What does it mean to call someone a beat
From loop to track - 8 tips to finally get done!
Workshop: How to free yourself from the loop trap!
Tutorial: finish producing more songs!
(Credits: Shutterstock / Robsonphoto)
Every producer has it, the folder on the hard drive with “Beat2”, “Latenightbeat”, “Banger4real” and “Projekt17”. All the ideas that were never finished. It is clear that not every beat that is four bars long is immediately produced into an epic 5-minute track. However, too many unfinished ideas can block your own creativity.
In some respects we humans are still amazingly simple. If there is a to-do list, it MUST be worked through so that our thoughts leave us alone. Otherwise, weeks later, the thought “There is still missing” .... A folder full of beat ideas is the opposite of that. Why don't we produce all of these ideas? Mostly because we are stuck, because we have lost the flow of the first few hours and it is going to be exhausting. Where's the fun in that?
We all have folders full of beats and loops on our hard drive.
Before we take a closer look at the solution to your sleepless nights, maybe a little more about the cause. Why doesn't it work? Why do you get stuck in the loop at all? Cause number one: your own claim. Every beat MUST be perfect. Must sound like original XY (Deadmau5, J Dilla, The Cratez etc.). The big difference is the huge amount of experience that said producers already have. Anyone who has put ten or twenty thousand hours into producing will manage to produce the desired sounds and the right arrangement much faster.
Nice that you measure yourself against the big ones. But if everything that doesn't sound professional from the first note is already for the bin, everything that you come up with in terms of ideas does not meet your requirements anyway, it cannot go well. And one thing is certain: even the big ones have hard drives full of unfinished ideas. Here are our 8 tips to finally finish faster!
# 1 - copy and paste songwriting
The cursed four bars in which you have been hanging for 54 hours, which you hear in a loop, from which you cannot get out. The flow, they have groove, everything is perfectly coordinated. Kick, snare, bass, percussion and a sample - everything is there. How do you blow up this perfect structure into a three-minute-thirty song?
You turn in a circle, the loop is finished - and ready for big things!
Very blunt: copy & paste. Copy all elements as many times as necessary to make them the desired length. And now comes what you could most likely call “subtractive songwriting”: The chorus or the finale will be where all the tracks run, what your opening loop was. In all other places in the arrangement you delete individual blocks and reduce them. A first set-up has already been made.
Often you have enough elements in your loop that you can create an entire track with just copying and deleting.
# 2 - workflow, workflow, workflow
I got this tip many years ago from a great tutorial by the producer ill.Gates. How often do we get stuck in the loop because we just wanted to quickly find a second kick drum? Opened a folder with 345 kick samples, listened for four hours, deleted beats at the end? When we produce, the flow, the state in which we produce at the speed of thought, is the ideal state. You can only maintain this for as long as possible if you also concentrate on all the other work steps in production in your day-to-day work. In order not to fall into the trap of looking for the perfect sample or preset for many hours during the actual production, take extra time.
Those who stay in the flow make quick progress! (Shutterstock / By: Roman Zaiets)
There will be enough times when you sit uninspired at the computer and no new music comes out of you. Use this time for pre-selection or sound design. Creates folders with different sound categories, uses the rating and favorite systems that are available in most preset browsers for software instruments. You will thank yourself for the actual production.
In many DAWs and plugins there is the possibility of creating individual sounds and presets with a favorite system.
# 3 - The goal is the goal, not the way!
For many producers, hours of automating, editing and trying things out, i.e. the entire process, are the greatest pleasure in producing. It would be bad if not. What kind of music would it be if the last 38 hours you put into the beat had been pure agony? It can happen, however, that you lose sight of quitting because of all the production.
Sure, art is NEVER finished. But if you approach a piece of music with the attitude that you want to finish producing it and you don't allow yourself to be dissuaded, that can mean a big step. What sounds like the umpteenth lifehack is simply a stronger awareness of why you are producing music in the first place. If you love to work on hihats for hours, days, weeks, there is no reason to be frustrated if the beats are not finished.
# 4 - set limits
The great thing about DAWs is that you have all the options you need to produce music. The bad thing about DAWs is that you have all the options you need to produce music. Unfortunately, we are not so well made for having to make too many decisions at the same time. "The snare?" ... "Or the?" ... "The reverb tail sounded even nicer with the impulse response, didn't it?
First set limits and then come back later. (Credits: Shutterstock / By: djgis)
uction concerns. But sometimes more is needed. Four bars of music ready? No kick drum in there yet? How about producing the track without a kick drum instead of looking for the perfect sample forever? Or impose a tempo or key on yourself beforehand? For those who lack inspiration here, Bowie producer Brian Eno's “Oblique Strategy” is recommended.
# 5 - Use the arrangements of the role models for yourself
Where samples, melodies and texts quickly become problematic in terms of copyright law, it is (until now!) Completely unproblematic to shamelessly look at the song structures and arrangements of your role models. There isn't that much variation. Much of popular music revolves around the "verse-refrain-verse-refrain-bridge-refrain" corset. In EDM or other electronic genres, the structures are often a little different - this is mostly about the "drop" - but basically every genre has its basic structure.
Do you have your loop together and you already have an idea whether it will be more of a verse or chorus (or the "drop"), but you don't have the idea of how the whole thing develops as a song or song part, just steal from your role models. Which elements are added when and when do they pause, how is a new part introduced? A break, a drum fill, a second snare or a new synth? And since you still use your sounds and melodies, no one will notice a copied arrangement and no lawyers will be involved.
# 6 - Be your own client!
The basic problem with some producers is motivation. Not the ones that it takes to turn on the computer, but the ones to finish producing the tracks. However, if there is a client, if you produce beats for someone else or if you have been commissioned to do a remix, the production suddenly becomes much easier. But it can't be that!
If you have a plan, you will get more tracks faster. (Credits: Shutterstock / By: hurricanehank)
If building beats and producing tracks is exactly THAT what you've always wanted to do since you played an MPC for the first time, why is there a problem? Why not trick yourself? Create a split personality? Order songs from yourself. Imagine running a profile or label that is running well on Beatport or Beatstars and with a producer who is under contract with you (trick: you are yourself!) On a deadline commission new music.
# 7 - No influence - isolate yourself and only work with focus
For some, incense sticks are needed, for others, the Twitter feed on the computer, some roll one cigarette after the other, and still others make an Insta story for every snare hit. All well and good if it serves creativity. We don't want to play the moralist in the least. But many outside influences can be causes of distraction when making music. And distraction, on the other hand, is THE cause of not-finishing beats. So if it’s not all right, why not turn off WLAN, switch your mobile phone to flight mode, ventilate it briefly and then leave the studio or computer only when the song is finished?
Flight mode, savior of the creative! (Credits: Shutterstock / By: Georgejmclittle)
# 8 - Have break, have a chit-chat - take breaks
If all else fails, every creative technique, every restriction and every idea doesn't want to ignite, it is time to take a break. Either from the beat that robs you of sleep or from making music entirely. Sometimes a day is enough, sometimes you have to leave a piece of music lying around for a really long time until your ears are fresh enough. And then you can put yourself on the loop with new sounds, an alert head, the fixed goal of getting the beat ready, a notepad to write down while listening to it and a lot of new motivation. Most of the time it turns into a song.
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