Making songs vs making tracks

Wadup ninjas?

This is a subject/theme I have been thinking of for some time now, and I hope that we could get some kind of discussion going that, in the end, will help people make better songs.

I have been producing music for around 4-5 years now, but still feel that most of my stuff ends up just being “cool sounds that I try to collect into something coherent within a genre”, instead of “a house track, a dubstep track” etc. That being said, I know how to create guitar based songs/tracks, and have a little side project where I can churn out actual songs within relatively short time, mainly because I have to account for vocals and lyrics.

When I listen to the things that I produce I’m taken back by the fact that there’s no emotion in the structure. Sure, the sounds are on point and I’m within the genre I’m aiming for, but I more often than not think that “it’s just a bunch of cool sounds together”, instead of an actual song.

At the same time I listen to a lof of electronic music without vocals or lyrics at all, and can almost instantly tell if there’s some emotional “message” or underline in the whole thing. Usually it’s this that draws me in and what separates the good from the great tracks.

Any thoughts on this? Usually I feel that digging through samples, choosing a synth plugin etc that kills whatever creative vibe I have, or that I have the ‘wrong’ sounds available in terms of what I want to achieve.

Examples of what I consider to be emotionally driven electronic songs:

not to mention the the tonnes of dubstep tunes that all mainly evolve around a hefty wub.

1 BigUp

song implies someone is singing

if no one’s singing i would say its a track, not a song

unless its a very good track and then it becomes a choon


Just an observation here, but judging how things have went for so many electronic artists:

Simple tracks w/ just some “cool sounds” arranged in a “cool way”.

Years pass, the producer gains knowledge on things like chord progressions, melodies, harmony, overtones, music theory & composition in general and also the technical stuff on the side.

Now he’s making music that has more melodies & actual song structure instead of endless loop with some variation. As his productions are more complex now & use the frequency spectrum more extensively, they sound less deep & chilled back. Due to clear melodies, his tracks also sound more pleasing to people without an absolute taste for any specific type of music and gather more audience outside of the strict scene.

I just described you the process of what sad people automatically call “going mainstream/going shit”.

Good point. I realize my title might not be the best, but hopefully you’ve catched what I’m trying to discuss here.

I don’t even understand why anyone working with music would call getting better at your craft “going shit” tbh.

It’s usually not the people who are working with music. It’s mostly these “original fans” of the said artist. Drum & Bass scene has some very good examples (Netsky, Pendulum/Knife Party, DJ Fresh, Sigma, Chase & Status etc.).

EDIT: Not exactly sure what dubstep people do these days, but Benga? Skream?

Even Skrillex tbh.

where do beats and riddims fit in to this?
i don’t make songs or tracks, i make ridds and beats, thanks

The more I think about it the more I realize that the title of this post might be a bit off.

I guess what I’m asking is more along the lines of “how do you make tracks with emotion?”

Not an expert, but it’s just about scales & chords & timbre & pitch whatever man. Decisions

Like imagine that Nosaj Thing tune, but if there were a crash cymbal/open hi-hat hitting 4/4 in the background? The song wouldn’t feel that relaxing/airy at all anymore. Or if that kick were replaced with a kick from the Vengeance sample pack.

Also, the common thing in all these songs is percussion. It makes them more interesting in contrast with these lazy/haunting/slow synths that would be boring alone. Percussion does wonders.

And then all the music theory stuff chords/scales and so on.

Basically you’re asking “how to write music”.

True, true! I thought it would be an interesting discussion but hey, I was probably blinded by my own frustration. :corntard:

It’s like me, I’m torn between making songs and tracks (if I am defining them right). Like my latest one, it’s got a lot of aspects of ambient, lots of melody, probably more emphasis on that more than the beat. (whereas I make a lot of music with a heavy beat too) percussion does wonders ofc as said above but then you can get the older 140 tracks with just sub and a good kick and snare, emphasising on space and weight.

It is an interesting discussion. It’s just hard to really say anything else because it’s so wide subject you know.

i make traxx.

uh, just write more melody dude

stress less about your production in general.

i try and make things club friendly but tbh i’m not really enjoying making a tune unless i’m writing melody or drum patterns

Exactly, the lack of percussion leads to something as well. I was more likely aiming at the style OP’s example tracks were about.

Melody is one of the most important aspects of a track/tune, it may or may be club friendly in the end but without melody tunes get boring, why I can’t stand techno really, Just beat, no melody. A lot of the music I dig atm is like ambient grime, I like to listen to it and make it, because there’s a lot of sound design and melody going on and pretty much there’s a beat as well so they can be club friendly.

It’s like the difference between grime and dubstep. Grime was made for being rapped over and thus has less melodies in the tunes than dubstep, which is made solely for the music in most cases.

Really it’s just about where your song feels it belongs on the song/track continuum.

tracks are cooler than songs imo

That video for n r 2

< trax