Osteocephalic Getting Productive with Music

Dec 05, 2008 - 22:12

Software, Workflow

26 Stubs

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.

For example:

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:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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”.
  3. After several iterations on a particular stub, one of two things will occur:
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  4. 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?

1 Comment

Posted by
29 January 2009 @ 11am

Hm… I tend to do this when I’m doing graphics work… when I spend too much time on something, I start running out of ideas or just getting bored with staring at the damn thing, so I’ve found that branching off into another piece helps to refresh my creativity. That way I get two good pieces done in about the same time as just one bad one would normally take. Very helpful.

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