How do you start a new song from scratch?
It's something so many producers struggle with, even the really good ones.
So don't worry if you ever feel stuck or uninspired, because you're not alone.
Let me start by saying that there's no right or wrong when it comes to starting a new track. Start with anything that inspires you. It could be a drum loop, preset, midi file, or a melody you have in your head.
Next time you have a melody in your head and you don't want to forget it, just record yourself humming it on your phone. Inspiration can come from so many places, and you can use any or all of them to get started.
Vocals are one of the best ways to start a new EDM track from scratch.
Even if you don't have any ideas for melodies or chord progressions, a good vocal will definitely get the ideas flowing.
If you don't have an original vocal or acapella to work with, just use the vocal from your favorite producer for inspiration. You don't even have to use the vocal in the finished track if you don't want to. Just use it to get started.
Here are some great websites to download free vocals from:
Once you find an acapella you like, the first step is to download it and import it into your DAW. Then, follow these simple steps to get the creative juices flowing.
- Hum along with the vocal or play along with your keyboard
- Determine the root key of the vocal
- Create the melody for a bassline as you hum along
- Think of as many harmonies and melodies as you can
- Record them using a mic, or recreate them using your favorite synth and a preset, or just a simple piano
If you're still stuck and can't come up with any melodies, then use a sample pack and try out drum loops, synth loops, bass loops or anything else to get you started.
From there you can start building your bass line, chord progression, lead etc...
2 - Loops
Sometimes a good loop is all you need to get started.
Drum loops, melody loops, bass loops and guitar loops are all great starting points. Your sample library is probably filled with thousands of them just sitting there waiting to be used. You can also find a ton of free loops and samples online. Just do some Googling and you'll find some good stuff.
If you feel that using loops is cheating, it's really not. Especially when you can use them for inspiration and replace them with your own sounds and ideas later.
You can chop them up, add effects to them, change their key and make them your own. They really are a great way to start new tracks quickly and easily.
3 - Chord Progression
You know how sometimes when you're falling asleep you get the most amazing melody idea in the world? Next time that happens, pick up your phone and record yourself humming it.
Now you have the perfect starting point for a new song, all you have to do now is build on it.
The best way to build on a melody you have in your head is to build a chord progression and bassline around it.
A good chord progression can be all you need to make an amazing track. In fact, many great EDM tracks are nothing more than a chord progression, bass line and drums.
But how do you build a chord progression?
- First, if you have an idea for a melody in your head, record it in your DAW. Just record yourself humming or record a midi part using your favorite synth with your keyboard or the piano roll
- Next, hum more melodies and layer them on top of the first melody in the midi that you created. Once you start layering those melodies and harmonies you'll have a better idea of how you want the chord progression to be
- Then, you can move the notes around and decide what the bass notes will be. That will determine the key of your track and the notes of the chords
Start with whatever inspires you. Sing alone with vocals and come up with melodies in your head, or start with a bass line or melody loop.
You can even start with a ready made midi chord progression and change the notes around to make it your own.
Don't be afraid to experiment and use all the amazing resources that others provide for you.
4 - Construction Kit
A construction kit is a collection of all the parts that make up a complete track. It can include loops, synth presets, drum samples, midi parts and more.
Constructions kits are usually sold by genre and are excellent starting points for your own tracks.
Just like when using individual loops or vocals, construction kits are best used for inspiration and as jumping off points for your own ideas.
Even if you use the loops and samples included in the kit, try to make them your own by adding effects, chopping them up, or changing their key.
Also, just like with using loops or presets, using construction kits is NOT cheating. Use them to get the ideas flowing and learn from them too.
Pick one thing from the construction kit that you really like and use that as the starting point for a new track. You can take it out or change it later if you want to.
5 - Messing Around
This is probably the most underrated way to start a new song from scratch. Just messing around! Here are some quick and easy steps so you can properly mess around
- Sit down with your keyboard ready and synthesizer plugin open
- Look for a preset that you really like
- Go nuts
Don't have a keyboard? Don't have a synthesizer plugin (impossible)?
Then just mess around with loops, samples, your voice, your desk, or whatever you have. You can even just record yourself tapping a beat on your desk, then make some cool noises with your voice, and just use that.
There's no limit to how creative you can get. That's the beautiful thing about working with software to make music.
Starting your own songs from scratch can be a struggle. But it doesn't have to be. All it takes is a little bit of creativity.
Another important thing to remember is that using things like loops, presets or construction kits is not cheating. They can be valuable learning tools and can give you the push you need to be a better producer.
Do you have any other ideas on how to start a new song from scratch? Share them in the comments!