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Tips For Starting A New Track From Zero

Hey everyone, welcome back to another video! In this video, I will show you the process of starting a track from zero or empty projects!

The idea of this video is to share processes that would speed up the process of starting a track. When we start a track, we want to have something good-sounding as soon as possible. Once we sit in front of the computer to be creative by expressing our ideas, it is important to keep focus on each segment of creating the track. As we will do the writing, sound design, mixing, arranging, and many other things simultaneously, I strongly recommend focusing on each segment at a time!

Once we start a track, we must make a good groove and create the sketch of the ideas fast so we stay motivated to continue working on that track. I would say that the beginning of a track is a process of writing and sound design. My advice is to focus mostly on writing and sketching the ideas. Sound design is needed in this process as well, but to keep our focus on creativity, we should help ourselves to do these processes as fast as possible so we don’t cut our creative flow. After we have ideas written down, we can always get back and fix the details. We can dedicate a session for that process only, but we would have the ideas written down already, which is the most important part.

I would say that we should prioritize processes in the following order:

Creativity and Writing - In this segment, we will create a groove, make atmosphere, and give some emotions to a track. This process is the most important as it has the greatest value. All other processes should only support this segment, and this is why I prioritize it as the most important. If we cut our creative flow by detailed sound design and mixing, we risk losing that creative flow. If we focus on creativity, we will do this process much better. So using certain methods to make some sound design and mixing techniques fast to get better results without losing our focus on creativity is a huge support to our creative expression.

Sound Design - This process is half technical and half creative. We can be expressive and creative with sound design, but this process would be much better if we already had some creative sketches that would inspire us to do better sound design. For example, a great groove can be a huge inspiration and give us a hint of what sound design soundscape can be good for that track. A few written lines of the melody or chord progression can keep our creative workflow and be a huge inspiration for the sound design. I see sound design as a second and kind of support to the writing of the track. From another point, sound design can be the inspiration for the writing as well. Just a great lead synthesis can trigger inspiration for our writing. I would say that writing or composing is the main segment, and that sound design should only support writing or composing, but they are connected and can influence each other.

Mixing - This process approaches from a 100% technical side to make our track sound better. Similar to sound design, amazingly mixed elements can influence our composing or writing if they sound great, and they can be a great source of motivation as our good-sounding elements can provide us pleasure working with them. So instead of getting motivated with good mixing, I would formulate it differently by saying that with good-sounding elements, our focus won’t jump on the mixing and listening from a technical point of view, but we will keep our focus on creativity.

If we consider these three segments or processes as important for starting our track and keeping the focus on creativity, and understanding that we cannot completely divide them as they are all connected, I developed certain tactical tricks to keep my focus on creativity in an empty project and get decent sounding results in the mixing and sound design field.

Using Templates - This is the easiest method if you already have a drum template that sounds good enough and matches your idea of a new track. By using a template, we don’t need to use all elements from that template, but we can use it as a mixing template or reference. If we already have all the drum elements that are mixed and sound good together, then we can start replacing one by one. For example, if we have a kick that already sounds good with other elements, we will know exactly what level to put the new kick, whether it needs more low-end, more mids, or highs when we compare it with the reference kick from the template. The same applies to all other drum elements. Having the levels and frequency response from template parts can save us tons of time. Besides using drum templates with all the samples mixed, if we wish to create completely new drum patterns, we can use a MIDI template of our drums. An 8-bar long MIDI template with MIDI already on each drum shot positioned can save us tons of time. The kick will always be in the same position, as well as the close hi-hat, snare, and open hi-hat. We can create a MIDI template for our sampler and then just drag and drop different samples inside, playing around until we find a good-sounding combination.

Using Presets - This is a great way to sketch ideas and write them down fast. We can do sketching with the presets we have, and finding the right preset packs, synths, and instruments that match your ideas is crucial. Even though I know synthesis and sound design well, I mostly use presets to write down ideas. As I mentioned before, my main goal is to keep my focus on creativity, writing and composing without being distracted by jumping from composing or writing to sound design. Everything I sketch I will modify later when the track already has a certain form, and I’ll go into detailed sound design and mixing when I do not have ideas for my writing and composing. I will do everything I can to keep my hierarchy of processes to keep bringing the best out of me. Besides using presets as they are, we can always use them as a starting point, and not start from scratch, as we will spend tons of time doing the same things over and over again.

Auto EQ - To make our elements sound good from the beginning, instead of searching for the best frequency response for our elements, we can use previously mixed elements as a reference and apply the Auto EQ technique to our new elements. This way, we can save a lot of time finding the right EQ combination and get results faster, which will help us keep our focus on creativity.

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