What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

How to do this, that and the other. Share, learn, teach. How did X do that? How can I sound like Y?
Ghost Snake
KVRist
90 posts since 16 Oct, 2009 from Italy

Post Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:24 pm

Ghost Snake wrote:
Brilliant ideas thanks !!!
Is this sarcasm? If not, it should be... :party:

Not at all ! I loved all responses, honestly ! Lots of stuff to think about .
Maybe starting with the chords has been my pitfall.........
But coming up with a good melody...can be daunting
I am musically schizophrenic

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Aloysius
KVRAF
22668 posts since 11 Aug, 2008 from a computer

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:03 am

My ''workflow'' is totally messed up. It occurred to me this morning why. See, I used to make songs with guitar and vocals and add some filler drum machine, bass and synths later. Now I just make instrumental type stuff 'in the box'. I guess I'm still finding my way with it. When I was younger, it was easier. I just liked Hard Rock. Now I listen to generations of music. Pretty much any recorded music up until the early nineties. It's a totally different thing really.

Also, my current environment is not good for making expressive loud noises. Especially at night or early in the morning. That kind of rules out ''singing'' etc.
yes you couldn't

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ariston
KVRAF
3388 posts since 28 Jun, 2009 from Wherever I lay my hat

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:26 am

funky lime wrote: If the idea can't carry its own weight with just two hands on the piano, then I figure no amount of layering or studio magic is going to make it magically into a good song.
This. And that. And additionally, I've always been a "harmonies first, melody second" guy, but I've turned that around. Often, I'll improvise melodies by singing or playing guitar (both of which aren't really my main strengths as a musician, so it helps me to keep it simple). And once I've found something that sounds worthwhile, even if it's just 8 notes strung together, the rest of the song seems to coalesce on its own. My role then is just that of a midwife.

If I really hit a creative roadblock, I sometimes do the following: I take the most random, uninspiring melody I have at hand and try to make something out of it. Works like a charm sometimes. In German, there's an expression: "trying to make a satin dress out of a pig's ear." It can be done.

trewq
KVRist
293 posts since 24 Nov, 2008

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:07 pm

for me the meaning, musically, has been the modulation, the departure, and that special accidental, whether used or not, that is the goal of chord selection which can change all of the above in the process, as long as there is some kind of process that can be mapped out, or programed, giving me possibilities to check out.

and on a strictly personal note, that first result on discovering something new has always sounded special. and its all downhill from there!

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V0RT3X
KVRAF
7339 posts since 4 Jul, 2012 from Canada

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Fri Feb 02, 2018 3:03 pm

My usual workflow consists of clicking in notes and drawing lots of automation in my Daw. It’s uninspiring to say the least and after a while I feel like Im more of a programmer than a musician. I find I get way more musical results when I play on my midi controller.

Actually I think i might save up and buy a hardware keyboard synth (DSi Prophet 12) next.

ParadoxMachine
KVRer
28 posts since 17 Feb, 2015

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:08 pm

I do the beat, all it's components and the bass first because that way, I don't have to worry about this bit and I have a basic foundation to construct from. Then, I use placeholder presets to come up with melodies. Once I have something, I either work backwards and simplify it, or further advance it to come up with progressions. Then I go back and see what this part needs (a harmonious pluck, a pad, squiggly bits, etc.), what changes need to occur, breaks, etc. Once those are figured out and a certain part is complete, it's a question of either how to get there (since I usually end up writing the mid-section first) or where to go from there. By this point the mood and direction of the song is usually determined so that gives me a context to work with. Using this, I usually construct songs in two to three acts. :phones:

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Hermetech Mastering
KVRian
979 posts since 30 May, 2003 from Paris

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:01 am

Play the guitar three or four hours a day, every day. Inspiration hits. Work out the chords, practise the chords, add interesting variations, record the chords (spend hours obsessing over mic choice and position). Overdub other bits if necessary. Mix, master and release.

smd12
KVRist
147 posts since 25 Jan, 2010

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:16 am

My workflow is unorganized.

If i am writing an ambient track i usually create (destroy a synth preset to make it kinda my own sound) then try to find a note/key that sounds good and go from there. I usually start at 100bpm or 120bpm and then slow it down to 20, 30, or even 10bpm lol. I usually mix as i go. At some point i try to think of how it should evolve and how to end it.

Writing metal/electronic tracks

I usually start with demo of a guitar riff or bass line. Then which usually is a "chorus or verse". Then build around it.

I have written many poems/lyrics that i go back and see if they will fit the track i am working on and adjust them to fit song.

I try to write, mix, and finish a track as soon as possible. That way it stay fresh. Once i wrote an entire ambient album in a weekend. :D If a song takes me way to long it will probably suck and i will keep destroying it trying to make it better...which then i will stop working on it. And maybe revisit it later on.

I have a 100 or so ideas/riffs that i still need to work on.

Ghost Snake
KVRist
90 posts since 16 Oct, 2009 from Italy

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:01 pm

smd12 wrote:My workflow is unorganized.

If i am writing an ambient track i usually create (destroy a synth preset to make it kinda my own sound) then try to find a note/key that sounds good and go from there. I usually start at 100bpm or 120bpm and then slow it down to 20, 30, or even 10bpm lol. I usually mix as i go. At some point i try to think of how it should evolve and how to end it.

Writing metal/electronic tracks

I usually start with demo of a guitar riff or bass line. Then which usually is a "chorus or verse". Then build around it.

I have written many poems/lyrics that i go back and see if they will fit the track i am working on and adjust them to fit song.

I try to write, mix, and finish a track as soon as possible. That way it stay fresh. Once i wrote an entire ambient album in a weekend. :D If a song takes me way to long it will probably suck and i will keep destroying it trying to make it better...which then i will stop working on it. And maybe revisit it later on.

I have a 100 or so ideas/riffs that i still need to work on.
This is my 'workflow' as well,100 % ! Interesting. The downside is that it is very scattered and you never know when and how you'll finish a track this way :)
I am musically schizophrenic

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Apratim
KVRian
576 posts since 29 Dec, 2016 from India

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:17 pm

my workflow.JPG
this is the starting layout i use if i need any extra track i just duplicate the track above it and rename it in the group

i use monitoring fx for near flat response on my headphone

the MIDI idea track is for "midi ideas"(the name suggests all) and "random shit" track is for resampling and other random stuff

as for automation make clips for automation in reaper and copy it where its needed

and nope i dont use reverb effect track i put it in the track itself where its needed

and for the writing

if i have a idea for synth or basss i do that and later lay down the drums

or when i am brainstorming for ideas

create a basic drum pattern
and later go with the flow
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smd12
KVRist
147 posts since 25 Jan, 2010

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:28 pm

Ghost Snake wrote:
smd12 wrote:My workflow is unorganized.

If i am writing an ambient track i usually create (destroy a synth preset to make it kinda my own sound) then try to find a note/key that sounds good and go from there. I usually start at 100bpm or 120bpm and then slow it down to 20, 30, or even 10bpm lol. I usually mix as i go. At some point i try to think of how it should evolve and how to end it.

Writing metal/electronic tracks

I usually start with demo of a guitar riff or bass line. Then which usually is a "chorus or verse". Then build around it.

I have written many poems/lyrics that i go back and see if they will fit the track i am working on and adjust them to fit song.

I try to write, mix, and finish a track as soon as possible. That way it stay fresh. Once i wrote an entire ambient album in a weekend. :D If a song takes me way to long it will probably suck and i will keep destroying it trying to make it better...which then i will stop working on it. And maybe revisit it later on.

I have a 100 or so ideas/riffs that i still need to work on.
This is my 'workflow' as well,100 % ! Interesting. The downside is that it is very scattered and you never know when and how you'll finish a track this way :)
:D that's why i try to finish a track asap.

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BezO
KVRist
218 posts since 19 Jul, 2005

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:30 am

DIGiTAL A. wrote:Hmmm, Drums first, most of the time.
When the "WOOFness" is correct :hyper: :hyper: and I start to party while messing with synths and crazy FXs, then that is a good sign to get something done.
Most of my tracks are made over night, no lights, no one interrupts me in my zone, just me and music.
Good times. :D
Same here, every time. Drum groove & tempo tell me where to go.

I groove up from there, almost always start composing with bass, then harmonies/rhythms, riffs & melodies last.

I find it easier to write melodies after I have chords as the melody doesn't mean much to me without them.
The groove baby, the groove...

imrae
KVRist
482 posts since 2 Jul, 2010

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Thu Feb 15, 2018 12:26 am

Apratim wrote:
the MIDI idea track is for "midi ideas"(the name suggests all) and "random shit" track is for resampling and other random stuff
I like this. What do you have loaded in the midi track? I sometimes use piano tracks as sketches for other parts, mentally it's easy to hear piano parts as "could be anything".

hyperbits
KVRer
8 posts since 8 Jan, 2019

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:27 pm

Typical workflow for finishing a track looks like this:

First, spend 2-4 hours finding and developing an initial musical idea that you like. This could come from noodling around on an instrument, throwing loops into your DAW, creating interesting melodies and chord progressions, or anything else that gets you started. There’s no hard and fast rule here. You could start a track with drums, a bass line, chord progression, or a field recording. Whatever works. Here, you also choose the tempo, sounds, and overall mood for your track.

Then, spend 1-2 hours structuring your entire track, arranging your parts in new ways so as to create new textures and sections. In electronic music it’s generally a good idea to copy and paste your main section and try muting or soloing elements to come up with build-ups, drops, transitions, outros, and B-sections. Creating contrast between sections usually works as well. If your initial section is loud, full and/or busy sounding, try to incorporate a section that’s the opposite of that (sparse and quiet).

Then, spend 3-5 hours adding details and mixing. Here, make sure that everything works in your track, that it sounds full and coherent, and that all transitions flow smoothly. You also focus on adding interesting effects and ear candy. Now’s the time to start processing, making sure that everything sounds as polished as it can while still being clear and punchy.

Finally, spend 1-2 hours doing final tweaks and mastering. This is a good time to double check everything in your project: make sure your automations work correctly, that your audio regions are cut up at the right spots (with some nice fades for safety), that everything sits just right in your mix. Then, check your mix on different systems to make sure it translates well, do your mastering, and you’re done!

Even if now it takes you twice as long to finish a track, you can still reference how much time you should be spending proportionally on each stage. However, barring additional recording sessions or other unique circumstances, this is the general timeline for how many hours it should take for you to finish a track. I know it can seem daunting at first, so here’s a few things that are essential if you want to be finishing tracks quickly:

Have a template setup for starting tracks. It should have some basic reverb and delay sends and your favorite instruments set up so you can immediately focus on creating music.
Know your favorite samples and have them neatly organized in folders (kicks, snares, 808s, risers, etc.).
Have organized presets for everything: for your favorite synths, for processing chains, for mastering chains, for certain types of instruments, and so on.
Have references for what you want your track to sound like
Don’t fall into the perfectionist trap. It’s important to get into the habit of finishing songs, regardless of how much you love them. This doesn’t mean that you should aim for mediocre results. Aim to finish great tracks, but realize that regularly finishing songs will do tons for your learning, leading to much better final tracks in the long run.

These are some basic concepts for improving your workflow and finishing tracks quickly. If you want to dive a bit deeper into these concepts, this ill.Methodology Workshop video has some great advice. If you want more actionable tips to improve your organization and workflow right now, this post has a ton of them, plus some tips across all aspects of music production.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVQ8c19unnM
https://hyperbitsmusic.com/103-music-production-tips/

Hope this helps!

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BONES
GRRRRRRR!
7374 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Re: What's your typical 'workflow' to write a track ?

Post Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:07 pm

funky lime wrote:
Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:47 pm
If the idea can't carry its own weight with just two hands on the piano, then I figure no amount of layering or studio magic is going to make it magically into a good song.
I'm the opposite - I'd be worried if one of our songs could carry its own weight on a piano. We don't do melody and piano is krap at rhythm.
smd12 wrote:
Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:16 am
I try to write, mix, and finish a track as soon as possible.
Again, I am the opposite - I play a song to death over several months, to the point I am sick to death of it, so that I can be properly objective about it and make it as good as it can be. While it's fresh and new, you just love it and you can't assess it on its merits. I usually get it from idea to "ready to perform live" in a day or two but the quickest I think I've ever got a song from that point to release-ready would be 2-3 months. Typically, though, it is more like 6-12 months. That way I know that it's probably as good as it possibly can be, otherwise I can't expect anyone to pay money for it.
Once i wrote an entire ambient album in a weekend. :D
This is why I don't rate ambient - it's too easy.
hyperbits wrote:
Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:27 pm
Have a template setup for starting tracks. It should have some basic reverb and delay sends and your favorite instruments set up so you can immediately focus on creating music. Know your favorite samples and have them neatly organized in folders (kicks, snares, 808s, risers, etc.).
This is the perfect way to ensure that all your music ends up sounding the same. I think you should avoid this at all costs.
Have organized presets for everything: for your favorite synths, for processing chains, for mastering chains, for certain types of instruments, and so on.
This one I agree with because it will stop you going off on stupid, pointless tangents when you should be focussing on the bigger picture.

Overall, hyperbits, your "workflow" sounds more like a sausage factory to me, a way to churn stuff out. That's not how art is made.
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