Thank you guys,
really interesting as everybody has different approaches. Now I write down shortly how I start my compositions:
Unfortunately, I’m still building my template, I want basically all of my instruments be in there. Of course not all of my patches, (would be crazy), but definitely all the basic stuff. Strings Sections, Brass Sections, Wood Sections, Pianos, Drums, E-Drums, Heavy Cinematic Drums, Guitars, Basses, Synths, SFX, etc. I am going into the direction of 1000 tracks, so I need a good organisation, and that takes some time…
I just realised how fast you can just through in ideas, if you have already your sections prepared, as well how fast you can duplicate your midi-files and copy the patterns to other instruments. I think in the long run you save a lot of time, so you have more time for others things as well.
I am a keyboardist, so normally people think I start with a piano and move from that. However it’s not the case at all. I almost never use the piano as my starting point, if I know that the piano won’t be my major instrument in a production. I am more creative as well music-wise, when I just take a patch, and see what musical ideas I connect to that specific sound. If I have no idea after 10s I go to the next patch, it’s that simple.
My strategy varies if I start with a progression or with a melody. I either re-harmony the melody, or if my chords are layed out I write a melody over them. This approaches give me more creativity, but takes more time to perfect the idea.
What I do as well, I try to record just a “perfect” take myself. Let’s say I can’t play what I have in mind, so I just practice it until I can do it constantly “ok” and only then I record that take. I lose a lot of time, yes, but I am 100% sure a real human being / player can definitely play my music. If I am not sure, I send a take to a colleague, who plays that instrument and ask what he thinks. I guess you know JXL or Brain Tyler, when you follow their channels. He told once that his recording sessions are always re-composing his music, because the arrangers know what is best for the orchestra to shine. But you can only learn it when you really focus on learning the super specifics of that instrument and take your time to study the little nuances.
If I am stuck, I don’t through dices, I just go to another production or even a mix, to just go away from the current music and forget about it for a while to be more fresh when I come back. Definitely works for me.
Because I am a mix-engineer too, I know how many problems can occur, if the arrangement are not fully “figured” out. Too many layers, too much stuff going on, lack of focus, bad choice of sounds, etc. So when I approach my music, I always take my time to figure out, what the tracks really need, and what I can through away. Lately I was taking a trailer mix course and you can’t believe how much that guy needed to adjust, so the music could really shine. It’s not rare to see projects that are 80+ tracks, because this is what I know myself: “The more I put in, the fatter, bigger and punchier my music will be…”, NO! Not at all! The better YOU figure out, what your music really needs to shine, making room for your melodies, breaks, accents, etc. the less you need to fix it later on in the mix. Sometimes I still find that a lot of tracks are too over-composed, and it’s hard to focus on the main idea. Here is a good example, that you don’t need to over-compose anything and just stay true to your original idea:
Similar to what HZ has done with “Time”…