Music producers, are you taking enough breaks in between making your beats? You may be dealing with ear fatigue and not even know it. Let’s talk about it.
Music producers, I get asked a lot of questions about mixing, and there’s many tutorials out there that can give you very technical ideas of how to approach a mix, but one of the best piece of advice that I could share with you, is you know, from somebody who’s a workaholic, from somebody who loves to just get in the studio, work on a beat for 12 hours and then come out and you know, I’m so satisfied with 1 or 2 or 3 beats that I made in that 12 hours, you know, I like to obsess over the small things of a beat because I feel like those small textures, the snap of a snare or the thump of a kick or you know, sort of the sub of an 808 or you know, sort of taking out the low frequencies of a choir. These things all give for a better mix. These things all give you, you know the tools that you need to create the music you wanna create.
But, what I learned over the years, is that you cannot approach making beats and mixing them with brute force. You know I actually suggest and I actually have started doing it, is I suggest making a beat one day, working on it, doing as much as you wanna do on it, don’t worry about the mixing, and then coming back the next day with a fresh set of ears and then mixing it there.
Here’s the thing about it, after about 2-3 hours, for me at least. I start noticing my ears are hearing the same thing in terms of, they’re not really seeing the difference between sounds. They can tell velocity differences, but they cannot really tell the difference between textures and what’s happening is that my mind, my ears are all starting to get fatigue. They’ve been blasted in front of, maybe you got headphones, especially headphones. If you’re blasting your headphones, you experience ear fatigue and you ever work on a beat, late night and you are really in a zone, you were adding sounds that you never added before, you even probably have a little you know pattern that was kinda dope, and you was like yo, this is really intricate, I mean I can’t wait to wake up to this and then you woke up to it and it was like, who made this beat, and who took out all the amazing-ness of this beat that I experienced last night? Oh, that was me? Okay my bad. That’s what happens.
So, prepare yourself, because ear fatigue is something that is very real and it happens when you’re trying to be brutally you know, forceful about your creative juices and your creative nature, you gotta just chill, you gotta chill, take the process a step at a time. You know, sometimes you know, I heard Pharrell say this, is that when he’s in studio sessions, what he’ll do is, he’ll start at one studio session and within like 2 hours where like a Robin Thicke, he’ll go over with Miley Cyrus another studio session and basically what he’s doing is, he’s refreshing his palette, refreshing his ears, right?
So, something that I would suggest doing to kind of refresh your palette and your ears, you know in the same way that I don’t know if you ever going to go look for some cologne or you know ladies who are hear, you know, you ever go looking for some perfume and they make you smell a pot of coffee because when you smell a pot of coffee, a grounds coffee, grounds in between smelling cologne or perfume, it refreshes your palette. Now, you can smell the new colognes and tell the difference between all of them. It’s the same thing that happens to your ears, you need to have a refresher. Something I think is really great when you’re trying to refresh your ears from ear fatigue because it’s something that you just can’t force the issue on. You either gotta take care of your ears, you gotta give it some time. So, one thing I would say is you know, one way to approach this is the pomodoro technique.
If you’ve ever heard of the pomodoro technique, it’s basically built around the original pomodoro timer, that used to have these different settings that they used to use back in the day when people were cooking back in the kitchen or what not, but basically, the pomodoro technique is where you take you know, small intervals of time and you take breaks in between. So, let me give you an example of a pomodoro technique that you would use when making a beat. You start working on a beat for 25 minutes, right? You put in the kicks, the snares, maybe the melody, you’re putting everything together and then after that 25th minute, you get away from the computer, walk out the room, go take a walk, for 5 minutes. Set the timer on your phone. 5 minutes’ walk away. After that 5 minutes, come back, do another 25 minutes, start to add the things that you think are absolutely necessary to start getting this beat forward. After that 25 minutes, take another 5-minute break, when you come back from that 5 minutes, do another 25, right, and then after that 3rd time. Go take a 30-minute break. Not a 5 minute, but a 30-minute break.
What’s gonna happen is you’re gonna feel like you’re collaborating with a new producer every single time. This is something that I’ve been using for years, especially when I have to get a lot of work done. Like for instance, I just finished writing my book which is over there in the corner, but I just finished writing my book and there have been days where I had to go mash through a bunch of content you know, in a limited amount of time. The pomodoro technique offers you that. You have the opportunity to get more work done and actually you know, less time. You know, I have a studio session that I’ve been in, where they did the pomodoro technique and it honestly, you know, we got more work done in a 4 – hour span, than we would have got in a 10 – hour span. You may think like how is that possible, when you’re taking breaks, try it. But when it comes to mixing my friends, do not force the issue, you will experience ear fatigue, if you don’t take enough breaks, if you don’t step away from the process and come back fresh and rethink some of the decisions that you’re making, some of the sounds that you’re using. Take your breaks or you’re gonna experience ear fatigue.
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