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Morris Band

How can I piece together sections of 1000's of songs? How does Metallica do it?

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I tend to start songs and never finish them. I have tons of riffs and partial songs and almost complete ones. Instead of finishing I start fresh and the song is exciting for a couple days then I start another. Been doing this for a lot of years. Different keys and different tempos. I use addictive drums so could easily look at the midi name and also render the stems etc. Im just wondering if anyone else does this and what do you guys do. I know Metallica stitches riffs together to make songs. Not sure how they do it. Would love any suggestions thanks.

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This is exactly how I work too. I've got well over 200 unfinished songs now - mostly 8 to 32 bar sections.

What I've started doing is every time I save a project, I export it as an MP3 giving it the same name as my project. I copy the MP3 to a PREVIEWS folder, which I've added to the media browser.  I don't bother with individual stems - just the whole export:
image.thumb.png.6fa3d6d990277648d5b2200a579b0f29.png

When I'm stuck for a chorus for my verse (or vice versa), I go to the media browser and click through them so see if any might work.

If they might, I'll drag the mp3 on to an audio track, cut it up / speed it up etc... if it sounds good, I'll open up the original project and copy the tracks over.

For MIDI, it's easy enough to work with... audio I'll re-record if the key is wrong.
 

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14 hours ago, msmcleod said:

This is exactly how I work too. I've got well over 200 unfinished songs now - mostly 8 to 32 bar sections.

What I've started doing is every time I save a project, I export it as an MP3 giving it the same name as my project. I copy the MP3 to a PREVIEWS folder, which I've added to the media browser.  I don't bother with individual stems - just the whole export:
image.thumb.png.6fa3d6d990277648d5b2200a579b0f29.png

When I'm stuck for a chorus for my verse (or vice versa), I go to the media browser and click through them so see if any might work.

If they might, I'll drag the mp3 on to an audio track, cut it up / speed it up etc... if it sounds good, I'll open up the original project and copy the tracks over.

For MIDI, it's easy enough to work with... audio I'll re-record if the key is wrong.
 

Brilliant Thank you!

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Some good ideas here. Good on ya Morris for bringing up something that a lot of solo producer/composer/recordists struggle with. I'm sure that film/TV scorers must keep their own libraries of musical ideas around for when they need something.

Kinda has me wondering whether there would be a use for a dedicated app to manage these snippets and sketches, it could have some analysis built in for BPM and key, and of course a way to add one's own tags and notes. A composers' sketch manager, like there are photo managers? You could import things from anywhere, say the voice recorder app on your phone, etc. Hmm.

I was recently feeling blocked and opened up a project that I had done to demonstrate a bug to the Cakewalk developers. Just me playing drums to a 90BPM click for about 8 minutes, but there were a few measures in there where I hit some nice smooth chilly grooves. Because of course, no pressure.

Since it was all to a grid, I cut out a few of the best ones and looped them and played around. Thanks to Pluginboutique, my collection of synths with sync'd arpeggiators is many, so it's a great excuse to explore presets....and I came up with a cool chillout piece.

As far as actually getting a finished piece finished? I think it's a real issue for people who are solo producer/composer/players. In a band, you have peer pressure and deadlines, it's good enough, we need to have a recording we can use to get gigs/sell on Bandcamp/iTunes/whatever. And back in the day, due to financial constraints, we had only a matter of hours to go in to a studio, record multiple tunes, mix them, master them, and go home with a 2-track DAT.

I don't have an answer, I wish I did. I have half a dozen songs that are one lap from the finish line, and they're good songs, best stuff I've ever done, even a topical political novelty song that I should get out there while it's still topical.

But sitting here in my home studio, every time I turn the DAW on I get better at being a mix engineer, I get better at singing, better at songwriting, whatever, so it's really hard to stop myself from endlessly applying my newly-acquired skills to works in progress. It's like learning carpentry by building a house starting at one end. By the time I get 1/4 of the way done, the first stuff I did looks like hell, so I want to tear it all out and start it over, and then when I'm done with that, the stuff I did earlier.... Why should I settle for it sounding all 2-dimensional when I just found a reverb like Phoenix that is playing in a different league than anything I ever used before? When I've started to explore artists like Dave Tipper and the insane holographic sound sculptures he creates?

(Two of my biggest musical heroes are Brian Wilson and Kevin Shields, but I missed the part where I influenced a generation with my early work before I barricaded in the studio for decades. 🤣)

Taken out to its worst conclusion, people with infinite time, control and resources can wind up second-guessing themselves so badly that they decide that what really happened was that Greedo shot first.

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11 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Some good ideas here. Good on ya Morris for bringing up something that a lot of solo producer/composer/recordists struggle with. I'm sure that film/TV scorers must keep their own libraries of musical ideas around for when they need something.

Kinda has me wondering whether there would be a use for a dedicated app to manage these snippets and sketches, it could have some analysis built in for BPM and key, and of course a way to add one's own tags and notes. A composers' sketch manager, like there are photo managers? You could import things from anywhere, say the voice recorder app on your phone, etc. Hmm.

I was recently feeling blocked and opened up a project that I had done to demonstrate a bug to the Cakewalk developers. Just me playing drums to a 90BPM click for about 8 minutes, but there were a few measures in there where I hit some nice smooth chilly grooves. Because of course, no pressure.

Since it was all to a grid, I cut out a few of the best ones and looped them and played around. Thanks to Pluginboutique, my collection of synths with sync'd arpeggiators is many, so it's a great excuse to explore presets....and I came up with a cool chillout piece.

As far as actually getting a finished piece finished? I think it's a real issue for people who are solo producer/composer/players. In a band, you have peer pressure and deadlines, it's good enough, we need to have a recording we can use to get gigs/sell on Bandcamp/iTunes/whatever. And back in the day, due to financial constraints, we had only a matter of hours to go in to a studio, record multiple tunes, mix them, master them, and go home with a 2-track DAT.

I don't have an answer, I wish I did. I have half a dozen songs that are one lap from the finish line, and they're good songs, best stuff I've ever done, even a topical political novelty song that I should get out there while it's still topical.

But sitting here in my home studio, every time I turn the DAW on I get better at being a mix engineer, I get better at singing, better at songwriting, whatever, so it's really hard to stop myself from endlessly applying my newly-acquired skills to works in progress. It's like learning carpentry by building a house starting at one end. By the time I get 1/4 of the way done, the first stuff I did looks like hell, so I want to tear it all out and start it over, and then when I'm done with that, the stuff I did earlier.... Why should I settle for it sounding all 2-dimensional when I just found a reverb like Phoenix that is playing in a different league than anything I ever used before? When I've started to explore artists like Dave Tipper and the insane holographic sound sculptures he creates?

(Two of my biggest musical heroes are Brian Wilson and Kevin Shields, but I missed the part where I influenced a generation with my early work before I barricaded in the studio for decades. 🤣)

Taken out to its worst conclusion, people with infinite time, control and resources can wind up second-guessing themselves so badly that they decide that what really happened was that Greedo shot first.

An app almost like that xo thing from xln would work great. I just love playing with music its kinda like a science project or experiment with me.  Ive never tried to make a living from it. Ive been in out of bands written tons of stuff and its always fun. Most of my music is really weird Im never really trying to write hits although I have analyzed the billboard charts every now and then and tried to bring Influence into my own music. Even though Im not a mumble rap fan theres neat metal riffs tucked in that style of music. I often go over to ultimate guitar and check tabs and play around or I just riff to drum beats or I write melodies then riff to them. Which is how I ended up with tons of unfinished stuff because I experiment to much lol

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11 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

Kinda has me wondering whether there would be a use for a dedicated app to manage these snippets and sketches, it could have some analysis built in for BPM and key, and of course a way to add one's own tags and notes. A composers' sketch manager, like there are photo managers? You could import things from anywhere, say the voice recorder app on your phone, etc. Hmm. [emphasis added]

This "implied feature request" intrigues me as it is something I could see using to help make more efficient use of "sketches" [aka undeveloped musical ideas].  Not sure how much this fits under the Q&A category and the OP's question, but I am wondering if you envision this as possibly being related to Browser functionality.  

For example:

  • with Instruments, we presently have the ability to assign categories (via Right Click > Set Properties and either select a category or add a new one).
  • with Media, we presently have the ability to tag mp3 files (via Right Click > Properties > Details [not sure about oggs, flacs, etc.--whatever is allowed via Windows' File Properties.
  • with Media we can create our own file hierarchy, make copies, and drop & drag--though a file properties/comments parser and filter might make it easier.

Just some thoughts on your hint of a suggestion.

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Ha! So, having said all this, what did I just do.

My old friend and onetime bandmate, now housemate, Alex, brought his Tascam 8-track digital Portastudio over after complaining that he couldn't get a workflow going with it the way he used to with his old cassette 4-track. He also has a Sterling ST-51 to go with it, so I had him bring them with the idea that maybe I could parse the manual and make him a cheat sheet for doing guitar/vocal demos, which is his main goal.

I sat down with it, recorded a take of one of my songs using its built-in pair of condensers, then overdubbed my vocal using the ST-51. Good lord, the thing takes half a dozen button presses just to turn the phantom power on! It even has a button labeled "Phantom Power," but when you press it, all it does is make the dialog appear on the tiny LCD screen and then you have to confirm it and all this crap.

After tracking, the big challenge was to get my 3 tracks from the Tascam to my Dell for import to CbB. What a zany process. In order to do this, it partitions the SD card into a FAT partition that the PC can read and then a proprietary file system that the Portastudio uses. So you must call up your song and Export it to the FAT partition to get it to a place where a computer can read it.

Dropped the tracks into Cakewalk and went to town with my usual tools and techniques, and it sounds fantastic. I did a whole "unplugged" version of one of my songs, right after participating in this thread. 😍

(and I think I may be able to help Alex get his head around the Portastudio)

 

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30 minutes ago, User 905133 said:

This "implied feature request" intrigues me

I'm glad you like the idea. It wasn't really something I'd expect the BL engineers to add to Cakewalk. Just something that occurred to me that would be useful if someone coded it. If this were to be added to CbB, the Browser would surely be the home for it, as you say.

The more I think about it, it just seems like something like this must exist already. I know they do for consumers' music collections, of course. There must be some deejay software like Serato that can pull BPM and key and so forth out of an audio file and catalog it. Seems like a short leap to adapt that kind of software for composers/producers.

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2 hours ago, User 905133 said:

This "implied feature request" intrigues me as it is something I could see using to help make more efficient use of "sketches" [aka undeveloped musical ideas].  Not sure how much this fits under the Q&A category and the OP's question, but I am wondering if you envision this as possibly being related to Browser functionality.  

For example:

  • with Instruments, we presently have the ability to assign categories (via Right Click > Set Properties and either select a category or add a new one).
  • with Media, we presently have the ability to tag mp3 files (via Right Click > Properties > Details [not sure about oggs, flacs, etc.--whatever is allowed via Windows' File Properties.
  • with Media we can create our own file hierarchy, make copies, and drop & drag--though a file properties/comments parser and filter might make it easier.

Just some thoughts on your hint of a suggestion.

If an admin wants to move my question or if someone wants to start a thread there Im ok with it :) Id love if bandlab ran with it to help solve this problem. Im sure most of us have vast amounts of unused music and if we can easily do something with it that would be amazing.  Thank you for all your ideas and input so far.

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18 hours ago, Starship Krupa said:

I was just taking a browse back through our very own Freeware Instruments Thread and saw that someone posted a link to this:

https://www.adsrsounds.com/product/software/adsr-sample-manager/

I haven't tried it, but from the description, it sounds purpose-built for what we've been talking about.

Oh wow thank you for sharing that. I think it might work. Downloading now. Plus its free! :)

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