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Concept Album: Individual tracks vs. One Long Piece

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  • Concept Album: Individual tracks vs. One Long Piece

    Ok, as I gear up to start on my first album, I'm kind of torn as to how to approach it.

    It's an ambient concept album (lol) that stretches from Dawn until Midnight. I have the tracks planned out thematically, but I'm kind of stuck as to how to develo[p it from here.

    On one hand, because of the process of each track evolving into the next, it would come across more coherently as a single long piece. But, pragmatically, I'm pretty sure nobody sits down and listens to 70+ minutes of nonstop music! So maybe it's more practical to produce the album in individual compositions...

    Most of you are far more experienced at this than I am, so I'm soliciting suggestions and opinions.

    All help appreciated!
    Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
    Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
    Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

  • #2
    FWIW, I listened to the AO compilation in two sittings, one of them over 80 minutes, and the second almost 210 minutes, but restarting single tracks from a break-off point is a little harder than with discrete tracks.
    Whatsisname's Little Fluffy Clouds | Campsite | Hearthis | Orfium | SeismicTC | Twitter | Ello

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    • #3
      Originally posted by seismic1 View Post
      FWIW, I listened to the AO compilation in two sittings, one of them over 80 minutes, and the second almost 210 minutes, but restarting single tracks from a break-off point is a little harder than with discrete tracks.
      Yeah, my concern is that the "average" non-hardcore ambient listener isn't going to have a long linear time period to listen.. and an EXCELLENT point about re-starting, I didn't think about that.

      I'm really starting to lean toward discrete tracks now.. seems so much easier for the listener.
      Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
      Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
      Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Synthetic Aurality View Post
        I'm pretty sure nobody sits down and listens to 70+ minutes of nonstop music!
        I think you're making that assumption on the wrong forum.... :D

        Are you planning on CDs or just online/digital distribution? You could offer different options; the fully mixed 'concept' mix with all the tracks laid out how you want, crossfading as appropriate (ie. one long track) and also the tracks individually if people want to play them like that. I've a few CDs where the tracks kind of run into each ck other (not just ambient stuff, pop/rock tunes that have linking sounds/dialogue etc). The track markers maybe where the artist thinks the track should start but it's not a clean break (can't be really) if you just play the track on it's own. Flows fine if you play the whole CD though.

        Which is another issue, MP3 players still seem to have trouble with gapless playback, offering the tracks like that (just chopped out of the whole piece) will almost certainly involve little gaps between the pieces.
        Latest release: never to be repeated

        Hearthis | Soundcloud

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        • #5
          What Gary just said..plus keep in mind you might run into issues trying to produce one big track in your DAW..depending on the system you have and what it cane do. You might just end up not being able to load it all into memory in one go, which can be an issue if you don't have enough ram for the job. I ran into the same said problem on my last album, but this time round I've adapted my workflow to take it into account and made changes where needed.

          From the artistic side of things..and again, touching on what Gary said..you can always produce individual tracks with the casual listener in mind..the kind of person who might just like one or two of your tracks. Then you can also offer the "unabridged" version in the form of one large track as a bonus to those who buy / download the full CD/album. This way you can be sure those very people who would like to listen to a long-play track will end up getting it..while those who don't won't.

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          • #6
            I think since you stated from the outset that this is a concept album, I would say go with what appears to be your initial instinct and go with the "One long piece" approach. If you have the inclination you can always release a second version of the album with the tracks separated. I guess the question though is do you go really hardore and release it as a single 1 hour long audio file or still break it up into individual tracks for a continuous mix?

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            • #7
              This is why I love this place! I am exposed as a n00b, but you guys bailed me out!

              I never even THOUGHT about offering two versions.. urgh.. it's going to be digital download only and I was stuck in my old rock-n-roll "has to be a CD" mindset. All red with embarrassment now!

              What I'm going to do is compose and perform it as I hear in my head.. one continual stream evolving from place and mood to the next - BUT! Once done, slice and dice it into individul tracks and put THAT out "for sale". And yep - anyone buying the full album will get "The Producers Mix" - the entire thing as envisioned.. for free!

              I love you guys, erm, in a manly way...

              Ok, pre-production is done. Target set, lock and loaded. Thanks again to all of you, this community kicks butt!

              I run Sonar X3 and Sound Forge on my 64-bit Windows 7 laptop with 8GB of RAM.. I should be ok. Worst case I can take this thing to 16GB.. ouch! When I record Austin has blackouts.. lol..
              Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
              Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
              Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

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              • #8
                This sounds like a really intriguing prospect even at the concept stage. Hats off to you for following your ambitious concept through like this - I'm willing to bet you'll find plenty of listeners on this forum willing to listen to the whole piece in one sitting.
                There's another trick which I intend to use when I finally release my concept album - I call them 'transition tracks'. Every full track on the album is in a different key, recorded at various times using different instruments, and is in a different style and tempo to the tracks on either side of it, so I can't really crossfade them into each other. But I want most tracks on the album to flow into one another, so I'm going to make a series of short, beatless, keyless pieces which I can crossfade into and out of, and slip those between the tracks I want to connect. It'll also be kinder on my PC - I can mix my tracks individually then load them into a new project as single audio files, including my 'transition tracks', freeing up my processing power for a few 'mastering' effects. That's the plan anyway...:D
                My new album is available now, here: https://thoughtexperiment.bandcamp.c.../supersymmetry
                Check out my (hopelessly out-of-date) SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/thought_experiment

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                • #9
                  definitely go for the 2 versions...

                  You might consider, with digital release whether to have the seperate tracks with 15 second fade in/outs - to avoid the gap in mp3 playing.

                  if track 1 ends with 15 seconds of fade out from the beginning of track 2 and you use 15 seconds of fade in from the end of track 1 as the beginning of track 2 etc.....there would be overlap but it might be nicer to listen to as ambient music than a sudden start and end.
                  serenffordd.bandcamp.com
                  relaxedmachinery.ning.com/profile/SerenFfordd

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thought Experiment View Post
                    This sounds like a really intriguing prospect even at the concept stage. Hats off to you for following your ambitious concept through like this - I'm willing to bet you'll find plenty of listeners on this forum willing to listen to the whole piece in one sitting.
                    There's another trick which I intend to use when I finally release my concept album - I call them 'transition tracks'. Every full track on the album is in a different key, recorded at various times using different instruments, and is in a different style and tempo to the tracks on either side of it, so I can't really crossfade them into each other. But I want most tracks on the album to flow into one another, so I'm going to make a series of short, beatless, keyless pieces which I can crossfade into and out of, and slip those between the tracks I want to connect. It'll also be kinder on my PC - I can mix my tracks individually then load them into a new project as single audio files, including my 'transition tracks', freeing up my processing power for a few 'mastering' effects. That's the plan anyway...:D
                    That sounds like a really clever idea! I bet it's going to work out really well.. :cool:
                    Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
                    Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
                    Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Seren View Post
                      definitely go for the 2 versions...

                      You might consider, with digital release whether to have the seperate tracks with 15 second fade in/outs - to avoid the gap in mp3 playing.

                      if track 1 ends with 15 seconds of fade out from the beginning of track 2 and you use 15 seconds of fade in from the end of track 1 as the beginning of track 2 etc.....there would be overlap but it might be nicer to listen to as ambient music than a sudden start and end.
                      That might be worth a try - right now I'm just focused on Getting The Tracks Performed (heh), I'm hopeful I'll have enough energy when I'm done to spend a week or two on post-production, trying out different ideas.

                      This should be fun! :rockon:
                      Home Page: http://www.syntheticaurality.com/
                      Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/synthetic_aurality
                      Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/edwardaustinaverill

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                      • #12
                        My last work was 3 pieces that overlapped by around a minute each. The start and endings of each individual piece are slightly abrupt on bandcamp, but I still got my dozen or so listens I normally get. :rockon:

                        I put a disclaimer: "This album features live experiments with long delays and echoes. The pieces overlap one another on the album, and should be seen as a continuous performance"

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                        • #13
                          Do what you want to do and do not bother the audience. Do it for yourself first. Let listeners be free to enjoy or not your work. If you start thinking about the listeners you do what they want, no what you want. Be free. Many creations have emerged only in contradiction with the tastes of the majority.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mister_steph View Post
                            Do what you want to do and do not bother the audience. Do it for yourself first. Let listeners be free to enjoy or not your work. If you start thinking about the listeners you do what they want, no what you want. Be free. Many creations have emerged only in contradiction with the tastes of the majority.
                            so true!

                            I really listen to my own music very often.
                            ahornberg.bandcamp.com
                            soundcloud.com/ahornberg

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                            • #15
                              I don't think you are the first to approach such a concept. Do you know of the first album by Altus, 24 Hours? Of course it does not last a full 24 hours, but it carries the same kind of feeling.

                              http://www.altusmusic.ca/24hours/

                              And I just found that Robert Rich has also done something of this kind.
                              https://soundcloud.com/robertrich/robertrich-frozen-day
                              Last edited by Cloud Hunter; 04-24-2015, 04:20 AM.
                              https://thegreatschizm.bandcamp.com

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