Question About Making More Interesting Music

When I got my Digitakt last fall, it started me down a path of learning how to make instrumental music. I’ve been playing and writing extensively for years, but all my other instrumentals were written with vocals in mind. The switch from traditional song forms to the ‘anything goes’ world of electronic/sample-based songwriting was unexpectedly challenging.

Since then I’ve made a lot of music and through that I’ve learned a ton about developing a short song section or loop into a full arrangement. I’m still learning, but I feel much more confident about that side of things. The part that I’m having trouble with right now is coming up with a more interesting loop to begin with. Most of the music I release now is “good enough”, but lacks that special something that makes it great, those elements that take it to the next level.

With all of that preamble out of the way, what are your tips for coming up with more interesting loops or song ideas right out of the gate, rather than working to take a “good enough” loop and develop that as far as it can go? I’m talking big-picture conceptual ideas that have taken your music from good to great. I’d love to hear what you all have to say about this!

1 Like

I always need a concept to inspire me to write music. Be it a movie, a book, a place or a feeling I need a strong motivator that I then try to turn into music. Maybe you’re concentrating too much on the technical side of songwriting? I mean there’s plenty of great, evocative songs that have a very minimal amount of things going on. Without that strange magic, they would be extremely boring.

4 Likes

Constant change + repeating elements = listenable music. Having a loop repeat is what makes normies say “I like it but I don’t know, needs something”. Disregard 50% of this advice if you make repetitive loop based electronic music. Just copy your pattern a bunch of times and fuck with it so you never have to listen to the exact same loop twice. Repeat for all sections of your song. In my experience anyway. Also this can be counteracted by adding vocals, takes focus away from the repetitiveness of the song

5 Likes

Everything about that song is wrong, but it works so well. Impossible to cover since those elements are just so minimal that you need a special kind of artist to pull it off.

5 Likes

Break things. Adding chaos into the mix livens things up.

3 Likes

1 - Establish a precedent (repeated at least once) with a motif: rhythmic, harmonic, or referencing a similar sonic texture, etc.
2 - Break your precedent

Edit to add caveat: stating these steps doesnt necessarily imply my ability to properly implement them.

5 Likes

Bit of randomness always works for me:

  • On Elektron sequencers, p-lock some random tuning changes or decay times on percussion, or some fx parameters on synth lines.
  • In modular, something like Ochd with light modulation depth can vary parameters almost imperceptibly, but noticeably - magic sauce.

Also related themes and ideas or storytelling like the tried and trusted concept album still works I think.

I can relate to this 100% :rofl:

3 Likes

If in doubt, put a donk on it.

7 Likes

Isnt that a Beyoncé song?

6 Likes

Forget song structure. Narratives drive the hearts of human beings.

Narratives can be accomplished with or without lyrics and singing. So if you are going without, latch on to a theme that resonates with you and use that to inform the choices you make.

If you’re thinking about song structure, then what is the essential difference between you and Miley Cyrus? May as well wrap your knuckles around the chain attached to the wrecking ball.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the following three records, then get back to me about song structure:

Lustmord - Heresy
Thrones - Sperm Whale
Lorn - Vessel

6 Likes

Sleep - Dopesmoker

4 Likes

Another good example.

Remember that genre is unimportant to the point being made here. Wrap your filthy fingers around people’s hearts, and take those hearts on a ride.

3 Likes

Or just rip hearts out of chests and show them still beating hearts.

Sorry. John Williams fan

2 Likes

Just gave that a once-through. Freakin’ epic!! Thanks for the suggestion.

5 Likes

Well, there appears to be a very “Kali-ma” aspect to this. Which is precisely why when artists begin to play big shows, the resulting subculture often resembles a religious cult.

1 Like

Subtle asymmetries, like 3 four bar phrases then a one bar phrase turnaround, with some mild cadence. This helps break out of the one loop forever thing without breaking the flow, done right it enhances the loop when you get back to one.

3 Likes

WOW! I want to hear that in a dark room on a huge system…

3 Likes

Focus on percussive groove - I recommend Ableton extract groove function to help get an idea behind what makes an a loop so mesmerizing…essentially, focus on micro timing and swing. Or record manually with quantize off…

Have the concept of silence constantly in the back of your mind… less is more… how can silence bring more clarity to the groove and individual sound elements.

Throughout the song have some random element (snare roll or as someone said a good old donk) that doesn’t follow a pattern. Perhaps only have it once in the song. This really brings people back into focus if they have already grown accustomed to the beat.

2 Likes

using @hostbody 's use of the band Suicide as a reference…

Go over the bar lines… build tension…
very basic song, very basic lyrics…
then Martin Rev just holds that chord that you expect to release, and it builds tension while Alan Vega yips and yowls like he is having an orgasm…
if he had changed chords when you thought he would… meh… nothing there… the song loses all spark…
tension and release.
thats western classical composition.
thats Beethoven.
hold that resolving note as far away as possible…

1 Like

??? how? everything about that song was right back in 1976…

[quote=“hostbody, post:4, topic:157406”]
Impossible to cover
[/quote]https://youtu.be/MNoquxEXlpg

1 Like