CERAMIC FLESH (Track No. 19)

If you are looking at the hour-counter above and are surprised by the small gap in time between this track and the last one, then you should know that I am as surprised as you are. 

The very abundant and detailed data from the production sessions (sarcasm) tells us that the track took 1 hour and 15 minutes of "clean" time to make. That's very short! Let's have a listen.

Writing sessions: 3
Time counted toward 10000 hour goal: 1:15

Just over an hour of production, but the results, in my opinion, are pretty great! This track makes me feel stuff. It grabs me emotionally. Isn't that what good music is meant to do? But how is it possible that something good was created in such a short amount of time? 

To figure it out let's see how I felt. Here are the notes that I took after each session:

Session 1:
"Inspired by ambient music I managed to create an eerie textural soundscape with almost no percussion by repeating and overlapping a couple of musical phrases. It is actually pretty easy to come up with textures, as long as you don't overthink it. Making those phrases into a cohesive whole is another story, however. The main inspiration came from a poem of mine and the visual space that it creates in my mind. I guess it doesn't matter where it comes from, as long as there is something you can hold on to emotionally throughout the writing process."

Session 2:
"Was really tired after work today. Sat at the DAW for a couple of minutes for the sake of trying to work, but was feeling very uninspired. Eventually I started messing around and soon enough my fatigue took over, putting me into a dream-like state (helped by a little bit of cider from dinner time). I started to work only half-consciously. It was crazy to feel myself being in that flow state - no sense of time, no sense of frustration, just making sounds, music, and not worrying about the outcome. Soon my visual idea from before came back to me and it really helped me to guide the mood of the track. I like how disjointed and not locked to the grid the track is. The drum hits are happening organically, the ride cymbals do not coincide with the snare, etc. I need to avoid the temptation to gridlock the song when finishing it up because that will ruin its feel."

Session 3 (after finishing the track):
"Did I really write this in just over an hour?"

So here is what we can learn from this:

There is no direct correlation between how much time you spend on a track and whether that track will sound good.

Sometimes songs need time to evolve to their full potential. Sometimes they emerge quickly. Just because you spent little time doesn't mean that your song should be considered undone, unfinished, not right, not good. Conversely, just because you spent a whole lot of time working on a track does not mean that it will be good. In fact, if you lurk on reddit and read what other music producers have to say, the majority of them will confirm that the good stuff, their favorite songs, strangely come out quickly. It probably has something to do with the way we tend to overthink things if we try to approach them too intellectually. We lose objectivity and the emotional backbone of the song, which is something to be avoided. 

Keep your vision alive.

In music production the options are infinite. Yes you could tweak that one note of the bass line and shift the groove a bit, but is the new groove better than what you had before or are you making changes just for the sake of making changes? Once you get something good, see if you can resist the urge to change things up. If you change things too many times you might find yourself stranded with a random collection of loops and you will have lost what might have been the best sound for the track (bounce to audio, anyone?) Note how in my scribbles at the end of session 2 I cautioned myself not to forget to keep the feel of the song intact. I could've made it "perfect" and even and "correct" but that would reduce the character of the song to zero. 

It doesn't matter where inspiration comes from.

In my case it was this poem with a strong visual component to it that I wrote some time ago. For you it might be something completely different. It doesn't matter. As long as you find something that stirs up some emotions inside you, you are on the right track. 

If inspiration is lost, find it.

In the beginning of my second session I hated the idea of having to work on the track because I was too exhausted. But by forcing myself to open up Ableton to at least do some minor tweaking I opened the door for inspiration to come through. Soon enough the fatigue that seemed to be a problem turned into a portal into the vision in my head and allowed me to connect with the world I was creating with my sounds. Had I gone to bed that night, who knows if this track would ever come to life.