Tactic 2: Make stir fries, not stews
The Beatles famously recorded Please Please Me in an exhausting 12-hour session. These days it's not unusual to spend longer than that on a single drum track. However, I've found that if I spend too long on something I tend to suck the life out of it. So, rather than approach a piece of music as a hearty, slow-cooking stew, I try to think of it as a stir fry. I do my best to record quickly, with gusto. I grab a few simple, fresh ingredients (to extend the metaphor), slice them thinly and quickly sizzle with a little oil and a dash of soya sauce. What I hope to end up with are bright colours, crisp vegetables and a zinging taste on my tongue. And if it tastes bad?
Tactic 3: Make friends with your bin
The great think about not spending too long on a track is that you won't mind so much if it's awful. 'It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing,' was Duke Ellington's advice. And if it ain't swinging in the first couple of hours, the chances are it still won't be swinging in two days' time. I've lost track of the precious hours I've wasted on music that's going nowhere. My hard drive is full of half-finished tracks and sketched ideas that I occasionally load up (another time-wasting dead end). My advice to myself is to make friends with my virtual bin. These days, if it isn't working, I give up, bin it, and start on something new. I'm finding I have more fun and, hopefully, am ending up with better music as a result.
Sometimes, though, I listen to 'the voices', who tell me that everything I do, everything... is rubbish. 'Bin it all!' they say.
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