What's your workflow?


#1

Very wide question with no real answer. I’m really struggling to create a full track in weeks never mind in one go.

Makes me slightly frustrated seeing the ideas and concepts and not being able to get them out onto a screen.

What works best for you?

How do you get your ideas out of your head and flowing into your ears?

Honestly any answers are welcome even if it’s something small that helps you like getting rid of distractions and such…


#2

I’ve recently gotten over the hump of “how do I finish songs?”, though I’m just doing beginner piano compositions. Here are a few things that shape my workflow:

  • Start with an idea, like a short melody or rhythm. Hammer it out until it “shines” and feels fresh.
  • Think of song structures. Where do you want to end up, and what do you want to see along the way?
  • Expand the idea and add new ones to fill out the structure. They don’t need to be perfect.
  • Bash your head against the wall until something comes out.
  • Finish the song, even if you dislike the final product.

Head-bashing and finishing has been crucial to me. It can make me feel dumb or untalented, but by the time I’ve tried the 12th or 20th thing to make a section work, something clicks, and I’m glad I persisted. Finishing the song forces me to think in “whole track” terms, so I can’t just jump ship to start something new. It’s getting easier for me to form a song as a “complete thought” every time I do this.

Hope that helps :smiley:


#3

Helps a lot man thank you!


#4

i’m still stuck in the perfectionist trap so i might learn a thing or two in here


#5

My workflow consists of saying I have to practice more not doing that then sitting down one random day every so many months and making a complete demo then never finishing it.


#6

I try to really work by jamming and recording the jams as arrangements. This allows to quickly get a feel of how a loop can become a song/track and to not get stuck into loop mode.

I’ll usually start with an idea of a rhythm or melody, or sometimes by wanting to try something technical (like how would it sound if I did this?).
From the moment I have a basic loop that gets me grooving, I’ll jam out a take, to see how the loop could be structured in a track. This allows me to keep the vibe I have caught going and to work from it later on if needed.
if the first jam sucks, then i do a couple of other ones until I get something interesting. If this doesn’t happen it usually means I lost the vibe, or that the first loop wasn’t that good.
When I’m really stuck, I analyse tracks that I know have a vibe that connects to what I’m working on to see what tricks/elements have been used, and see how those could work or not in what I’m working on. I’ve got a file somewhere on my computer with tricks I personally like to use to and fall back to that to see how it can work in the current project…

As @noaa wrote, practicing head-bashing to finish stuff and actually getting it finished is very important. You gotta just keep going and practising as much as possible. The more you practise finishing tracks, the more you start to develop reflexes that allow you to get there.


#7

I’m using everything I can and have : analog machines, plugins, field recordings, acoustic instruments like djembe, maracas, didgeridoo… I sing or use my voice sometimes, ahah ! I also sometimes use some samples downloaded on the web, like noises, television talks, etc… Sometimes I sample world music and jazz vinyls as well.

Everything is jammed, played… A jam is not a random thing, but an explorations of sounds to catch the current vibe. Sometimes it’s futuristic and dystopic, sometimes it’s esoteric, shamanic, sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it grooves and is dansable, sometimes it’s ambient, sometimes it’s drum and bass… depends… It’s never the same style, nor tempo…

Anyway, everything is jammed and record in my DAW, Bitwig, where I construct the arrangement, apply effects, granular or other things, sometimes I stretch, reverse, filter… depends… I apply digital FX through VST plugins or re-record a track by releasing it in my external analog effects through a different output in my soundcard, like a reloop. I’m using a patchbay for routing to my analog effects.

Then, I do my mix, with plugins as well (Plugin alliance and soundtoys are my favs, I’m using waves and Ozone as well… I put absolutely nothing on the master.

My mix is done in two times : a first time is consacred to the sound design, details and volume balances, compression and EQs, a second one consists in splitting and re-routing in 6 or 7 tracks based on family of sounds : kick drum, bassline, pads, gimmicks, drums, hats, and sometimes extra like vocals or noises, to apply EQ, compression and stereo width.

Then it’s tested on different speakers : macbook speakers, phone, monitoring, hifi, bluetooth… Everything is tested.

My plan for the next month is to invest in UAD. It will change my life for mixing, for sure.


#8

The UAD stuff does indeed make the job way easier. You gotta learn the tools though, as it’s far from being as instant as one could expect.


#9

Of course ! The main aim of UAD is especially to free some CPU to let my computer running fantastic plugins that could be greedy in term of resource but fantastic in term of emulation. I already have good plugins that nicely emulate analog EQs but they’re really heavy, and there are UAD versions of them. Also, I’m attracted by some plugins that exist only in UAD.
It sounds great but no magical of course, still need work :blush:


#10

Be strict with yourself. That’s what I try to do. I will only start a project once I have at least started to put the first in a some form of composition.

I also try not to ‘perfect’ a track. Otherwise you would spend so much time on the damn thing.

My work flow is something like… Follow a full track tutorial but with my own ideas. I don’t match the sound as much as I try to match the process in the tutorial.

For composition, I do house/minimal so there is nothing too complicated about that. Once I put the main elements in composition view, I added little things here and there from sounds to automations to make the track more organic.

I’m still trying to get good at this. Will try to get a soniclab subscription as I heard good things and I have been wanting to get better.

This is a process.


#11

Switch on Octatrack (or load up Ableton), find some sounds I like, play around with them until I’m bored and uninspired, get depressed, go to sleep.