Dubspot Producer Tips: How Do You Start a Track? Electronic Music Production Workflow

In our new series for production tips, we ask our instructors to weigh-in on important questions about music production for our readers and students. In this first article we ask,“How do you start a track?” 

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Getting started with a new music project can be a daunting task. Sitting down at a blank screen can be a creative barrier for for many producers. To combat this fear and help you get started on our your journey to a new project, we asked our instructors how they begin their music creation process. While the answers varied, most had an organized plan of attack when sitting down at their workstation and told us that having a tried and true formula to starting a track can help you get “in the zone” creatively. Read on for tips on how to get started and refine your electronic music production workflow.

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How Do You Start A Track?

I always start with rhythm, with a really good beat before any kind of melody. I choose a tempo, rhythmic style – moombahton, dancehall or whatever. The beat inspires me to build on to it. Usually basslines come next, that’s when the track starts to take shape. -Adam Partridge aka Atropolis (Music Production w/ Ableton Live)

What I usually predominantly do is a chord progression. I’ll sit at a guitar or a piano and I’ll play something that I’m either vibing off of or maybe I heard something around that gave me inspiration. I’ll take that chord progression and make that into a loop. That section may be a chorus, verse or bridge but it definitely sounds like a part to me. I’ll put that into Ableton, and loop it, put a melody line over it and then from that point on, I consider that a skeleton. I’ll then add drums and add some other sort of supporting instrumentation. -Richie Beretta (Mixing and Mastering)

I would probably get a lot more music done faster if i had a good formula. Sometimes I start with drums, sometimes I start with a sample, sometimes I start with sound design. I think it’s good this way, because each track is different and I don’t want everything to sound the same. One thing is if I really like an (effects) chain, I’ll save that and reuse it on another track. If you want to get a lot of music done, I think using templates is a good idea. -Codes (DJ)

I’ll start off by spending focused time making melodies, chord progressions, sound effects, bass lines or beats depending on my mood.  I experiment and try to keep it playful, use my ears and make things that sound good to me.  I don’t put pressure on myself to make a song when I’m in this idea/creation mode, but I do save each element and organize them into folders, i.e. beats in one folder, synth parts in another, etc.  Then, when I’m ready to sit down and write a track, I’ll pick an element that I’ve already made and lay it out over time in Logic.  It helps me to feel inspired and not have to worry about starting with a blank slate.   I’ll listen to it several times until I start hearing parts that fit with it.  Then, I start recording.  Sometimes, I end up adding so many parts that the original element no longer works. The newer parts may turn out better, but I use the original just to get there.  Once all the main parts have been written, it’s then a puzzle to arrange them in the most effective way over time. - Michele Darling (Music Foundations)

The way I start to produce a track involves the use of a template, which is a really simple Ableton Live set where a few things are already pre-organized. I always have Return tracks which I have set with a couple of effects, usually reverb, a delay, and Ohmicide. The most important thing in this Ableton Live template is a grand piano track. If I come up with the right chord progression right away, that clip is going to give me all the information for the song. Out of that, I’ll have the melodic information required to make the lead section and the bassline. I use the piano because it gives me a wider, objective perspective on the melody as opposed to a synth. Once the melodic elements are in place, I continue developing the drums and the structure around that. It also really depends on the genre. If I’m making a techno or deep house track, I’d like to get the beat down first, the bass after, and then the rest of the elements of the track after that. -Adriano Clemente (Music Production w/ Ableton Live)

Do you have a topic for our instructors? Leave us your suggestion in the comments below.


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