This year, I set out to write 52 Tracks in 52 Weeks, which I’ve posted on another blog. I got into the habit of writing ambient tracks, which occupies my entire output so far this year. Much of that is due to the fact that I have a limited amount of time I can focus on writing a given piece of music. For me, that time limit is 45 – 60 minutes. This is problematic for my house music attempts.
So, I decided to work around this attention limitation. I started a project called 26 Stubs. A stub, in this case, isn’t the remains of a tree (although I suppose that’s one way to thing about it) or the left over part of an amputated limb. A stub is the beginning of something, in the wikipedia sense of the word.
This article on a DJ is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
26 Stubs is a response to my inability to work on any track for more than 45 – 60 minutes without wanting to sequence it out and call it done. If a good track takes 8 – 12 hours to produce well, 45 minutes of work isn’t going to cut it. Working continuously on one track over and over will stale the track in my ears and I don’t stay excited about it.
So, here’s my 26 Stubs workflow:
- Create a new track in Reason or Logic. Play around with it for 45 – 60 minutes. Save “stub” without title: “Alpha Stub 2008-01-02”.
- Iterate through all 26 letters of the alphabet, alpha to zulu, before returning to Alpha Stub again, working on each for 45 – 60 minutes. Save this stub with an increment and a new date stamp: “Alpha Stub 2 2008-02-03”.
- After several iterations on a particular stub, one of two things will occur:
- This isn’t going anywhere. Archive this stub and start something new in its place. Once something gets archived, recycle its letter. 26 Stubs are 26 active stubs.
- This is almost/totally finished. Title it. Congratulations, this is no longer a stub, but an actual track. Now, it’s ready to be released and remixed.
- Revised Archive directory periodically to review previously discarded tracks.
I don’t see this becoming a strict “never work on anything that’s not in the 26 Stubs workflow”, but it can provide more of a focus to the perpetually scatterbrained (like me). This will make “noodling around” with software a little more productive and, potentially, result in a new track every week.
What do you think? What little tricks do you use to improve your productivity in the studio?