How do you write better music, faster? That’s a question many producers ask themselves daily. It often comes from the frustration that your music creation process is slow, causing you to get stuck and often abandon projects. Is this you? It might be.
We all have our slower days, but if you always have them – that's a problem. The good news is that you can change this very quickly. You just need to learn the right skills and techniques – adopting a new mindset to start pumping out music, flowing with creativity.
So without further ado, let’s explore the five secrets to writing better music – faster.
1. Have A Clear Idea
When creating music takes a lot of time, or when you get stuck, you often don't have a clear idea for what music you want to make. Even though making music is an experimental thing, it doesn’t mean you should spend every studio session without goals. If you spend hours trying out new techniques, fine-tuning details, and testing out new sounds, sure, you will learn a lot. But sadly, your music output will be ultra-low – it takes too much time.
Instead, when sitting down in the studio, have a clear idea of what you want to create. It also helps to separate exploration sessions from writing sessions, if you genuinely want to make better music faster.
Decide on your tempo, style, key, and general feel of your track. Do you want it to be happy, sad, or incredibly uplifting? Get a pen and paper and write it down, or take a mental note. It helps set the stage for your arrangement – including which sounds to use and what techniques to rely on.
2. Use Presets And Templates
Instead of creating every single sound from scratch, presets and templates are ready-made sounds or projects that you can instantly take advantage of to work faster. For example, you can quickly find your desired type of sound with a sound preset and immediately start arranging. Templates can help you work faster by setting up your most-used effect chains and tools, from the moment you start producing.
Sadly, presets get a lot of bad reputation in the music producing scene. But frankly, everyone uses them, and there’s no shame in that.
For the same reason you need a blueprint to start building a new house, creating a new track means laying the groundwork for what will form your new banger. It’s about throwing in ideas for sounds, melodies, atmospheres, and effects and reworking them later once your concept is crystal clear. This mindset is the most effective way of producing music. Using presets and templates, you can instantly achieve the same attitude.
When you’ve first started working on your track, use templates to get what you need and presets to help form your musical idea. If you're thinking of having a synth bell as your lead sound, use a preset to bring that idea into reality quickly. There’s always time to tweak and perfect it later. And when you do, you can be sure your ground idea is good enough to spend possibly several more hours on, rather than wasting them on nothing.
3. Arrange First Mix Later
Attempting to do everything at the same time rarely succeeds. It's the ultimate recipe for a fractioned mind, which both hurts your creativity and effectivity. When you start fiddling with the equalizer, panning, different effects, and layering techniques in the beginning stages – you stop the creative flow dead in its tracks.
Creative flow is your ultimate goal when making music. And it’s not about the tiny details. You want to layout all your ideas completely unhindered, by heart, towards the idea of what you want to create. As soon as you go into detail mode, creativity cracks. Don’t end up there.
Save mixing and the detailed work for the later mixing stages. The beginning of a track is all about the arrangement, making sure your idea is solid, that your sounds work together and that you’ve crafted interesting melodies and hooks. So, in the beginning, production stage, create a rough outline, and don’t give in to the temptation of making it sound better.
Use this workflow as a guide:
- Improvise Without Limits To Get Ideas
- Choose Sounds And Arrange Your Track (Rough Outline)
- Delete What You Don’t Need
- Do Final Arrangements And Start Mixing
- Master Your Track (optional, if you do it yourself)
4. Stop Your Perfectionism
Last night, I watched an episode of a cooking competition (even though I’m pretty horrendous at cooking.) There’s one guy who cooks beautiful food, and while he came quite far in the contest, the judge's shared opinion – his technique in the kitchen was technically perfect, but the food lacked heart and soul. This truth ultimately led to his defeat. The winner cooked using an excellent technique, with the heart completely into it.
Perfectionism is the killer of creativity, for the simple reason that creativity is about free flow. It’s instantaneous and often momentary – and you need to savor every last drop to ensure you make excellent music with impact.
Never aim to make your track 100% perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist, and music taste is always subjective. So even if you were to make a track that's flawless to your ears, it might not be to another person.
To make better music, faster, set a cap at a maximum of 90% “perfection” for every track you’re working on. Aim for excellence, not absolute perfection. This ensures maximum output and quality – while saving countless hours perfecting things that people won't care about.
5. Learn Techniques To Make Better Music
Suppose you’re unsure about the most effective ways to start a track, feel that arrangement is difficult, or have a tough time getting the professional sound you want. In that case, you need to learn new techniques.
As with anything in life, learning and practicing make you better at what you do. And the quickest way to learn is by taking courses to learn the sound tricks and techniques from professional music producers.
The best way to make better music, faster, is to learn the music production tricks and techniques, giving you the tools to do exactly that. While there are tons of free resources online, they can quickly become confusing. There’s just too much information out there, from a ton of different producers – showing you completely different skill sets and techniques.
The best way to learn music production is to take dedicated courses. That way, you ensure that you learn from a single source – allowing you to bring all your knowledge together when crafting your music.
If Producing A Track Takes You Too Long…
If it takes you weeks to produce tracks, or you often get stuck and abandon projects, chances are that you’re lacking in some areas of music production. You might have great arrangement skills but might need to become better at crafting melodies.
Having a lot of knowledge in one area but less in another can make your tracks fall short – and cause you to give up hope.
But there’s a remedy for that. Get a solid foundation in music production from a single source. Not only will it help your next track – it will help you in your entire music production career.
When you learn the vital theory and techniques behind music theory, arrangement, mixing, and mastering, you can craft music fast, easy, and fun – without getting stuck.
Learn The Four Pillars Of Music Production
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After completing these courses, you have learned all the skills required to make music in a wide range of genres. You will also feel confident in your abilities to produce bangers in your studio – every day.
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Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.