5 Production Tips to Boost Creativity

It’s all too easy to get caught in a routine when being creative; going through the motions that you’ve ingrained into your process can suck the creativity from your session fast. Drawing for the same old synth, applying the same FX chains, using your one favourite sample pack over and over – these things will all leave you with similar results over time and you’ll find it hard to recreate that initial spark that got you into making music in the first place; the happy accidents, the excitement of creating something new.

Here, we are going to look at some ways to break free from the monotony, increase your inspiration and make you excited to get in the studio and creating! After all, experimentation breeds creativity!

Finding yourself stuck in a rut? Break out of the routine and increase your creativity with these tips:

1. Structure Your Track First



One of the easiest traps to fall into when producing music on a computer, is to get stuck on a loop. It’s quite easy to create an 8-bar loop that you’re really feeling, but get stuck from there and not really know where to take it. You end up listening to the same loop over and over, get fatigued with it, park the project and move on.

A good way around this is to create the layout of your track first. Create some placeholder tracks (drums, bass, chords, melodies, etc.), create different colour blank MIDI clips for each of these, then sketch them out into a basic arrangement (you can even use a reference track for this).

This gets you looking at the track as a whole from the outset and should get you thinking about how to develop your ideas throughout the song and break you out of the looping mindset. You can also make a few different versions and save them as templates so you always have the layouts to hand.

2. Set Yourself A Time Limit



A similar issue to number one, is having no deadline, or sense of urgency, to push your track forward. Setting yourself a time limit to make a whole track can really get the ideas flowing and stop you getting caught up in the miniscule details (such as getting that snare just right!), before actually laying some music down.

Fact Magazine have a series called ‘Against The Clock’, where they give prominent producers 10 minutes to get as far along with a track as possible, and you’d be surprised at how far they can get in that time! However, we would recommend giving yourself 1 hour to see how much you can get done.



 

3. Change The Tempo/Genre



A lot of producers get caught in trap of firing up their DAW, tapping in their usual tempo and getting started. If you’re feeling the creative block, try switching up the tempo and dive into a completely different style. The new tempo will require you to try some different techniques and also experiment with different sounds that you would normally sideline. Listen to some different genres and try and incorporate some of their ideas into your own productions. Even if you don’t like what you’ve created, you should have some fresh ideas when you go back to your normal style!

4. Less Is More



When you’ve got a bit of a groove going, but are struggling to find what the track really needs, it can be very easy to just throw layer upon layer into the project in the hope that it will fill out the space and make the track work. This is often far from the case.

Instead, set yourself a limit of 5 tracks (including drums) and see what you can create from there. You’ll find you have to focus all of your attention onto the core parts of the song, to really make them interesting, stand out and keep the track moving. You can also get creative with automation if you’re struggling. This is a technique you can then retrospectively apply to older tracks, strip back the filler and make the core parts shine!

5. Collaborate



Find someone to share the creative process with. Whether this be online or in person, finding someone to work with will open you up to a whole world of new ideas. Even if it is someone who you can bounce your WIPS off and can give you good, honest feedback, it can give you the boost you need to get back and working on something. Oftentimes you’ll find the tracks they say are the best are one’s that you had envisioned as being destined for the bin!

So there’s a few ideas that will hopefully get you out of a creative rut. There are thousands more videos, tutorials and more on Youtube, and further, that can help you break through the block and get inspired again!

Here are some more creative ideas and unexpected ideas from the relentlessly creative Andrew Huang to try out:

 



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