Killing a track

So I’ve finished a track, and realised it needs some more work. A layer or two, a little something here and there. It’s on the level where I need to bring out an instrument and record a few new loops, and possibly restructure the order a bit.

All good, if the track’s inspiring. I quite like the feeling of almost being finished, getting that great idea and rework the whole thing into something awesome.

But I can tell that this time, even if I do these things, it’s not gonna be my best work, or even a track I’d look much forward to sharing or playing. It’s not gonna be bad, let’s say about average if the measurement is simply what I’ve done so far and know what I’m capable of.

So I’m thinking, maybe just kill it and move on to the next one, which always has the potential to be the best yet, having the benefit of being a blank canvas. But closure is also good, saying “It’s done” before I move on, or else the pile of unfinished stuff adds up.

What’s your approach to this? Do you kill something when you know it’s not gonna be great, or do you finish just because you need to for peace of mind? Or something else?

I think it is probably good practice to finish ALL tracks as finishing a track is something that might need practice like every other part of the production process.
This is theoretically speaking as I myself tend to not finish most of the tracks I am starting.
Actually I am fine programming beats and bassline and moving on. Not sure what the best solution is in that case. Either learning how to finish a track or teaming up with someone who is more into arranging stuff.

Strip it back.
Find the few elements that actually work, and work those.

The biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from the massive Aphex Twin Soundcloud dump is that part of what has made RDJ so good is because he’s completed a ridiculous amount of tracks. Frankly, I think at least 30% of the Soundcloud tracks are pretty dull and uninspired, but it seems obvious that he’s had to work through some mediocre stuff in order to learn how to make the good stuff.

I’m not always great about doing this myself, but I’m trying to at least push through an idea to a point that it can be shelved and brought back later with fresh ears. Don’t be afraid to be ruthless either-you may like that bass and pad, but if they really don’t jive or move the track where you’d like it, cut them out of there and try something else. Maybe try stripping the track way down and imposing limitations. Let’s say the song is coming out to around 5 minutes and you aren’t feeling it’s great-can you say the same thing and better if you do it in under 3 minutes?

All good advise. I’m gonna finish it. But rip it apart first, pick out my favourites and see what happens when I go beyond that.

Thanks.

Ahah
I would have said the opposite, that even an half-finished track can be interesting in someone else’s ears.
Like : when you’ve worked for days on a single track it’s sometimes hard to have an objective judgment.
Plus by reworking something you sometimes loose some of the spontaneity that emerged from jamming in the first place.

Maybe it’s just the newbie speaking, I kind of consider all my tracks as unfinished business.
In fact, I have still so much to learn that each time I drop an ear to my own tracks I find a detail that could have been better.

But I don’t know, unless you aim to seize AFX’s crown I would say that I would drop the track on Soundcloud and work on another one.
Then come back later, mess up with the best moments of the track and create a better one.
Working too long on a track is not that efficient, IMO.

Yet, again, it may be the unexperienced producer’s words ^^

:+1:
Many times a track tells me when it’s finished. As long as it dousn’t it can stay waiting for months or even years without being listened.
After a few month’s I might listen to it in a total different way … and hear what it’s trying to tell me… I can force myself to work but I can’t force inspiration …

I just want to make sure I don’t confuse the romantic idea of creativity with avoiding the truth that art requires hard work.

I’m putting together a show and an EP (on which the show is based), and it’s my first, probably also my last. It’s one of those things I just have to do before I check out.

And for that purpose, I have a clear idea of where my music will be played. Measured against that, I think there is such a thing as saying a track is finished, the value of sticking even it hurts, and don’t be afraid to rip stuff apart to find the good stuff that’s buried beneath that pile of garbage.

Ernest Hemingway said that the first draft of anything is shit. It’s sticking with it that uncovers what’s good.

Wow. VERY sensitive words, dear.
They found their place in my mind, for real.
I’d be curious to read lyrics of yours.
If I may, what is this “before I check out” about ?

Wow. VERY sensitive words, dear.
They found their place in my mind, for real.
I’d be curious to read lyrics of yours.
If I may, what is this “before I check out” about ?
[/quote]
There’s been some death around me lately, people signing off before their time. A bit too frequent, a few too many. Holding hands with someone who’s fading, makes you think, not in a philosophical but truly primal way, about what’s worth something.
But I’m also a writer by profession, so I have tendency to make even the smallest things sound dramatic if I’m in the mood. I can make Sunday toast and tea sound like the Lord’s last supper was nothing in comparison.

:heart:

Yesterday i had the feeling music turned to work, but it was still fun to do it.
Creating FX loops sometimes makes me think about buying sample CD’s.
But it wouldn’t be my original swooosszzzzhh, damnit.

I would recommend to finish the track, probably do a rythm transition, so you can get new ideas you may introduce to the earlier part, where you weren’t so happy about. Use the phaser on the master channel to do the rythm transition.

Think about the track in a different way, if it was about flowers, try to introduce trees, or aliens behind trees.

Yep. Good advise. That’s what I’m doing now. Like it a lot better now, I think there’s some funk in these grooves after all. And when you pull through something like this, and the end result is actually pretty good, satisfaction is greater, for sure.

:heart:
[/quote]
:slight_smile:

On some level I always want to release tracks I know are half-baked just so I can move on to something else and show everybody what I’ve been working on, that I’m active, that I’m doing stuff, I’m not asleep over here!

But… I also realize that I want to do things to a consistent level of quality. Ultimately, I know no one but me really gives a shit who I am or what I do, but my output means something me, personally. Just a goal of mine to only release things I am personally proud of. So if something doesn’t catch my ear or have a good vibe, I sit on it.

Maybe I chop out the good bits, render to audio (save MIDI clips too though), and put in a folder to be used later. Remix my own work.

This is why I love Ableton Live Session view. I can throw all this bits of audio I have created over the years into one large Session and trigger all these different clips to see what works together. Once in a while something nice happens when you play a couple things together you never would have thought of matching up.

We all work differently and have different goals though. It’s always interesting to me to read what others do in these situations.

I tend to like artists who go for quality over quantity. There’s something admirable to doing that in this modern world of constant over-exposure.

What do I get more excited about? AFX dumping hundreds of half-assed work on SC (some gems in there of course, but still…), or hearing a rumor of BOC’s first album in years?

I wish AFX hadn’t released all those SoundCloud tracks. I wish BOC were still ultra-mysterious and hadn’t done interviews for those last couple albums. I wish Burial had never told his identity. I wish artists didn’t feel like they had to instagram cheesy photos of them eating burritos on a tour bus. But hey, that’s the world we live in now and I do all that PR shit too. I’m just sayin.

#stayoffmylawn

+1000
There’s just no denying this stuff is hard work. Sometimes the artists we think of as the most talented are simply the ones working harder than anyone else. Putting in hours and hours. Sometimes sacrificing other areas of life. Work ethic. Hemingway had an excellent one.
Some good Chuck Close quotes:
“I don’t work with inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work”

“Ease is the enemy of the artist. When things get too easy, you’re in trouble.”

“Inspiration is highly overrated. If you sit around and wait for the clouds to part, it’s not liable to ever happen. More often than not, work is salvation.”

Wow. VERY sensitive words, dear.
They found their place in my mind, for real.
I’d be curious to read lyrics of yours.
If I may, what is this “before I check out” about ?
[/quote]
There’s been some death around me lately, people signing off before their time. A bit too frequent, a few too many. Holding hands with someone who’s fading, makes you think, not in a philosophical but truly primal way, about what’s worth something.
But I’m also a writer by profession, so I have tendency to make even the smallest things sound dramatic if I’m in the mood. I can make Sunday toast and tea sound like the Lord’s last supper was nothing in comparison.
[/quote]
Sometimes I’m a bit sad that English is not my native language…

Other than that… My two cents. I get the feeling you have. I struggle a lot when a track is almost finished but yet I think its far from finished. I save it somewhere… To be forgotten… But since I do some live gigs (really little ones) I really finish my tracks, i was overwelmed by the reactions of the people who were at my gigs, even it was not that perfect, its how you bring it, full enthousiasm and passion, and I’m sure you have that!

I tend to like artists who go for quality over quantity. There’s something admirable to doing that in this modern world of constant over-exposure.

What do I get more excited about? AFX dumping hundreds of half-assed work on SC (some gems in there of course, but still…), or hearing a rumor of BOC’s first album in years?

:+1:
I’m addicted to making synth - music so I don’t have to push myself - and I want the results to as perfect as possible so I rather have to stop myself sometimes.
All this new technology is fantastic - BUT - it gives people the false idea that they can get good results with less effort - without suffering or feeling frustrations - without boubd or dark - lost moments.
And ofcoarse brands like to make us beleave that in order to sell more gear …
I can’t help myself from thinking that a lot of elektronic muscisians pout-there have a lot of gas because of their naive image on making music. And in the end some of those tend to blame the gear they use.
The energy you put into something - if it is cooking - gardening - painting - making music - anything actually - is the energy that’s gonna come out and nothing more. You can fool yourself but you can’t fool life :wink:

Agreed!
I’ll just add one more bit. I think an artist can put blood sweat and tears into a piece of work only for the response from the world to be… crickets chirping. Who knows why? Maybe the artist simply doesn’t have the same taste as broader audiences, maybe the marketing is not effective, maybe there is a flood of free music, etc. But… putting all that work in… is just the starting point, no guarantee of success or finding listeners who appreciate the end result.
But then again, I have read some artists who talk about their biggest popular hits being some idea they came up with in the middle of the night, turned on the machines, and a few hours later they had it ready to go the record label. So what the bleep do I know? :confused:
But I think hard work will always be a good starting point. And maybe bits of lucky inspiration will bubble up between the cracks as well.

Here’s the thing OP: YOU’RE A GENIUS!

Great news huh? I’ve got some bad news as well: you’re also really mediocre. Don’t take it personally. I can tell all of this without hearing your stuff because it’s true for everyone, including me.

90-95% of any generative ideas I come up with are mediocre.

So once I accept this, I also accept that 5% of my ideas are really good. I just need to work out how to scrabble through the rubbish to the 5% good stuff.

It’s a numbers game. The more ideas you generate, the quicker you’ll get at making the objective decisions required to hit that 5%. You have no ego attachment to this. Ideas get broken down, you end up keeping just the great hi hat bit and working up from there. Every time you do anything at all, is it the 5 or the 95? Quick decision.

Some of my favourite artists make magic with 3 or 4 choice ideas. I can make so-so tunes with 20+ so-so ideas. I know which I’d prefer - less really is more.

Your earlier post remind me of this:

“But everything that is going to be purified must first be corrupted; that is a principle of science and art. Everything that is to be put together must first be taken apart, everything that is to be made whole must first be broken into its constituent parts, its heat, its coldness, its dryness, its moisture. Base matter imprisons spirit, the gross fetters the subtle; every passion must be anatomized, every whim submit to mortar and pestle, every desire be ground and ground until its essence appears. After separation, drying out, moistening, dissolving, coagulating, fermenting, comes purification, recombination: the creation of substances that the world has until now never beheld. This is the opus contra naturem, this is the spagyric art; this is the Alchymical Wedding.”

Hilary Mantel ‘Fludd’