Fine tuning is a creative trap

The Process

  • I loaded my house template. Kept it the way it was. I wanted to focus most of my energy on melodic and harmonic elements.
  • I loaded a preset I saved a few weeks ago called “toy piano”. I started to improvise a few melodies until I found something that represented the vibe I had in mind.
  • I then added a new bass line. I wanted something fatter, less melodic than what was already in the template. I used another one of my saved presets called “Basic future bass saw lead”.
  • At this point, the beat sounded almost full (in terms of frequency spectrum). I knew that layering vertically had to be avoided if I wanted to keep a delicate vibe. So I spent at least 20 to 30 minutes fine tuning the percussions and my sample selection. Was it worth it? Definitely not. Details like that should be avoided in my creative sessions. The results are too subtle. Whenever I feel like I need to focus my energy on something else than adding layers vertically, I should work on the arrangement so I can get closer to create a full song in an hour.
  • I finally loaded this classic wobbling synthesizer I’ve been using in most my projects lately. Another saved preset. I came up with the chord progression in less than 5 minutes (which makes sense since these chords are as cliché as it gets). A couple of adjustments on the rhythmic later my hour was over.

The Result

Looking back at what just happened, I realize that I only spent a third of my time doing creative work. The rest was just technical fine tuning. This is counterproductive. Fine tuning should be the last task on my to do list for ANY project I work on. It’s the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, and whatever other food references you have in mind. Productivity happens when you focus on the big picture first. The beat I made in an hour is cool but unoriginal. It sounds good, but it has no soul. It’s not because today was an off day, it’s simply because worked on it for 20 minutes instead of an hour. It all makes sense now.

What I learned

  • Prioritize creative work before fine tuning. find ways to catch yourself doing unnecessary detailed work to avoid waisting time.

Here’s the beat