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7 Phases Of Workflow Wizardry


Do you constantly create new ideas but never finish anything?

Have you always been attracted to make music, but never made the plunge?

Are you constantly confronted with writer’s block?

If any of these questions resonate with you, I’d like to show you how combining your music production with the principles of Alchemy can help you overcome all these struggles and unlock your creativity!

Musical Alchemy

Let’s start with a slightly hippie-dippie philosophic statement that holds a deep truth.

All acts of creation are forms of energetic transformation.

I know this sounds like something straight out of thermodynamics class, but stay with me!

This philosophy is a foundational pillar in Alchemy. But what is Alchemy? And what does this have to do with your music?

Alchemy is commonly misinterpreted and reduced to a primitive precursor to chemistry with the sole pursuit of transforming lead into pure gold. However, it’s actually an enlightening philosophical framework.

The root of Alchemical philosophy is the study of the transformation of matter, how it works, and how it applies to our personal growth. This process applies to any creative pursuit that brings various base elements to a completed refined form.

Eureka! This is paralleled by music: We take various base elements (motifs, rhythms, melodies, lyrics) and transform them into a refined, purified form (finished song) through various phases.

Once you discover the magical process behind your music you’ll find the eternal elixir (aka philosopher’s stone) within, the key to your creative center.

Now let’s tap into some of that esoteric ancient wisdom and utilize it in our music productions.

Cool? Cool.

Phases

In Alchemy, there are 7 defined phases in which matter is transformed into different states. They are: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation.

These specific phrases aren’t important for you to know right now. It’s the concept of “phases of transformation” that I’d like you to focus on. Each of these different phases has their own specific set of defining characteristics.

The truth is, all creative endeavors follow these different phases in one way or another. Whether you’re building a house, making wine, or most importantly making music!

They are universal principles.

I invite you to think of your music-making through these phases. In doing so, you’ll be able to keep the correct focus throughout each part of your music production.

As you progress you’ll start transforming a collection of ideas into a finished song.

It’s a powerful framework that will help integrate your music production workflow into distinct steps with a specific focus.

To get extra meta, when you approach our music-making in phases, you’ll be able to adjust your mindset to accommodate the unique challenges and focus of each step. The varying degree of the different phases will keep you motivated and inspired.

7 Steps

Artistic creation is a process of external and internal transformation. A living mirror that bares your reflection.

As art is created, so too is the artist created anew.

Developing a workflow that mirrors the alchemical process will help support you in creating purposeful work and most importantly, finishing it

These 7 steps will help you develop a creative workflow so that you produce something meaningful, yet remain inspired and see it to completion.

Every step feeds into each other, they are intrinsically connected. Your ability to complete the full cycle depends on how much-focused attention you give to every step.

1) Clarify

The aim of this phase is to prepare your DAW and plugins to build a framework for your creativity to flow. You’ll design a sonic pallet along with a clearly defined vision for the song.

The key is to have several ways for you to express yourself, whether you play a physical instrument, sing, or control software instruments with a hardware controller.

Create presets and sounds that allow you to be expressive and can be articulated in a multitude of ways. A fine-tuned template to capture your unique vision and style.

Focus: Reduce the possibilities; Design your sounds and instruments.

2) Flow

This is the time to let go of your inhibitions and dissolve into the flow. To improvise and jam. No judgments, wrong notes or fixing things.

With proper preparation in phase one, you can more easily access your creativity and authentic voice. You won’t get bogged down by the tedious technical work and it will be easier to get into the flow state. Time to tap into your creative right brain and spark your genius through your instruments!

This is the space where “happy accidents” occur. You’ll harness “errors” and your creative essence in musical and unexpected ways.

Focus: Creative improvisation; Freedom of expression.

3) Extract

Upon completing an epic jam session, you’ll have created a huge amount of ideas and raw creative material to work with; beats, baselines, riffs, motifs, melodies, etc.

The extract phase is about switching over to your analytical left brain and deciding on the best ideas from your creative improv. This means now deciding what to keep and expand upon, and what to let go of and trash.

This flows naturally from the last phase as you’ll have plenty of material to choose from, instead of scrounging for ideas.

Focus: Filter your ideas.

4) Compose

Phase 4 is when you start to bring together the various parts and ideas from the last phase and begin to structure it into a musical arrangement.

This is when the project transforms from a collection of scattered ideas and parts into a time-bound musical journey with a beginning, middle and end.

You’ll intuitively start to know which part of the song your ideas from the last phase will serve best.

Focus: Compose your track; Establish the structure.

5) Edit

This phase has many parts to it. First, it’s about constantly referencing and reflecting on the final structure of the song. Does everything flow well? Do you need to remove parts? Add transitions? Change notes? This is about removing imperfection, timing issues or questionable harmony.

Then you can start to get creative with the art of editing itself; enhancing your music with detail and depth that would have been otherwise difficult to achieve.

This is when the song you laid out in the previous phase starts to take on a new, enhanced form.

Focus: Refine and finalize.

6) Mix

Mixing is a careful and subtle refinement process to bring about balance and maximize the sonic impact of the song.

This phase is a technical and methodological process, smoothing out the edges and eliminating any unnecessary information.

The goal is to dial in your mix to find a balance of tones, textures, and dynamics to satisfy your artistic ear. This is the final stage of creative input.

This expands on the last phase and brings the song to its final form.

Focus: Mixdown.

7) Master

Mastering is the final coagulation of the sonic experience into a finalized releasable form.

This is the phase where the project becomes the final product, where the music is subtly glued together to better be recreated among a variety of different systems.

This phase also ties into the act of calling something finished, to let it go. Next is releasing your music, navigating the industry and sharing your music with others.

Focus: Completion; Letting go.

Music As Thy Medicine

Beyond the pursuit of understanding the transformation of matter (or music in our case) and how to purify, mature and perfect certain materials, alchemists attempted to correspond these phases to their personal growth and creative mindset.

I deeply believe that music can be your pathway to self-discovery. When you are creating music, you’re infusing part of yourself within it. It’s a part of you that you’re discovering, changing and purifying.

As you find and share your unique musical essence you’ll build connections with others. Those who resonate and feel something through your music.

Your tribe.

If you share to dream to create music full-time, you must do it from an internal place. You’ve got to do it for you. Your path to embody lasting change and transform your life must be self-focused and self-directed.

The magic is all in the process. The magic of harmonizing yourself. The magic of writing purposeful and impactful music. The magic to change your world.

This “magic” is what I would love to help you with.

If you’d like to learn more about the process, CLICK HERE to download your Mindset Map to help you get started with a practical system of steps.

I believe music is a perfect path for your personal growth. For as you create new music, you are recreating yourself. I look forward to meeting you!

-Alex


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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