In the first installment of production challenges, we gave you some ideas on how to make your studio sessions a bit more interesting. Hopefully, you tried a few out. Now, we’re back with several more methods to help push you outside of your comfort zone in part two of the “How To Challenge Yourself As A Producer” series.
30 Second Drop in 20 Minutes
Time constraints are especially good at making things challenging. One specific way to utilize this is to try and write a chorus, or “drop”, in just 20 minutes. Open up your DAW, set a timer, and go to work! Having a defined cutoff not only pressures you into busting out a good chunk of a track in a short amount of time, but it teaches you to work quickly and commit to decisions. Additionally, practicing this will improve your overall workflow. Better workflow means more tracks. More tracks mean better music (eventually).
Compose Outside of 4/4
On the technical side of things, we like the idea of playing with time signatures. Try producing an entire song in a signature other than 4/4. Doing so alters the very foundation of a potential track, and opens up all sorts of rhythmic possibilities. The overall feeling of a song is also heavily dictated by the time signature. If you’ve never worked outside of 4/4, now is a good time to push those boundaries!
Reproduce a Guitar Chord Using a Synth
Guitars are one of the most emotive instruments out there, capable of expressing a wide variety of feelings. One fun challenge is to attempt to reproduce the strumming of a guitar with an FM synthesizer. This forces you to think about a couple of things: what the guitar/guitarist is doing to create that sound, and how you are going to manipulate the synth to achieve a similar effect. Mimicking other instruments is a great exercise for broadening your understanding of the musical world.
Switch Up Drum Roles
That’s right roles, not rolls. We want you to create a drum loop using samples where they don’t “belong”. With all of the tools at your disposal, such as pitch bend, EQ, and warping, you should be able to edit drum sounds to your heart’s content. Turn a tom into a kick. Turn a kick into a tom! Let your crash be your snare. There really is a lot of potential here, and all it takes is a bit of ingenuity.
Produce a Track Only Using a Kick
We all know that one of the most important elements in electronic music is the kick drum, but what if it’s the only element? Our last challenge (for now) is for you to try and produce an entire track using a single kick. Cut it up, re-pitch it, do whatever you want, as long as it all stems from the same original sample. This is an excellent method for those who would like to improve their skills in sample editing.
When producing music, pushing yourself to be better takes time, effort, and discipline, just like any other skill. You have to constantly test your limits, wherever they may be. We hope you’ve found these challenges useful, interesting, and engaging. If you’re psyched about something you’ve produced lately, please share it with us!
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