The need to focus on music making
March 23, 2014 | 8:16 am

I have found that I need to separate music making and music listening

Lately I have found that I need 2-5 days of focus when I create new music.

I can listen to music and practice and play with ideas. But once I have an idea going and the number of tracks grows and the harmonies and all the little details gets created I feel I have to focus to get the results I want.

The daytime job and all the domestic duties take most of the time of our lives. So the little time I have for music is precious.

I can listen to music from all sorts of sources but once I have an idea loaded up in Logic Pro I try to get some quality hours where I do not spend much time here on iCompositions. It typically takes me 1-2 weeks to make a new song. But the focused work is only 2-5 days.

When I then post my song here on iCompositions I go into listening mode for several days where I hardly touch my keyboard. Then I can sit for hours listening to all your fantastic music.

I always start by listening to some of the stuff posted the past days. Then I continue checking out the artists I have marked as favorites to make sure I did not miss any of theirs.

And finally I walk through all the artists that commented on my last song, making sure that I also listen to their latest. I am rarely writing thank you messages any more because I think it is better to thank people by listening to their songs and leaving a comment. I know how much I love every little word I get from you on my music.

And then suddenly a new music idea starts evolving or a collab begins and then a new focus period begins where I hardly listen to anything else for a few days.

I would not be surprised if many of you feel and work a similar way separating creation and listening to others. I would love to hear your thoughts on the working process of creating music



eagle's artist icon
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There was a sorta simularity how you describe the separation in listening and making music Kenneth...however now that i'm retired i must confess that i can take a bit more time for both (when the household let me... smiley)

when the making is to the order, it can consume me totally tho... smiley

Artist Page Send Message March 23, 2014 | 9:34 am

thsantac's artist icon
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Quite the same for me. The little amount of time I have after daytime work, house duties and personal projects work is so tiny that it take me more and more time to compose something, always with the feeling I could have worked a little more on it, always a feeling of unfinished composition. Usually, I compose 30 minutes per week day, a little more on saturday morning and a little much more on sunday, that's all. Hence, I cannot upload something more than two times per month.

During my composition process I try to listen to all my favorite artists songs, even if I have nothing to promote.

We all know that it's hard to reply to each comments in a personal way but I consider that I have to do it just because I don't want to be taken as a lazy guy or someone who considers he doesn't have to do it now that his talent is fully recognized but the community. I try to stay humble.

But I understand your point of view Kenneth.
Artist Page Send Message March 23, 2014 | 11:15 am

dalerandle's artist icon
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I agree with you Ken - 100%. However, creating songs is one of my favorite pastimes. I envy the artists that can make a living at it.
Also, I used to be able to listen to iComp at work. I used to take the last 30 minute or so and catch up with new songs. However, our company just implemented new security for our computers--no more streaming so it's even more difficult to keep up. Work versus listening to music(?).
Last edited 4 years ago.
Latest Song: A Message for You
Artist Page Send Message March 23, 2014 | 12:58 pm

Aamp's artist icon
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Thank goodness I'm not the only one. I'd say similar. Some days I'll have no time at all and some, when a window of time does present itself, I'll be tired and creatively careless. I'm not very structured in a manner as yourself, nor do I know what the goal in sight is, but I just have to make a tonne of music. I could not make any new music for probably over 5 years and still have multiple uploads per week. Since I am becoming increasingly busy with repairs needed over warmer weather, I am turning to this stockpile of music "in the bank" and trying out new things on them to keep up the creative process. I am trying to embrace working within limitation right now; tunes that can be made or redesigned over a casual sitting - currently working on music on my old 1990s Dell computer using new knowledge on old tracks within the same old limitations I had as a kid. It's helping keeping me composing and away from nitpicking.

Oh, and it's not a slow computer either, it's running old lighter weight software, so it's not like it's wasting my time. It's actually pretty quick for some reason - I pretty much had almost the same computer 10 years ago, but I guess mine being a mutt, and this one an oem, maybe it's made from parts that all work better together who knows. But what I'm getting at is for me it's about workflow, and the environment I'm comfortable in. When getting down to business, Logic is the way to go, but when getting back to nostalgia, FruityLoops on the oldest PC capable of running it is it! Lotsa fun either way!

As for listening, I didn't have the internet, not even 4 years ago. I used to sneak a listen whenever I could; be at work, look, nobody's around, pull a pair of headphones out of my jacket, listen and comment quickly, or perhaps I'd found an open wifi nearby in the neighbourhood, rip down with the laptop, connect up quickly, and grab a listen from the bushes, in the dark, lol. Okay so shady business aside, my composing and listening allocations were already very split. I eventually used an old business mac I bought over at my parents house, which was imperatively slow, to do all my listening on and would download a lot to take with me so I could listen while on walks.

I'm not a runner, but I like to walk, and as go as much distance as long distance runners. I'm thinking now that I've got unlimited internet on my phone, and while I had ditched the headphones while on walks, could maybe start out a walk with a few listens maybe here and there.
Latest Song: Goodbye
Artist Page Send Message March 23, 2014 | 3:21 pm

carlajpatterson's artist icon
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The one thing I miss about working at a job other than music is that I had an hour a day commute and that was when I could listen to people's music. Now that I'm 'retired' (I do more than ever now!), it would seem I would have more time but it's not true at all. Instead, it means that the things I really wanted to do while on that day job take all of my focus. I have to forcible stop myself from making things (music, art, writing) to pay attention to anyone else's work. Especially, whatever area it is I'm working in at that time… if I'm working on music, I don't want to hear anyone else's music - if I'm drawing or painting, I don't want to see anyone else's drawing or painting! I get seduced into their world if I do and, then, I am sidetracked.

So, I wait until I am not creating to look for other people's work. That's one reason I don't mind the fallow periods too much - that's when I can really get caught up on friends' and favorites' work.

When I upload something of mine, I always listen to what's new in the queue at that moment, along with mine. I also try to listen to everyone's work who has posted a comment on my songs. But, sometimes it takes me a while since I tend to leave long comments and/or listen to several things by one person at a time (especially if I don't know their music yet).

Latest Song: Uguisu (Nightingale)
Artist Page Send Message March 23, 2014 | 7:51 pm

Mungo's artist icon
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The last couple of years I have had more time since I became semi-retired. However, I'm still in the habit of capturing ideas quickly and moving on to the next idea - that's why I label a lot of my stuff v1 and sketch. The RPM albums in 2013 and last month were exceptions.

I admire your ability and patience to work on 1-2 weeks on each song. Your attention to detail shows in the quality of your music.

I listen to music maybe 10-30 hours a week. I don't have it on all the time, I like to give my ears a rest. When I exercise (I walk 3-5 miles a day), I do it without music, just the noise around me. When I do listen to music, I normally listen at very low volume on my over-the-ears headphones.

When I started creating music, I found myself avoiding some music for a time because of the strong influence it has on me (e.g., Ennio Morricone, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, But Bacharach, ...), but later I thought to myself, if someone ends up influencing me to create a piece of music, that's OK. The worst thing is when I can't get the bass line to "Play That Funky Music, White Boy" out of my head. Damn you, Wild Cherry! smiley
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Latest Song: These Times
Artist Page Send Message March 24, 2014 | 9:10 am

carlajpatterson's artist icon
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'Damn you, Wild Cherry!' Indeed. smiley
Latest Song: Uguisu (Nightingale)
Artist Page Send Message March 25, 2014 | 1:09 am

ShadowofNine's artist icon
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When I get inspired I go full hog until the basic work is done, then I listen and Listen and tweak until satisfied that I have done my best, I take pride in what I upload. From start to finish about a week, I do not work anymore so I have the time.
Listening presents a different problem for me, I am jaded, I have this bad attitude " been there,done that" so when someone uploads a song that does not cut it for me, I do not listen for the whole piece, I have been in the music business for 35 years in one form or another, so I look for bright new ideas, great melodies, superb musicianship, creativity, and production. However I never post negative comments. Life is to short to be grumpy, one of the great things for me is to hear an artist improve in all the above areas, thats there gift to me.
Latest Song: Away From You 2
Artist Page Send Message March 25, 2014 | 10:53 am

carlajpatterson's artist icon
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I agree with you Dave - life is too short to be grumpy - or mean-spirited! Which some seem to be, who get into critiquing other people's work. If I can't find something positive to say about someone's work, I just don't leave a comment.

I love watching people grow, too, including myself… at this late date, I need to see that in myself or why bother? New ideas, inspirations, techniques, or genres - different ways of approaching an idea - new people to work with. All are great ways of keeping things interesting and meaningful.

But, I am different in one way and that is that I find improvisations to be what I like most. The first reaction to a piece of music, the first attempt at synching in with another musician, finding that sweet spot between myself and another artist… those are precious and rare moments of grace/adventure/satisfaction for me. That's why I can finish something in a few minutes or not be able to finish something in a few months. It has to be the right moment, the right setting, the perfect storm of receiving and giving back. I will also work on songs in other ways if needs must but the best things I've done are almost entirely first takes. At most, with a few tweaks after the fact, usually only when needed to suit someone else.

I think it's partly that we're not in the same room so we can't bounce off each other's energy in that way. That's a whole other experience and sometimes goes a different way, where continued tweaking is not only required but a lot of fun.

Latest Song: Uguisu (Nightingale)
Artist Page Send Message March 25, 2014 | 3:04 pm

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