Online Sequencer Forums

Full Version: Top 10 things to avoid as a beginner
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Hey guys, PhioT (Jonah) here. I was bored so I decided to make a list of mistakes beginners and even some advanced members make when using this site. I'll try to mostly leave taste out of this, but everything is at least a little biased, so take what I say with a grain of salt. 

1. Reverb Overload:

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. Reverb is not meant for everything. Sometimes people seem to think that everything sounds better with reverb, which is wrong. The problem with overusing reverb is that it makes things sound muddy, and muffled. It also takes away from the impact of the initial hit of the sound, which can lead to melody being lost and difficult to hear. Overall, it just makes every song that overuses reverb sound the same, like a muddy mess.

This isn't to say that reverb is always bad, It sounds really nice with an high-pitched sci-fi. It also helps if you layer it with a sound that is similar and doesn't have reverb.

2. Reverb on kick:

This kinda ties into the last one. I would have no problems with this if different drums were seperate, but the main focus of most drum patterns, the kick, should almost never have reverb. Honestly, I'll probably have no problem with reverb with almost any other percussion instrument, but if you have even one kick you should avoid using reverb.

The reason for this is that a kick predominantly resides in the sub-bass regions of the audio spectrum. Reverberation in these frequencies brings us back to the earlier problem with muddiness.

3. Loudness Overload:

This happens when you turn things up (duhh). The thing about turning things up, is while it's not bad at a small amount, turning it up too much can lead to clipping, which is never good. A thing about psychoacoustics is that humans naturally percieve louder as better, while in actuality, generally quiter things have a higher audio quality. This is why you should always opt to turn something down, rather than up.

4. Octave overload: 

Another overload. Luckily I mostly avoided the past ones when I was starting out because OS had no reverb, and the only way to make something louder was to copy/paste the notes over each other. However, I was definitely very guilty of this sin. Basically, this is when you just octave everything a bunch, which is a really uncreative way to get a "fuller" sound. My problem with this is more taste-based than the other things, but I think if you ask any of the more experienced users on this site, they'll agree that this isn't the best way to "evolve" your music.

5. One for all:

Basically what I'm talking about here is when you just use one instrument for everything. Typically this instrument is one of the pianos, or an 8-bit wave. This isn't a problem with sound, so much as it is with improvement. It only becomes an issue when you make every single song with this instrument, which makes it harder to adjust to using different instruments when you need them. It also helps when you have more complicated songs to seperate the different parts so that it's easier to work with. Another benefit to seperating the parts into different instruments is it will give each part a different timbre, and so if they play dissonant frequencies it won't stand out as much.

6. "I'm just bad at percussion":

I think this one is almost unavoidable, unless you either have experience with percussion, or a massive ego. When you start percussion you're going to suck, it's just how it is. If you're already somewhat good at writing melodies and arranging, it'll feel like your percussion is behind the curve. This is why I think a lot of people think they're less talented at it than they are. This is a bad way of thinking, and not just because it hurts your confidence. The less you think you're talented at percussion, the more you'll internally use that as an excuse to not practice percussion, and it's a downward spiral. Just practice. It'll take time, It's an entirely different side of composing.

7. Elitism:

This is probably both the most annoying and the rarest error on this list. Basically this is "My genre is the only good genre". I don't think anyone starts out as an elitist, I think it comes from putting in a lot of work and not getting the attention you feel you deserve. This is an unhealthy line of thinking, it prevents you from finding inspiration from a wider variety of sources which greatly inhibits creativity. To any possible elitists out there: I'd suggest trying out other genres, seeing how they work, and finding where the effort behind the music lies.

8. Sequence Spamming:

What I'm talking about here is spamming/forcing your sequences upon others. Another thing that is related is being overconfident about your sequences. Be humble. The reason this is bad is because it will most likely end up in people not giving you correct criticism. They'll find every little thing wrong with your track and pick it apart at the molecular level, which isn't what you need to improve. This'll just end with you being hated and suffering a blow to your self-confidence.

9. Mud City:

I got more mud complaints. This time the thing I'm talking about isn't as much of a problem as reverb overuse, but still doesn't sound good to the ears. This kinda ties in with number five, in that you typically need to get more diverse with your instrument choices to solve it. Anyway, what I'm talking about is that there are some sounds on this site that have a distinct muddiness to them. Normally, in a proffesional DAW, you'd simply EQ these frequencies out. However, OS doesn't have that option so you'll just have to limit the amount of mud you put into your song via instruments. Electric piano is fine, but grand piano definitely has this problem. Reverb worsens it. I could make a list of all the instruments that have this problem, but I need to go to sleep soon. Listen to it youself, train your ears to listen to frequencies in the low mid and below. BTW this isn't a problem if you do it right, it's just that if you add too many muddy instruments in, and especially with reverb on one or more of them, it can lead to whole songs just straight up sounding like sht, regardless of how good the melodies are.

10. (Courtesy of LucentTear) Autokey dependance:

Brought up by LucentTear, an advanced and well-respected user of the site, the autokey. I'm deciding to add it to the main post because I think it's an important thing to mention, and shouldn't go unnoted. What we're talking about is the autokey. For those that don't know, the autokey is a useful tool that, when selecting a key, will light up all notes of that key. The importance of the autokey in this thread is that many users seem to grow a dependance on the autokey, which isn't good. One thing that's bad about this is that it limits the practice you get with accidentals, or notes that are out of key, as well as key-changes within the song. While the term "accidental" seems rather off-putting, these are an essential part of music composition, and shouldn't go ignored.

So how do you solve this? Well, there are many ways, and I'm sure it's different for everyone. What I do, is I always set my key to C major before I start composing, regardless of what key I'm working with. Alternatively, you could maybe just turn off the key, or just ignore it. I think the most important thing is that you use it as a tool, and not as a handicap. 
(Feel free to mention if I missed anything)

Anyway, Sorry for the giant wall of text. If you think I said anything wrong, or maybe should've reworded something, tell me. Either PM or reply, it doens't matter.

I'm also curious, do you feel any of these apply to you, or your past self?

good night

(P.S. if anyone has anything to add, just reply below.)
i am good at drums naturally what
oh. dont forget about the megalovainias
(03-10-2018, 04:12 PM)HelpMe123Alt Wrote: [ -> ]i am good at drums naturally what

I am good at drums unnaturally, what?
(03-10-2018, 04:13 PM)Tests Wrote: [ -> ]
(03-10-2018, 04:12 PM)HelpMe123Alt Wrote: [ -> ]i am good at drums naturally what

I am good at drums unnaturally, what?

Like, it is super easy to create a good rhythm. Melody is much more creative. I thought that was common sense.
It seems to me that your 2nd rule is pretty biased, reverb on drums can work.
I'd personally say something about using the autokey. I understand that it is a good crutch to be on, but it does limit how diverse your music would sound if you keep relying on the light grey lines.

Also octave overload is high mood and I've been trying to decrease it when it comes to my slower songs.

I especially agree with the Mud City mistake, since I am really notorious for that kind of stuff. My only advice (used with Grand/Electric Piano) is to separate the parts that stand out to you more as individual notes regardless of their position on the piano.
Damn, I definitely fall under the loudness overload, and one for all. I agree with the reverb overload, it just turns into mud city, and can be really grating.
(03-10-2018, 07:40 PM)Wafels Wrote: [ -> ]Damn, I definitely fall under the loudness overload, and one for all. I agree to the reverb overload, it just turns into mud city, and can be really grating.

same lol
(03-10-2018, 04:33 PM)Kirbyderp Wrote: [ -> ]It seems to me that your 2nd rule is pretty biased, reverb on drums can work.

You might be misinterpreting what I said. What I meant was that reverb shouldn't be used on the kick. You're right, it's a completely valid option for most of the drums, however, personally I'd advise against it when it comes to stuff like kicks and toms because those have a large amount of low-end frequencies. While the reverb that OS uses seems to have some form of low-cut (if it didn't, the problem would be much more noticeable and worse), but personally I don't consider it enough. Although you may be right that this opinion is biased, the genre I focus on tends to have really tight, short-envelope kicks, and I don't tend to listen to music that has more ambient style drums.

So yes, it could be a stylistic choice to use reverb on the drums for advanced users, but I think beginners should avoid it if they don't know what they're doing. It can lead to clashing in the low-end which would inevitably either lead to simply having a crappy sounding low-end, or turning the drowned out instruments up which leads to Loudness Overload and unequalization.

tl;dr: It's doable, but it's difficult and it can't be an afterthought.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7