The 5 hour challenge – Week 2

2 weeks, 2 tracks, so far so good! One of the big reasons I started up this challenge was because I had hit a lull in my studio output.  I went out of town for a week or so and then had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. Over 3 weeks+, I essentially created nothing.  A kick in the ass was sorely needed.  Setting limits like time constraints are a boon for both creativity and productivity I’ve found.  The laser focus generated by the pressure of a deadline helps you push through those moments of weakness where you otherwise might go check your email or Facebook for 524th time that day.  Or just one more episode of Game of Thrones, then I’ll start that next track.  Or one more match on FIFA. Or…or…or… the distractions never end. We live in a distracting time!

While on the topic of limits, I will also mention another fun exercise to boost your creativity: limit the tools you use during the productions process.  For example, I’ve made tracks where I was only allowed to use 1 synth.  All percussion, bass, pads, leads, etc all had to come from the same machine (or VST).  Another time I did a challenge where I could only use 5 one hit audio samples to construct a track.  I could mangle them through whatever means I could come up with, but it all had to originate from those 5 samples. Trust me, it’s fun trying to construct a pad from a kick drum sample.

While there is a lot of power in the possibilites created by the virtualization of synths and many other studio tools, the access to this multitude of inexpensive tools can be very crippling to a lot of producers. Unlimited options is not always a good thing, especially in the creative process.  Want a synth or a new compressor plugin? There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, you can download to your computer in a matter of minutes. Compound the situation by the relatively easy access to much of this software for free via pirating and you have a recipe for a DAW flush with dozens of options for every little process imaginable. The result is having a bunch of plugins you have only a cursory working knowledge of. What’s the saying? “Jack of all trades, master of none”.  I strongly suggest picking just a few tools to accomplish the tasks you need done and mastering them. And only add new gear/plugins when they serve to accomplish a specific challenge you are trying to solve in the studio.  Your studio skills will actually get better with fewer options, believe or not.

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