03 – Starting a new track

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you my process for starting a new track, which is something I do every day – I’ll do a video on my daily ‘Splurging’ at a later date. The idea is to have as little ‘designing the track’ input as possible but to allow the track to develop in the way it wants to. I know, it sounds ridiculous but let me explain.

If you’re anything like me, you have probably experienced this many times in the past. You know, where you have the start of an idea down and you spend the next 30-40 minutes trying to work out (design) the best possible guitar/keyboard/bass/etc. part to fit with the track. And inevitably what happens is the initial idea, which you were really excited about, becomes dull, boring and the worst thing you’ve ever done. So you bin the idea and in the worst-case, decide you can’t ‘do’ music, you just have no ‘creativity’… Familiar?

So, what’s changed? The track certainly hasn’t. It must be your perception of it that’s changed. And that change has come about by the continual listening to the track while you’re figuring out (designing) the ‘perfect’ guitar/keyboard/bass/etc. part.

I struggled with this for 15 or 20 years and in that time hardly ever finished a track. Less than a handful, seriously. I’d have folders full of 4, 8, or 16 bar loops with names like ‘great groove’, ‘slow number Cm’ and ‘funky 6’ but nothing finished. I loved the idea of being a ‘composer’ or ‘music producer’ but how could I be if I hadn’t any finished tracks?

A few years later (around 2009) I, fortunately, stumbled upon a book called ‘Guerilla Home Recording‘ by Karl Coryat, which is a fab book for cutting through the BS of expensive gear and looks at methods of making the equipment you have work. Through reading that I found another book by Karl Coryat called ‘The Frustrated Songwriters Handbook’ and that blew my mind. The main idea behind the book is a thing called the ‘Immersion Music Method’ where you spend an entire day trying to write 20 songs. I know, bonkers. Now, I have never tried the 20 Song Game but the general philosophy of the book is to get your finger outta your nose and get on with it, write quickly, do whatever comes up and, most importantly, don’t worry about it! Perfect!

So, how does this help? Read on!

The basic rules:

  1. Spend little to no time thinking about musical parts and go with the first thing you think of (where possible); a gut feeling if you will.
  2. Stop playing back what you’ve just recorded.
  3. No judgement on quality – don’t worry whether the track is any good or not just let it be.
  4. Work very quickly. Try and be done in 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. Don’t force a second section, however, if something comes to mind while you working, go for it.
  6. Bounce it down to stereo when you’ve finished the session.
  7. Get on with yopur day!

The story doesn’t end there but this video gives a glimpse of how I use this carefree (couldn’t care less!) attitude rather than the design methodology to produce finished tracks.

Thanks for watching and if you have any questions or ideas for further videos please let me know at: andrem@set2records.com


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Cheers, Andy x