Why does yesterday’s banging track sound like crap today?
So you’ve got this track of yours that you were jamming out to yesterday. Building, adding, eqing & tweaking all night. You wake up today & go back to your masterpiece and….. someone must have changed half the sounds.
It sounds like shit!
Who could have done this to your tune? Sadly, nobody. You are suffering from the music producer’s next day syndrome.
You know the story & it probably happens more often than you would like to admit. It has happened to us all & we always wonder why.
I don’t have a definitive answer on this but I do have a hypothesis that that might help shed light on the subject.
What happened to my song?
Sadly, nothing. The better question to ask is “what happened to you?”.
Between last night and today, you hearing & listening skills have changed. Unfortunately, you are hearing more clearly today than you were last night.
This happens for a few reasons.
For 1, long “inspired” sessions can often turn to uninspired actions. Over time, our ears get start hearing things differently. We become less sensitive to certain frequencies & are bound to over do things. Our ears simply get fatigued & we lose perspective. Unfortunately our brain didn’t get the memo & the more you work toward finishing your song, the more damage that is done.
In order to keep perspective, you need regular breaks to let your ears recover & at a certain point, when you find yourself suddenly feeling like you need to eq everything to make it sound right, that is usually when you should consider walking away for the night.
Have you ever listened to a loop so long that you kind of get lost in a zone? It’s a fantastic experience when you are listening to music, but not when you are writing it. What happens is, you start hearing things differently. You start hearing things that aren’t actually there or a hidden ghost note that is implied. You may get so lost in one sound, that you stop hearing certain other sounds.
Sometimes you get in too close to the details to really have a handle on the big picture. The more you listen to something on repeat, the more your imagination takes over until what you are hearing is not actually what you are listening to. You are no longer hearing what is coming through your speakers, but more of a fantasy version of it. This can make an average sounding idea sound better than it actually is.
To avoid this, you should try to avoid listening to your song idea as a constant loop too much. Listen to your song start to finish & take mental notes along the way. This way, when you listen back, you are taking an active role instead of putting yourself in a passive self hypnosis role. You want to check in with yourself often & make sure your brain isn’t filling in the blanks.
A better tomorrow
In order to have a better tomorrow, make sure you pay close attention today when you are writing. Although it’s great to get excited and have fun with your music production, it’s also important to put yourself in somewhat of a neutral state at times & view things as a realist. When you start getting the itch to change things too much, consider walking away from the computer. You’ll be happier the next day & the day after.
All is definitely not lost when you find yourself unhappy with where your song is at. Given enough will & persistence, you can almost always find your way back & revive your track. It might take a couple days, but if you stick with it, the spark will return.
Happy music making,