What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
innerstatejt
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by innerstatejt » Thu Nov 06, 2014 8:26 am

Wow great answers guys. A few mentions of daily commutes & generally draining work schedules. That can definitely hinder your creative work, or drive your desire to succeed depending on how you look at things. I liked the idea of "Free-tracking" as a way to take the pressure off by doing something you consider less serious. Sometimes these can turn into some of your best ideas.

So here are additional songwriting issues you have come up with:
* musicianship issues
* poor production results make songwriting less motivating
* losing focus mid-song and discover you have been distracted working on a part that doesn't even fit your song.
* Having a hard time making transitions


While we are on the subject of finishing songs...

What is your take on Session vs Arrangement window? Do you have an approach that you prefer for your workflow?

Also, do you think midi controllers speed up your songwriting process or give you yet another "rabbit hole" to get lost in?


Hopefully this thread will shed some light on common problems and solutions & deliver something of value to the group.
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Martin Gifford
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by Martin Gifford » Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:14 am

Session vs Arrangement:

I find that when I have multiple ideas in session view, I complete the song quickly and easily when I transfer it to arrangement view. But I often get stuck or lose interest after creating one loop in session view, then I just create a new project.

So I wish a voice would come in every 5 minutes and say "Move on to a new idea in the next scene." Maybe it could repeat every minute after the first warning at 5 minutes. Or maybe it could threaten to play a Miley Cyrus song or something if you don't create another scene. And it would also stop you from moving on to a new project until you've done at least 4 scenes.

I created a template that had the scenes named: Idea 1, Idea 2, Idea 3, etc. And I had midi clips with messages like: Change tempo before starting, This scene is fine so move onto the next scene NOW, etc. That didn't work well. Much better to have someone telling you. And that's another idea. If you can afford a Muscly Life Coach, they can stand over your shoulder and punch you if you don't move forward every 5 minutes. 8O

JoshG567
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by JoshG567 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:28 am

I play in session until I think I have an idea of how to arrange it. I tend to end up with loosely connected ideas within the conceptual headspace of the song that I then have the task of weaving together somehow. I specify my tempo and time sig changes in the master scene names, so once my clips are all lined up and I know what I want to do I'll try to record it to arrangement from the Launchpad and everything gets committed. When I add parts while looping over arrangements I still initially track to and edit in session. My controllers are mapped for it and it's a good way to square doubles with each other, although editing by waveform in arrangement is usually best in the end as you get the full context of other instruments' waveforms.

I think it's best to abandon session clips eventually; they hog resources by being there and often add to confusion by being precedent to arrangement clips which have usually been further tweaked. I will do all I can while I loop "aimlessly" in session with no arrangement ideas and record lots of clip automation, even if it's just setting a compressors and EQs to the ideal values for that passage. That way I'm closer to mixed when I figure out the arrangement and spend less time editing automation there. I do get a more "locked-in" feel once I've arranged, like I'm afraid to go back from it (usually because there would be arrangement edits lost).

I have invested so much non-trivial time on my MIDI remote setup that I don't think I would just share it with anyone anymore. I do believe it is that valuable but the investment is definitely worth it now, although it can be a lot to remember at times. I'm talking motherfucking excel workbook level complexity. To answer the question directly, it WAS a rabbit hole but now it is so integral to my flow that I'd feel painfully inefficient without them and with 100x worse repetitive stress injury from using the mouse.

iamcluster12
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by iamcluster12 » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:32 am

some lols for the procrastinators :p http://9gag.com/gag/avZAK1W?ref=fbp

mine would be knowing when to actually let the song go and say its finished, you could tweak it til the end of time :p

oblique strategies
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by oblique strategies » Thu Nov 06, 2014 9:52 pm

Not having a deadline.

A deadline will make you finish, or at least wrangle your work into a presentable shape, very effectively indeed! :wink:


"A work is never finished; only abandoned."

In its full form:
"In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned; and this abandonment, whether to the flames or to the public (and which is the result of weariness or an obligation to deliver) is a kind of an accident to them, like the breaking off of a reflection, which fatigue, irritation, or something similar has made worthless."
~Paul Valéry

Stromkraft
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by Stromkraft » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:13 pm

oblique strategies wrote:Not having a deadline.

A deadline will make you finish, or at least wrangle your work into a presentable shape, very effectively indeed! :wink:

"A work is never finished; only abandoned."

~Paul Valéry
Yes, that's a good strategy. It doesn't stop me from resurrecting them on occasion. Thanks for the full quote. Good stuff.
Make some music!

Tarekith
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by Tarekith » Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:15 pm

ADHD. As I get older it gets a lot harder for me to do longer sessions and keep my focus. Part of that is running my own business in the same space at the same time, part of it is genetic I guess. These days I definitely try to fit in shorter sessions more frequently, versus feeling I need to crank out as much as I can in one go. Frustrating, but it works. Usually.
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oblique strategies
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by oblique strategies » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:58 pm

Tarekith wrote:ADHD.
I'm with you on that one.

But there are powerful benefits as well. Creativity is a big one.

Check out these resources:
DVD
'A.D.D. & Loving It?!'
Rick Green, Big Brain Productions Inc., 2009

Book
'You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!'
Kate Kelly & Peggy Ramundo, 2006

They sound a bit like joke titles, but they're valuable & trusted resources.

uthemus
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by uthemus » Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:19 am

My biggest challenge to completing songs is not completing them...

thekillingtree
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by thekillingtree » Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:24 am

oblique strategies wrote:Not having a deadline.

A deadline will make you finish, or at least wrangle your work into a presentable shape, very effectively indeed! :wink:


"A work is never finished; only abandoned."

In its full form:
"In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned; and this abandonment, whether to the flames or to the public (and which is the result of weariness or an obligation to deliver) is a kind of an accident to them, like the breaking off of a reflection, which fatigue, irritation, or something similar has made worthless."
~Paul Valéry
i essentially work nights so i had to structure my mornings into a routine to avoid the pitfalls of being lazy/internet//video games. i took an idea from something i do at work which is essentially a '1 project a day'. it can be anything, something i don't know how to do or just something i want to try. i applied that to my audio work and it's showing dividends already. my day is broken down like this:

wake up at 8am
8-9 drink coffee and internet
9-10 work on something completely new
10-1030 or 11 take the dog outside (crucial)
1030 - 12 either work on earlier idea/song or work on an older idea/song
12 rush and eat/shower/get to work, lol.

granted, i took a long hiatus from making music so this is like relearning an instrument (the push), sorta. having constraints is something i'm used to dealing with since i'm a motion graphics artist and at some point you just have to call a quits and move on to the next thing.

Angstrom
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by Angstrom » Fri Nov 07, 2014 12:32 am

To be honest, and following on from the "deadlines" post, which IMO is the major block to all creative endevours being completed.

Oldness.
When I was in my 20s my circle all ran club nights, and that was where I spent 90% of my time. In a black room talking to bar staff, tweaking dials or just tweaking. On the local scene I knew pretty much everyone's name, even around the country. Everyone's studio looked like a drug den, and had random Europeans sleeping on the floor. "oh that guy, I think his name is Rolf, he's got a rucksack of amazing pills". My friends owned two warehouses local to me, and both had studios in, both had PAs in. We ran parties in there. I rehearsed there.

Now, I am middle aged. If I tear it up, it takes two weeks to recover. My friends youthful exhuberant drug excesses have become "problems", or plain history. There are still parties, still in warehouses. But the people running those parties are the age of my theoretical children. They reminisce about the 90s by talking about power-rangers, they were 8 in the year 2000. I cannot hang. It would be a pretence. I am not the person I was when I was 22, with the drive of arrogant surety. "We dont need nothin, just our beats, we're gonna smash it" . It's marvelous but can't be faked when you've seen what success looks like, and what failure looks like. All the stories come unravelled.
So when I encounter the surging powerhouse of youthful exhibitionism now, it's like a postcard from a long ago holiday. How lovely the water looks. But you know it's filled with the corpses of those caught in the riptide, an icy undertow. "Sure", you say, "but I'm gonna go back in one more time regardless". The young surfers on the beach see it in your eye though, something terrible.

And thats why I don't finish tracks.

:wink:

Martin Gifford
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by Martin Gifford » Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:33 am

Angstrom,

Awesome post, that! Maybe there's an autobiography waiting to be written.

chef of def
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by chef of def » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:34 am

I am heading towards my second year using live. I can say that during that time my reasons for not finishing a track have evolved.

1. Not knowing what the hell I am doing.
2. Overwhelmed by the candy store of plug-ins and sounds and all that.
3. Musicianship

Eventually my workflow improved, and I took advantage of a sale at Ableton and upgraded to Live 9 Suite. That investment really pushed me to dig in, I got my hard drive organized, listened to the music I liked, started reaching out to local producers, kept better track of the music I was making. I worked on my musicianship by picking up bass guitar and piano(self teaching), and reading and watching about music theory.

4. Translating the sounds in my head.
5. Full understanding of the more esoteric aspects of Live and how they may help the song.
6. Arrangement and song structure.
7. Mixing, getting to a consistent almost generic quality sound from where I can explore and build my own style.

I have folders full of seeds and I think only one song I could call close to finished and even that song def. needs some help. https://soundcloud.com/chef-of-def/chuckies-lament I am interested in seeing how this thread unfolds.

Martin Gifford
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by Martin Gifford » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:06 am

Last week, someone offered to listen to my songs. So I set a deadline of getting as much as I could together by Saturday night. Although some of it's rough, I got a very large amount done in a very short period.

So, yeah, deadlines are very effective.

I'm reminded of the Beatles who had extraordinary deadlines. Completing their first album in 24 hours, and having to do 2 or 3 albums per year.

Actually, collaboration with deadlines would be powerful. The deadline keeps everyone focussed and then the partnership helps each other with creativity blocks and with motivation.

slatepipe
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Re: What are you biggest challenges to completing songs?

Post by slatepipe » Tue Nov 11, 2014 10:56 am

deadlines are good, otherwise i have a habit of continually tweaking and it almost never gets finished

doing stuff with other people is a good help, and allowing myself to get influenced by their often different work methods is handy, and often an interesting learning process too

as angstrom said - age is a fucker. other things in your life just get in the way. and rightly so in many cases

trying to learn maxforlive can be a pain in the arse as regards completing songs too. i'll get very bogged down with some problem with it and realise i've spent hours making no sounds at all. though when you get your problem worked out then you're open to new creative possibilities

we got a cat who likes getting in the way when i'm doing stuff. walking all over the keyboard like a cute annoying bastard

smoking spliffs doesn't help. it does when i'm listening back afterwards but during the making process? not really. though when jamming with other people it is sometimes handy. overall i just prefer a little beer or wine

general life stresses, arguments and the like. if i'm angry or a bit down i find i can't really do much creatively. but a bit of beer can make that go away. or wine

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