There isn’t a right way or wrong way to write music. However, over the years I’ve seen people make mistakes (myself included) that deeply affected the song being produced.
Session/project organisation is something that is so easy and simple and yet almost all of us succumb to disorganised sessions. Naming channels/tracks, colouring them if needed, organising channels in an order and labelling sections of the song are just some of the simple things we miss out on. Good organisation helps mixing down tracks enormously.
Less is More
Invariably when we get stuck at some point in the arrangement of a song, we tend to think to add something to the song. In most situations such as these, simply remove something from the song, and things will sound different. Getting rid of the hats and snare makes the song feel so different. Automation is also one’s best friend in such situations.
Think about it, three piece bands like Nirvana use just three instruments to write all their music. They were able to full up the sonic spectrum with just drums, bass, guitar and vocals.
Often we put ourselves in situations where put too much pressure on ourselves to finish a song. This often ends up as sub standard compositions and “copy – paste” arrangements. Taking time to flesh out each section of a song goes a long way to make the song sound interesting in all sections.
On numerous occasions we start a song, it sounds amazing and then suddenly we move to other projects. Always give an unfinished track a second to third chance. You never know what can come out of it. Of course, sometimes the idea never really takes off, so build the ability to do some serious self criticism.
Having effects at our beck and call in DAWs really doesn’t mean that we need to use all of them on one channel. Use effects only when needed. Remember, garbage in = garbage out.
Listen to music. Tons of music. In situations where we get stuck listening to more music, experimentation, or just doing something else all together helps. Just sitting in front of a DAW and aimlessly turning knobs will usually not do the trick.
Will Fix In The Mix?
Personally I try fixing all sounds the way I want even before I get to the mix stage. This way not only does the mix process become easy, but also I am able to get a complete sense of the track during the arrangement phase itself.
We often forget that the term “Music Production” has two parts to it. Music and Production. We concentrate too much on the production but and forget about the music bit. Knowledge of music is the key. Changing one chord or note often makes the track sound so different. Emotions and moods can be built with the right chords and notes.