One summer a good friend of mine showed me Logic. It seemed like a natural progression from Garage Band so I figured it would be a cool way to get more serious about music production and take my tunes to the next level (if only it was that easy). I got my hands on a copy of Logic Express and with great excitement and huge hopes started working on my next track. I had a clear idea in mind - I wanted the track to create a sense of unease and anxiety.
Despite the fact that the track turned out stale and boring, what can I learn from it in retrospect? Well, it's cool that I saw my idea for creating an anxious feel through to the end. It wasn't successful, but it was purposeful.
Don’t abandon your ideas for the sake of production.
What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Often, when I don’t have the chops to make my idea a reality I tend to default to what I already know how to do. For example if I want to make a dark downtempo track but don’t know how to make a cool downtempo drum beat, I might default to programming a four-to-the-floor and that destroys the feel of the track. It takes a completely different direction from my vision and I lose creative control. What’s more is that by doing the same thing over and over again I am not learning the skills that I need to learn in order to make the kind of music I want to make.
So yeah, the takeaway is: try to maintain your vision of the track throughout the production process. You might not succeed, but you will learn appropriate skills that will help make those ideas a reality in the future. Eventually ideas and skills will begin to fuel each other, leading you to better, cleaner, more exciting music.
But also don't forget to have fun! If the track is beginning to take a life of its own and you are digging it, then no reason to interrupt the flow! Not all music needs to be preplanned! (more on that in the future)