Tracking and Demoscene discussion.

Listening to your own music ?

Listening to your own music ?

Postby organic io » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:42 pm

I noticed that PlusMinus started a similar thread on the Schism Tracker boards. Seeing some new posts on the SDcompo forum got me interested in starting some discussion back up here :)

So the question is: Do you listen to your own music? How do you feel about it?

To answer: Personally I do listen to my own music. I feel a sense of pride when I listen to my "babies". Every once in a while (about once a year) I'll usually have a marathon session where I listen to all my songs, going all the way back to the beginning. It's an interesting way to get perspective. Sometimes I frown at some of the earlier works, but it also gives me a way to gauge how far I've come.

Plus I fully believe that there is no other way to get better other than to practice.
In other words: In order for there to be good songs, there must also be some crap songs first :)

What are your thoughts? :D
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Postby plusminus » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:16 pm

Honestly I think I'm my own biggest fan!

That's OK though. Like I said in the other thread, I find I can only make the kind of music I like to listen to. This is not a job, and so being able to make something I'm proud of is one of the most important rewards.

Even the much older stuff, I can listen to it and accept that it's flawed but that it can still have value. (Some of those song messages though, yikes. So that's really what it was like to be 16. The angst....)

organic io wrote:Plus I fully believe that there is no other way to get better other than to practice.
In other words: In order for there to be good songs, there must also be some crap songs first


Definitely! It's really hard, maybe impossible, to make good art without first making bad art.

Also:
organic io wrote:Seeing some new posts on the SDcompo forum got me interested in starting some discussion back up here


Definitely, there are a lot of talented musicians here, some of them must think about music at least sometimes. I guess tracking is more fun than posting on a message board for most people.
Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily. -- David Byrne

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Postby chunter » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:55 pm

http://chipmusic.org/forums/topic/8122/ ... own-music/

I enjoy the process of making the music even more than the end result, though I appreciate the feedback I receive, I used to make music for its own sake and not share it with anyone at all. If you get nothing else out of listening back to older stuff, at least see how much you've improved. You may be surprised and find a few things you haven't tried in a long time.
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Postby tenfour » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:13 pm

In a conversation once with a non-musician friend, I said something like, "I love every song I write. If I didn't, I wouldn't have written it." They thought this was an arrogant statement but I don't think so; I think it describes exactly why I do this at all.

I like to listen to my music, but I prevent myself from listening to it much because I love to come back after a year and listen to something and see how it sounds differently over time.
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Postby organic io » Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:44 pm

tenfour wrote:"I love every song I write. If I didn't, I wouldn't have written it."


Reminds me of something I heard Tori Amos say once in an interview. Something like "If I don't absolutely love an idea, I throw it out"

Working like that definitely would lead to creating only stuff that you love.
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Postby chunter » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:04 pm

organic io wrote:
tenfour wrote:"I love every song I write. If I didn't, I wouldn't have written it."


Reminds me of something I heard Tori Amos say once in an interview. Something like "If I don't absolutely love an idea, I throw it out"


To write like she does it means you have to test a lot of ideas before you'll get enough to fill a CD or whatever... (which is what those sorts of songwriters actually do.) I am trying to find the video from when Diane Warren went on 60 minutes and showed her composing room- a room with a single piano and a tape deck, littered with C-10 cassettes of all her ideas, strewn everywhere, dust caked on everything because the cleaning staff are forbidden to enter- only she, the piano tuner, and at the time, that cameraman had ever gone in...

Don't forget that it's okay to revisit an old idea and improve on it, and that you don't have to release every single thing you finish.

I stopped making music for a few years because I reached a point where I stopped having shockingly great ideas; specifically, the things I wanted to try had literally been completed and made famous by someone else. I could return to making music for a few reasons: I could get tools I could afford without piracy or stealing, that didn't cost more money than I make at work, I "discovered" the format of compos, which turn the process into something more like a game, and most importantly, I reached a point where the music I make no longer has an effect on my future well-being.

As you can see, the reason I make music is much different from when I was younger... and I expect answers to "How do you feel about listening to your own music?" to reflect that.
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Postby plusminus » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:18 pm

tenfour wrote:In a conversation once with a non-musician friend, I said something like, "I love every song I write. If I didn't, I wouldn't have written it." They thought this was an arrogant statement but I don't think so; I think it describes exactly why I do this at all.


I don't think that's arrogant at all. At the same time I definitely have songs that I am satisfied with, and others that I"m kind of unhappy about because they didn't turn out like I wanted.

Reminds me of something I heard as well, can't find a source but it was along the lines of "If you aren't self-absorbed at all, you're probably not very interesting."

One thing I've noticed about listening to unfinished things is that if I play them too much, I need to take a break from them because they start to sound "complete" even when they aren't. Like I don't want to change anything about them because it will take away from what I've come to expect, even if it's just a loop.
Singing is a trick to get people to listen to music for longer than they would ordinarily. -- David Byrne

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Postby organic io » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:31 am

plusminus wrote:One thing I've noticed about listening to unfinished things is that if I play them too much, I need to take a break from them because they start to sound "complete" even when they aren't. Like I don't want to change anything about them because it will take away from what I've come to expect, even if it's just a loop.


!!! I've definitely run across this problem in the past. I noticed it about 3 or 4 years ago and after that point I made an effort to listen to current unfinished works a lot less.

It might be becoming a problem with my current hastycompo tune. Now I will just have to make an effort to say "No, that's not really where it ends..." and move on :)
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Postby organic io » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:36 am

chunter wrote:To write like she does it means you have to test a lot of ideas before you'll get enough to fill a CD or whatever... (which is what those sorts of songwriters actually do.) I am trying to find the video from when Diane Warren went on 60 minutes and showed her composing room- a room with a single piano and a tape deck, littered with C-10 cassettes of all her ideas, strewn everywhere, dust caked on everything because the cleaning staff are forbidden to enter- only she, the piano tuner, and at the time, that cameraman had ever gone in...


A long long time ago I heard an interview with Jewel where she said she had something like 500 completed songs (This was only like after her 1st album had come out) .... At the time I was like !?!?!! Most of them must have been really bad, that's all I could think -- That's still my hypothesis all these years later. I myself still have maybe completed maybe 75 (?), no more than 100 songs, and that is after 15 years in the "industry" (lol), so I can't really fathom 500+ songs (And I imagine it's a lot more now for her) . But I guess that's why she's a professional and I'm not. :D
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Postby chunter » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:43 am

The danger is that you may have a tendency to think something is more catchy than it really is simply because you've heard it over and over. There are a few ways to avoid it-

Take a break and listen with fresh ears

Give yourself "rules" (for example, I try to have at least three major ideas per piece)

Make sure repetitions are not identical
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Postby organic io » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:57 am

chunter wrote:Make sure repetitions are not identical


Indeed. A while back (within the past year) I was reading an article on songwriting, and here is one of the tips it gave to make memorable melodies: (it took me a few minutes to dig up the link)

It has been said many times that no one can teach you how to write a great melody. This may be true but there are a few tricks that will help you write a memorable one.

Memorable, emotionally powerful melodies use repetition and variation. A melody with no repetition sounds unfocused and weak, as if it's wandering around with nowhere to go. Listeners quickly lose interest and tune out. A melody with too much repetition is boring. Good melodies walk the line in between - mixing repeated phrases with variation.


I've tried to employ that technique in my music over the past 9 months or so (balancing between variation and repetition)... And it seems to be helping in my songwriting.

Here's the whole page for anyone interested:

http://www.robinfrederick.com/write.html

And now, I think sleep must be a bad idea, but a necessary one.

Peace :D
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Postby Andy:Ray » Fri Sep 07, 2012 7:48 am

organic io wrote:
A long long time ago I heard an interview with Jewel where she said she had something like 500 completed songs (This was only like after her 1st album had come out) .... At the time I was like !?!?!! Most of them must have been really bad, that's all I could think --


Hmm.. depends what you mean .. did she mean a fully arranged, mixed and mastered song (like I guess you do when referring to your 75-100 finished songs) or does she mean a guitar tab with chords, melody and lyrics...

I mean, I´ve got like 40 songs ( not as many as jewel thoug ;) composed for guitar and vocal written down on plain white paper.. Ive written theses over the course of say 10 years... the vocal line or melody , if you like, is in my head and haven´t changed much during these years.. These songs are finished in my mind but they're not recorded as such..

so, what constitutes a finished song?

//Andy
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Postby organic io » Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:28 am

AndyRay wrote:Hmm.. depends what you mean .. did she mean a fully arranged, mixed and mastered song (like I guess you do when referring to your 75-100 finished songs) or does she mean a guitar tab with chords, melody and lyrics...


I think definitely what was meant was more along the lines of the second one -- chords, melody, lyrics. Not a full production. But still, 500 of those at the time still seemed/seems mindblowing to me.

AndyRay wrote:I mean, I´ve got like 40 songs ( not as many as jewel thoug Wink composed for guitar and vocal written down on plain white paper.. Ive written theses over the course of say 10 years... the vocal line or melody , if you like, is in my head and haven´t changed much during these years.. These songs are finished in my mind but they're not recorded as such..


That's really cool. You should record some of those.

I don't really have any that I have just "written in my mind" like that. I think my memory isn't good enough. Song ideas come to me all the time, but I usually forget them and I hardly ever write them down or record a sketch of the idea. I guess this is bad, I'm losing these ideas... But when I sit down at Sunvox or Renoise, I never feel like I have been robbed of something I'm missing.

I guess my way of composing is more tactile or spontaneous -- Directly in the software.

AndyRay wrote:so, what constitutes a finished song?

//Andy


Good question. Let's have some discussion about this!

I think a song is finished whenever the composer says it is. So it depends on the context and purpose of the song. Some people write songs only for other people to perform them. So for example a song that was written by a composer and then given to a bluegrass band that goes out and plays the songs live and never has any intention of recording them... The song is done once the composition on paper is finished.

Or maybe the composer wants to hear it played after it's written. In that case, maybe it's not "done" until he's handed it off to the band and heard them play it for the first time (or maybe the 50th time after they have gotten better at it, ha)

Tracked music is pretty much the exact opposite of that. It's not intended to be "played live", from the beginning all the arranging is already intended to be the "final recorded product".... So for many of us tracker musicians, a song written down on paper is only half complete and wouldn't be finished until the mixed/mastered .wav hits the hard drive.

:)
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Postby CAG » Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:00 pm

Oh man, it's been so long since I composed...

I am addicted to laying around with an electric guitar and a pair of headphones doing absolutely nothing. AND there is a perfectly good audio interface in front of me. :oops:
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Re: Listening to your own music ?

Postby gilli » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:57 am

organic io wrote:Tracked music is pretty much the exact opposite of that. It's not intended to be "played live", from the beginning all the arranging is already intended to be the "final recorded product".... So for many of us tracker musicians, a song written down on paper is only half complete and wouldn't be finished until the mixed/mastered .wav hits the hard drive.

I think the same way about it. Nowadays tracked music can be treated differently though (live gigs) but my relation to composing music is exactly what you have described. I'm really thankful to be able to actually write down, arrange and quickly listen to ideas. To my friends I appear to be very eccentric about music (and I can confirm that). If I think about a song, I have an imagination of how it should sound in an arrangement, how ornaments should be played, even of how bright or dull which voice should be. So, the tracker is the best way for me to show a musical idea. Once an idea is released, it's really natural for me to accept changes and additional suggestions, because the listeners could hear the idea as a whole first. If I show an idea any earlier to anyone, then I'll be unhappy to hear what they'd change/improve about it. I even loose motivation to continue working on it, because I know I had been influenced. But I mostly get back to it after 'cleansing' my head after a while.


And about listening to my own songs:

Well, I'm happy if I can enjoy my works, so I always try to make them as enjoyable as possible, right from the start. Of course this is just limited to my own perception and my own taste. But to satisfy this taste, I also like to get back to my earlier stuff. Not only can I enjoy it then, I also find out what I could have improved.

A great thing about SDC is, after many years you can check out your old entry and see how other artists felt about your song, describing details like "instrument 3, in pattern 'bridge', on line 04" or "the filter on track 'bass' behind the compressor". So I can listen to my own stuff and see in detail if the idea's intentions came out right.
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