You get bogged down in sound design when you’re trying to write a melody. You’re stuck tuning drums when trying to make a beat. You’re trying to do too much. More specifically, you’re trying to do too much at once. These are struggles many artists experience when producing music. There are all of these steps to accomplish, and figuring out the best way to get everything done is tough. Here are a few tips how to improve your workflow.
It’s very easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged. Trying to work on all aspects of production at once is slow, inefficient, and really kills your creative momentum. Separating musical sessions from technical sessions helps you to focus on one area at a time. Plan your studio time. Dedicate a day to doing all of your sound design, tuning your drums, etc. Once everything is setup to your liking, you can spend the rest of your energy in subsequent sessions creating music!
Whether you’ve got all of the gear in the world, or you’re running a minimalist setup at home, it’s good to put some thought into your studio. Make sure all of your tools are easily accessible. If you have to spend a significant amount of time rerouting cables, installing plug-ins, or moving things around then your workflow is going to suffer. Being comfortable is pretty important as well. That could mean a nice, comfy office chair, a sturdy stool, or even standing on your own two feet. Whatever you prefer, make sure your studio is set up to compliment that style.
Build a template using the DAW of your choice. Label, color-code, and route all of your tracks/instruments in a way that makes sense to you. Keep things grouped (Kick, Bass, Percussion, Synths, Vocals) to help make finding your sounds easy. Preset all of your faders to allow plenty of headroom for your mix. Have all of your plug-ins set up, but inactive, so you can just turn them on when you need them. Add markers/locators, such as intro, part A, or break, in the arrangement to give your song an outline to follow. With all of this, you’ll have a nice place to begin when writing music.
Break your composition and arrangement into phases. Spend time creating a musical phrase that is the cornerstone of your song. Build other elements around that idea until you have as full and rich of a sound as you can muster. Then, start cutting holes in it. Use the method of subtracting elements to build up to, and lead away from your main part. Finally, clean up your mix by bouncing each track to audio. This lets you tidy up the timing of your sounds, and frees you up to that next-level editing.
If you’ve ever heard the mnemonic acronym SMART, then you might know that the last letter represents time-sensitivity. Since your goal is making music, you want to give yourself some time constraints in the studio. Decide what you want to accomplish. Whether that’s writing a lead, building a chord progression, or sequencing drums, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to do it in, and actually set a timer! You’ll be surprised how much faster you work when there’s a limited amount of time to play with.
If you’ve got any good tips for maximizing your workflow, let us know in the comment section below!
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