Tag Archive for: ideas

VCV Rack Ideas And Meditations

If you’re not familiar with VCV Rack you should be. While modular synthesis is an expensive hobby, usually reserved for people with cash flow, the open source, mostly free VCV rack is democratizing people’s access to this amazing creative tool. VCV Rack acts as a Eurorack DAW, allowing you to build complex patches using a variety of free, or premium modules, often based on existing hardware. In this post, I won’t talk so much about how to use VCV Rack, as there are tons of tutorials already on it. Instead I will talk more about how it has inspired me, VCV Rack ideas, and how you can use it to inspire yourself.


VCV Rack Ideas Are Meditative

The first benefit I noticed from VCV Rack was how meditative it is. I have been an avid practitioner of traditional meditation for many years now, and the similarities are striking. It forces me into a state of flow, one that often results in the dissolution of all outside distractions. A state where time and space become irrelevant, and I am concentrated on a singular purpose. 

A lot of people conflate meditation with a silencing of thoughts, when that’s far from the truth. We’re human; we’ll never be able to silence our mind. Instead, we have to funnel those thoughts into a singularity. A singularity where you accept you have no control over what happens, both of which VCV Rack ideas do for me.


The Random Beauty Of VCV

That’s the beautiful thing about modular. These electrical circuits are so finicky that often what you aim to create and what comes out are often vastly different. It’s that sense of unpredictability that makes it so wonderful, and thus, meditative.

Surprisingly this sense of randomness and unpredictability isn’t lost in a digitalized version of modular. Somehow the community of open source developers have kept this aspect true to form, demonstrating the increasing dissolution between analog and digital as technology advances.

Many of you probably don’t know this, but I was an actor, before I was a musician, and even went to school for it. While you have a script, the fine art of acting was always in the slight improvisations. Lines often wouldn’t come out as intended, and you would have to react in the moment. This would often lead to beautiful accidents, far superior to the original script. 

In a sense, the life that exists in modular is very much like a fellow actor on stage. It may have its lines, but ultimately, it will improvise, and it’s up to you to harness this improvisation and redirect it to something evolutionary.


photo of vcv rack ideas


VCV Rack Tutorials Are Fun

The second thing I noticed about VCV Rack was that it made me appreciate tutorials again. If you’ve been a power user of Ableton for as long as I have, you may find that Ableton tutorials an get super cookie cutter, and formulaic. This often results in stale music that sounds like everyone else who watched the same tutorial.

This may be one of the reasons why the sound we hear is becoming more and more homogenized, and less innovation is seeping through the cracks. This is despite an exponential increase in the number of musicians. However, with VCVRack, the tutorials seem more personalized. Even if you try to recreate something precisely, you’ll almost never get the same result, due to the nature of modular. The sheer amount of VCV Rack ideas you can get from these tutorials is incredibly exciting, and constantly motivating.


VCV Rack Tutorials Help You Build Existing Hardware

Another fun aspect of tutorials is that there are some people out there, like Omri Cohen, who build faithful reconstructions of existing pieces of hardware. The one that I linked to is for the Moog DFAM, a semi-modular percussive sequencer that allows you to build really wild, synthesized patterns. 

Normally a DFAM runs for about $700 USD, which isn’t a small investment. While following these tutorials, you not only learn the ins and outs of the DFAM by building it piece by piece, but you also get to try it before you buy it, in a sense. 

This allows you to figure out your setups and configurations for your hardware studio, without having to buy things, and send them back if they don’t fit. Also, since it’s fully modular, you can in theory connect multiple recreated devices together. This allows you to see how they will perform as a hardware version. So let’s say you wanted to see how a DFAM would interact with a Moog Subharmonicon. This is now possible through VCV Rack, for the low low cost of zero dollars. These are just some of the hardware VCV Rack ideas found in tutorials.

photo of the dfam vcv rack ideas

VCV Rack emulates the Moog DFAM

VCV Rack Changes How You Listen To Music

The third thing I learned while formulating VCV Rack ideas is that it changed how I listened to music. Normally I have a nerdy way of listening to music from a sound engineer point of view, where I analyzed EQ, compression, stereo spread, etc, but now when I listen I notice the changes in the patterns, and how things modulate. 

While toying around with VCV Rack ideas, I start thinking about the patches that make the sounds. For instance, what waveform is controlling the FM, or how the envelope routes to the VCA. Or what hooks up to the clock, or how many VCOs are in play. Still, super nerdy, but it adds another dimension to the whole thing, which in turn, stimulate more VCV Rack ideas.  


VCV Rack Ideas Help You Build Your Real Modular Setup

The fourth benefit I got from playing with VCV Rack ideas is that just like it allows you to build existing pieces of hardware to test in your setup, it also acts as a way to test modules for your real modular setup. There are a bunch of faithful emulations of existing modules. For instance, the Audible Instruments line is a software emulation of Mutable Instruments. There, you can get clones of things like their Clouds or Tides modules and test them in your setup.

Other examples include:


  • Lateralus: Hybrid diode/transistor ladder. This models itself after the Roland filter circuit where they added a few alterations to get close to the Moog circuit.
  • Vorg: Single segment of the filter circuit of Korg MS-20.
  • Ferox: CMOS filter based on the circuit of the CGS749.
  • Nurage: The Nurage bases itself on the circuit of Thomas White LPG which bases itself on the Buchla LPG.
  • Vortex: this bases itself on the circuit of the Polivoks (Erica Synths version).
  • Tangents: This bases itself on the Steiner-Parker version of Yusynth. The three models are variations of the same circuit.
  • Stabile: based on the textbook Stave-Variable filter circuit (linear version).
  • Unstabile: Nonlinear State-Variable filter with low voltage simulation


vcv rack ideas real clouds

The real Mutable Instruments Elements

vcv rack ideas photo

VCV Rack that includes Mutable Instruments emulations, aka Audible Instruments


VCV Rack Is Constantly Improving

Since it’s community supported, it’s constantly evolving, with new modules being added frequently. Most are free, too! 

Some people will complain that it doesn’t integrate into other DAWs in a smooth fashion, but VCV has heard the complaints and in 2.0 the rumor is that they will have this integration. 

These are just some of my observations about VCV Rack and its amazing ability to spark creativity. In truth, the sheer amount of VCV Rack ideas and inspirations you can get from those VCV Rack ideas are quite staggering. If you have any questions about it, or want to share your experiences with it, feel free to contact me, or make a post in Pheek’s Coaching Corner and let the community know what you think!

How can you start a song while stressed out?

Disclaimer: this post is based on reflections resulting from the COVID pandemic.

Every other day, I exchange a few words with artists I know—friends, label partners, people I like, or anyone who wants to connect. I believe during these times, it’s important to keep social contact to divert our attention away from the madness, misery, or other constantly emerging concerns.

How can you still make music with everything going on?” someone asked me today (and last week). I did a workshop for MUTEK and the main question was similar, something like “where do (music) ideas come from?”

Both answers overlap, in a way. If you think about where ideas come from, (let’s call it “inspiration” if you want), it can strike at random moments. For some people it’s in the shower, others while commuting, or doing yoga…etc. Basically, 90% of the time it’s happening somewhere else, rather than when you’re making music. Hence the importance of taking long breaks when you make music, and by breaks, I mean, leave the studio, go out and do something else. Your mind is still making music, but the space you create for yourself to think, will create space for you to solve problems.

I don’t know about you, but my mind is pretty much always making music, in some way. I’ll be washing dishes or walking my dog, and there goes my brain, creating patterns, imagining song structure, paying attention to ambient noises and figuring out how to translate that with a synth. So, whenever someone asks me where my ideas come from, it’s a bit tricky to give a definitive answer, because the source of some ideas emerge a long time before I sit in front of the computer. The thing is, once I sit in front of the computer, it’s like whatever I have been thinking about vanishes..I’ve forgotten everything and there I am, thinking what now?

The first good habit of sitting down to make music starts with the commitment to a 5-minute session.

The existentialist question(s) of “why make music?” sometimes strike me during this pandemic, and hard. Why am I making this? Who am I reaching out to? Why, why, why?

The answer to everything can be resolved in the 5-minute commitment. If you’re someone who’s interested in meditation, we say that the hardest step to meditate is to just sit and start. It’s the same for music making.

Another part of this challenge we face is the isolation. Most artists feed themselves events to get inspired. Now touring is hard, and that cut-off happening cold-turkey was a mental challenge. Having the resilience to be able to continue making music after months is another obstacle in-itself, as this is something that’s not only demanding, but also unusually frustrating.

If you watch that movie about The Doors, they go in the desert and try taking peyote for a spiritual experience. A lot of artists in the ’60s and ’70s had a breakthrough moment where they wanted to go beyond the rock-and-roll lifestyle to seek out answers about their life, their art, and to open new avenues of creating. There’s something that makes me wonder, when I see artists calling their art meditation or such, if there’s some sense of integrity towards the commitment of what they want to translate. Is the song just another new take on something they did before or is there a real interest to do something meaningful?

I’m sharing this because if you hit a wall with the music making, it might be directly related to a part of yourself that is either hungry for something more, or experiencing revulsion towards the repeating patterns that aren’t providing answers to your current needs. One doesn’t need a change but if your drive to create has hit a wall, then perhaps it’s time to try something else. Because you are an artist and we create just like we breathe.

How to reinvent yourself artistically has been covered on this blog in the past, as well as how to start a new song. I’m not going to cover those again, but I can share how to approach music in these difficult times, when facing stress or a feeling like abandoning it all.

What are you listening to? Connect with the new audience.

A lot of artists find inspiration in clubs and touring. Without that kind of energy in context, it doesn’t mean that music is dead, it’s just transposed. It’s been really difficult to explain to people that have never been in club to relate to the experience of loud music because that same music, out of context, is often very bizarre and sometimes, pointless. But there are other options. You can make the same kind of music for when these events will return, but you could also take the time to make music that is not aimed at those contexts. What makes an artist mature is the depth he/she has. If your music is one-dimensional, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Many of the best artists will have different monikers to explore other avenues and I would say that it’s strongly encouraged to work on different types. Start by listening to a lot of music, perhaps more than you usually do.

Focus on the effortless.

Effortlessness seems to make some people feel uncomfortable. There’s a general attitude out there that great music was made through countless hours of work. Well, yes and no. If you think that you need to work a lot to sharpen your skills, yes, that demands resilience, motivation, curiosity and a lot of discipline. That is where the hard work is. But to record a song…this is where you put to practice your acquired skills and when you compose, that should be effortless. The whole aspect of post-production, editing, arranging endlessly and click-click-clicking your music to perfection isn’t, in my book, the real deal. It’s the rabbit hole of perfection grasping attempt that kills the original, pure and raw idea. I’m more interested in ideas than perfect production. In many cases, over-produced music ages really badly.

To get into “effortless music-making”, prepare for future projects by sketching out a lot of ideas, but mostly musical ones without much of anything supportive. Start a lot of projects, make loops and motifs, build presets, macros, collect some as well. A part of that means to also put away productivity and focus on spending time making music and not finishing anything. Think of guitar players who just play with their guitar without making a song. They’ll just play whatever they just feel coming.

Collaborate, talk, and connect.

How much time do you spend talking about your music? I don’t mean plugins and techniques, but ideas, emotions, and what you are trying to share. Do you reach out to other artists and share how you feel about their music or what it gives you as imagery?

Talking about music in general is pure fuel for imagination. The idea of putting words to the abstraction of sounds is a way of getting closer to understanding techniques and helping you having more precision on whatever you want to do. If you can explain it, you’ll understand it more. Plus the idea of sharing with another artist is a way of also getting technical feedback on parts that remain obscure and confusing.

One of the things I used to do, and still love doing, is to invite a few people to share our favourite music of the moment with one another, listening actively, commenting, getting lost in it. This is for musicians, quite a critical activity as the idea of how others perceive music is a very essential understanding of what people are looking for in the music, just as much as what is the music they’re willing to listen and share. This should fill up your references and study for future projects.

Making a collaborative playlist on streaming sites allows you to be also more connected. That’s the beauty of streaming even though it gets a lot of hate. Plus in time of Covid, this is possible even remotely.

My Electronic Music Production Methodology: The Mothership (Part II)

I don’t know if you’re a fan of sci-fi movies, but I am. One thing I really like from those types of movies are alien invasions, where the aliens are dropping from the sky after jumping from a huge space ship; where all the bad guys are assembled and then dispatched. In music making, I apply a similar concept to my own music production methods and overall methodology.  Ever since I’ve passed this idea down to people I coach, I see them do really cool things using the concept of the “mothership“. They adapt this method to their own way of making music, and when they show it to me, I learn a thing or two on how to upgrade my music production methods.

This post about the mothership concepts, and I will share an empty Ableton LIve set you can reuse for your own work. I’ll also cover a few features in Ableton that can help fasten up your idea making.

The Mothership: Where Do I start?

First, know your music. Whatever genres you listen to, get to know what it has and needs. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I always insist on knowing and using references. Well, the mothership method also starts with using references. There are a few essential questions you need to ask yourself when you listen to your references:

  • What are the predominant sounds? For instance, in techno, the kick, hats, and snare are pretty much always there and for most of the song’s duration. There are percussion and effects often but they’re not the main players.
  • What is the melody composed of? Is the melody only one sound (ex. synth) or 2-3 different sounds talking to each other?
  • Is there more to it? Sometimes we can get a bit lost in a reference track as there seem to have a lot going on, perhaps little sounds in the background or swirling swooshes. Those are what I call distractions. If you want to truly analyze a song, make a 2 bar loop right in the middle part or when the song is at it’s busiest, then start counting each sounds and make sense of what you hear.

Once your song has been analyzed, you’re ready to build a template.

Building an empty mothership

If you feel like seeing what an “empty mothership” Ableton Live template could look like, you can download one here:

[download id=”34555″]

It might not meet your needs out-of-the-box, but it’s a great starter nonetheless.

This empty template was created by ROOM323 who I’ve been coaching for almost 2 years. His starting template is really great – perhaps even better than mine – so I’ll explain why I think it can be really useful.

  • Each sound has its own channel.
  • There are just enough channels to cover everything and limiting yourself to them makes you stay focused.
  • The background and effects channels are a good reminder. Sometimes we forget that one aspect of the song has been overused, especially for details like a background. It’s also a reminder not to overdo it.
  • Storing your loops gives you an outside view of all the potential you have.
  • There’s nothing better to help make decisions with regards to your different songs.
  • It can be turned into a live performance set!


The very first part of using this template is to start by collecting “main ingredients” (see part one of this series). This can be done by scavenging Youtube, jamming a new demo VST synth or hanging out with friends while recording them play randomly with instruments. Anything can be potentially good, it’s how you use it that will make the difference.

“It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong” – Miles Davis

  1. Put each different idea in the appropriate channel of the Mothership.
  2. You’ll have perhaps 5 strong ideas. Now you can fill the channels that are missing content. If you have a nice guitar melody, then you need percussion, kick, etc.
  3. For each idea, try to have different variations. Perhaps your first loop was good but if you rework some elements, maybe you’ll find another option that is pretty cool too. Those variations can also be different scenes of the first loop.
  4. Jam away!

That’s about it!

When I work with ROOM323, I will have 20 different ideas from him, then I can select the best 5. From there, I’ll pick a row and drop it in the arrangement section to start building a song. In terms of productivity, this method is way more effective than canning one idea in a project that is then turned into a song. One important thing to have in the back of your mind is, if during your song, you run out of ideas, then you can just jump back into your original 20 loops to pick something complementary.

One amazing thing about Ableton 10 is that you can drop a song/sample from it’s browser and drop it in your song. It will import your idea as you left it. This means that you can build your Mothership today by dropping in all your unfinished loops!



My Music Production Methodology Pt. III: Depth and spatial shaping tips

My Electronic Music Production Methodology (Pt. I)

I’ had been thinking about recently how I should consolidate the many values, observations and principles I share regularly on this blog into a summary of music production methods and methodology. I regularly give feedback in our Facebook group and I find that I’m often repeating myself with regards to certain details and points that seem like basics. Not long ago, I wrote a post with a checklist to see if everything had been covered in order to know if your song is done, but what about a todo list to start? And what are the big points you should consider beforehand in order to avoid getting lost?

Let me describe my own mindset before I get to work on music in the early stages; it helps me greatly and I think I could also give you a boost in productivity.

The intention

Have you ever had sessions that were magical or others where you felt you did the same things, went horrible where you started to doubting what you’re doing? Making music seems like it should be as straight forward as playing a sport but it can’t be predicted or controlled, which can be frustrating. I’ve started noting down a common denominator in all my good sessions: they all had been started with a precise intention. What I mean by an intention is that beforehand – even before opening the session to work with – I’d spend some time developing a precise idea of what I wanted to do in that session. It could be simple sound design, mixing, arranging, or working on a client’s session.

I’d sum it by saying to myself “today, by the end of the day, I should have done X.” The X is a sort of a goal I can quantify easily, such as finishing the polishing of a track.

I also start sessions with something I do well and love doing; this important habit puts me in a good mood, helps my brain focus, and preparesme for bigger challenges.

The mood board

The term “mood board” is often used in visual design. It’s basically a pin board with all kind of images: the mood, aesthetics, concepts. Sometimes it can be a texture or drawing, but it can be also a few pictures; it becomes a reference for all the members of the team.

A example of a graphic mood board (image courtesy of https://www.sophierobinson.co.uk)

It’s basically the same in audio. I have a huge folder with music I like for use as references. I have also playlists on Youtube of each reference per client. I have yet another one on Soundcloud for ideas, inspiration, and arrangements. The audio quality of Soundcloud being not so great makes me use it more for ideas than anything mix/mastering related. Sometimes it’s songs, sometimes it’s just simple atmospheres or a weird tune just for its reverb (which I can use for convolution). There are new, amazing songs I see in my feed everyday and I really want to tag the ones I see. I honestly even have a mood board on Instagram/Pinterest. Some images help me generate sound ideas too. Yeah, I’m weird like that.

The main ingredient

In risotto for example, rice is the main ingredient but this dish can be altered in many different ways; audio works in the same way.

This main ingredient is the core of your next project. I often compare making music to making food; I find that relying on a first important ingredient helps to develop a theme for a song. The more you work on something, the more you’ll want to add. Remember that songs are split in sections and my rule is to have either one major change or one sound added per section. Songs have, in general, 3-4 sections. Some only have 2!

So, this means that your main ingredient could – in theory – have major changes 2-3 times maximum in a song  to remain understandable. Of course, this is my personal rule. You might have totally other views and that’s alright. The main ingredient will also have brothers and sisters. I usually form a family of 3 sounds per song. The main ingredients will have 1 brother and 1 sister. The brother will be a similar to the main ingredient as a way to complete it. For example, a higher pitched note. The sister sound will be in opposition to the main ingredient. For example, if the main ingredient has a fast attack, the sister would have a slow attack.

Setting up these ideas really helps me see what I need quickly. But knowing this method doesn’t help find the actual sounds though. Sounds come to me in many ways: sampling something you love, using jams you did on some machine that you recorded, recycling older ideas, browsing Youtube’s infinite possibilities, going to a local store and buy the weirdest record you can find, learning a new way to design sound from a tutorial you watched, etc. The idea is to make material to manipulate.

FACT: When I hit a wall, I usually do a remix for someone I know, for fun. Remixing is easy and fun. You try to juggle the elements and keep some of them true to the original to make the remix recognizable in a way. In remixes, you’re given the main ingredient already, and then it’s up to creativity to do the rest.

The foundation of the house

I invite you to view your song as a dish, but now let’s also picture it as a house. To build one, you need a solid foundation. Solid is not about making it loud or big. It’s about being clear. In musical terms, we refer to the foundation as its fundamental note, it’s lowest part. Therefore, I find that setting a few notes in the bass/sub will give ideas, support for the melody to come in the mids. But if it’s muddy in the lows, the whole song will suffer.

TIP: Try to keep it to only 1-2 elements under 80hz.

A hook

Your song will be memorable for others if they can actually sing it back to someone who has never heard it. Ask a friend to see if that’s possible. If not, your song would be categorized as “intentional music” (in the same vein as percussive African music) where you can’t sing it. In techno, the whole movement of Romanian music is partly built around a combination of hook-songs vs no-hook-song. What makes it addictive is that you feel you can sing it back but not, and then when mixed, the interaction of 2 songs makes it reveal something you didn’t expect.

Do you need a hook? No. But if you never use hooks in your music, try to make one. Or if you only do music with hooks, try to make one that feels… empty. it’s a pretty difficult challenge to go out of your comfort zone but it can also make you discover things you didn’t know you could do.

David Lynch said:”Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper.”

That’s all it for the first part on music production methods and methodology – I will provide more insights next week.



My Electronic Music Production Methodology: The Mothership (Part II)

Storytelling through arrangements and song arrangement techniques

When it comes to mixing and mastering, my work involves to listening to many, many songs. Some are great, while others need more love, but from the numerous songs I hear daily I can pinpoint one important thing that makes a song stand out the most: arrangements. I believe your arrangements and your song arrangement techniques are what really show your maturity as an artist.

Your track can have amazing sounds, a crazy good kick, and a really lovely mix, but if you have nothing to say, your song will not be memorable. Although, paradoxically, some songs are also memorable because they have no arrangements at all; no arrangements can also be a form of storytelling.

In this post, I’ll approach arrangements in two ways: the “technical” and “total”; a philosophical point of view. While so many people have different opinions about arrangements, there’s one thing that I feel is important to highlight: to invite you to step outside of the box of anything “commercial” sounding; so many articles at the moment are pointing out how every song sounds the same. I’ll also explain why.

Keep in mind: there is no magic wand recipe or solution for arrangements.

So fundamentally, how can we explain storytelling in electronic music? There are two critical points to keep in mind:

  1. Arrangements start with a simple idea that evolves. The clearer the idea, the more it becomes understandable from the listener. The catchier it is, the most memorable it is. Catchiness comes from being able to make something that people can have an emotional connection with. It is also known that, if we examine at the last 50 years of pop music, there are always songs trends through time. What makes a song “a hit” is usually when someone understand the current trend (which is “in demand”) and adds their own, personal twist to give it a “same old but different” feeling.
  2. Technical arrangements aim at creating music for DJs. One of the most exciting thing about making music for DJs is about being able to architect music that creates a structure that will find a logical place to move into another song, or to create a new song (as in 1+1=3, track 1, track 2 and the mix of both).

These two types of arrangements are different but can also be combined. They have different goals. The reason I find it important to relate this is, as a listener, you don’t listen to them in the same way. The first type, is what makes a track be a song. In terms of vocabulary, a track is music more oriented for DJs, that you can layer while a song is more about music that can be listened on its own and have its own story. Too often, I find that people who listen to tracks will go “something’s missing” but in theory, if that music is made to be layered, it’s because it has space for another song to be layered over it. I like to say that the track is part of a story that will be created by others and it’s important to let go of adding more and more layers. If you leave no space, how can another DJ use it?

So let’s talk about arrangements for tracks and what is useful to do/use.

  • Use a motif: For anything, always use a motif which can be a few notes or a loop. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. If for instance, your motif is a simple two note melody repeating (note: Batman’s powerful motif was just two simple notes too!), then keep in mind that those two notes are simply the core, then add variants or supporting notes; ideas.
  • Define your logic and stick to it: Usually the first 1/3 of your song will define the logic of the rest of your song. For instance, if you mute the kick after 4 bars, keep that logic for the entire song. So, whatever you define in terms of muting,  or adding, stick to it until the end of the song.
  • Divide your song in thirds (1st third is the intro, 2nd is core, 3rd is the outro): Keep in mind that each section has a purpose and demands balance. It should have a surprise, some coherence, a punch and a transition.
  • Leave space: Miles Davis loved the silence between notes and often said they were what would give the true meaning of any phrase. If you find your entire hook for the middle part of your song, make sure you have variants of that idea, with holes/silence.

The importance of defining your own language in your music is important to create your own persona. We all know music is a form of communication and therefore, certain codes can be used in order to create phrases in your music. Everyone has a different view, but I’d like to share my personal lexicon. But let’s consider this: techno is 4/4 music which means a “round” is basically 4 bars long; this is also where DJs try to mix in/out. Each of your songs based on this premise will have better coherence if you keep to a similar logic, and the music will be understood faster by DJs.

  • A phrase is basically a bar long (4 beats). A paragraph is 4 or 8 bars long.
  • Making sounds repeat, is a period (“.”). You usually want to do it at the end of a bar if you are doing a long phrase, but you can also have a period to underline a sound that needs to express something. Rolling sounds help move on to the other bar as it creates energy.
  • Muting the kick or multiple sounds at once is a comma (“,”), it can also mark the end of portion and prepare for another. Muting creates a mini tension and creates anticipation.

Now, these are the basics we can play with.

  • You can slice your entire song structure to clearly see all of your 4 bars in distinctive blocks. This crucial action really helps see the outline of your song and see the organization.
  • I usually go sound by sound (channel by channel) and decide that some sounds will have a change at some point, let’s say X number of bars. For example: hi-hats have a tiny change (a period) every 4 bars, toms will have one every 2 and claps, every bars. Then you slice all the bars in shorter one to be able to edit in details.
  • Add decoration if needed in the same logic. If you started muting and creating space here and there, those areas can be good spaces to insert effects; little, subtle blurbs of sounds.
  • Be very aware of where your song has its main elements, and if it is respecting the logic you have set in the first third of your song.

A song that has balance and repeating events will never feel empty, boring, or pointless because people will consciously (or not) understand the language behind it.

Now look at how it repeats and also, I will try to keep sequences of blocks repeating. For instance, if I have 4 blocks repeating and then there’s a 2 bar silence, I will repeat that through the song.

This is a good example of what I call arrangement logic. You decide of how things happen then follow through.

TIP: Always vary how sound come in and out. You have 2 choices: the sound starts playing or fades-in. Try to have variation between the sounds and how to come in and out later on as well.

The most important part – and I’ll finish with this – is to keep in mind that you should always have a surprise for the listener, and if you surprise him/her, he/she will want to listen to your song again; so be audacious and sometimes, unpredictable. I love the 1-2 punch method: do something, repeat it so the listener goes “ah yes!” then when the listener expects it again, punch him/her with something he/she didn’t see coming.

I hope this helps!