Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

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dasen
KVRist
103 posts since 15 May, 2012

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:28 am

Hey,

In the past, I have started every song by selecting a synth patch. I used to have 10+ Vsts and I always kept browsing for patches instead of focusing on the musical elements. This ended up with a lot of good-sounding looped sections in 16 or 32 bars but never into songs.

But when I made the switch to always start songs with a piano sound or Rhodes sound I got better at actually coming up with musical and harmonic ideas that I can use at different parts of the song. I always start with some chord progressions and add extra melodic elements around it with a piano sound to get something going musically.

I make electronic music with 4/4 time signature and 115 bpm and I often aim for pop song length, meaning 3 min 50 seconds.

But I still have issues arranging my songs into finished products. I’m not a classically trained pianist but I have good ears on what chord progression works and what harmonies etc can play together.

What are your tips regarding this?


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Forgotten
KVRAF
4354 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:34 am

dasen wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:28 am
I make electronic music with 4/4 time signature and 115 bpm and I often aim for pop song length, meaning 3 min 50 seconds.
Why do you limit yourself like that? It’s going to stifle your creativity if you’re always trying to do the same thing.

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vurt
addled muppet weed
51771 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:53 am

ninja school.

experimental.crow
KVRAF
5987 posts since 9 Mar, 2003 from the bridge of sighs

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:55 am

ask ProfessionalTom ...
Image

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Forgotten
KVRAF
4354 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:57 am

experimental.crow wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:55 am
ask ProfessionalTom ...
:lol:

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Distorted Horizon
KVRAF
2636 posts since 17 Jan, 2017 from Planet of cats

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:00 pm

dasen wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:28 am
10+ Vsts
Noob.. You obviously need 10 times more to become a successful musician :hihi:

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Distorted Horizon
KVRAF
2636 posts since 17 Jan, 2017 from Planet of cats

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:01 pm

Forgotten wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:57 am
experimental.crow wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:55 am
ask ProfessionalTom ...
:lol:
+1

Other producers will hate him for telling you :lol:

Passing Bye
KVRian
839 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:55 pm

Googly Smythe wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:39 am
Somedays it seems like we're not allowed to dislike anything.


Passing Bye
KVRian
839 posts since 5 Nov, 2014

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:12 pm

wagtunes wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:59 pm
Passing Bye wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:55 pm
viewtopic.php?f=62&t=525350
So he's starting a 2nd thread with the same question?

:dog:
Yeah, just looking at his threads, I think his main problem is that he is forcing himself to make music, but he's stuck with what he is, started from zero, made every mistake he could on the way, still don't have deeper understanding of what he is actually listening, doing or trying to do, stubbornly trying to hack music production like it's some game.

My sincere advice, go back to listening to music and wait until you could make whole track in your head first, than come back to a DAW... Plenty of us started like that, we got obsessed with making music before we actually started, than we started dissecting everything we hear, more we knew deeper we went, you can't skip that or hack that, you got it or you don't, than you put lot of work into it and become better, but in the end of the day it's not for everyone.
Googly Smythe wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:39 am
Somedays it seems like we're not allowed to dislike anything.

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
24688 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:28 pm

Don't use loops ... :ud:

lobanov
KVRist
379 posts since 7 Oct, 2005

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:57 pm

Insert an empty space after your loop (4 bars, 8 bars etc.) and try to fill this space up by something different.

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DocAtlas
KVRian
1000 posts since 11 Jan, 2006 from Pittsburgh

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:20 pm

Don't stick to just one length and tempo for all your songs. Or style, even. I've found writing occasionally in a style I'm not familiar with (or maybe don't even like) can push me in new directions. Try different time signatures. Use several tempi in the same song.

Try composing away from the computer. Just sit down and improvise; you don't have to be a virtuoso pianist, just play your heart out. The more you do it, the better you'll get.

Try composing away from the keyboard, too. Sit down with a pencil and paper and write. You don't have to read music to write down some ideas. Then take your paper to the computer and try to realize what you were writing down.

Listen to as much music as you can with a critical ear. Don't just enjoy the overall piece of music, but analyze it, both the structure of the song, and the choice of sounds. Like playing your instrument, you'll get better with time.

I could probably add a lot more, but I need to run. Hopefully this can help a bit.
I wish I could sing as well as the voices inside my head...

http://www.cdbaby.com/darkvictory

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ProfessionalTom
KVRist
296 posts since 10 Oct, 2019

Re: Need to be better arranging songs quicker and not get stuck in loops. Tips?

Post Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:15 am

experimental.crow wrote:
Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:55 am
ask ProfessionalTom ...
Just to make it clear for everybody, you all are free to message me and ask for the advice. I may not always be present, because of my deadlines (lots of masters to finish), but I will try.

So answering your question, OP, I think maybe you should take a closer look at song structure and give yourself a few bars to fill for each part you're currently working on. When it's intro, focus on intro. Even in the same part you can maintain some variety of changes, but it does not have to be too overwhelming, so listener doesn't get lost.

Maybe it's a good idea to keep bigger changes in rhythm (drums, bass), and/or lead for moments when you enter a new part of your song, and a minor ones for within one part (like intro or a verse or a chorus).

Let's say you're doing a verse that is 8 bars long. To avoid repetiveness you could introduce a fill every second/fourth bar and also some minor changes in kick/snare here and there, so these 8 bars sound similar, but they are not exactly the same.

That's just an idea.

Same goes with bass line and a lead. Bass and pads can loosely follow (Im talking about their notes) lead.

It's nice and definitely beneficial when lead has this catchiness to it, so it's worth spend time developing it and there is no one recipe to make a catchy melody. I'd say that it's very likely many successful catchy melodies started out as an accident, a few notes hit without thinking too much and then the producers developed them from this. And sometimes they probably sat for hours to find something interesting. It's very hard to define rules for catchiness. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes not, but you never know when you will stumble upon something cool. It's a journey.

It can be a few notes that will stand out to you from the crowd of others. When you develop from this point I think it's important to remember that you don't have to and probably shouldn't put this catchy phrase everywhere you can. It can be tempting to do so. But they will have much bigger impact if you will, for example, introduce this catchy phrase at the beginning and then move to something else, teasing listener a bit and making him hungry for what's to come. As this hunger arises, you can return to this catchy melody in all its glory within a chorus, for example. That would be when you introduce it in the intro of the song, then go to verse and then in chorus you go back to this idea from intro, but supporting it with harmony.

Check out Dada Life "Happy Violence". Well you can say that the catchy phrase is repeated throughout the song without longer periods between it (and without it, as I mentioned that it can be a good technique, but really, no hard rules here), but it's a good example of how just a few notes and a good patch in a synth can make a great catchy melody.

So as you see it's hard to put in some kind of rules because basically you could probably find a hit for every approach of song structure, both with repeating catchy phrase non stop and with long breaks between or without it at all.

Thanks for reading

Professional Tom, former leader of the PRO League, now renegade.
I'm a professional and you can't deny it. If you do, you either were tricked by the League, or you are from the League.

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