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The Evolution of Your Music

Demensa

Characterless sack of potatoes
Hello everyone!
I feel like starting a new topic, so I shall do just that.
I find when I compose songs I tend to get stuck in a rut for certain features of a song.
For example:

I might write a few songs and then look back to realise that they are all IV V I VI(Or similarly overused) chord progressions in essence. I sometimes re-use melodic lines over and over again. The same thing tends to happen with rhythmic ostinatos as well. I like to shift from accenting the offbeat to the onbeat suddenly in rhythmic lines; (this is especially common when I compose in 7/4) I tend to mark the end of sections with triplets (to contrast with normal crotchet or quaver note values) or conversely with standard quavers (to contrast with triplets).

These are just a few examples of things I have actively noticed while listening to my songs.

What I want to know, is what things you tend to repeat in your music unintentionally and what approach you take after finding them.
For instance, when I find my music getting stale or repetitive, or I find some detail I've been repeating, I try to make a conscious change in my compositions and change the music I listen to. I find that if I change what influences me, I will make some change in the music I produce.

But the reason I picked this as a topic, is that there is a balance that has to be maintained between change and self-similarity. You might notice things you do the same in different songs and want to keep them there. You might feel that if you change too much, you'll lose your signature sound or style. Maybe the genre you enjoy composing is somewhat limiting and you like subtle changes, rather than large ones so that you don't lose the continuity between your songs.
In other words, some people don't mind being stuck in a rut. In fact, everyone is going to be composing self-similar music to some degree. Even if you make all the changes in the world, making sure that you don't fall into any pattern, you still end up quite predictable in the end.

So in a nutshell, this is a discussion on how you approach the evolution of your music. Are you comfortable where you are now? Do you like making big changes constantly? Do you like to try new styles and genres? Does a change in influences change your music?

Do you think your songs are too self similar? How? And how do you go about making changes? (If you think of it as a negative aspect of your music rather than a positive feature)
Give some examples if you want! I'm too lazy to hash together comparison sound clips right now.

I think that's enough questions for now...
Part 2 of my futile attempt to revive The Blue Note.
 

Kalmor

Banned
Banned
Hmm this is interesting.

I tend to just get too pre occupied with a idea or melody that I everything I try with the other tracks just sounds "meh". I also get skeptical when someone tells me that a particular part of a song is awesome and I'm just sitting there like "huh? It doesn't sound right to me". I also am too quick in transitioning from one idea to another so the two don't really sound 'together', this usually results in staring at the score for half an hour trying to figure things out. Oh, and not actually finishing my work, I have 10-20 project files that I've pretty much abandoned due to me thinking they're crappy.

I need to upload more to FA too, that last one I released on there was about a month ago.
 

Rivers Bluetail

Furry Little Blue Guy
My songs are all very similar sounding, but that's all the way I see music. It's my take on it, and similarly voiced songs are reminiscent of a similar motive. I feel like I play the same song over and over again, but I don't mind. If you listen to a lot of professional musicians, much of their work sounds the same.

For me, the biggest flaw in my music is lack of patience. I have all these songs and sounds in my head, but I can't let them out. It pisses me off, but makes the final product more rewarding. It gives me motives for getting better at what I make.
 

Demensa

Characterless sack of potatoes
Hmm this is interesting.

I also get skeptical when someone tells me that a particular part of a song is awesome and I'm just sitting there like "huh? It doesn't sound right to me".
I also am too quick in transitioning from one idea to another so the two don't really sound 'together', this usually results in staring at the score for half an hour trying to figure things out.
Oh, and not actually finishing my work, I have 10-20 project files that I've pretty much abandoned due to me thinking they're crappy.

I understand what you mean by something that doesn't seem right to you, but other people like. After a certain amount of time working and listening to a song, I honestly cannot tell whether it is good or bad anymore. I might find some minute flaws which no one but myself picks up on. Conversely, I might listen to something enough times to understand the subtleties that make the music good, but I'll listen to it again a few days later and it will sound like a garbled mess. Does this ever happen to you?Transitions can be hard when you pick ideas that are unrelated that you want to string together. Sometimes I feel like two sections would go together well, but they turn out to be in different keys, meaning I have to transpose one of them or otherwise figure out a way of smoothly modulating to a new key. Sometimes I just throw out the idea and create one that fits better. Usually that's the easier way, although I've been getting better at shifting tonal centers recently, usually to link a bridge where I wander off, into a final chorus or something similar, to give unity.

And the abandoned ideas are always good to have if you ever find that one of them fits into a new piece you're writing.

My songs are all very similar sounding, but that's all the way I see music. It's my take on it, and similarly voiced songs are reminiscent of a similar motive. I feel like I play the same song over and over again, but I don't mind. If you listen to a lot of professional musicians, much of their work sounds the same.

For me, the biggest flaw in my music is lack of patience. I have all these songs and sounds in my head, but I can't let them out. It pisses me off, but makes the final product more rewarding. It gives me motives for getting better at what I make.

That's what I thought most people would say, about the not minding. It certainly makes sense, even if it isn't always the approach I take. I was going to make a Tube thread discussing a similar topic as well.

Patience is difficult for me as well. Often I'll find myself composing songs in my head while it's quiet at work and then come home to find that my musical inspiration is gone, and I have to wait again until I come up with something else.
 

Kalmor

Banned
Banned
I understand what you mean by something that doesn't seem right to you, but other people like. After a certain amount of time working and listening to a song, I honestly cannot tell whether it is good or bad anymore. I might find some minute flaws which no one but myself picks up on. Conversely, I might listen to something enough times to understand the subtleties that make the music good, but I'll listen to it again a few days later and it will sound like a garbled mess. Does this ever happen to you?Transitions can be hard when you pick ideas that are unrelated that you want to string together. Sometimes I feel like two sections would go together well, but they turn out to be in different keys, meaning I have to transpose one of them or otherwise figure out a way of smoothly modulating to a new key. Sometimes I just throw out the idea and create one that fits better. Usually that's the easier way, although I've been getting better at shifting tonal centers recently, usually to link a bridge where I wander off, into a final chorus or something similar, to give unity.

And the abandoned ideas are always good to have if you ever find that one of them fits into a new piece you're writing
Yeah, that's exactly it. I find myself wandering into the minor equivalent of a major key (and vice versa) without realising and when I play it back I completely facepalm and remove most of it or try to make it sound the best I can. I'm relatively new to the relm of electronic music/DAWs/VSTi/EQ/reverb/etc, before I got my DAW (I use Reaper) I used to completely score everything out in Sibelius (which I got a free code for from my school) for non-electronic music. Which DAW(s) do you use? Also I think we need a thread for useful plugins/virtual instruments (preferably free ones) for said DAWs. I'll think I'll make it tomorrow/in a few hours as it's 4:55am here....
 

Rivers Bluetail

Furry Little Blue Guy
That's what I thought most people would say, about the not minding. It certainly makes sense, even if it isn't always the approach I take. I was going to make a Tube thread discussing a similar topic as well.

Patience is difficult for me as well. Often I'll find myself composing songs in my head while it's quiet at work and then come home to find that my musical inspiration is gone, and I have to wait again until I come up with something else.
The worst part is coming up with something you think is really awesome, then realizing that it was a song before you thought of it. Ugh XC

I do constantly change the way I play, throughout different parts of my life. The problem is that once I get into that particular style, I have trouble learning a new one.
 

Demensa

Characterless sack of potatoes
Yeah, that's exactly it. I find myself wandering into the minor equivalent of a major key (and vice versa) without realising and when I play it back I completely facepalm and remove most of it or try to make it sound the best I can. I'm relatively new to the relm of electronic music/DAWs/VSTi/EQ/reverb/etc, before I got my DAW (I use Reaper) I used to completely score everything out in Sibelius (which I got a free code for from my school) for non-electronic music. Which DAW(s) do you use? Also I think we need a thread for useful plugins/virtual instruments (preferably free ones) for said DAWs. I'll think I'll make it tomorrow/in a few hours as it's 4:55am here....

When you say the minor equivalent of a major key do you mean the relative minor or do you mean from say, E major to E minor?
I'm assuming you mean the latter, but I just want to be sure.

I use FL studio for all of my electronically produced music. For my other instrumental pieces I'll record all of the ideas so I don't forget them and when I'm done I write up the score by tabbing it (usually guitar pieces) and putting any extra drums etc. into guitar pro and saving that file. (writing up the guitar in tab is much easier than putting the notes on the stave, because tabbing it will create a traditional score simultaneously. All you then have to do is fix all the rhythmic values up. With other instruments it would be different though...) Sibelius is good for scoring things, although I've only been able to use it sparingly at school.

And make that thread!

The worst part is coming up with something you think is really awesome, then realizing that it was a song before you thought of it. Ugh XC

I do constantly change the way I play, throughout different parts of my life. The problem is that once I get into that particular style, I have trouble learning a new one.

Man, that moment when you realise that you've been subconsciously copying someone else's music almost note for note is annoying.
Most of the time they turn out to be songs that I've written.
Even when I try to be as aware as possible, it can still get me.

Sometimes I borrow things consciously as well; occasionally I like to use this lick (0:48 to 0:50), which I've heard in multiple songs before.
However, I find it's good practice to sit down and jam to some simple chords sometimes and try to find some decent licks and riffs of my own and widen my knowledge base.
 

Kalmor

Banned
Banned
Demensa said:
When you say the minor equivalent of a major key do you mean the relative minor or do you mean from say, E major to E minor?I'm assuming you mean the latter, but I just want to be sure.


I use FL studio for all of my electronically produced music. For my other instrumental pieces I'll record all of the ideas so I don't forget them and when I'm done I write up the score by tabbing it (usually guitar pieces) and putting any extra drums etc. into guitar pro and saving that file. (writing up the guitar in tab is much easier than putting the notes on the stave, because tabbing it will create a traditional score simultaneously. All you then have to do is fix all the rhythmic values up. With other instruments it would be different though...) Sibelius is good for scoring things, although I've only been able to use it sparingly at school.
Whoops yes I mean relative minor (that's a mistake that'll lose me marks in a theory exam..). Say I'm composing in C maj I'll start putting A minor bits in without knowing (C maj and A min have the same key sig but A min has the sharpened G which isn't written in the key sig).

That's pretty cool. I use Reaper as it's really great for the price compared to the more expensive ones (it was 'only' $60). It pretty much has most of the features of the more expensive ones too.
 

Rivers Bluetail

Furry Little Blue Guy
I feel that I don't allow myself to be influenced by others enough, y'know? I get the idea in my head that I HAVE to sound like this. That's never gotten anyone anywhere though, it ends up sounding like cheap knock off riffs.

I think we could all benefit from opening up a bit, myself especially.
 

Demensa

Characterless sack of potatoes
Whoops yes I mean relative minor (that's a mistake that'll lose me marks in a theory exam..). Say I'm composing in C maj I'll start putting A minor bits in without knowing (C maj and A min have the same key sig but A min has the sharpened G which isn't written in the key sig).

That's pretty cool. I use Reaper as it's really great for the price compared to the more expensive ones (it was 'only' $60). It pretty much has most of the features of the more expensive ones too.

Actually, the A minor and C major scales contain the exact same notes, which is the distunguishing feature of the relative minor (I'm not one for music theory, so I don't know the 'real' reasoning behind relative minors, of which I am sure there is).
That is why you'll often hear songs that move between the two, even in pop music, because they are not actually going anywhere!
When you say the A minor scale has a sharpened G, I'm assuming you're referring to a harmonic minor scale, which would fit nicely into a piece in A minor, but sound bad in a piece in C major. Harmonic minors (And other related 'Gypsy' scales) are nice for spicing up melodic lines in minor keys though...

I feel that I don't allow myself to be influenced by others enough, y'know? I get the idea in my head that I HAVE to sound like this. That's never gotten anyone anywhere though, it ends up sounding like cheap knock off riffs.

I think we could all benefit from opening up a bit, myself especially.

As I like to say, originality is the illusion achieved by mixing together influences that your audience is not aware of.

What music is currently influencing you now Rivers? (And Raptros, and anyone else who may join)

Listening to more music is the best thing for the generation of musical ideas. (Music theory is also important. You don't have to study music at university, but a basic understanding is crucial. As you play more, you end up fleshing out that basic knowledge with a qualitative and rough guide for scales and modes, harmonies etc without even knowing, not that I am someone who should be saying this, but I'm starting to see the beginning.)
 

Rivers Bluetail

Furry Little Blue Guy
As I like to say, originality is the illusion achieved by mixing together influences that your audience is not aware of.

What music is currently influencing you now Rivers? (And Raptros, and anyone else who may join)

Listening to more music is the best thing for the generation of musical ideas. (Music theory is also important. You don't have to study music at university, but a basic understanding is crucial. As you play more, you end up fleshing out that basic knowledge with a qualitative and rough guide for scales and modes, harmonies etc without even knowing, not that I am someone who should be saying this, but I'm starting to see the beginning.)
I listen to most anything, to be honest! As of late I've been gravitating towards EDM, Grunge, and a little bit of the oh-so-fine Led Zepplin. I also listen to a good bit of industrial metal and most anything! It gets a little jumbly sometimes ^^;

And I agree wholeheartedly, the only thing better than music is more music! But I have a very low knowledge of theory. I'm a self taught guitarist and drummer, and let me tell you, I'm not a great teacher xD. I know the important scales and most crucial stuff, I just can't read music.
 

Kalven

New Member
I tend to forget everything I know about musical theory or how I've been taught to compose when I sit down at the keyboard (being a drummer and singer means I just tend to bash it) and I think it REALLY helps to not think about your music too much. The best music I've written to date has been due to using a very organic process, a play and write what I want to hear without worrying what other people will think. I think Einstein actually said something like (and I'm liberally paraphrasing here): 'Learn everything in your given subject and then forget it' - by doing so you open up a realm of creativity, founded upon automacity of all the boring stuff you were taught (for a good reason).

However, I think another really key factor of my music making process is have instruments with some stellar timbres. My instrument bank on Logic has hundreds of presets I've made, meaning I don't have to worry about timbre too much when writing the music as it's already there. The same can't be said for my classical compositions and that's why they suck so hard in comparison - I always write better when I can immediately get feedback from players/the sound an instrument produces...

As for things I find repeating in my music (not a bad thing necessarily - just my style), is having phrases of a certain length, cadencing on syncopated accents; usually with an abundance of synth brass, because, I mean, c'mon - THE 80s.

And Rivers, reading music isn't crucial - it's just a handy tool. The real thing that makes a piece of music is the human element - the soul behind the sticks or the plectrum or w/e. Timbre (the most important aspect of sound IMO) is highly dictated by the gestural motions we attack our instruments with (attack in a loving way ofc) and no instrument can ever replace a human being (that why my key parts are always so hilariously out of time...) :p

Music that is currently influencing me: Supertramp, Biffy Clyro, Eagles of Death Metal, Matt Whitehead, Gavin Harrison (drummer, not synth man), MJ, Gordon Goodwin & everything from the 80s.
 

Demensa

Characterless sack of potatoes
I tend to forget everything I know about musical theory or how I've been taught to compose when I sit down at the keyboard (being a drummer and singer means I just tend to bash it) and I think it REALLY helps to not think about your music too much. The best music I've written to date has been due to using a very organic process, a play and write what I want to hear without worrying what other people will think. I think Einstein actually said something like (and I'm liberally paraphrasing here): 'Learn everything in your given subject and then forget it' - by doing so you open up a realm of creativity, founded upon automacity of all the boring stuff you were taught (for a good reason).

However, I think another really key factor of my music making process is have instruments with some stellar timbres. My instrument bank on Logic has hundreds of presets I've made, meaning I don't have to worry about timbre too much when writing the music as it's already there. The same can't be said for my classical compositions and that's why they suck so hard in comparison - I always write better when I can immediately get feedback from players/the sound an instrument produces...

As for things I find repeating in my music (not a bad thing necessarily - just my style), is having phrases of a certain length, cadencing on syncopated accents; usually with an abundance of synth brass, because, I mean, c'mon - THE 80s.

And Rivers, reading music isn't crucial - it's just a handy tool. The real thing that makes a piece of music is the human element - the soul behind the sticks or the plectrum or w/e. Timbre (the most important aspect of sound IMO) is highly dictated by the gestural motions we attack our instruments with (attack in a loving way ofc) and no instrument can ever replace a human being (that why my key parts are always so hilariously out of time...) :p

Music that is currently influencing me: Supertramp, Biffy Clyro, Eagles of Death Metal, Matt Whitehead, Gavin Harrison (drummer, not synth man), MJ, Gordon Goodwin & everything from the 80s.

That end bit about the timbre and the idiosyncrasies which give a unique feel of the player is interesting. I might add that on an abstract level, usually in avant garde, industrial, glitch, and other assorted forms of electronically generated music, many people enjoy the 'coldness' or machine like consistency and accuracy in which sounds are played and repeated. It's interesting to note that most people by far favour actual people playing the music, because of all of those little inconsistencies.

Some people even go so far as to dismiss programmed music as being soulless and 'not real music' because of this, which I would wholeheartedly disagree with, on the grounds that I believe 'soul' and 'character' in music is FAR more complex than simply being present in the playing of the music. In the case of say a Beatles song being taken and programmed into some DAW. I wouldn't disagree when someone says that something good has been lost. This is because the Beatles intended to have their music being played by people. My point here of course, is that the intention of the musician also plays a large part in this topic.

Where do you guys stand on this?

And how this relates to my original topic?
Programmed music generally has a different sound to traditionally performed music. Thus I've found that experimenting with a mix of both has led down an excellent pathway for the evolution of my music. But... many people perceive programmed music as a de-evolution instead.
 

Python Blue

Member
It's hard to say for me. Originally, I was just writing covers for fun, which I still do often. Unfortunately, toward the beginning, it tended to be badly produced, primarily because I did not use compressors for quite a while, and even now, I hate the idea of over-compressing like much modern music. With my album Prison of the Mind, I finally was starting to realize compressors were necessary, but to avoid it sounding too punchy, Change of Clothes also had some limiting.

Where music theory is concerned, it seems the minor/dark keys attract me the most, both in terms of composing and in terms of appreciation. I'm trying to diversify, though, especially since I'm an aspiring game composer, which rarely involves a constant mood in a product.
 

Kalmor

Banned
Banned
Where music theory is concerned, it seems the minor/dark keys attract me the most, both in terms of composing and in terms of appreciation. I'm trying to diversify, though, especially since I'm an aspiring game composer, which rarely involves a constant mood in a product.
Ah, yes I'm like this too. I just find it easier to compose in a minor for some reason. Maybe I'm just that depressing.
 

ownbones

New Member
i love this section already

i've been feeling out with making experimental/ambient music for a while now

my interest in this became sparked after listening to Robin Storey's (aka Rapoon) stuff again and again because i never got sick of his work. my material comes from a hodgepodge of things - freesound, soundsnap, raw recordings, you name it

i have a nill budget though, so i use a hand-me-down copy of Sony ACID and Audacity because Audacity just works most of the time
 

Demensa

Characterless sack of potatoes
Ah, yes I'm like this too. I just find it easier to compose in a minor for some reason. Maybe I'm just that depressing.

Indeed; it seems that those who have dark pasts, or are at least quiet and reserved, prefer darker stuff more than others. One of my influences, Gary Numan, is living proof of that.

I find that I compose relatively equal amounts in major in minor keys. In my electronic music I often switch from a major to a minor key and vice versa multiple times within songs.

I can't really say which one I prefer to listen to either...
 

JerryFoxcoon

The classy Captain Furfag
Being a beginner I don't compose much for now. But I do like to experiment with the songs I learn, trying to change notes or even chords to see if it sounds better, figuring out the bass for a certain melody, which is probably more or less composition by itself I guess LOL.
 

Kalmor

Banned
Banned
Being a beginner I don't compose much for now. But I do like to experiment with the songs I learn, trying to change notes or even chords to see if it sounds better, figuring out the bass for a certain melody, which is probably more or less composition by itself I guess LOL.
This is actually what I used to do heh. Doing arrangements of songs first and then moving on to create my own compositions from scratch.
 
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