Smiling Savage
Smiling Savage Album Creation Podcast
Album creation podcast, Episode 4

Album creation podcast, Episode 4


The third song for the upcoming album proved that things get easier the more you do them. It made me wonder whether I’m still on the first slope of Dunning-Kruger effect, but honestly I think I was atop that first, brash peak when I decided to embark on this project as a means of putting my music-production course work into practice. I’m all too aware of how much I don’t know, but it’s fun to try and learn, and rewarding to have a song like this come together.

A crude representation of the “Dunning-Kruger effect” learning curve

My goals for this song were that I wanted to mix classical strings and with pop percussion, and build sections by layering sounds to achieve more interesting complexity. Violins close and open the piece, and throughout there are layers of string sections over the top, along with drum sets and synths.

The synthesizers are both 80s dance and pop inspired with some trance-like bass. Late in the song the key synth sound disintegrates into an outro with some audio distortion effects.

Some things I liked in this version:

  • The doubling up of similar sounds to achieve interesting results.

  • The mixing of strings and percussion, including using some of the drumming notes in a strings track to achieve an effect that would be difficult for a human player.

Things I already know I want to consider in revisions:

  • Adding vocals. I’m writing some lyrics for a future version, and that may change the structure and duration of the song.

  • The breakdown section. I like it, but it might be there’s a different song that’s trying to get out instead.

In earlier songs I tried mixing and producing the tracks — at least a little bit — so they might share out better. I’m keenly aware that the songs don’t sound the same when played anywhere but my monitors, and that is a the source of some stress. However, purposefully, I haven’t done any mixing or production on this version of this song. I think I was getting lost in the process, distracted from what’s most important, and stressing about things that don’t matter yet.

I know the songs aren’t finished creatively, yet I was trying to move ahead into style and presentation. To use a writing analogy: I wasn’t just doing the equivalent of spell-check and grammar check. I was trying to format the document before I know the document’s length and tone.

If those things were constraints — In the writing world, such as 500 words maximum, double spaced lines, 1” margins, and AP Style Guide — they could be liberating to know and integrate into the creative process, but for now there aren’t production-oriented constraints. Eventually all the music will be produced in a similar way. But for now, like a good word processor, Logic Pro is capable of correcting the basics as I go, such as keeping things in the same beat, or quantizing the notes. Especially for these first share-outs of songs that are still being constructed, my goal will be to worry less about production.

Beside that, I hope that for anyone listening to the work come together I think it might be more fun to hear production added in as a later step.

Smiling Savage
Smiling Savage Album Creation Podcast
Follow along as I work toward my goal of creating and publishing the first Smiling Savage album in 2022. I'm learning Logic Pro and working with musicians to incorporate their feedback.