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Practicing the art of music production

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Practicing the art of music production

Postby zekeyheathy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:55 am

Hey everyone,

(Apologies if this subject has already been done to death on here, if so please link any previous threads, cheers)

A quick explanation of where I'm at...I started learning music production about 12 years ago and although I have gradually got more comfortable with the technical side through higher education and watching hours & hours of video tutorials, my practical experience is actually pretty poor. There's a number of reasons for this but the main one is that I just haven't found an enjoyable way to practice it. And I'm not averse to putting in the effort either - when learning musical instruments I've always put the time in to learn technique, scales etc. and had fun whilst doing it. Yet with music production it seems very different. Normally seeing subtle progress boosts confidence and thus the cycle perpetuates but with music production being rather subjective it's difficult for me to see progress so obviously - using reference tracks also makes me feel like shit when comparing my attempts with professionally mastered works and that stops me dead in my tracks rather quickly.

Over time I've heard different approaches, such as fully recreating (reverse engineering) tracks as best you can, or emulate how-to-make [insert genre] tutorials along in your DAW as you watch them. Do any of you have recommendations of furthering your confidence with production? I'm well aware that the reply of 'just do it' will probably come up but as someone who is used to having solid practice regimes that advice may not be as helpful. Thanks in advance!
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Re: Practicing the art of music production

Postby Eddy Deegan » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:37 am

Music production is both an art and a science. You are correct in that practice and repetition is useful but without some kind of reference to measure yourself against (other than reference tracks, which can appear to be way over there in the distance in engineering termse) it's hard to guage your progress.

If you've already watched lots of tutorials and haven't felt you've gained enough enlightenment for your comfort I would recommend having a chat with a professional. Not necessarily a lesson or a course to begin with, just a proper chat about where you are at, what you know, what you've done, what you want to achieve and all those things that come with a decent 2-way conversation.

There are a number of forum members here who could probably help you with that and I would recommend, in no particular order, Zukan (Wycombe area), The Elf (Sheffield area) and Jack Ruston (Brighton area), all of whom are professionals who have mastered the skills you seek to obtain. If you are not in the UK or are too far away to see them in person then I know at least two of them do Skype (or similar) sessions.

I was actually quite comfortable with my musical engineering, having spent years reading, learning and practicing but when I started talking to one of the above (I won't say which, they are all excellent people to talk to) my awareness of where I was at and how I could improve was elevated considerably, after which I was far from comfortable with where I was at :-)

Although many specific questions can be answered, and various discussions throw up gems often, we can't realistically give more information here in the forum than you'll find in the SOS article archives and through forum searches but in any case, a single day spent in the company of one of the chaps above is not a big investment and will be money well spent.

If you want to know how to improve your mixing and production skills and self-help isn't helping then contact and talk to one of the above, is my recommendation.
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Re: Practicing the art of music production

Postby blinddrew » Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:56 am

It might be worth clarifying exactly what you mean by music production. It could mean anything from the old job of a recording engineer, through mixing and mastering, to the wonderfully vague set of activities done by a 'producer'.
Or, as is increasingly common, all of the above. :)
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Re: Practicing the art of music production

Postby CS70 » Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:08 am

zekeyheathy wrote:Yet with music production it seems very different. Normally seeing subtle progress boosts confidence and thus the cycle perpetuates but with music production being rather subjective it's difficult for me to see progress so obviously - using reference tracks also makes me feel like shit when comparing my attempts with professionally mastered works and that stops me dead in my tracks rather quickly.

For one, it may simply be you don't enjoy it. For example, no amount of effort will ever make me like fishing - yet there's fellas who spend hours debating the fine point of rods and winding mechanisms and eulogizing the pleasure of hours spend in what - to me - is a perfect storm of boredom and time waste. So you could just entail the collaboration of some mixing engineer - there's sites like Kompoz (https://www.kompoz.com/music/) where you find many willing - and sometimes able - people glad to help out.

That said, the most common issue with anyone trying to get commercial grade production at home is a misunderstanding of what is important: you need to get a great recording to be able to (potentially) get a good mix. And to get a great recording, you need to put up a great performance, have great acoustics in your room, a good microphone and know how to work it. In that order. Only then you have a chance of a great mix.

Music and performance are king and queen. After them, the recording and mixing room especially is something that few think about (I certainly didn't when I started).

Nowadays room acoustics are the only reason which may stop you from getting a commercial-grade mix at a home studio, so taking care of that is perhaps the most important thing you can do to improve your mixes.
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Re: Practicing the art of music production

Postby James Perrett » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:40 pm

I'd go along with Eddy's recommendation to talk to someone else. It is always interesting to see how someone else approaches your material and the different techniques that they use. I know I learned an awful lot when I went into studios with my early bands and I was lucky enough to get to hang out with friends' bands in studios too. Even nowadays I like to work with other people in my studio because they're likely to push me to try something new.
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Re: Practicing the art of music production

Postby zekeyheathy » Fri Feb 14, 2020 8:03 pm

Cheers for the replies everyone, seems like reaching out to someone is a good way forward.

CS70 wrote:For one, it may simply be you don't enjoy it. For example, no amount of effort will ever make me like fishing - yet there's fellas who spend hours debating the fine point of rods and winding mechanisms and eulogizing the pleasure of hours spend in what - to me - is a perfect storm of boredom and time waste.
Totally understand the reasoning behind this and I must admit I have occasionally felt like that was the case, yet when I stop I miss it and come straight back. All-in-all this journey does make me happy.

blinddrew wrote:It might be worth clarifying exactly what you mean by music production.
My apologies...by music production I'm specifically referring to making electronic music up to a professional, releasable standard - though not just necessarily dance music.

To be honest about my situation, I have a full-time job and a 3 year old so can only really dedicate about an hour a day to this currently. But after mulling this over today it is now obvious my theoretical study and practical work have always been way out of balance - although I've spent a lot of time getting very comfortable using Ableton Live. Maybe subconsciously the reason I made my original post was to get a response to the simple question 'How do I best utilise an hour everyday towards making music?'. Maybe I should just spend that hour every day just forcing myself to make music regardless of how much I dislike the results and then only use tutorials and other forms of learning afterwards . My lack of confidence does makes me feel like I don't know enough and so have always tried to study more & more - to the detriment of my actual practical work which actually may be the place I gain that confidence eventually
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Re: Practicing the art of music production

Postby The Bunk » Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:46 am

zekeyheathy wrote: using reference tracks also makes me feel like shit when comparing my attempts with professionally mastered works and that stops me dead in my tracks rather quickly.


Seriously don't beat yourself up about that. I suspect we've all been there (I certainly have) but if we all packed it in when we feel like that then I doubt many of us would still be here. There's nothing wrong with setting the bar high but equally you should maintain a sense of realism. I know with my set-up, equipment, room and ability there's only so far I can go but that doesn't stop me massively enjoying it and still being able to knock out something that I think it's fair to say can still be regarded as "pretty good".
As has been mentioned before, I would definitely, if you can, talk to some of the more experienced guys / girls on here. I've done so and benefitted massively. One thing that is hugely important is that they are "non-judgmental". They are NOT going to say "that's shite, you're wasting your time". You will learn from them and they won't bite your head off!
I still remember one of my first posts here when I asked when I thought would be regarded as a daft question. One of the first answers I got was "it's not daft to want to learn..."...so I'm still here and much the wiser for it. Well I think so anyway :D .
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