Work quickly – capture the lightning!

It’s important to work quickly!

Not to rush, of course, but to know when to stop tweaking and move on to the next task.

You probably already know what happens when you work too slowly – you easily get get bogged down in the details. You start to lose focus and objectivity. In your mind, your job silently shifts from ‘making a song’ to ‘trying out all my compressors’ (or something like that). Time starts to lose meaning and you get lost in the tweakhole…

The other problem with working too slowly is that you’ll start to get sick of your own music. Listening to the same 8 bars over and over again will numb your sense of taste. Working on the same song for hours with little progress is demoralising.

On the other hand, working quickly will keep your ears fresh and your mind excited about the song. Making frequent measurable progress is motivating! The key here is momentum – not in the musical sense, but in the workflow sense. It’s important to recognise that spending extra time working a certain detail is not going to appreciably contribute to the final product. It’s important to know when to move on.

But move on to what?

If your production process blurs conception, composition, recording, mixing (and – hopefully not – mastering), you might not have a sense of the production process being a series of discrete steps. If this is the case, it might not be clear what the ‘next step’ is. When you’re done adjusting an EQ or compressor, do you adjust the next track? Or record another part? Or compose another part? How do you know when you’re finished?

On the other hand, if you have a clearly-defined workflow, you’ll know how much time to spend on each individual task. You’ll know when to move on. You’ll know when you’re finished.

I’ll be discussing workflow in more detail in future blog posts…

-Kim.

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  1. Hey! I was looking for some help and came across your blog. I am recording this song using Cubase SX3..Its like a peppy alt rock song and my issue is, when I mix down, the final file is clipping here and there. Admittedly, I have not mixed or mastered any of the tracks. Can you help me out with this? the final mix is at a good volume although the bass guitar is too soft and the mixdown is already clipping..if I increase the bass level, it will only clip more. How do I rectify this? Any help will be appreciated!

  2. @chris
    You should mix at a lower level, possibly turning up your monitors to compensate. Check out this post for more details:

    https://kimlajoie.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/monitoring-gain-staging/

    If your mix is well-balanced and pretty much finished, a quick solution is to turn down your mix bus fader (be careful if you’ve got any plugins on the mix bus though – they’ll still be clipping).

    -Kim.

    • Zenhauser
    • June 13th, 2011

    Hi Kim,

    Love your entries, I somehow find a connection with every post and look forword to them each week. Please keep it up.

  3. @Zenhauser
    Thanks! Glad to hear it!

    -Kim.

  4. It’s a very very good blog, thanks for your works. (from paris. fr)

  5. @Spleen
    Thanks for reading!

    -Kim.

    • Grover
    • June 22nd, 2011

    any thoughts on workflow would be very cool. it seems there is something that is always slowing the process down.

  6. @Grover
    Don’t worry – I’ve got a lot to say about workflow, and there are a number of workflow-related posts in the pipeline!

    -Kim.

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