WHAT IS NOW (Track No. 17)

Alright! Finished another track and that brings me to 67 hours and 05 minutes. Have a listen:

Writing sessions: 3~4
Total time spent making track: N/A
Time counted toward 10000 hour goal: 02:30

And here are the lessons I learned:

Don’t take each production session so seriously. 

Usually when sitting down to make music I go into “full production mode” by cleaning my workspace, powering up the gear, shutting out the rest of the world. While this can be very great sometimes, it can occasionally also be counterproductive because it might make you overthink the process. When I begin to overthink, my music reflects it by sounding robotic and confined. The ideas don’t flow easily, and frustration often decides to sit in for a listen.

For this track I was kind of surprised that the foundation was laid down while I was showing some loops to my brother and not really trying to focus. I just started to throw some elements together and it started to sound cool.

Not overthinking also helps with sound design. With so much tweakability at you fingertips its too easy to get lost. For this track I made the sub bass in 3 minutes by simply mixing a sine wave from the Serum sub oscillator with a touch of sawtooth from Osc 1. I don’t know why I made it like this but it works! 3 MINUTES! Don't fix what's not broken, right?

Making a track takes a long time. Don’t rush it. 

I was reading the Dance Music Manual the other day and in one chapter I noticed that the author mentioned that it isn’t unusual for a producer to spend 20-30 hours programming and sequencing the kick drum! That’s insane. That’s like half of my total production time! Wow that really put things in perspective and made me feel silly when I was trying to churn out a banger in 45 minutes. It’s comforting to know that music production takes time. 

CAUTION: This might be overkill for someone who’s just starting out. Spending this much time on one element is only reasonable when you are already a good producer and you are doing everything to maximize the impact of your track. For noobs it’s better to finish a lot of songs while those skills are growing.

There is no right way to do things. 

Making art is all about navigating the endless waters of uncertainty. You might be asking yourself questions like: Is what I am about to add going to sound ok? Will it fit with the rest of the music? Am I using the right sound? Is it too much? Will it clash with other parts? Is this correct according to music theory? Does it sound good? All these questions mean that you are pushing your boundaries and learning. Yes they can be overwhelming but that’s the nature of the process. Pro tip: better to just have a lot of fun and not take things too seriously. See first lesson. 

Consider all feedback, even from non-experts.

I was stuck on the breakdown when my brother walked into the room and listened to the track. He immediately told me to add some toms to give my pattern some variations (even though he expressed it as “you gotta add some of those small drums that are attached to the big drums, you know”). I didn’t dismiss his feedback because even though my brother does not produce his own music, he does listen to a lot of it, and he is capable of spotting what is lacking. After we added some low toms they pretty much saved the breakdown from being completely static and boring. Check them out at 1:55 in the track.

Approach music with an open mind.

After we added some toms with my brother I asked myself, why didn’t I think to add them myself? And the reason was because I thought that I didn’t really know how to program toms. So I was holding back, waiting for some sort of “permission” that I would one day obtain by learning everything about toms. I was afraid of making something “wrong,” whatever that means. 

Use pen and paper to focus on the important parts.

I got this tip from Mike Monday’s free guide on how to finish tracks. I listened to my track with a notepad in front of me and took notes. I then made a checklist of the things that I needed to fix and then went ahead and took care of them one by one. It really streamlined the process and prevented me from tweaking unimportant things.

Thanks for reading. See you next time.