Tip #1: Stop jamming and start composing

This is probably more applicable to users of Ableton Live than most other DAWs, but I think the idea is valid generally. One of Live’s strengths is also one of it’s weaknesses. Live allows users to create elements for a track without them needing to have any idea what the form of the track is. You don’t need any structure, you can just throw ideas together and jam with them until you find combinations you like. This is a great feature for quickly exploring possibilities (and is obviously useful for live performances in which there is no explicit structure until the gig). The problem is that it’s far too easy to keep jamming and trying things out indefinitely.

If you want to make finished pieces of music you need to recognise a point where you have enough basic elements to lay out the skeleton of a track and get composing. Be rough, block things out. If you have only 1 percussion loop, then that’s great. Use that for all instances of percussion. Give the track a beginning, middle and end. Keep it simple to start with. Use broad strokes. Later you can go back and tweak at microscopic levels. The point is that all the time you were wasting jamming will no be refocused on developing the track.

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