The Realm of Too Many Options: Write, record, mix and actually finish your music

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Video in TIB AV-Portal: The Realm of Too Many Options: Write, record, mix and actually finish your music

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The Realm of Too Many Options: Write, record, mix and actually finish your music
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it's nice to be here
and a lot of great talks many of which I think I'll I've learned a lot from and I'll use a lot of what I've learned so I'm happy just have been here even if this talk will be a total disaster so we'll see so my name is Leo but on the Internet I'm known as Seraph slot even in certain games in case you see that name and you know me it's probably me around left too many options I just like to start out just say tune in so thank you for the invite it's very nice of you and yeah it's fun to be here it's really extraordinary the amount of Technology and the sheer aid that we've had from the free software movement it's it's I really feel as if I'm in the presence of giants a lot of people here have helped me get to where I am you know today so for that I thank you all of the programmers Filipa and his kx2 do I use that all the time so big thanks to him and I yeah yeah you you beat me you beat me to it because I was gonna ask all of you to give yourself oke good round of applause because we've all done incredible work
and all of our respective fields so big round of applause to everyone in the room but this talk will also be a sort of a cautionary tale as you can see of
both great gratitude and confusion because when I started out with gnu/linux and all that stuff I was sixteen seventeen and our door was still in version two and you know sessions would crash and some sessions I I lost and I couldn't get them back working properly so I lost some riffs I was able to save them but you know back then it was a lot of work nowadays our doors and all of the other software that went along with it works without a hitch at least for me doesn't crash anymore so that's great you know so it's come a long way but you
know what follows with a lot of options is a lot of there's a lot of baggage we've seen some of that I mean this
weekend alone with conflicting programs and platforms and formats and all the rest of it disagreements on workflows and general approaches to things and I'm just the end user I'm not a programmer I'm not a I have no idea what's going on mostly in the machine so for the end user its we just want to know you know what works best and what works you know that's what we want to know and so for the mortal end users such as me it was very big wildering at 16 17 and the IRC chat rooms were very helpful so I'm thankful for that too a lot of people in this room actually helped me get things going so thank you again but for the poor suckers starting out it's really exhausting when you have no idea about Linux and all the rest of it so with
that out of the way I'm a big fan of Brian Eno I don't know does anybody here
know Brian Eno it's the name yeah that's good he's given a lot of lectures and one of them that really made an impression on me was when he was talking about the I'm gonna play devil's advocate here and talk about the limits of computers they were sold to us in the realm of music anyway on the foundation of a lie in a way which was they said that you know with computers you could do anything it sounds great you know you could do anything with computers the limits are endless you get
and it's it's cool it's good but the problem with limitless possibility is that you no longer have a framework for well what are the current cultural limits of what's possible I see it this way is with the guitar for instance that's what you have and currently you have an idea of what can be done and what can't be done then suddenly shows up you know Jimi Hendrix and then he does something completely new that wasn't thought of or Van Halen so he they revolutionized the limits they expanded the limits whereas you
know limits limitless technology like the computer with cincin the rest of it makes it difficult to feel that you've you've actually done something new a lot of the time at least for me so you know limits set the parameters for what can be new a lot of the time as opposed to limitless infinity and that will be a key part of this talk so with that out of the way I'll just do some shameless advertising I've already done some I'm service a lot but I'm gonna play a track and I think it's important to play the whole thing so you'll hear some of the elements and some of the things I'm going to talk about so I'm just going to play it and
yeah I'm just gonna close this now hopefully it will close yeah its closing
so this song is called white man's blues I finished it a few months ago and I hope you enjoy it [Music]
[Music] [Music]
[Music] [Music] go full retard [Applause] one man [Applause] [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Applause] those goddamn lot of great blues the Sham made it sit for the white man biggest God in heaven so give them the Express so genuine spoiling a balloon now we sing it like it's nitrous given okay and reclaiming our ancestry whole thing over again ain't no topic on sensitivity all my people will set proclivity report builders land grabbers and bomb throwers folks we're not [Music] luzhin [Music] [Music] then go full retard [Applause] [Applause] [Music] [Applause] [Applause] [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Music] [Music] go full retard [Applause] Oh
[Applause] [Music] [Applause]
[Music] [Applause] what mess [Applause] next [Music] [Applause] [Music]
hello okay thank you so I mean that's a humble demonstration of what can be done with with very little equipment and this
is the hardware that I used and really that was pretty much all of it hardware inside and those two at this I made this up in Sweden in my previous school they were nice enough to come in one day and they just sort of did a few things most of it was terrible but the trouble trouble thing that I told them to do worked out pretty well so it's this sound card you know this laptop my guitar that microphone mixed it on those speakers this computer on that bass and that was it and the rest was with hydrogen sorry that it wasn't in drum gizmo oh next time so I mean I'll open the session
later but I mean or I could do it now it's 85 tracks which is my biggest
production to date could probably have
been less but at the time that's what it
was Oh what's going on hey get some
friends one thing I wanted to talk about the slide guitars and everything I'll
get into if we have time I just wanted to get into how you actually work because a lot of people were curious about my workflow and how I do things I have an attitude towards things the screams for instance is it things are only out of place when they're out of place but they can't be fixed is I if you if you solo well when this if this
ever loads up I mean there are certain
things that when you solo them it just sounds ridiculous it just doesn't I mean it sounds really strange but in the right context it actually works so you have to trust that your voice isn't necessarily bad even if you hear soloed I don't know Iron Maiden tracks for instance if you just hear the solo vocals it just sounds awful or ridiculous there's something about the combination
so I'll be so bold as to just solo that
part so you can hear what it sounds like I mean it sounds ok but it's it's the whole spectrum that actually it's completely different so I think a lot of people do themselves
a lot of well they do themselves injustice and a lot of bad favors by not trusting that their performances are are ok just trust that the mixing is a huge part of it and the life thing is it is another thing so find a solid sound to begin with and then stick with it that makes for easier mixing as well if you stick with it it makes it easier once you get to the mixing stage if you have a sound that's already pretty you know that you like so a lot of people ask me what I use for the guitars I invariably I always use a 4-12 cabinet plus another one which is usually a vitalize ac30 style or a two style cabinet I also use the guitar XDM x distortion alot for the vocals the bass the guitars mostly always and another thing that I didn't know was that I was having trouble getting it to sound right and somebody and IRC they tipped me about mixing in mono because when it's in stereo it sounds very neat and all the rest of it but there's still elements that are struggling for sonic space so they told me just just put it in mono on the master buss and then mix in mono and make sure that you can hear all the elements and that really helped because
once I put it back in the stereo it was like that solved all the problems but once you get to the hi-fi speakers where you really hear a lot of the stuff so that was a huge help so methods of
working if you have these are some of the secrets that I'll be because you've been so kind and given me a lot of your your stuff I'm going to give you all that I have if you have lack of content or ideas a lot of people somebody noticed that you know this melody that you had sounded pretty similar to this and they were right because what I did was I played the song backwards once not with this one but another one that I'll show you I played it backwards and it's in the same key so then you get a lot of new melody ideas and so I basically stole content for myself
and then you know so I'm gonna give you
a short example of that which can be very helpful if you're lacking and material it's very very helpful this is
a song that hasn't been finished yet but
I'll just go ahead anyway as you it's a push [Music] at that point I hadn't got much further and so what I did was I just kind of was like yeah that sounds pretty good and so later the same melody and it really works yeah so this is also in part
because I studied Mozart for a while and if anybody's curious about how you do that with musescore or whatever you can flip and invert your notes so that's really helpful too for the really technical person that's something else you could do really helpful tool another one is just play it in a different pitch if you're just sort of stuck with it or whatever I always do I play it in a different pitch and that's of course if you do it directly with the wheel in our door it's gonna make it faster or slower but that could be interesting too disclaimer though don't mix while pitch shifting probably obvious to a lot of you but somebody actually did this when I told them and they said I don't understand my mix sounded so much better and now it sounds weird and I said well did you mix it while you were pitch shifting I yeah it sounded great well I mean it changes the sonic atmosphere completely so you shouldn't be mixing when you're pitch shifting it's an obvious thing but you know in case and in terms of how you work when you're getting close to not a finish but a sketch or something like that a lot of people wondered how I feel get to the field get to feel that it's ready and I play unfinished material in weird settings so I play it in public so if you know somebody owns a pub or a cafe or something like that and he's really kind and kind of listens to it in advance to make sure it isn't complete crap he just allowed me to plug the thing to sit in a real setting so you're
sitting kind of in a room like this with the speakers in a real room with real people talking and it's just fun to sit there if they don't realize it's you doing the DJing to sit there and just sort of watch how people react because as soon as you you play it in front of people you have to think in terms of well this is how it's going to go out to people when they hear it so it completely changes your attitude which is a huge help and also you know plate to people you care about just sit next to them and that makes it really awkward immediately because it's not finished and immediately you're you're you're drawn away from this comfortable setting of in your room alone and all the rest of it with headphones or whatever so that's another thing and just listen to it from another room there's something else that I do I
just you know crank it up a little more and then I close the door and I go outside and I listen to it and if you could if you find yourself sort of bobbing your head to the bass frequencies it's a good sign but if you're just cringing at it and then sort of go yeah that's not really you know then you know what's what's wrong you're on the way and I made this up yesterday the phrase needs some work but the Spirit is there it's like detail comes when detail hums for hours on end is another dead end what I mean by detail comes when detail hums is like when I mean details are important the Devils in the detail I think but in terms of detail when you hear it humming in your head that's when you should be working on it but if you're still recording it
or whatever you shouldn't be spending too much time on on the details because a lot of directors that I've spoken to and even the Steven Spielberg who made jaws he said that the worst film experience that he ever had was working on jaws because it took forever to to get into the cutting room I mean the shark wouldn't work and the shark couldn't swim or in sank I mean for three weeks they just had to spend three weeks getting it from the bottom of the ocean and so that was the death of the the objective perspective of it because he said he had to get into the editing room before he he knew what kind of movie he had and so the quicker you work for me anyway the better I work and so a lot of people ask me how quickly do I work and the answer to that is as
quickly as possible most of the time depends what kind of Jean are you doing - I guess but I know there's a method of finishing this is getting back to Brian Eno a little bit like how do you really know when a piece is fit and he said well the only thing is really a deadline no makes sense in a way because that's the only thing that really puts a fine line between the working stage and the finished stage when when it has to be out there so a deadline so a way I force myself and a lot of other people force themselves to actually work towards a more work more efficiently is to just tease and promise to friends whom you care about delivering on time to just say in a week I'll have you know I have something really great to show you and that immediately changes your attitude to whatever you're doing so a lot of people ask me about that so that's something I always do I always say that okay next week I'm gonna show you something really great so by then that has to be somewhat great don't dig your own music constantly I know a lot of people when they work with music they as soon as they have something that they like they
start listening to it and they really they walk around the house they do the dishes to it or they just listen to it on loop while they're cleaning and you know it yeah it's it sounds good but you have to work work as a musician working on it so if you're constantly digging it you lose your your objectivity and then it's hard to continue working on it it's that's something I never do I never really loop it and play it over and over just because I really like it I sort of just okay it sounds good I might trust my first impression and I just try to keep going and I also trust somebody
told me this is that you know leo the work that you've been doing for days or weeks or months are the accumulated hours into a few minutes so user I have to trust that that accumulated time is is still there for people to hear so others would they want to time notice all the bad stuff on first listen unless it's of course all really bad and so I have a short example of this how am i doing for time good Wow okay all right oh okay cool so this is a I had a guest
teacher she was an extraordinary teacher in and she was also a Linux buff by the
way which was interesting and she she was a lyric lyric instructor of sorts she had a phenomenal way of analyzing lyrics and helping us i'll get her name later if anyone's curious she was she was a great help and I really respected her just from the weekend we were working with her and my previous school in outside of guilt abode and she assigned us the most ridiculous assignment ever which was go write a dance band song I mean people threw their hands up in the air they were like what's the point we don't get it and she was like you you'll see and so most people there were just one instrument guitar and they expected them to just sort of make one thing you know really quickly but I really dug in my heels and and thought no I'm gonna really I really wanted to make an impression on her I really liked her so I said she gave us that assignment at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I sat up all night producing it and writing it in all the rest of it so this was the result that I presented the next day and it's in a region though but the lyrics are translated in English so yeah I saw so
she acted
and thus horican registered professed insulting that will never die ethics omelet till only the vine wallet for a vehicle [Music] the stuffy [Music] [Applause] [Music] Duggan departed Dark Soul go yen to the foreman the hiccup of them never sister gong and horns in the Sun consumed our million yen for the certain dancer girl back then summer plaza is solvable listening and the roofs of the aravt [Music] jeez [Music] maybe into adults baby your child [Music] a clan of 40 [Music]
yeah so and I mean before I switch to
the next one I'm just curious about what attitude did you suspect I had when I wrote this does anybody have any permissions no I mean more in terms of what in what spirit I wrote it what oh yeah there was pressure all right I'll tell you I mean it was
assigned by a guest teacher and it was kind of a silly thing and we all sort of mocked it and I mocked the idea - I thought it was ridiculous what's the point but I realized that we were extremely limited in time so we had to work with what we knew and the cliches that were already there and dance band music is pretty you know found you know sort of shunned upon is kind of a you know jerk water thing to be doing but as it turned out I mean when I played this in the in the classroom I people were ecstatic it was ridiculous I I had never received such positive feedback before and and some of these other things that I've been playing to you I played to them and they just sort of shrugged in you know and when that thing came about and have clothes falling off in the moonlight I mean she threw a shoe at the teacher was in ecstasy because I mean because she she thought that I'd gotten
it but what I wanted to I was kind of trying to mock the genre that was my that was my actual intention in a way and it turned into a classroom classic overnight people went around humming it and they wondered what I didn't the girl in the that was doing the quiring thing in the white man's blues they you heard before she came in and did some looping and her pitch is pretty good so it didn't take too long and I just cut it together and that was it so what the hell I mean the end result was frustratingly good I'd become a victim of my own success you know because you spend months working on these other things and then you poop out something in less than a 25 24 no but really that was it and so I completely had to rethink my entire axioms all of them when my assumptions on what's good and what's not and I mean of course it's it's bad but it's it's bad in a good way or good in a bad way right so suddenly I
realized that well maybe well limits are good this is coming back to the the point which is that the limits are very helpful following the cliches can be very helpful and and then knowing the rules
and then breaking them but following them just enough so that people know what's going on unless you really want to revolutionize something so that pissed me off but I also I have a kind of a mystical experience because I was sitting there in disbelief just looking at these people listening and they were really into it and they said you know now you're really communicating leo and you're really making a duei and it just wasn't what I wanted I I wanted people to sort of laugh at it in shrugging oh yeah that's Leo again no they just went oh this is this is great this is some of your best work so yeah anyway so
closing notes is like fear of the dark be weary of too many I mean you can sit in the studio for ages and and Brian Eno also said that Pro Tools or whatever doll you're using can be your best friend or your worst enemy as soon as people really started working hard and in Pro Tools the musical aspect of it died because the previous talk about automation you know once you hear that computers are doing most of the things that it doesn't charm us that it sounds so unhuman so automation can help with that but of course you should revel in the dark as well I mean the the unknown is very interesting but it can also be very dangerous if you don't have any limits as it were so make uncomfortable deadlines like I mentioned limit yourself but allow for expansion if it's necessary play it backwards and in different pitches test and crucial situations you know the public thing or in front of friends or people you don't like people that you I also notice that help too if you're going to play it for people who are really odious and and and you know are gonna be really honest with you and
maybe don't even like you at all that's a huge help because you could probably predict what they're gonna say and then you know what you have what work is left to be done and last but not least mean
what you play and play what you mean is something that someone told me obviously anything just just mean what you play it's a cliche but it's a cliche cuz it's true I guess cliches are often true because they've been said over and over again but yeah play from the heart I guess so that's more or less what I had and yeah thank you if they're any
questions I'll be happy to answer them [Applause] go ahead hey well first thanks for sharing I think this is very interesting I wanted to get back to the part where you have people listen to your music when it's not finished hmm and actually well my experience in that regard is a bit different so a lot of people come to me to ask for feedback with their predictions and what I've noticed is that very often they're not so much looking for advice as for approval of what they're doing being comforted in the thinking that what they're doing is going in the right direction right so when I when I'm when I feel that I would like to ask people feedback when I want to order people to listen to my tracks actually my first reaction now is to ask myself is it because I'm doubting you know I'm doubting my process or is it because I actually feel stuck and I just need to know if this could be interesting for anyone else than me but truthfully regardless of the answer to that question to that question the music is just what it is I like the part where you shouldn't be the sole well listen to your music like it's only addressed to you like you know have it in repeat but yeah that that feedback thing I think it can be very tricky yeah I mean I think it goes it has to do with there's a famous line about would you prefer a doctor that comforts you while you die or would you prefer a doctor that just kind of ignores you as he helps you get better and it depends on personality I guess I mean some people love to just show it to people whom they know he knows he or she knows that they're just going to be so friendly and just try to boost them up and all the rest of it and you know it's a it's a personality thing but for me personally I've been doing this for quite a while and most of us have so I think all of us can handle some real critique but if what you're doing is you just won praise and by all means go ahead but this was in terms of actually getting some some feedback that you but could you was there a question in there I just wanted to add to that because that's that that's the way I feel but and yes it could extend to knowing how you feel about the feedback that you receive because not everybody is good at receiving feedback actually no well the way I receive feedback is very I'm very open about it but I also listen to the context you know and and I also know make sure that I know the personality of the person and the music the taste behind where the feedback is coming from so I mean a few prerequisites are important I mean you just wouldn't show it to someone you hardly know at all that might not be said because you don't know where it's coming from so that that's also disclaimer you should probably ask for feedback from people whom you know so you speak the same language musically in other wise but yet different strokes for different folks of course yeah sure I thanks for your talk I also don't have a question but I want to comment on that example with the dance band song because I have a similar experience there is a book called too frustrated some writers guide or something um and the Moyne main point it makes over I don't know hundreds of pages don't buy the book just to read this summary is that you get together with some friends it's called a songwriters circle in the book or something and pick one date where everybody goes off for 12 hours to make 20 songs of course that's ridiculous you can't 20 songs but point is to go and try right so you come up on that day with about I don't know five six ten songs and then you meet in the evening to discuss what you've come up with two good things about this you get something done and you'll be amazed about the results because you come up with really new ideas because you can't stop and think about what you're doing you just keep doing and the other thing is because you meet any evening with people who are in the same position you get an open discussion because they feel they've only done crap you feel you've only done crap so you have an open open minds to listen to what you've done I've come up with some very good song ideas with this process okay the difficulty then of course is finishing those years I hope I've been of some help at least with that yeah I've had that book on my reading list actually so I could probably bump it up a bit to read it so thank you yes it's a bit wordy but alright if we could have a question you you're more than welcome even if it doesn't we relate to this that's cool sorry why hydrogen bad habits I guess I mean well I was used to the workflow of hydrogen was very that was the thing that was left out of the hydrogen thing that you you mentioned it was you can actually work with separate outputs for each instrument or each sequence or output so that you rude at all and then you you just have it there and you can you can play it and work with it as it as it goes along but it it is problematic I mean it does have room for improvement let's say so drum gizmo is a
is a looks to be a great help I will try it and get into it I promise so maybe next year I'll have a whole thing on how I use drum gizmo maybe yep besides having you mentioned having unlimited possibilities in terms of software and resources and then you limit yourself and this helps actually getting stuff done sometimes did you experience while in this process and the ends did you experience anything you want to have so there it's not really limitless but something you said okay now now I know what what I want and if I only had that tool or that resource or that workflow is there anything you you that you want to have oh yeah of course that's what I meant by limit yourself but be open to extension later I mean always there were things that the slide guitar thing I didn't mention that I had some slide guitars in that first song and I was gonna just gonna limit myself to the hardware that you saw but I extended the hardware to the use of a pen for the slide guitar thing that was really what I expanded on I just used the pen because I was trying to do that way now just with a plucking and bending and it just wasn't sounding rednecky enough and so I needed some something a little bit more redneck he and so I just did the pen thing and at that point that was an expansion not exactly a computer tech extension but but the same I mean suddenly I add more plugins or I've you know add a synth or whatever but in terms of the realm of possibility I'm you could have oscillators all over the place and you could have all sorts of plugins and you can tweak and do you know with the software and everything but at the end of the day you just have to kind of yeah my dad told me that when he said that painters have to know when to stop painting you know and that's very important is they at some point some artists are very good at it painters that I've spoken to they know when in their hearts when enough is enough but I think I've seen some painters they just a layer on layer and layer and it's just that that hey it's like this thick you know and you can see that they've been doing I don't know ten revisions on the same piece of cloth or whatever it is canvas thank you and it's so that's the thing is to try to be be cool about it yeah sorry yeah go ahead no microphone when you are in school and competing or whatever with other students in composing respective furs pieces of song of music right did you feel any restrictions by using open source hardware open source software and compare it with potentially other persons that do we that use commercial ones it's a good question I mean I could probably answer that even better if I actually use the proprietary software as but I don't but I mean the limits of it are obvious that that we're essentially competing with a proprietary industry if you want to use the term competing so we're always in a minority so far anyway so we're always compared to the really the pros and I use the pros only in terms of they actually get money you know and so it's always going to be the standards are going to be slightly higher in some respect you know so what the the only limits that I noticed or limitations with using free software open-source software was that I I was unable to convey to other people through the use of that technology that it was more than enough because they just didn't understand that it was enough they thought that it was this command-line thing that you're doing or it's much easier if you just do it in Pro Tools like this instead of it so but in terms of actual limits I have so many options in an open source that I've never actually come across feeling limited by technology I've never ever come so you know the free software movement has like I said done a huge huge job with that so in that respect never the only limit I've had is when it when it's compared to the other stuff that exists so yeah when you're empty entering the creative zone when you're starting composing and what is typically the first thing that comes up the lyrics the chord progressions drum pattern what is the typically the first thing that that's starting the whole process are you usually I the way I do the lyrics is I read a lot of books and I always mark the phrases that I like and I sort of steal phrases or borrow them will rephrase them so a lot of the time it's usually a combination of the phrase in the book with a melody that's usually how it starts but sometimes it could just be a riff sometimes it's a drumbeat sometimes it's a so it always varies I mean and I'm sure it does for everybody in a way or I'm I think so anyway from what I've heard anyway people try and that's also another thing to try to limit yourself in different ways by starting in different ways and all the rest of it so it always varies but a lot of the times it starts out with a theme that's based on whatever phrase I had so yeah sure last question would be cool don't be shy yeah if we have time we just crossed the across the barrier yeah okay all right well it's on Soundcloud anyway cerissa lot on Soundcloud tsukumo yes show your information once all right once more
okay oh there it is there's my ugly mug
and there's yes there it is sir if a lot
sir oh yeah okay yeah a lot of people had trouble understanding when I had in slow in small letters only so when I did the Capitals they suddenly all now I get what the name is because they actually bothered reading it so yeah sir riffs a lot yeah I should work on doing a logo so that you can easily read it so next year yeah yeah