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Re-evaluating my production methods/habits

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Postby DrGatineau » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:44 am

I think I need to re-evaluate my production methods. About 9 or so months ago, a big change happened with my productivity & creativity. I think several things were partially responsible for this change. This was like late August/September of last summer. Before this I was making a few tunes per month and really happy with the progress I was making, but afterwards I was much less productive.

The first thing is that I took piano lessons last summer, and I learnt a lot of music theory in a short amount of time. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not telling you to not learn music theory, but I feel like it put me in a box and made me approach music in a much more formulaic way. I felt much less creative. Secondly, I started following dubstep much more seriously - I followed record labels, radio shows, releases, etc, downloaded my favorite dubs, and I started to compare my music much more to the pros. I didn't like the music I was making because I wasn't able to make basses that sounded as good as people like J:Kenzo or Skream. Therefore, I didn't finish projects cause I thought they were shit and I was much less productive. I also started DJing around this time and that took a lot less effort, so I spent more time in that realm than producing tunes.

Another important thing is that I think Ableton session view is hindering my workflow. I find that I get stuck in session view making patches & midi clips, but don't turn those things into actual songs. So, I'm considering switching to Logic so I can stay more 'on task.' So, my question is - what things do you like better about Ableton compared to Logic? Does Logic lack any effects or features that Ableton has? The only Ableton instrument I really use is Simpler, so I'm not worried about that stuff. I think most of my VSTs will work as AU. Any other thoughts, tips, warnings, etc please comment, thanks
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Postby legend4ry » Sun Jun 15, 2014 7:53 am

Honestly, its all work flow. I always call Ableton out as a piece of shit and don't know why anyone uses it because the work flow is fucking terrible.

I use Fruity but learned Reason, Cubase, Ableton, a little logic, protools and bought Studio One and working my way through that.

I still come back to Fruity, even though I probably use 3 of their built in plugins.

DAWs all kind of do the same thing, Logic is powerful but I personally find the work flow really slow. It deffo handles audio better than FL, so does ableton but really on the ground level you're going to be using third party VSTs and sample packs so just find the sequencer and mixer you enjoy.

Maybe try some demos and see what feels right for your style of working?
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Postby NinjaEdit » Sun Jun 15, 2014 8:06 am

Ableton has warping.
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Postby danibernette » Sun Jun 15, 2014 6:40 pm

Hi,
Its hard to compare your own work with professional producers beacause there are so many experience and tips involved in their tracks and we dont really know 100 % how to do the stuff we like.
I think its important to keep positive and share your work to motivate yourself and improve your skills until one day we finally got enought skill to reproduce our ideas.
I'm probably stuck on my production too so maybe im not the right person to help you.
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Postby ThisIsSovereign » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:08 pm

As for the Ableton Live Session View hindering productivity, just don't use it. I always use the Arrangement View and never touch the Session View.
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Postby DrGatineau » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:42 pm

Yeah I thought about that but imo arrangement view isn't really Ableton's strongest feature. I feel like Logic's arrangement view would probably be better for making tunes. It's awkward mixing in arrangement view and doing I/O stuff and even creating midi clips.
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Postby Johoosh » Mon Jun 16, 2014 1:41 pm

If youre holding your tunes up to the likes of Kenzo & Skream, just make something completely different.

Step outside of 140/dark vibes w/e and enjoy making something else.

Mixdown's come in time, theyre probably the hardest thing to master, u can even hear it across someone like Skream's earliest releases (Afeks, the Mr Keas stuff) and compare it to say Deep Concentration or Filth. Miles 'better' mixdowns
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Postby DrGatineau » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:15 pm

Johoosh wrote:If youre holding your tunes up to the likes of Kenzo & Skream, just make something completely different.

but i don't want to :corncry:

my mixdowns are fine it's literally just a matter of sound design.

my arrangement is decent, drum programming is good, musicality is fine. (or at least they're all at a level that I'm happy with) It's just fucking sound design. but it's not like i'm terrible at synthesis, it's just that the gap between me and them is so much more apparent when it comes to synthesis than say drum programming. i wonder if they honestly just make growly bro sounds and then lowpass them a lot. should i be watching more seamless tutorials? :lol:
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Postby nowaysj » Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:43 pm

Ableton has an incredible workflow, if that is the workflow you like. Ableton was designed to be played. If you play your instruments, if you your song writing process is performance based. If your sound design is performance based, it is a great daw.

But as a traditional daw, the arrangement view is primitive.

I'd stop watching tutorials. I'd suggest having meaningful experiences with your synths.
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Postby Lucifa » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:23 pm

Adderall m8
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Postby Dub_Fiend » Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:15 am

I've seemed to struggle with comparing my tunes a lot and that always disheartens me... I tend to work best when I just get in the zone and bust tunes out without constantly A/Bing them - at the end of the day I'm making what I'm happy with and it should stand on it's own as a well-written track.

As noways mentioned, Ableton's Session View is really more performance-oriented rather than composition - I primarily use Cubase to write tunes and I DJ in Ableton because of this. However, Live has crazy awesome timestretching capabilities and so I regularly cut and edit samples or vocals within it and then just Rewire it out to Cubase where I'll process it and automate shit etcetera. If you think you're struggling with your current setup then get in there and mix things up a bit :)
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Postby nowaysj » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:42 am

Dub Fiend wrote:As noways mentioned, Ableton's Session View is really more performance-oriented rather than composition


This is contrary to the thrust of what I was saying. The process of composition can be performance based. There are many ways to compose. Most daws work off the same paradigm - an arrange page with channels, you place events in a side scrolling timeline. Ableton and now bitwig, I guess, I didn't even manage to try the demo, they allow composition by playing events, giving you macro level control over events, meaning you can orchestrate complex musical events with the push of buttons, as well as the ability to modulate the sound generators comprising those events. This technique is performance based, and imo is the paradigm ableton set. A really amazing thing. I tend to like music that is made with this process. I strive to do this with hardware synths and samplers in the real world. But kind of like ableton's dual approach, I'll end up tracking stuff into the arrange page of flstudio, and making further edits in there. But my aim is to be able to do everything in performance (I do manage to pull it off, from time to time, the most fun work I do, and maybe, and only maybe, the best work I do).

But if you find yourself just working in the arrange view all the time, other than the monetary concerns, and the 6 months it is going to take to get you up and running in a new daw, and the potential lose of some of your tools due to compatibility issues, I suppose it'd be a good idea to switch to a more traditional side scrolling daw, like logic. But please enough with logic being professional and all the rest.

And Jags, I just think you've done a lot to learn about music, production techniques, musical theory, surveying the state of the art in your genre. But enough with that learning. You likely have enough, or more than enough skill to produce interesting work. What you need to do now is really find what you are interested in, in music. Imagine if you could make anything you wanted, and EVERYONE would like it, what would you make? I really think you need to go up to a cabin with your gear and just spend a lot of time, just with yourself and your music, not listening to anything else, not watching any tutorials, just really introspecting. What is making music for you. What does it mean. How do you like to do it. And just keep pushing on that.

I can see a sort of cage around you, like you are living within the bounds of what has been created, within the history of the music you like, and you are setting your sights on the limits of the field/genre, but that is, right there, before you've begun, failure in your intention. The outermost limits are an emergent phenomena. As you approach that point, your goal, the field has already moved beyond and elsewhere. And what's more, it has been moved by people doing the hard work of getting into their sound, finding what kind of sounds they really like, and creating that. They are aiming BEYOND the liminal of the emergent sound. They are the ones that expand genres, pull genres in new directions, hybridize genres, or create entirely new genres.

This process is not easy. And the best case scenario you get out of that is a coincidence of your sound with the popular taste of the music consuming public. Ie people will like your stuff (for an ever increasing short period of time). But failing to embrace this ambition, I think the best case scenario is that you will be a very accomplished imitator, who maybe made minor advancements to standard musical forms.

Think about your intentions, and about who you are. These things are your compass and map, these decisions are the most important you can make and will set your course into the future.
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Postby Libra » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:32 am

Logic is great, but since I swapped to ableton I have been asking myself why I didn't do it sooner! Amazingly fast workflow, like I can get beats down in half the time than in logic. Also I love its general handling of audio (not its audio stretching). Its as simple as only having 2 tools. Your mouse standard arrow and a pen tool. I can get everything done with those two tools that took a whole toolkit to do with logic
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Postby nowaysj » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:34 am

That pallet of tools is played out. Bad idea. Most daws have moved on.
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Postby Dub_Fiend » Tue Jun 17, 2014 11:39 am

Yeah, I agree that Ableton's workflow in Session View means you can compose in a different way that a lot of people find more... on-the-fly and less rigid. I just don't get on with it in that way. :)
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Postby Johoosh » Tue Jun 17, 2014 12:09 pm

Nowasyj massively on point as always when it comes to this sort of thing
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Postby DrGatineau » Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:16 pm

later
Last edited by DrGatineau on Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JBE » Sat Jun 21, 2014 3:43 pm

I'm probably not one to talk as I tend to make a lot of that future garage/post dubstep type stuff. So I guess I've jumped on the bandwagon. But it's something that I like to make. It's a style that I don't struggle to get my ideas out with. It's comfortable. And I think that's a very important thing to have when creating something. If it's something you enjoy making, then who cares? You definitely shouldn't.

As for sound design, I also have issues with it. I'm absolutely terrible with it but I've found ways to work with it. I've stopped trying to make every sound be a piece of art by itself. It's just not worth the frustration and time spent on something that will probably be trashed in the end anyway. I use a lot of presets as well as the countless amount of one shot synth samples I have in my sample library. I'll never be considered a master of synthesis but I like to think the stuff I do use works in the context of the track I'm making. In the end that's what matters to me. If it works, then you're doing it right.

As far as DAWs go I was pretty bad for awhile. I always thought that if I wasn't using the most popular software then I was missing out on something. I hear everyone talking about ableton and I think, "well if I used ableton I bet I would make better music". I've tried several DAWs with this type of thinking. Every time it was just a headache and I found that I was doing, or trying to do, the same things I did in FL Studio, I just had to spend another 4-5 months learning how to do it again.

For you I guess it's a little bit different though. You seem to have actually discovered a flaw in your DAW that is actually hindering your progress. I never personally liked Ableton. It just felt a little rigid to me. I can't say much on the comparison of ableton to logic but I can say that as an FL user when I tried both ableton and logic I felt much more comfortable in logic. Logic just felt more open, at least from the perspective of someone that programs almost every aspect of their music. I don't play any instruments so I have no insight into the performance side of DAWs. I think if you are willing to put the time and effort into making the switch you might be happier.
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Postby DrGatineau » Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:13 pm

thanks m8. yeah, i don't have any problem with FG or 130 (i listen to lots of 130), but if i were to start making it, that would feel phony to me, cause thats not what i really want to make (i mean i might make the odd song here or there but that's another story). but if that's what you or anyone else wants to make, then by all means do it. if you really are into it, then you're not jumping on a bandwagon, you're leading it. i'm not so sure future garage or 130 is really a bandwagon anyway. but it's the people that are doing it for the wrong reasons that are bandwagoning, imo.
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Postby JBE » Sat Jun 21, 2014 5:45 pm

jags wrote:thanks m8. yeah, i don't have any problem with FG or 130 (i listen to lots of 130), but if i were to start making it, that would feel phony to me, cause thats not what i really want to make (i mean i might make the odd song here or there but that's another story). but if that's what you or anyone else wants to make, then by all means do it. if you really are into it, then you're not jumping on a bandwagon, you're leading it. i'm not so sure future garage or 130 is really a bandwagon anyway. but it's the people that are doing it for the wrong reasons that are bandwagoning, imo.


Well that's really the problem. I mean it's not really easy to tell who is bandwagoning or not. Unless they just blatantly come out and say it.

I still make different styles of music. It's difficult for me to stick to just one. Even if it's something I enjoy making sometimes it's nice to switch it up. Sometimes it might just be how it turns out as well. I don't always go into a project with any specific idea. So I may start something one way and end up with a completely different product at the end. Which I think can sometimes be a problem on it's own really.

One of the best ways to progress is through consistency. But sometimes consistency can be boring. At least for me anyway.
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