How long should it take to make a song?

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hikarinakano
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How long should it take to make a song?

#1 Post by hikarinakano » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:53 pm

I decide to take a few days to write notes instead of words :o

The title limits the length of my question, so I'll phrase it a bit better:
How long should it take to put together a simple background track?

Personally, between Garageband, recording samples, and mashing stuff in Audacity, it took 4.5 hours to make this, which I think is probably way too long for something simple like this.

How long does it take you?
How long is too long?
Does it vary too wildly to matter?

Note: I'm sort of a beginner when it comes to composing - sorry for the amateurish song.

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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#2 Post by Imperf3kt » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:35 pm

I'm very limited in my skillset when it comes to composing.
I guess I mostly stick with strings and piano because thats about all I can work with.

"simple" is subjective, but the last 'song' I made was 45 seconds long and took about three hours to make :P
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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#3 Post by D.ray » Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:00 am

If you define a simple background song, like those you usually find in VN’s, as in containing minimal instruments (1 to 4), and a duration of anywhere for a minute to 2 minutes long, then I would say you’re length of completion is adequate. One could say, it’s pretty fast if you are including recording time within that span as well.

For me, a simple song, using the definition above, would take me between 4 to 6 hours. This would not include recording time. If I did do a recording it could take a couple more hours or even another day, depending on what instrument I’m recording. (I record guitars, bass, violin, and anything else I can get away with).

This would also not include the time for editing, mixing and mastering, which could be another 2 to 4 hours. I’m an audiophile so I’m stickler for getting my mix as good as humanely possible.

A week for a simple song would be too long for me. If your working on it everyday, then it’s probably time to start over or work on another song, and maybe come back to it later. I’ve worked on simple songs for days, usually because I’m searching for the perfect tone, sound or instrument. Either that or I’m trying to get the mood or feeling just right, which to me is the most important thing.

There is definitely a balance for creating music, you don’t want to take too long, nor do you just want to rush things out and have it be less than it could be.

If you want to speed things up here are a couple of things that would be well worth investing time in

a) Know you’re DAW, or get to know your DAW and all it’s shortcuts and customization options
b) Know how to use basic music theory and song structures to create different moods
c) Have select go to virtual instruments and plugins, and learn them well
d) Be organized and have a go to folder of USEFUL samples. Not thousands you’ll hardly use
e) Learn the basics of mixing so your songs sound pleasing and you don’t waste time messing about
f) If you're recording, have a recording template, and a method to record fast and obtain good takes
g) Create songs as frequently as possible

You can create a system, or a very streamlined and efficient workflow from what I listed. This is especially useful, once you're dealing with complex songs.
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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:16 am

I took a listen to the song, and it somewhat works, but I think you need to work a little on volume levels and maybe transitions between where you've added different riffs.

Please note this is only intended as constructive criticism.
I noticed that the start is rather soft, then it abruptly raises around the 1 minute mark. This was somewhat disconcerting and a little unexpected, but not by any means bad.
Maybe you could step into it, rather than just cutting directly to it.

What do you use to make the audio? It sounds like synths, which program?
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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#5 Post by hikarinakano » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:01 am

Thanks for the feedback!

I used the iOS version of Garageband. I could easily make the volume increase gradual, so I'll do that later today.
The random pops and crackles were just simple samples of me opening and crushing a can, respectively. I tossed those in using Audacity, to add some flavor to it.
D.ray wrote:If you want to speed things up here are a couple of things that would be well worth investing time in

a) Know you’re DAW, or get to know your DAW and all it’s shortcuts and customization options
b) Know how to use basic music theory and song structures to create different moods
c) Have select go to virtual instruments and plugins, and learn them well
d) Be organized and have a go to folder of USEFUL samples. Not thousands you’ll hardly use
e) Learn the basics of mixing so your songs sound pleasing and you don’t waste time messing about
f) If you're recording, have a recording template, and a method to record fast and obtain good takes
g) Create songs as frequently as possible

You can create a system, or a very streamlined and efficient workflow from what I listed. This is especially useful, once you're dealing with complex songs.
Thanks for this! I definitely need to learn a little bit more music theory :oops:
This does help, though. A lot of these things I'm currently limited in.

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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#6 Post by Laurence L » Thu Mar 02, 2017 6:51 pm

No, that doesn't sound like an overly long time.

You say that "surely it can't take this long"? Why not? Whilst it's possible to come up with great stuff quickly, music is a craft and it takes grafting away at and work. Even if you can improvise amazing game music, think of all the countless hours, experiences etc it took to get to the stage where that is possible.

It's like cooking. Eating it might not take very long, but the time that went into preparing it was much more extensive and lengthy. And it's worth it. And unlike a meal you can keep listening to it over and over again. (ok, you don't listen to meals anyway but ... shut up! My metaphor broke down, okay? ;) )

The answer to your question is, anywhere between the length of the track itself (basically improvised), to ... well, you could work on it for a potentially infinite amount of time.

Including many other responsibilities and a few days off, I just basically finished around 10 tracks for a game in a little over a week. I think that's relatively quick, but it would have been possible for me to do it much faster / slower depending on necessity. I have to say though that I am a believer in doing things without spending years trying to perfect them, because all the experience you learn in the years you spend writing other stuff will mean when you come back to the stuff you wrote earlier you will know how to improve it anyway. I don't really agree with endless perfectionism personally, but whatever works for others is whatever works for them!

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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#7 Post by Joshua1207 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 3:29 pm

hikarinakano wrote:I decide to take a few days to write notes instead of words :o

The title limits the length of my question, so I'll phrase it a bit better:
How long should it take to put together a simple background track?

Personally, between Garageband, recording samples, and mashing stuff in Audacity, it took 4.5 hours to make this, which I think is probably way too long for something simple like this.

How long does it take you?
How long is too long?
Does it vary too wildly to matter?

Note: I'm sort of a beginner when it comes to composing - sorry for the amateurish song.
Hmm, why use both Garageband & Audacity? Ideally you'll only need one DAW for everything. I never used Garageband though so maybe it has some limitations I'm not aware of. Try looking into Reaper, since it can do everything from midi to live recording, adding effects etc.

With that said, songs can take quite a while to make, especially depending on the complicity. I'd say a song generally takes anywhere between 3-8 hours to complete depending on how complex it is, the length, number of instruments etc. 4.5 hours to make a song isn't bad at all and is about average.
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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#8 Post by LeetMusic » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:07 pm

Totally depends. There is no right or wrong answer to this. :)

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Re: How long should it take to make a song?

#9 Post by theuser » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:47 pm

There is no max or minimum amount of time. Also the number of instruments used to it can make it to take a longer to make it.
Recording take time and the amount of work that you mentioned is ok. But if you keep doing song after song and learn more things
can make it quicker in the future because you gonna now more easily what work, like chord progression and melody.
And leveling the volume and EQ takes another chomp of time.

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