Do you ever feel defeated by music?

edited June 13 in Off-topic

So I've been struggling with these tunes for like 4 or 5 years now. I started these beats when my 2nd kid was born, and of course I just don't have an damn time to finish anything. So over last weekend I actually finished a track. Got the whole thing done, got a mix I dig and some home-made quick mastering that was admittedly not perfect.

I farmed the mix out to some friends, and got mostly positive feedback, and the constructive comments jived with my own criticisms of the mastering. Ok - no harm no foul.

Yesterday I had a completely shit day. Just upside down from stem to stern. Construction company is fixing my kitchen, so my kitchen is currently in the living room. My bedroom is so tiny and cluttered at the moment you can't even move in there. Work is frustrating as hell lately. I had band rehearsal last night and I was so stressed I almost completely forgot about it. Couldn't get my head in the game the whole night, but still had a good time.

At the end of rehearsal, I played the new tune for the drummer and he kinda tore it apart sonically. I love this guy - he's my boy. And I understand that he's coming from a place of being constructive and wanting to help. But man alive, I wasn't in the space to hear that after the day I had, and admittedly I probably opened myself up to criticism just through my eagerness to play him the tune.

Anyway, ever since I've just felt kinda defeated. I've listened to the tune too much and can't even hear it now. My production sounds like poop to me, and I'm generally feeling very defeated about the whole thing, when just a few days ago I was elated that I actually finished a thing.

I just wanted to say all this because I wanted to tell you all: coming here daily just brings me so much joy. It really does - it distracts me from the stresses of life and of work, it allows me to share the things I've learned over the years, it shows me tricks I wouldn't have thought of on my own, it's introduced me to new friends, and I've made connections and learned things I never would have otherwise.

So thank you. All of you. I know I blab a lot around this joint, but it helps on those days when things are just not as awesome as I'd like them to be. I really look forward to everyone's posts each morning when I get up.

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Comments

  • edited June 13

    For a few years I've been gathering hardware and software, building a nice setup and playing for hours (=getting lost in sounds and loops and obsessive-nano-tweakery and knob-twiddling). But I couldn't stop feeling guilty for never finishing anything.

    Until I realized this is actually enough for me. I'm no millennial, so the obsessive urge to share everything is lost on me (especially since everybody seems to be sharing, and hardly anyone is listening anyway). I realized that back when I was a teenager I used to be a drummer, playing for hours - alone or with my band - and never recorded anything. And we never felt bad about not recording stuff back then.

    So now I'm totally fine with just jamming and making music as a transient thing: one moment it's here, the next it's gone forever. And that's ok, because I'll have fun making new stuff tomorrow anyway :)

  • @brambos said:
    For a few years I've been gathering hardware and software, building a nice setup and playing for hours (=getting lost in sounds and loops and obsessive-nano-tweakery and knob-twiddling). But I couldn't stop feeling guilty for never finishing anything.

    Until I realized this is actually enough for me. I'm no millennial, so the obsessive urge to share everything is lost on me (especially since everybody seems to be sharing, and hardly anyone is listening anyway). I realized that back when I was a teenager I used to be a drummer, playing for hours - alone or with my band - and never recorded anything. And we never felt bad about not recording stuff back then.

    So now I'm totally fine with just jamming and making music as a transient thing: one moment it's here, the next it's gone forever. And that's ok, because I'll have fun making new stuff tomorrow anyway :)

    a lovely comment!

    @Daveypoo the question is why are you making music? is it to sell ? or for the joy of making it?

  • Thanks, @brambos. I struggle with this all the time - my desire to be perceived as a "legitimate" whatever-it-is: musician, engineer, producer, sound designer, instructor, vlogger, etc. For so long I wanted music to be my livelihood, but the older I get the more the industry I grew up idolizing doesn't exist/work the same way. I tried for so many years to "make it" but of course didn't get there. So I'm ok with all of that...

    It's this stupidly high standard I have for my own releases. I don't have any desire for money from this - I dropped that thought eons ago. But of course in my heart of hearts I want every one who listens to one of my tracks to drop their coffee in their lap with a HOLY CRAP. I'd be lying if I said otherwise.... so while I absolutely do this for my own edification, I have this NEED to finish things. I hate unfinished projects/songs/ideas/etc. I like having things to show for all my mouthing off...

    Just feeling beat up. Like everything I'm doing sucks, and like I just can't crack that glass ceiling of professionalism in my output that I so strive for. And the worst part is it's all just in my own damn head.

    Appreciate the support, Bram - for sure. I'd love to hear some of the music in your head - I'm always fascinated by what others are creating to make themselves smile.

  • My music making is like my fishing - I’m happy to just be doing it - one day I may not be able :)

  • I really think that one of the most important lessons any artist can ever learn is to get your ego out of the equation.

    Criticism of your work is not criticism of you. Criticism of your work can often teach you something, show you something you didn't know (or maybe even did know but didn't fix). Welcome criticism, but don't take it personally, and try to be as objective as you can about it. You don't necessarily have to act upon it, as long as you have considered it honestly.

    Of course sometimes if you heed every criticism you get you end up in a design-by-committee situation and your own voice and vision are lost, so always stay true to yourself first, but try to listen to the criticism fairly, even if it hurts.

    And this is why finishing stuff is so important: finish something, then move on to the next one - that way the damn work won't be so precious. When you've written another 10 tracks later you won't feel so attached to that one piece and you can let it go if it doesn't live up to what you've made since.

  • @Daveypoo am curious to hear your creations now. I bet they are so much better than you give credit for

  • Dave, at times like this music is your best friend.
    But like a dear friend, music resents your efforts to trap and control it.
    Set it free. It is pure energy. It will lead you back to your balanced state.

    My point is music is therapeutic as an experience, but trying to fashion it as a product can turn that experience into a negative, frustrating one. Just try making some music in the moment, and see if it helps.

    If that is too abstract...
    Just kick out the fucking jams, man. B)

  • @RubenDari said:
    a lovely comment!

    @Daveypoo the question is why are you making music? is it to sell ? or for the joy of making it?

    Mainly because it's such an ingrained part of who I am and what I do. Music is the vehicle by which I get the most pleasure expressing myself. I am intoxicated with that moment of creation (in it's various forms) where everything falls away from your life and you're completely consumed with the music you're making. I get that from playing in bands, jamming on the iPad, producing my own tunes, creating beats... but that's the moment I seek.

    Secondarily it's because let's face it - I like the attention. That's ultimately why I like making videos and having output - I want people to be impressed and like what I play/what I do. I want to make people's butt shake and get them as revved up and excited about the music as I am. I want to share that feeling I have when I'm in my car alone with the stereo cranked and the world doesn't exist - just me and the jams. THAT's what I want to give other folks.

  • By the way, the best way to finish stuff is to set a deadline and stick to it come hell or high water. That was my motivation for starting the Song Of The Month Club: I wanted to make sure I finished one song every month. And I've stuck to this without fail since the start of 2015, that's three and a half years, 42 fricking months and 42 tracks, most of them fully-fleshed songs with vocals.

    In that time I've moved house 3 times, had major building works done, had several family and life crises and dealt with my two kids and work etc... And just made sure I stuck to the deadline.

    The end result was that my music improved enormously as a result, my singing improved beyond recognition, my songwriting is infinitely better and I eventually developed my own distinctive style and sound. I really think there is no substitute for doing the work if you want to improve your art.

  • @universe said:
    @Daveypoo am curious to hear your creations now. I bet they are so much better than you give credit for

    Well, you can go here for some ancient tunes: https://soundcloud.com/davelionelli

    And there's more recent, but still older, stuff here: https://soundcloud.com/friction-shift

    And if you get through that and still give a crap, I can forward you the one I'm struggling with. The stupid part about all of this is that when I drop the tune on, I like it - it sounds good to me. I know that's all that should matter, but there's the but, and another but, and I'm just in my own head too much.

    Thanks for the comments @CracklePot, @Fruitbat1919 , & @richardyot too - I just have a hard time letting go of that childhood desire to be as great as my idols and needed an outlet.

    Some days are just crap days....

  • I frequently have trouble making and finishing things. I’ve never done an album, I can come up with jams and parts just fine and some have potential, but have trouble piecing it all together and I’m not so great at mixing etc. I don’t worry about it too much, but I should work harder to get something better done, but I’m not sure it’s worth it as I’m not really trying to sell it. Today, I’m just going to go climb a small mountain and blast away on my loud ocarina that I haven’t played in years. That is if I still have enough breath left after hiking 3,000 feet elevation gain. Also, if these high winds dissipate like the weather forecast says...

  • @DMan said:
    I frequently have trouble making and finishing things. I’ve never done an album, I can come up with jams and parts just fine and some have potential, but have trouble piecing it all together and I’m not so great at mixing etc. I don’t worry about it too much, but I should work harder to get something better done, but I’m not sure it’s worth it as I’m not really trying to sell it. Today, I’m just going to go climb a small mountain and blast away on my loud ocarina that I haven’t played in years. That is if I still have enough breath left after hiking 3,000 feet elevation gain. Also, if these high winds dissipate like the weather forecast says...

    You blast that ocarina from the mountaintop, sir! Blast it and be proud - we here at sea level salute you!

  • You blast that ocarina from the mountaintop, sir! Blast it and be proud - we here at sea level salute you!

    I used to live in NV side of Tahoe for like 2\3 a year but it was mostly through winter and I never got to really enjoy the mountains there. I’m practically at sea level too now. The trail today starts close to sea level and climbs close to 3,000 feet. It’s in a river valley. I’m hoping I get some nice echo. It’s so loud and dry I don’t like to play it indoors.

  • Ain't that the truth!

    Love your stuff, @Lady_App_titude I'm always excited to hear tracks when you post them. Your production is just smokin'.

  • The drummer’s correct, your stuff is crap. Look, he should know, he’s a proper musician.

  • Sometimes the issues raised in these posts just resonate SO much [sigh]. It seems like it's CONSTANTLY on my mind about when I'm going to stop obsessing on the mechanics of all these fabulous music apps and just MAKE SOME MUSIC. I'm not sure HOW I feel about the time I spend learning/playing around being actual music creation. I suppose if I didn't get satisfaction out of the playing around part of it, I wouldn't do it as much as I do. But then I go back to some of the things I've actually FINISHED in the past and I get a wash of accomplishment. Actually putting together a complete piece takes some discipline, and being focused like that feels too intense. Then there are the nagging feelings like the musical equivalent of writer's block, or whether I even CAN do a whole work. I keep reassuring myself that learning all these techniques is necessary to get to what I once thought WAS my objective, to write a song. But maybe I just have an addiction to hearing new sounds...

  • For me, personal music projects are a total escape from the day to day crap I generally have to deal with, so I don’t beat myself up about it if I’m just coming out with rubbish. I’d be black and blue if I did. The satisfaction is in the making, not the end result.

    Aside from personal noises, I play bass/electronics in a band - for that I have to nail it so I don’t let the others down, and I’ll take any criticism constructively and use it to improve my game.

    Music has shaped my life, connected me with people I wouldn’t have known otherwise, earned me a living at one point, and generally made everything better.

    Spent a bloody fortune on it, mind.

  • @richardyot said:
    I really think that one of the most important lessons any artist can ever learn is to get your ego out of the equation.

    Criticism of your work is not criticism of you. Criticism of your work can often teach you something, show you something you didn't know (or maybe even did know but didn't fix). Welcome criticism, but don't take it personally, and try to be as objective as you can about it. You don't necessarily have to act upon it, as long as you have considered it honestly.

    Of course sometimes if you heed every criticism you get you end up in a design-by-committee situation and your own voice and vision are lost, so always stay true to yourself first, but try to listen to the criticism fairly, even if it hurts.

    And this is why finishing stuff is so important: finish something, then move on to the next one - that way the damn work won't be so precious. When you've written another 10 tracks later you won't feel so attached to that one piece and you can let it go if it doesn't live up to what you've made since.

    I completely agree with your this statement, however, context is important. If I were to post something to the song of the month group I would fully expect feedback, when I share tunes with my bros all I want from them is some head bobbing and maybe a, "Killer track man." Good friends know how to read the scene.

  • edited June 13

    I have to admit - I like listening to my own stuff. Hell, that's why I make it - I make music that I dig listening to.

    Beyond that, completion is a big thing in my life. I grew up surrounded by others that always gave me crap for talking my time with "life", or not doing things their way, or others who just diddled around eternally and never got anywhere (both musically and in the greater scheme of things). I have always been results-oriented: I need to get s#!t done already. I have so many ideas in my head, love so many different parts of music creation, love playing so many different styles, that it's hard for my mind to stay in one place. The exercise of making myself finish something has always helped me out in that way by providing focus. That and I've always wanted to "run with the big boys" musically, so having product to show for yourself always helped. I spent 20+ years working at being a "professional musician" - toured with bands, produced & engineered records, taught lessons, etc. You name it, I tried it. So while I am a hobbyist in my heart, I want to produce pro-level content. In all my arenas - music, videos, etc.

    It's my own fight, and it's just my internal chatter getting the best of me. You all make me giggle, though, and allow me to nerd out as hardcore as humanly possible. You have no idea how thankful my wife is for that....

    :wink:

  • I have felt defeated by life itself, many aspects of life, but music has always been there for me — at least the creative spark. I cannot touch an instrument and not have an idea come to me, ever. This is how I know it is what I was meant to do. Nothing else I’ve tried is like that for me.

    FINISHING an idea — the 99% perspiration — that’s another matter. That is where having innate gifts, starting very young, and putting in those years of practicing 10 hours a day (or lack there of) makes all the difference. It’s still hard work, but being able to nail it in one take vs 90 takes ...

    But no matter what, some pieces just come easier than others. I have recently decided to devote myself to working on unfinished material from the past instead of composing new material (which would be so much easier). I am happy to say I just completed, FINALLY, a tune I first started in 1996!

    Now, can I keep going, chipping away at these archival nuggets? The next one stands before me, a scaffolding, all sketched out, just waiting for the hard work of tuning it into the tangible. Can I?

  • @brambos said:
    So now I'm totally fine with just jamming and making music as a transient thing: one moment it's here, the next it's gone forever. And that's ok, because I'll have fun making new stuff tomorrow anyway :)

    Same. Battled similar thoughts that started stressing me out whenever I would start noodling. I'm having fun either way so I'm not going to beat myself up over not finalizing tracks. I think I started accepting this idea the longer I've played with AUM and now ApeMatrix instead of a traditional DAW. I guess it's more of a modular mindset where pieces are created spontaneously and constantly evolving throughout the session. I kind of like this way of jamming more than trying to focus on how a piece of music should be composed.

  • I was defeated, invaded and conquered by music, long time ago. Now I live happily under its rule.

  • @Daveypoo said:

    Love your stuff, @Lady_App_titude I'm always excited to hear tracks when you post them. Your production is just smokin'.

    Thanks so much, @Daveypoo !

    Definitely a lot of long hours put into most of them.

  • @shiftsynth1 said:
    I completely agree with your this statement, however, context is important. If I were to post something to the song of the month group I would fully expect feedback, when I share tunes with my bros all I want from them is some head bobbing and maybe a, "Killer track man." Good friends know how to read the scene.

    This for sure. It's not that I can't take criticism, or don't seek it out, it's more that AT THAT MOMENT, all I wanted was a "Hey this is jammin'" rather than a dissection of why the frequency ranges were all over the map. I know he was coming from a place of wanting to help and all, just not what I wanted/needed at the time.

    It set me into my own head and I've been running around the internal echo chamber ever since.

  • edited June 13

    You’re normal bro. We musicians are our own worst critics. Just remember the song you think of the least might change someone’s life. It seriously happened to me back when we were still on cassette. So I made a song so we can even up the cassette tape. But little did I ever imagine that that song would save a life, take that back, God would use that song to touch a guy’ heart who was about to OD to commit suicide. He heard his mom play that song in the kitchen and it truly touched his heart! He called out his mom and they both cried and prayed to God!

    He called my home that evening and told me the whole story. Back then We would put our home number on the cassette if people wanted to order more. Well, that song I thought would go no where, was used by all mighty God to save a souls for His glorious kingdom. I feel so humbled.

    Keep on rocking bro!

  • I've never posted any of my things to let others hear. This discussion prompted me to jump off that cliff... See:

    https://forum.audiob.us/discussion/26657/motmeister-soundcloud-posts

    My thoughts are that if I know people will listen, I will create something worth listening to.

  • @brambos said:
    For a few years I've been gathering hardware and software, building a nice setup and playing for hours (=getting lost in sounds and loops and obsessive-nano-tweakery and knob-twiddling). But I couldn't stop feeling guilty for never finishing anything.

    Until I realized this is actually enough for me. I'm no millennial, so the obsessive urge to share everything is lost on me (especially since everybody seems to be sharing, and hardly anyone is listening anyway). I realized that back when I was a teenager I used to be a drummer, playing for hours - alone or with my band - and never recorded anything. And we never felt bad about not recording stuff back then.

    So now I'm totally fine with just jamming and making music as a transient thing: one moment it's here, the next it's gone forever. And that's ok, because I'll have fun making new stuff tomorrow anyway :)

    Lovely words, I like to add that most of the greatest musicians just played for themselves with little regard to anyone around them. You can hear that in their playing, its a wonderful thing when you just play for the moment.

  • Yes. Yesterday I felt quite beat. I’m experiencing an extended creative dry spell and it’s the pits. Everyday I get home from work crack open Live, mess around with some vsts or samples and after about 30 minutes I’ll close the laptop in defeat. People talk about getting stuck with a perfect loop but I’m having trouble making a decent loop. I’ve made lots of things I like in the past but now it ain’t happening. So ya no solutions. Time to get back to researching production techniques.

  • @motmeister said:
    I've never posted any of my things to let others hear. This discussion prompted me to jump off that cliff... See:

    https://forum.audiob.us/discussion/26657/motmeister-soundcloud-posts

    My thoughts are that if I know people will listen, I will create something worth listening to.

    Listening to your stuff now. The waltz piece is nice, but the French Horn & Piano piece reminds me of Frank Zappa's Girl in the Magnesium Dress. I think it sounds good - avant garde isn't always what I'm in the mood for, but it sounds nice and clean and more importantly it sounds purposeful & deliberate. Thumbs up, sir.

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