You’ve just had a good long studio session. You started a banging new track, spent hours refining and maybe even managed to finish (or so you think). You go to sleep feeling really good about yourself.
The next day you have a listen. Everything sounds a bit off. You feel like all the hard work and inspiration was wasted. You realize it needs a lot more work.
But your momentum is lost and you don’t feel like working on it anymore. You end up starting something new, and the track gets buried under other projects. Pretty soon you forget about it.
Sound familiar? Yup, for me too.
How to finish music then? Well, here is one approach I use a lot. It quite often works for me – give it a shot.
We are constantly exposed to different environments, information and ideas. Our moods, mindsets and thought patterns shift from day to day. We also start to lose focus and perspective in long sessions.
A good track you hear somewhere might have a bigger effect on you today than it would have tomorrow or yesterday. How receptive you are to a particular piece of music at a particular moment depends on many different variables.
Likewise, when making music, what you come up with is always the outcome of your current mindset. If that mindset happens to be blurred or diluted, can you expect the results to turn out good?
A simple, great piece of advice you often hear is to take a break when you’re having a hard time with a project. Come back to it later. It works because you are giving your brain a chance to reset and then come in from a fresh perspective.
Yeah, everyone knows it’s good to take a break when you are having trouble. What I am saying is: quite often it’s beneficial to take a break even if everything seems good.
We are going to utilize this in this method.
How to finish music – The principle
The principle I am introducing here is easy:
- First session: Lay out the basics and structure.
- Take a break – preferably until the next day.
- Second session: Work on the details and finish the tune.
Let’s break these steps down a bit more.
1. First session – basics
When you first start working on a track, be quick and just try to get the idea down. Lay out the structure of the track as quickly as possible.
Don’t spend a lot time on details at this point. Don’t worry if something doesn’t sound right yet. Do what comes naturally. Try to trust your original idea and just go for a rough version.
Again – don’t go in on the details too much. It’s too early to try to make it perfect – you can easily end up smothering your original idea.
2. Utilize the power of your subconsicous mind
Once the bulk of your track is done it’s time to take a break. You can work on something else if you want, but let the newly created track rest until the next day. Let your brain reset. Your subconscious mind will keep working while you sleep. You wake up with new ideas (even though you might not realize it yet).
Your mindset is also probably going to be a little different the next day. If today you couldn’t manage to get it “just right”, your different mindset might very well allow for that to happen tomorrow.
It’s almost like having two minds working on a track because your strenghts and weaknesses can vary from day to day.
3. Second session – details and finish
After the break you will have more persepective and new ideas. Now go to work on the details and finish the track in a way that complements your original idea.
What you have to look out for at this point is to not get sidetracked too much. It’s easy to come up with something that sounds good but is too different from what you set out to do originally.
When this happens I usually save that idea as a separate project and use it as a basis for another tune later on.
How to finish music – conclusion
With this method I’ve been able to start as many as three tracks a day and finish them the next day. You should not confuse this with multitasking though. Every step of this process has a start and finish. Only until you are finished with something you move on to the next thing.
Try this out and see how it works for you.
If it doesn’t, that’s fine. But keep in mind that good ideas alone are not enough to carry you through to finishing great pieces of music. You need to build ways that keep the momentum going and prevent you from losing focus.