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How To Improve Your Music Fast

Updated: May 24


If you want to super charge your creative progress and improve your music fast, here are a couple of concepts, thoughts on the creative process that come from having faced almost every problem one can have when trying to finish a new project.


  1. Don’t listen to the music you’re currently working on repeat!


...unless you’re actually working on it and know what to do next. I can't overstate how important that is and I am fully aware of how counterintuitive that sounds. But hear me out:


If you actually sat down and listened to your all time favorite songs for two to three hours a day on repeat for multiple days in a row, you will get bored/frustrated/annoyed/find mistakes/etc…


In order for us to make good music we need to maintain an objective ear for as long as possible. Hearing it the first time ever is the most objective position one could have. Unfortunately, we will never have that position. since we're the ones making the music.


The longer you listen the more numb you become to what you’re hearing. Creating music is a race against boredom you could say. Spending a lot of time on a piece of music, does not guarantee a quality outcome. But it has great potential to ruin a project before it’s completion.

This is probably one of the best things you can do for your creative process, as counter intuitive as it might sound. Especially, if you’re struggling to finish ideas quickly.


Being able to listen to your music like someone who is listening to it the first time, will provide you with the perspective you need to know what’s working and what is not, which will eventually allow you to finish songs faster and improve your music's quality.



2. Don’t work on it when you don’t know what to do next!


After closing a session on a track, bounce it and don’t listen to your sketch for at least 3 days. Work on something else in the mean time. When you come back to it, listen to what you’ve exported til the end. Now, write down a list of everything you want to change, add, substitute, etc.


Be as binary/unequivocal as possible: don’t just write down „drums too harsh“.


Ask yourself what you can actually do about it, such as:

1) turn down volume of hi hats

2) with an eq dib snare and hi hats between 1kHz to 8kHz.


Don't worry if you don't know exactly, just guess. All knowledge comes from guessing first!


Stay focused on coming up with action steps you can implement.Then start the next session with whatever idea makes the biggest difference to the listener (!). If you digress from your list, it’s fine. It’s just an orientation. The idea is to not sit in front of a project not knowing what to do next and just randomly starting to tweak snares and kicks.


3. Perfect means "completed" or "finished". Not flawless!


Don't believe me? Look up the original meaning of "perfect or perfection".


If you actually check what perfect means you will find that "perfect" or "perfection" meant "completion", "a finishing" or "to finish, to complete". The idea of "perfection" being defined by "flawlessness" is a relatively new concept, so to say. The original meaning of the word is "completion". Meaning: A perfect beat is a finished beat.


You have only very little control over the quality of ideas you’ll receive each day anyway. Your best idea will come out exactly like your worst. Everbody who makes music on a daily basis will tell you exactly that. All you can really do is show up and execute on the ideas the universe is giving you.


The more music you make on a regular basis, the more you’ll understand. Great ideas (and bad ideas, too) basically just happen to us. We don’t "make" them ourselves by rational thought and design. They are given to us and we have to interpret on what the idea wants to be which again is dependent on our personal taste. This is why many people say "art manifests in the perspective of the artist and how he/she interprets the world they see".


Momentum is of great help. It comes from repeating a process over and over again, free of care about the result. I need about 6 to 8 within 2 or 3 days songs/beats to gain momentum. What’s your number?


4. The fastest way to improve the quality of music is to make a lot - Quantity over Quality!


Continuous deliberate practice leads to improvement - The more music you make the quicker you’ll become better. Creating as many ideas as possible in a short amount of time without actually worrying about the quality of the result will get you where you want to be musically faster than anybody who's spending weeks to finish one instrumental/song. 80% of the quality of a song is already existent in it's very first draft anyway. Spending lots of time has nothing to do with the quality of the outcome. Nothing.


I've mentioned "deliberate practice". This is quite a deep concept. However, waht helped me improve the quality of my music more quickly than ever was this:


After you’ve done a session/or finished a beat/song answer these three questions:


1. What went great?

2. What was difficult?

3. What will I do differently next time as a result?


Apply your conclusions to your next session. This way you’ll ensure your learnings stay with you. It’s easy to forget something that worked well.


There is no faster way to improve your overall quality!


5. Let the music guide your next step


The whole process of making a beat or song is a discovery, really. Not a well thought-out design process based on rational thinking that we can follow like a manual. Music is about hearing, music is about feeling.


At the beginning of pretty much every new sketch and idea, we simply don’t know for sure what it’s gonna be in the end, yet. So whatever idea we have, when we start a new project, it’s just a starting point. A sample is just a starting point. A song you've just listened to, that inspired you to make something new, is just a starting point. This preset we just opened up... Just a starting point!


More often than not, producers (or song writers) get stuck or even ruin an idea because they have a pre-conceived idea of what the piece of music in front of them is supposed to be. It's that "sound in my head". Then we try to make it „what we’re hearing in our head“ but it just won’t work. The reason for that is because we’re focusing on a thought. In our head. But we're not focused on what is right in front of us.


More often than not, we get stuck for one reason: We get stuck because we simply misinterpret what we're listening to!


Example: Your original idea (starting point!), like your sample, sounds super hard and dark. But now, that you've chopped and used it in a new way, the energy of the original sample changed a bit. You keep trying to turn it into a hard banger, anyway. Because the sample was dark and hard, right? But no matter how often you try, no matter how often you switch that snare or hihat sound, it just doesn't give you that same energy. We're stuck.

Frustration keeps building until we decide to simply leave it and start over with a new project.


Big mistake! What we should be doing is listening back to the sketch we just made and wonder "what does this want to be?" Without any pre-conceived idea of what WE want it to be.


Again, more often than not we completely miss what the point aka what the beat actually wants to be. Maybe you did want to make a song like XYZ but really, when you listen to your sketch, it sounds more like ABC. Recognizing that the music you got in front of you wants to go down a different route than what you had in mind when you started is crucial if you want to make more and better music faster. It’s a discovery process, not a design. Stay open to your music and ask yourself „what does it want to be?“ until you know. Then make it what it wants to be.


If you keep applying some of these gems into your process, fast progress is almost inevitable. I've been there and these are some of corner stones of my creative process.

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