Change the room. Change the speakers. Ask a friend to listen.
You are right. Listen in your car is a popular one.
A technique I like to use to get out of my head when I’m creating something with a particular ‘sound’ in mind is have a group of 5+ songs with a vaguely familiar style (that I really enjoy) set aside. At stop points in my music creating process I listen to all the songs in succession and only when done with all of them I come back to my own music. This has helped me make choices and freshen up my ears, especially when I take off the headphones
I’ve never considered trying a “palette cleanser” of music but it makes a lot of sense!
Very interesting topic! I’ve been having a lot of similar experiences. I think, especially with modular/euro for me, there’s several points in the creative process that I «fear». One is that you often work with pretty repetative stuff and you just fiddle with and tweak neuances and variations. In that process I sometimes can get very tired of aspects of the sounds or themes or such. Worse case scenario is that I get so tired and fed up with it that I don’t enjoy it, which can lead to rejection of the whole idea… I try to always make a recording of it no matter what, and if I still feel there’s something bigger there I try to save it as a preset, leave the patch and return to it the next day. I often then find some enjoyment in it. A pair of fresh ears can do a lot!
Most times I’m most concerned with the process rather than the final «product». My goal is to always enjoy the process, then it’s just a bonus if the end result is enjoyable aswell.
I do this all the time and it does my head in! It’s a real struggle to get over but I feel like I’m getting there… slowly.
Thinking about this again, I think this is the reason I’m drawn to generative processes. The approach of creating a system that just plays through and makes the track. It also feels like you’re not completely the author (even though of course you are…).
This is really great. I’m going to definitely try this, thanks for the idea!
when working on a single sound, having a reference track on a crossfader can help. an oscilloscope can help to get a good ‘gain relation’ between transients and body, and notice unnecessary long decays. a spectral display with envelope followers is a great allround tool to help with ‘harmonic placement’ and also to remedy unnecessary long/static decays. personally I think it helps listening thru a single cone mid range speaker or similar unforgiving medium, the interesting stuff is bound to happen in the mids anyway, plus it’s easier to hear phase and placement in mono.
There is the oft’ cited advice to “never master your own music,” but I like to say that it’s fine to master your own music if you have skills in that area - but always find some way to bring in another musical talent somewhere in the creative process.
It’s interesting that listening to your own music the next day (or later) can give you a fresh perspective, but I think that the real lesson here is to actually get another person involved instead of working in isolation.
It’s great that technology allows a single musician to create a piece entirely on their own, but as a listener I’ve noticed that even my favorite artists are overshadowed in their solo work by the collaborations that they do. Geir Jenssen and Mark Van Hoen are about the only exceptions, in that their solo work stands on its own, but even they have some larger groups that occasionally take the music to the next level (HIA+Biosphere, Scala).
It’s called being ear fatigued. I’m not sure if someone mentioned it yet, but it’s a real thing. I always have to take a 15-30 min break to rest them before I start to compose, mix or master my songs.
or you could create a piece that is 4 hours long.
Alvin Lucier: Music on a long thin wire (1980)
Eliane Radigue | Feedback Works 1969-1970
Phill Niblock | Touch Works, For Hurdy Gurdy And Voice
For me, it’s important to take a long break from listening to my rough recordings - several days or even several weeks. I need to (almost) forget what I made or how I made it…and I echo the change the room / speakers comments above. It helps.
i agree with you. sometimes you need to step away from the painting… but sometimes you need to go deeper.
yes absolutely! totally agree. but for me, at least, the way to (hopefully) dig deeper is to walk away and then return with fresh ears and a renewed perspective.
they are both important parts of a process
all i was getting at is that it seems like with some kinds of music its almost as if it opens up over time as a language and a listener becomes more aware of the nuance articulation of that form
Reminds me of ‘A Lot of Sorrow’ where The National played “Sorrow” for 6 hours straight.
I went to see a performance of Sympathy for the devil, stretched to take 69 minutes.
So each bar was repeated for the requisite time, then the next bar was played.
its a strong groove, that actually holds up for 69 mins…