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Inspiration On Demand
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Watching this video might just be the most useful 3 minutes 37 seconds you’ll spend this week…
This free music production pdf has the most important lessons I’ve learnt from 17 years of writing and producing well over 250 pieces of commercially released electronic music.
And if you like what you’ve been reading on this site, then you’re going to love it. It’s called “7 Steps Every Music Producer Needs To Take”.
It comes with a series of free training videos and together they’ll reveal the most important steps you must take to make mountains of music, in record time with devastating results.
To get the “7 Steps Every Music Producer Needs To Take” music production pdf (and the free videos) delivered to your inbox just enter your name and email address on the right…
If you’re stuck try this. (It’s how I started my first two albums).
Every day for a week spend an hour just starting stuff. Get a groove going, add parts quickly, don’t worry about the details at all, just get a vibe.
Once you have a basic idea down, make sure you record it. Then move on and start something else. Above all don’t get sucked into one groove or sound or making it perfect.
The idea is to just get a load of ideas down as fast as possible.
When your hour is up stop. Turn off the computer. Leave the area. Forget about it.
Do the same every day for a week. Don’t listen back to what you did the day before, just sit down and get as many ideas down as possible.
By the end of the week you’ll have a load of ideas. Give it a while before listening to them. Maybe give it a week or so. When you do, listen to them one after the other. Make sure you have a notepad next to you and write down whatever comes into your head as you’re listening.
Many of your ideas will be crap, (ignore the crap) but worry not. I guarantee there’ll be some gold in there. Maybe even enough for an album.
The individual parts are great. They work together beautifully. But you’ve still got a niggling feeling that the finished whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Face it. It sounds flat and boring. Why?
Your music lacks contrast. There’s no light and shade. Contrast creates tension and release, the driving force of music. Without it your music will sound lifeless, no matter how brilliant the parts.
I learnt this from Nirvana. The first time I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” I was blown away. Two contrasting sections – the sparse laid back verse and the heavy distorted chorus. Extremely simple yet unbelievably effective.
In house and techno there’s often a slight nod to contrast in the form of a break. The rhythm comes out. Everyone’s supposed to put their hands in the air and then (usually with an almighty woosh) the rhythm come crashing in again. But there are more interesting ways you can create contrast.
Taking stuff out is often more effective than slamming in with everything you’ve got. Not only does it make for a huge moment, it gives you somewhere to go.
In my forthcoming club remix of Robot Go Disco I build the track to a point where it’s almost noise, then (with an almighty woosh) take nearly everything out leaving just the kick and bass:
Create contrast compositionally.
If you’ve got a section which stays on the same note, add some chord changes. Or if you already have some, do the opposite (or change them).
I wait until almost the end of my Robot Go Disco remix to get to the chord changes, which after nearly six minutes on the same note, creates impact:
In week 4 of my 10 tracks 10 weeks album project I got completely stuck. But by concentrating on creating contrast I finished Crush, and it ended up as one of my favourite tracks off the album.
The early versions of Crush had two distinct sections – one with chord changes and one without, but sounded completely flat:
But in the final track I contrasted the two sections by changing much of the instrumentation:
You’ll also hear that I didn’t just change the instrumentation of the two sections in Crush.
If you make one section that’s rhythmically, harmonically and/or melodically simple then make another that’s more complex. You’ll end up with a piece of music that sounds technicolour, not black and white.
What other music uses contrast to devastating effect? How much do you think about contrast when you write music? What techniques do you use to create contrast? I’m sure I’ve made some glaring omissions – feel free to share below in the comments.