In part one of our series I gave you two secrets to finishing a full tune in one day or less, and in part two I showed you the six steps to get your track done in this timeframe. In this third and final instalment, we’re going to head off some of the common criticism we hear against our method for producing a tune quickly by following out 24 Hour Challenge.
“You’re just copying someone else…”
Artists use nude models to paint and sculpt, so why can’t musicians use another song as a model? What we’re doing here is giving ourselves a guide that we can follow (the model’s body), but that’s all it is: a guide.
You’re free to be as creative, twisted, manic as you want, but by imposing creative limitations (ie the Song Map), you’re laying the groundwork to making a track that gets finished because you’re preventing yourself from veering too far away from your intended goal, that goal being a finished track. It also gives you a structure that keeps you from getting lost and second guessing your arrangement.
Our 24 Hour Challenge is still challenging, because you’re still making the track yourself. While the sounds were created by other people, you’re at liberty to use as much or as little of them as you choose. Of course, judicious use of loops and samples means you’re basically doing a “paint by numbers” kind of track, but there’s nothing wrong with this, especially if you’re just starting out, because it gives you a “bed” on which to start create your own melodies, chord progressions, and eventually even synth sounds and so on.
This all happens with time, but what’s important is you know that this entire process is just a starting point in your production journey, and not the end of it. The really important thing is finishing something, then finishing something else, then doing it again, and again… that’s how to improve.
Yes, but how is this being creative and original? Won’t I be called a phoney if I do this?
What does it mean to be creative and original these days? Isn’t creativity taking bits and pieces from different things, and crunching them together to create something new? For example, a lot of “new” genres today are just combinations of recycled styles with modern production techniques – the popular club style at the moment (100-105BPM) has its roots in dub and reggaeton, which were big sounds at the turn of the century. (And if you don’t know what the “Amen Break” is, do yourself a favour and Google it…)
If your notion of “creative and original” is something never before created or heard, you may find it difficult to make anything at all – the mere fact that you’re writing a song already means that you’re going through a process (songwriting) that’s been around for centuries. If you think about it, even the major and minor scales aren’t original concepts! Like the Song Map and sample packs, these are ultimately also just tools for us to use in our production journey.
If your intention is to create something totally unheard of since the dawn of man, then obviously you won’t want to use another song as a model and you can just let your imagination roam (I’d also recommend visiting other dimensions of reality and perhaps time travel while you’re at it). Creating free form music without structure is one way of creating music, and that’s cool: but using a Song Map and samples is just a way to make music, too. The more you begin to realise that there’s no one way to go about making a tune, the more fun you’re going to have creatively.
So is there no such thing as an “original” piece of music then? Of course not – instead, the best producers develop a personal “stamp” as they evolve and find their voice, and it’s only possible to do that by creating and finishing more work. Using the tools and techniques in our 24 Hour Challenge will help you get started quickly, and put you on your path towards becoming a great music producer. It will teach you to finish productions. It will pull you apart from 99% of people who try and fail. Isn’t that, at the end of the day, an amazing thing?
Have you got started producing music? Why not? Do you see that finishing stuff is more important than going for perfectionism, Or do you think every production should start with a blank structure and sounds to be legitimate? Let us know below.