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Listen to your song with a fresh perspective?

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#1 Dario D   Members   


Posted 01 February 2012 - 09:09 PM

You know how when you're working on a song, you often lose touch with how a fresh, outside person hears it, and thus can't tell if you're doing something wrong? Is there some trick you can use to hear your song from a fresh perspective? (not counting just putting it aside for a week, which isn't very productive.) I know that in digital art, if you reverse your image horizontally, you can suddenly see it anew, and immediately spot your mistakes. Does music have such a trick?

(If not, someone should develop one. I'm SURE there's a way.)

Thanks. smile.png
Deefrag.com (home of my projects)

#2 StauntonLick   Members   


Posted 02 February 2012 - 04:04 AM

Sleep on it perhaps?

I find that listening to it "cold" in the morning after an evening spent composing lets me see it in a new light. Normally you hear a whole load of problems you didn't notice while you were in the heat of writing.

Alternatively, try switching what you're listening to it on. Plug your headphones in, or have an A/B switch between your monitors and a standard set of multimedia speakers. The different speakers will emphasise different areas of the piece and allow you to hear elements you might have missed going through just one set.
Jonny Martyr
Composer & Sound Designer for Games & Film

#3 Moritz P.G. Katz   Members   


Posted 02 February 2012 - 05:28 AM


Good question.

There's lots of things you can do!
  • Like Jonny suggested, listen to it in different environments and at different daytimes. This includes listening to your song really loud and really quiet. A general rule of thumb is that you should be able to spot every element in your mix even at the lowest audible volume.
  • Especially with media music: have your music running to different images. You'll discover new things about your track and get fresh ideas that way.
  • Reduce your track. The most common mistake when starting out with music production is doing too much. E.g. just have the percussion tracks running. Do they leave enough place for the rest of the music or is it already too much?
  • Listen to your track in Mono! Not just because of compatibility, but also to factor out panorama from the complex hearing experience. A good track will sound good in Mono, too.
  • Make notes on paper while listening to your track. Not in Word or Notepad, but with a real pen on real paper. This might sound a bit silly, but putting your goals with this track down like this will make you want to achieve them.
  • This isn't really a trick, but don't forget to give your ears a rest. I like to leave my computer for at least once every two hours, maybe go downstairs, take a stroll around the block. No computer screen, no cat videos on YouTube, no other music, just fresh air and imagining how you'd like to continue with the track.


Check out my Music/Sound Design Reel on moritzpgkatz.de

#4 6510   Members   


Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:05 AM

Put your song in a playlist with professionell music of similiar style, I'd say at least three other tracks before. Listen to all of them with your eyes closes, don't change position or anything. Any flaw will become brutally obvious.

#5 nsmadsen   Moderators   


Posted 02 February 2012 - 11:11 AM

This is a great thread with some really solid ideas. Here are some other ideas or musical approaches to try which are not already listed:

- Change the key - especially if you're playing it in yourself instead of the mouse-n-click method. I can't quite explain but sometimes just playing in a new key for me presents new options and avenues. It shouldn't make a different but for some reason new chord progressions or inversions pop up in my mind when playing in a new key.

- Change the time signature or impose a new one in spots.

- Change up the instrumentation

- Change the harmonies - playing in minor? See how it works in major? Or try one of the other modes.

- Take a walk - get out of the house (or studio)! It's amazing how much that refreshes me and gives me more ideas.

- Get some feedback from someone you trust and admire.

Hope that helps out some,

Nathan Madsen
Nate (AT) MadsenStudios (DOT) Com
Composer-Sound Designer
Madsen Studios

Cedar Falls, IA

#6 Nyaanyaa   Members   


Posted 02 February 2012 - 05:22 PM

Hello Dario,

while not giving you "fresh ears", doing push-ups, crouches, martial arts, or any other form of physical excercise will increase the blood circulation to your brain, and hence the amount of oxygen delivered to your brain, which will increase your brain activity including your creativity. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You want to feel energetic, not exhausted.

Best of luck,

#7 Henrythetrain   Members   


Posted 12 February 2012 - 07:12 AM

I like putting songs I write through a visualizer it's a nice way to see what your music is doing. I often find when I'm solely listening back to a track I try too hard to pick out things when i run it in a visualizer it helps me see the piece as a whole again not all the separate tracks

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