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Electronic Cliches That Are Bad
you should feel bad for using them


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119 replies to this topic

#1 Cryptowen

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 01:12 PM

A thread for documenting overused and/or generally uneffective concepts in electronic music that you wish independent producers would stop using. Obviously anything can be put to good use by the right person, so this isn't a be all end all STOP DOING THESE THINGS I DON'T LIKE, but more a thread to go "damn son maybe you bes checkst yoself befo you wreckst yoself".

Also it will probly be more fun if you avoid overly vague ones like "4x4 house beats" that can be used in tons of contexts & instead focus on more specific stuff. Likkkkeeeeee....



-making the main melody a steady 3 note progression on a thick pad that goes all DOOO...DOOOOOO....DAAAAAAAA over & over. Playing 4ths or 5ths or some such. You know the kind. Some may say BUT APHEX DID IT ALL THE TIME & IT SOUNDS HELLA LUSH. True, but when he did it it was usually either in support of other more complex melodies or used in a heavily atmospheric context. Putting it front & centre by itself just doesn't hold water & putting a reverb preset on it doesn't make it heavily atmospheric.

-sampling dialogue from an old movie without significant alteration. YEAH MAN I LIKED BLADE RUNNER TOO BUT IT ISN'T 1994 ANYMORE

-slowing down and/or adding reverb to a field recording & calling it a day. Now that we've got a generation of adults that grew up with Windows Sound Recorder & Audacity I don't think that's gonna mystify as many people as when the 70s did it.

-clean 808s in ambient tracks. They still work in dance music rap etc, but in songs where the atmosphere is supposed to evoke epic imagery they just make me think of music from the days when people were actually limited to using one set of drum blips in everything.

-name-dropping synth gear in your track titles and/or artist name. You don't see rock musicians calling themselves, iunno, KID FENDER BASS

-recording your entire album on a tape recorder. Don't get me wrong, I like the scratchy sound tape brings, & the wavering detune can really thicken up a patch. But you gotta do it carefully, & you can't go overboard. Use it only on certain elements, clean up if need be, etc. I find some people use it as an excuse for lazy mixing, going YEAH WELL IT'S SUPPOSED TO SOUND OLD & SHITTY

-making your album cover: a picture of clouds, a picture of your gear, an old polaroid, random geometric shape, random photo with Photoshop filter on it. Now obviously all of these concepts can still be done well if you have some sort of artistic eye, but if you don't it'll just look like My First Ambient Album

#2 GRVGLTCHR

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:40 PM

I definitely fell pray to some of these played out "isms" of electronic music.

#3 Rbrmyofr

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 03:53 PM

Posting on this forum.

#4 yek

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:16 PM

i don't agree with all this stuff

ummm, maybe don't put lots of reverb on yer bass drums

i dunno really

#5 Friendly Foil

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:19 PM

I do all that stuff. All the time. it's the only thing I know.

#6 hautlle

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:29 PM

I do all that stuff. All the time. it's the only thing I know.


It just makes sense.

#7 Guest_ruiagnelo_*

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:44 PM

Cryptowen, i can understand your anger even tho i don't agree with 80% of your so called cliches. Seems like you are talking about those cheap musicians who know nothing about music and it's history, and still manage to be successful. Which are like 95% of the whole cake.
But your arguments are unfair for the other 5%, that make use of those cliches in such a way that you don't even notice. Just dedicate your time to these ones. Avoid the shitty music.

Also, Lone has been making 4x4 house tunes that are easily one of the best thing to have happened to electronic music in this millenium

#8 Cryptowen

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:45 PM

you guys i didn't say it was always bad
i just said bad people always use it

i've probly done at least 1/3 of them at some point in the past

i ain't even mad

also i didn't say anything bad about 4x4

Edited by Cryptowen, 16 March 2012 - 04:45 PM.


#9 Guest_ruiagnelo_*

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 04:52 PM

also i didn't say anything bad about 4x4


i know it.
i was just throwing an example of how something can sound original and fresh, even tho it is used so intensely by musicians

#10 acid1

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 12:27 AM

Its hard for me to say what is cliche and bad. I've always been a live and let live sorta guy. Lots of production pisses me off, doesn't' mean I have to make it.

#11 mokz

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:23 AM

- 4/4 time signature
- Western sense of tonality
.. just kidding (or maybe not :cisfor: )

I think some genres are more riddled with clichés than others. Take for example psytrance which has pretty much become a parody of itself with same bududu bududu sound and samples like "Let's go back in time to ancient India and smoke hashish with Lord Shiva." :cerious:

Anyway what is the difference between a genre defining feature and a cliche? Also sometimes I think the cliches can be used for advantage, the way for example that Luke Vibert does it.

#12 Npoess

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:32 AM

Posted Image

Edited by Npoess, 17 March 2012 - 03:46 AM.


#13 mokz

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:37 AM

Posted Image

Posted Image

#14 AAAAh

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 03:46 AM

i've probly done at least 1/3 of them at some point in the past


Y$ou listed 7

#15 foresense

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:35 AM

actually we should compile a list of these and then make music where you need to use as much off that list as possible, that would be awesome..

#16 kinski

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 04:41 AM

actually we should compile a list of these and then make music where you need to use as much off that list as possible, that would be awesome..


haha, this

#17 Squee

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:42 AM

The Amen Break... I mean... fuck... There are so many other great sample worthy beats out there so why choose that one? I wonder what goes through people's minds when they decide to use it?

Posted Image
"Hey guys, remember this?
Yeah, it's the Amen Break. Holla.
"

#18 chassis

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:47 AM

Takes notes.

Makes track.

#19 soundwave

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:39 AM

atypical pad chords
long boring intros before the beat fills in
stutter glitch fx (too 90's IDM)
snare rushes
filter sweeps
sidechain bass drum
swingy machinedrum beats in minimal house
tr909 (tr808 is still cool if used well)
ambient music with piano sounds
screechy shitty flat dubstep basslines that have no bass
pretentious 'found sound' put thru max/msp presets
amen break
supersaw trance music

Edited by soundwave, 17 March 2012 - 07:43 AM.


#20 wahrk

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 08:29 AM

-sampling dialogue from an old movie without significant alteration. YEAH MAN I LIKED BLADE RUNNER TOO BUT IT ISN'T 1994 ANYMORE


Many artists I know and love have done this, and it pains me to say that it really spoils tracks for me, almost every time it happens.

Edited by wahrk, 17 March 2012 - 08:42 AM.


#21 Alcofribas

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 09:50 AM

lol, i love this thread already. here are some more/me expanding on ones already mentioned:

ambient with piano. totally. and the piano always has to be this meandering chord clusters with a bit of watered-down terry riley-esque "spiritual" modes and maybe a quasi "solo piano" kinda rhythmic thing going on. basically, you sound like a looser who thinks if you just noodle around over field recordings and big reverbs you're ryuichi budd. but you're not.

house with piano: this always sounds like a cheesy digital workstation midi piano from the 90s.

idm with piano: oh cool, atonal classical music. with beatZ.

ambient with guitar: oh cool, you've got some delays and reverbs? that's cool man. oh, and you started playing guitar when you were 13? sick. and you first learned stuff like that rhcp "under the bridge" song and "stairway to heaven?" yeah. but now you're experimental. sometimes you use a volume pedal to create a nice pad-like attack on your chords, that's very ethereal. other times you might throw in some acoustic for a more organic feel. really nice. oh wait, this is just a bunch of boring pap and i'm sick of everyone playing ambient guitar music. did you just use a bow? wtf? you're not svarte greiner.

field recordings: these are not cool. i realize how unique it is to go into an old abandoned factory and clank on some old metal stuff. i mean, listen to that natural room reverb, and this was some sort of beautiful singular moment in time that can never be replicated by studio processes and can be used as a springboard for mystifying philosophical banter about the moment and the converting the non-musical sounds of our environments into musical language and fuck man a cricket chirping in an old can out in the country a two mile hike away from the rushing hum of the highway is just so meaningful. but let's face it, you don't have any ideas so you just recorded some random shit. it's stupid.

live drums: fucking lol, just learn how to program dude.

using samples that are sexy women voices or robotic male voices saying something. oh lush, the track broke down and this cool down-pitched dude said "BASS" or something. dude, did you just hear that hot chic say "deeper????" stop it.

using "homemade" instruments. wow, this sounds less cool than a real synth. oh, your handcrafted flute doesn't really play a chromatic scale so you just have to use it to make these creepy little sounds? yeah, just buy a flute.

making music with "processes."

using 80s themes. this is really annoying. now we can be musicians if we just use the most god awful kitsch melodies we heard in commercials as kids? and all i have to do is use the arpeggiator on a juno 60? and we can make whole tracks that just sound like a honey combs commercial played by edgar froese? NOOOO WAAAY!!! (p.s. also cool to wear some cool funny olsen twins tshirt and funny 80s sunglasses when performing this music live with a fischer price turntable and a wacky looking boombox).

scoring an independent film.

making a compilation of all your old tracks. they sucked then, they suck now. just make an album.

working with a vocalist.

#22 psn

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:21 AM

False identities.

#23 Guest_Ando_*

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:26 AM

The larger the list of cliches gets the more paranoid I am to continue working on things

#24 o00o

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:31 AM

Basically everything that tries to be new. Everything has been there just pick some nice influences and make a great new song of it instead of reinventing the wheel every year

People like what they know. Combine it

#25 AAAAh

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:41 AM

I dont agree with most oof this thred because we like what we know, noone has eva made a music that is 100% origianal and if they have it was probably shit.

using 80s themes. this is really annoying. now we can be musicians if we just use the most god awful kitsch melodies we heard in commercials as kids? and all i have to do is use the arpeggiator on a juno 60? and we can make whole tracks that just sound like a honey combs commercial played by edgar froese? NOOOO WAAAY!!! (p.s. also cool to wear some cool funny olsen twins tshirt and funny 80s sunglasses when performing this music live with a fischer price turntable and a wacky looking boombox).


this however pisses me of no end.
OOh you remember the 80's/90;sand have a fucking gameboy and some brightly colouredclothes and bad hair.. Wow.
Whats this, your using a cassette tape? wow thats so retro.