If I was Brian Eno I'd probably throw the rest of the song away at this point ;-)

I think this is related to what I was talking about earlier, making a context for your ideas to exist in. Whether you make a visual mood board as a reminder, or the context occurs naturally through a space in the song - you have still defined a "world".

related: I often find that I work away at a track for a few hours and get reasonably happy with it then take a tea break, and while I'm at the kettle I realise the version of the track playing in my head is a subtle upgrade of what I actually made in the DAW (drums are better, bass is sparser, whatever) - I then say "oh, that's what I was trying to do" and go back and upgrade my track with what my subconscious was singing. But my subconscious only came up with that version after I created the sonic space, laid the groundwork with the laboured "demo" version.

It's one reason I think the death of the "demo" has a slightly detrimental effect on music. It's good to have a crappy version you can stand back from, squint, and say "I think I know what I was going for here". In the modern age we iterate endlessly on the original without perspective.

H20nly
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by H20nly » Mon Oct 27, 2014 1:14 am

Fritz609 wrote:This is one of the best threads ive ever read.
+1
there's some really good food for thought here.

Thanks guys

DRStudio
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by DRStudio » Tue Oct 28, 2014 7:32 pm

Really great comments and ideas in this post. Left me with nothing much to add. :wink:

There's a short video from Derek Sivers that i remember everytime i get stuck with a song. Kind of obvious, but what he says really resonates with me: what seems obvious to you might be amazing to others. Worth watching.

Got recently a nifty VST called Cthulhu and it's really helping in finding new chords and ideas in a way that i never thought before. Of course you'll still need to put all the work to make an entire song, but it's another little tool that can serve as a source of inspiration.

Cheers!

Stromkraft
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by Stromkraft » Wed Oct 29, 2014 1:30 am

DRStudio wrote: Got recently a nifty VST called Cthulhu and it's really helping in finding new chords and ideas in a way that i never thought before.
Thanks for that Sivers link, that I reshared elsewhere.

Another alternative for chords and arpeggios that seems well developed enough to tempt me is J74 Progressive a M4L device that is just $12. It seems to do much of what I do when I'm stuck, but nice to have it systemized and being able to experiment when traveling without a controller at hand.
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runningwithit
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by runningwithit » Sat Nov 01, 2014 5:23 pm

I think that it is important to identify with the music. Don't go too far away from separating an intended effect with a true outcome. Just call it evolution. Try to keep where you want to go and where you are 'in the same boat', eventually you'll get there you just need to go through the different technical processes of learning and maybe every once in a while you will make a breakthrough in concrete knowledge.
-runingwithit aka meisterable
https://soundcloud.com/miesterabel

Stromkraft
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by Stromkraft » Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:17 am

runningwithit wrote:I think that it is important to identify with the music.
Maybe this is the same or at least something similar to when I say "listening to what the musical phrases and rhythms tell and let these be a guide towards completing an idea"?
Last edited by Stromkraft on Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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re:dream
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Re: Musical intentions versus musical outcomes

Post by re:dream » Mon Nov 03, 2014 7:57 am

Stromkraft wrote:
runningwithit wrote:I think that it is important to identify with the music.
Maybe this is the same or at least something similar to when I say "listening to what the musical phrases and rhythms tells and let these be a guide towards completing an idea"?
Yes, this is what I normally do. And this is a fascinating and rewarding process.

What is strange, though, is that at present I find a deep and systematic divergence between where (I think) I want to go and where I keep ending up. Time either to

(1) broaden my musical vocabulary
(2) hone my skills
(3) change my process of working.

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