This will ruin your tracks...

Arn Andersson
February 24, 2024
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Adding Too Many Elements to your Music

Alright, so today I want to cover a mistake that is one of the most dangerous ones you can do in terms of making music. Not dangerous in the way that a dinosaur barging through your front door would be, but certainly a detrimental factor to the quality of your tracks. Now, I'm not going to have you read the entire article before I get to the point so let's jump right in. This problem is simply this: Adding too many elements.

You can study as much as you want, choose the best libraries, write great melodies, refine your chord voicing, but as long as you make this mistake, it will all be in vain.

Adding too many Elements to your Music

Carefully Assess the Necessity of Each Layer

You see, even the most beautifully written chord progressions, ostinatos, textures, counter melodies and melodies will sound like utter garbage if they are all thrown on top of another without carefully assessing the necessity of each layer.

Think of it like a meal. Pizza on its own, great. Cake on it’s own, great. Prawn cocktails? Dig it. Strawberry jam? Give it to me any day.

Heck, get an italian pizza, fresh prawns and a cake straight out of Cake Boss, and some of my mother's homemade jam from local strawberries. Individually, I’m sure we could enjoy them immensely.

But throw them all together, and I doubt the prawn ridden pizza-cake with jam on top would impress anyone.

Gross Overloaded Pizza - Just like an overloaded composition with too many elements

My point is simply this, no individual element is able to shine if it is thrown in together with other conflicting elements. It doesn’t matter how great each one of them is. What matters is the way the elements come together, give each other space, and complement one another.

And most of the time, the best way to ensure this is to leave something out.

It's not easy to let go of certain elements, but somethings it's the only right thing to do.

If you are unsure if a layer is bringing something to your track, leave it. There’s more risk in adding one too many layers than one too little.

I'm not saying you shouldn't TRY, because heck, it could lead to a breakthrough. But when it comes to the final print, be completely ruthless with what you end up keeping.

Fix What You Have Already Before Looking to Add More Layers

Often we tend to look for something new and want to add something else rather than fixing what we already have (which I guess goes for a lot of things in life).

So when you are contemplating adding another layer in the final arrangement, ask yourself if what you have is already enough, or if there are tweaks you can make to the existing layers to make any new additions redundant.

Because the most damaging decision you can make to a track is to add too many elements. Even if your melody was great, to begin with, if there are too many things conflicting with it, it won’t be able to shine.

Please don’t make this mistake.

Also, focusing on fewer layers will also force you to get better at the basics, like melody writing and voice leading, and harmony. Often we add more things than we need to mask these issues and avoid facing our flaws.

Thank You For Reading My Article: Adding Too Many Elements to your Music

Hey! Thanks for reading my article. If you are interested in learning more about Cinematic Music, check out my course Cinematic Music I: From Idea To Finished Recording. It is a complete guide to mastering all the fundamental principles of composing, orchestrating, and producing modern cinematic tracks.

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Arn Andersson

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