Welcome back! I am your host, Jambot, and today I thought I would give you all a glimpse at how I like to start some of my tracks. Sometimes, instead of writing a song, I like to load up several sounds, set a time limit, and follow the music wherever it takes me… hence today’s ridiculous title. We will be looking at the setup process, where to start, and how to break the loop out into a full song.
First of all, you need to pick which program you will be working in. Whenever I am composing, I usually open up Reason or Logic Pro and leave Pro Tools for the mixing stage. The next step is to decide what type of track you will be creating… will it be hip hop? Electronic? 10-minute flute solo? Whatever your choice, I usually like to establish a genre before I get started so I can begin to form a direction and style for the track.
Once you have established a genre, the next step is to load up some instruments and start composing! As a general rule, you want to load up at least 10-15 different instruments/sounds because you want to have a lot to choose from without having to slow your flow of creativity by taking time to load more sounds in the middle of the process. Next, load up some effects like delays, echoes, and anything else you may want to use.
The last thing I like to do before starting the creative process is to step away from the session for 5 minutes and clear my head. This way, I can start to formulate initial ideas and go in with a better game plan.
Where to Start
This is where you make your first decision: what element do you want to start with? Personally, I like to start with a 2 or 4 bar melody, but sometimes I’ll even start with a chord progression or a great drum loop… its completely up to you! The key here is once you commit to something, you don’t want to spend a lot of time tweaking it; the idea is to put a part down quickly and move on.
After I’ve chosen my first instrument, I usually establish a 4-8 bar loop and put it on repeat. In this way, my mind subconsciously works on new parts while I’m in the moment. Now, start stacking away! You are going to want to eventually layer a melody, bassline, chord progression, rhythm/drums, and a few accents to fill out the track. Once you have a solid loop that is pretty full, it’s time to break it out into separate sections in the song!
From Loop to Song
Whenever I create music using this method, I copy and paste the entire loop several times and make decisions as to how long I want each section to be. I like to start breaking the track apart by establishing the intro or the chorus first. In this way, I know how the song starts or where the song is leading, which in turn allows me to get a feel for how to move forward. In this example, we’ll start with the Chorus. Once I have established which elements drive the chorus, I choose the most important element and remove it from every section except for the chorus, so it is unique to that section.
After establishing a chorus, I usually decide which elements I want in my intro, so I can get a feel for how to develop the song from the intro through the chorus. Once I have my intro set, I start adding instruments back in to create the verse and make decisions as to how I can logically lead into the chorus.
By this point, you can choose to either copy and paste the verse and chorus again with minor switch-ups or create an entirely new second verse. Now you can start making more detailed decisions like where you want to switch up the drums between verses, what effects you want to use, and where you want to create effective build-ups and drop-outs. Finally, create an outro for your song, and before you know it, you are finished and ready to mix!
I hope this helps you look at the songwriting approach in a different way. The key to this method is to keep up with your creative flow and not overthink the song in the process. You will be amazed at what you can come up with if you will simply allow yourself to enjoy the process and not get caught up in the details too early on.
This week, I decided to create a new track using this method in order to show you what I came up with by adhering to this process. I have been on a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kick lately (my favorite childhood TV show of all time). I decided to create a track around my favorite ninja turtle, Michaelangelo. I loaded up some sounds, took a quick break to watch an episode, and got right to it! Check it out here at www.iamjambot.com/music-for-sale (try the link twice if it’s your first time on my website), and let me know what you think!
As always, make sure to check out our blog for new articles, and be sure to follow us @iamjambot and @_signaturesound to keep up with everything we are doing here at the studio.