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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Repetition

Repetition is an important thing. Only by repeating something can you become better at it. The scientific reason behind this is neural plasticity, and if you are interested in this subject i'd highly reccommend reading about it. For now though, let's just note that inherent in making music are a lot of repetitive tasks, wether we're talking about composing, re-sampling, engineering, and the like. Just the same can be said for musicial perfomances, repetition in the form of practice is the key to a succesful performance.

This might seem like ovbious information to you, but just think the nature of your repetitive actions for a moment. What tasks are you repeating? Do you spend a lot of time doing things like setting up auxilliary tracks, tweaking compression settings and fiddling around with a 4 bar loop? Do you end up discarding a loop you've composed after fiddling with it for a while because you're sick of it? In short, are you getting better at making loops, or are you getting better at making music?

I've long tried to make a point of finishing as many peices of music as possible for exactly that reason. Even if it's not your best idea, persist with it. Everytime you manage to fit the component parts of a peice together, you'll get slightly better at it. Aside from improving on your musical ideas, if you manage to complete a lot of peices, your engineering skills accross the board will gradually improve. Completing a peice of music includes other tasks that just aren't inherent in sketching out an initial idea, such as:

- Writing an introduction;
- Building tension;
- Choosing samples to fit the context of your tracks;
- EQ'ing elements of your track to make them fit nicely together;
- Writing a breakdown;
- Applying a limiter to your master bus;

...And more. You get the idea, the above are merely a few random examples. So maybe you need to make more of a conscious effort to finish. Yes there may be some tracks that you complete that arent up to a standard that you'd like, but you don't haved to share these tracks. Chalk them up to a learning experience and move on.  A note to new producers: For a while, your tracks will suck, thats just how it works. My tracks sucked when I started. I'm sure that in another 3 or 4 years looking back I won't be happy with my current output, because i'm constantly improving.

But thats exactly the point, if i'm improving at least I know that i'm heading in the right direction and this feeling is more satisfying than anything. So do everything you can to finish when you can. This wont always be possible, but it should be in 90% of cases. There are lots of tricks to doing this, you can take shortcuts by setting up templates in your DAW so that you dont need to spend ages loading EQ's, compressors and reverb units then tweaking these to get the sound you want, because you'll be tweaking from a template thats already close to the settings you need on that sound. Or, you can program banks of samples so that you have 128 samples of any given type at your fingertips, and when you need a cymbal sound it's extremely easy to find one.

There's loads of tricks like this and many of them i've covered on this blog previously. The method doesnt matter, just finish and make sure you're repeating the actions and thought processes that matter.


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