Sometimes two things just go together like ham and cheese. Here are two of those things. This one-two punch will kickstart your creative process. It does mine.
- Record everything.
- Release it before it’s “ready.”
This does not mean to record all of the world around you with a microphone or something. That is great, but not what I’m talking about at this particular moment.
Often in the music-making process, I find myself just playing around with different synths, for example, and playing random notes. Then, suddenly, I’ll play something magical-sounding by chance and go, “Wow that sounded really good, wish I was recording it. Now how did I do that?”
Fortunately, FL Studio that I use for my DAW has a nice feature that it lets me “dump the last X minutes to piano roll.” This is a life-saving feature (for the life of my music that is). I routinely use this to save the past 2, 10, whatever, minutes of my “playing around that turned into a magical moment” events. It’s genius and I highly suggest if you have FL Studio as your DAW, that you take advantage of it and use it. It is under the Tools menu. Image Line describes it as this:
“Dump score log to selected pattern – Saves the contents of the score logger into the Piano roll/s of the selected Pattern. The score logger is always on and buffers all note activity from external controllers or typing keyboard to piano activity from the last 30 minutes. Input is recorded per-instrument Channel so when the note data is dumped, all Channels played in the selected time-frame will receive their individual note data. Choose from the last:Image Line website
Time – 2, 5, 10, 20 or 30 minutes.
Clear log – Reset the score logger. NOTE: Once logging exceeds 30 minutes, the oldest log data is sequentially lost, so you will always have the last 30 minutes of activity in the log.
Never lose that perfect improvisation again!”
Check if your DAW has a similar feature and use it whenever possible.
Alternatively, hit that record button on your DAW even when you are just fooling around – it may capture something great.
Some virtual instruments themselves record to a buffer that you can access afterward. One in particular that I use a lot is Pianoteq by Modartt. So check instruments for this valuable feature also.
Release It Before It’s “Ready”
This is a big one for me. I’ve spent countless hours trying to tweak the smallest details of a song that most people will probably never hear. Don’t get me wrong, I advocate for pristine production techniques, but you have to know when to stop.
What I do is to see how fast I can compose, mix, and master something and get it out. By release, I mean just get it out into the world, and not do a formal release to Spotify or somewhere. Save that for the final version.
But send out your quickly-made tracks to your YouTube channel, Instagram, or your Facebook page – even if it’s only to your friends and not the world at large. By doing that you can get feedback if you need it, or better yet and what I do is I get to listen to it from a public perspective. Often I find that it is good, and that I could have wasted countless hours getting it fully ready, when it was unnecessary.
Take for example, this track below. It was made in about an hour. I shot it out to YouTube immediately without a lot of work. I listened to it on my drive to work in my car, and it sounded excellent (to me). Now I have a release-candidate for my next album – all with minimal effort.
I have a pile of unreleased, but good, material. I keep it in a folder with a name for each project, and go back to it for inspiration or to unearth a gem of a track for release. Deadmau5 gives the same advice. Make a “vault.” Go back to it and dig out some good stuff. Watch this video below.