The fact is, people have been taking the “copy to learn” approach throughout history. Writers, painters, composers, the list goes on. So why should we be any different?
In this post I’m going to convince you. Change your mind. Make you realize that regardless of skill level – whether you’re a seasoned production veteran or confused newbie – remaking tracks will force you to become a better producer.
1. It Forces You to Listen Critically
Remaking tracks requires you to listen critically. You listen out for the nuances; that little touch of white noise in the background or the subtle melodic motif that occurs every 8 bars.
The ability to listen critically is invaluable when applied to your own productions. You’ll be able to spot things that don’t quite fit right, a lot more careful when designing sounds and mixing, and less inclined to overlook tiny errors that most people will.
2. You Learn New Techniques
Learning new techniques, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting reasons for remaking tracks. Every producer is different; they all have unique processes and ideas. Learning from their music? That’s the kind of education you can’t get from books or YouTube tutorials.
3. It Teaches You to be Selective
When remaking tracks, you should really start off by reproducing the key elements: melodies, chords, bass, drums, and so on. Only at that point should you move onto the more complex parts that merely enhance the song rather than provide a backbone.
This process of focusing first on the important elements is essential to your overall workflow. When producing an original, if you start off by focusing on the complexities and the little things, you’ll never finish anything! Good music starts with solid composition and arrangement of key parts.
4. Track Structure Becomes Instinctive
One common question I see pop up around the place is “How can I get better at arrangement?”
The simple answer? Remake tracks.
By remaking tracks you learn a few things subconsciously, structure being one of them. After many remakes, you instinctively know when a breakdown should happen, how long your build-up should be, and which parts should go where.
With that said, don’t expect this kind of intuition to appear straight away. It’s something that’s acquired through practice and repetition (in other words, you should probably get to work).
5. Your Ear Develops Quicker
Having a well-developed ear is absolutely essential if you want to be a great producer, even more so if you want to be a mix engineer.
You need to know which sounds work, and which don’t. You need to know the frequency spectrum like the back of your hand – which sounds go where. And you also need to know exactly why something doesn’t sound right, or why a certain section of your track isn’t working.
A developed ear should be able to do all of this.
While the ear develops regardless of what you do, remaking tracks is the best shortcut available. You’re learning from professionals. By remaking melodies, you’re getting a better sense of which notes are which. By remaking synth and bass sounds, you’re developing an ear tailored for sound design.
There are many more reasons why remaking tracks will force you to become a better producer. But if these 5 reasons aren’t enough for you, I don’t know what is.
Learning from people before you is one of the best ways to reach mastery in your field. Taking a Jack London approach to the art of making music is a surefire way to become better at listening critically, sticking with projects, arranging music, and being a more advanced producer overall.