my first complete song: Para Nada Bueno

I actually finished this song a couple of months ago, but it’s the only full-length (okay, about 3m30s) track I finished with a proper start, middle and end I have made, so far :slight_smile:

I think I’ve worked on it (on and off) for over half a year before it was finished. Let that be proof for all those motivational threads and articles about actually finishing a song: in the end, it is about perseverance. Sometimes I cut some corners, when I knew just a few last building blocks or construction/arrangement things, I just pushed on until I had everything in place. Because better a completed track (that I really wanted to move on from, by now) than to keep fiddling with loose ends forever. Final polishing pass, and here is the result:

A little more background on me and this track.

I’m just really still learning how to make music. I never played an instrument, and I come from a rather weird path: writing softsynth DSP code in x86 assembly for 4k demos, while sucking at composing :slight_smile: Many years later, I came upon Renoise, played around, got stuck advancing from “sound engineering” to making “actual music”. So I dug into music theory, I wanted to figure this shit out. Of course it doesn’t work that way, but it was a fascinating journey :slight_smile: (I started out by asking critical questions about why there’s black and white keys on a keyboard, if it’s all made of the same semitone intervals anyway. Now I know it doesn’t work quite that way either, still don’t feel I have the entirety of a satisfying answer either, but BOY did I learn a load of stuff on the way!). And now I know a little bit more. Some of it is useful for the type of music I want to make, some of it is not (yet?).

One of the things I ran into, was that I never really paid much attention to song structure. I thought it would be easy and straight-forward, but there was more to it than I thought. I started reading up on this chorus/verse/bridge stuff, but that didn’t get me really far (also what’s the difference between a chorus and a verse if you have electronic music with no lyrics to speak of?). So I figured I’d use a trick. One day I was listening to an old 90s clubhouse track, Porn Kings - Up to no good, and I thought “hmm 909 beats, crunchy acid bassline, I know how to make all these things!”. All I needed was some sort of pitched-up rhyme/rap sample. Which I sampled from the Abed & Troy’s Spanish beat-box/rap gag at the end of Community S01E02 (“Para nada bueno” = Google Translate of “Up to no good”).

Then I got to work, and started to build up a track with the very same structure as Up to no good, except with my own beats, acid line and vocal samples. Doing this, I learned a LOT about all sorts of practical things you encounter (EQ, that there was a sub-bass line I never noticed and how it got in the way of my kickdrum, how to solve this, that it’s pretty much impossible to do proper mixing on headphones because both the bass and the “space” are so different, etc etc).

I later saw in some tutorial that I’m not even the only one using this “trick”, they called it a “ghost track” that you play in a separate track running along with your song (that you can solo/mute and unmute, to quickly compare). Actually loading the sample song in a separate track (to “peek”) helped me a lot with productivity on pushing through that final put-everything-together phase (before I had it loaded in Audacity and was clicking around the parts manually).

So, yes. Part of the reason I’m telling this (long) story is because I’m not exactly sure to what extent this song is a “ripoff” of the original Up to no good, and I want to be upfront and honest about it. Now it doesn’t really matter to myself, because I don’t intend to sell this song, and at the very least I can consider it a very good and useful practice exercise.

What do you guys think? I’ve heard both tracks so often back-to-back and next to eachother by now that I can’t even really tell if they’re really obviously based on the same, or just a similar style. If you knew Up to no good well enough, do you think you’d recognize it in Para nada bueno if I hadn’t told you? Can I call this track “my own”?

Interesting work. Bass and drums are tuned great. In general, the club atmosphere is delivered just fine, one could feel at the dance-floor painting the town red and being in “interesting” stateJ Track penetrates the brain with all its sound, in the ancient part of it that is in charge of instincts.

Speaking about authorship, there can be a lot of points of view. A lot of spears were broken to know the truth. The author is considered to exist only during his work on the composition. After he/she has done his/her work, the author “dies” and his composition does not belong to him/her. It belongs to the whole mankind. Under postmodern epoch and total mix, everything that can be written has already been written. All that is left to do is to inspire by centuries-long experience of the art to find very deeply the things that you like. Then you run these things through yourself and present your masterpiece to the world. The charm lies in creative process, cuts and tries, and the pleasure you get when you really are good at something. But it is only philosophy conception, and bitchy jaws of copyright still painfully exist. This approach is harmful for commercial use of creative actions, because it brings to nought all possible profits.

Of course music pieces of such a style resemble one another. A meticulous listener may distinguish similarities with original song and say that Para nada bueno resembles Up to no good with its structure and sound. I suppose that the track was transform very good, but it is hardly could be called remix. I think that if one used this technique for profit earning, there would be such meticulous guy who would wag his finger or even his suit. In general it is interesting work, as well as the theme brought up by the post.

I don’t know the reference song, so I can’t comment on how similar your creation is to it, but I wanted to say that I enjoyed reading about your musical journey and your approach. :slight_smile: I play a couple types of acoustic instruments, but music theory has always bored the stuff out of me. It is much like what grammar is to language, and I just use it intuitively, which does mean it is frequently off. But still, music came first, then theory described it. The same is true for structure, which really isn’t more than a formula that enough people happen to use. But yes, it helps to get stuff finished, because it doesn’t feel like such a bottomless task if there is some form of guidance.

Thanks both, for your replies.

Redpanda13: Thanks for your insightful thoughts! I personally also come from a very similar direction. Postmodernism (in its many aspects) intrigues me enormously (it’s really one of the things I’m grateful for living in the 21st century :slight_smile: ), I’m familiar with the death of the author, but thanks for recalling it :slight_smile: Now that I’m considering it, I set out to replace all the parts in the existing structure, one by one (like Theseus’ ship), not to be able to call it my own, but to be able to call it something new. After all, one of the parts that I replaced with is not quite my own either, it’s a sample from a TV program.

Mivo: Glad you liked to read my story! I was already fearing I might be talking too much :stuck_out_tongue: Also, you can hear the reference song if you click on the link. Further, while I do get what you’re talking about, personally (and I guess I’m weird like this) I like knowing the theoretical shit about anything I’m passionate about. If it happens to be something I can already do intuitively, all the better because it means I got a live subject to test the theories on :wink: