Updated: Aug 9
Picture this: you wake up from a fever dream with a brilliant song idea quickly evaporating into the air. You reach for your phone to hum a voice note of the melody, harmony and counter melody into it as the last remaining fragments shake loose from your memory’s grasp.
Relieved, you put your phone down after naming the file NIGHT TIME Melody 19 and rest your head on your pillow knowing that your shining inspiration is safe and awaiting your return come sun-up.
Now then… where to begin? Do you open your DAW and search through endless banks of presets looking for the perfect patch to match the angelic lead in your melody? Maybe you load synth VST after VST looking for the one that best suits the character and tone of your masterpiece.
Let’s be honest with each other, we’ve been here and wasted countless hours looking for inspiration when we could be getting things done… looking for an excuse and distraction that feels like progress but never amounts to a finished tune or track.
I faced this exact challenge for years, spending hours searching for things that never got me closer to anything but frustration over my lack of focus and progress.
Until I learned this one step… and it literally changed everything.
Before I get to this valuable step I want to remind you to check out my FREE 6 Step Guide on how to turn your musical ideas into complete songs. It’s jam packed with easy to follow step-by-step instructions and filled with PRO TIPS. Check out the the link below for the instant download.
What I learned is so valuable and inspiring, I literally start every one of my tracks this way.
I created a custom template for my DAW.
Starting with my own Ableton Live 11 template gives me focus by placing all of my favourite tools within reach so I don’t waste valuable creative time on searching through menus and settings, and then taking time to set the routing and effects to get ‘that sound’.
Working from a template not only provides focus, it also sets limits on the number of plugins and options at hand in today’s musical landscape of limitless takes, edits and software plugins. Setting limits on the amount of tracks and plugins will go a long way in keeping you focussed on getting the most out of the tools available and less distracted on the next best tempting purchase or download.
Templates also sets the stage for a cohesive sound and makes it easier to build a space with effects sends and complex routing right out of the gate. Want your delay bus to be routed into another delay and panned left and right? Gotcha. Have a favourite external rack or pedal that you can’t live without on every song idea? We’ve got that too.
Lastly, using a template provides the best shortcut to professional sounding tracks by allowing us to use a reference track right inside our DAW… giving us the advantage of studying a professionally made song form our favourite artist, letting us see the arrangement and sections of the track an also allows us to focus on the individual elements of the composition and overall sound of a commercially released track. If you want to see more on reference tracks follow the link on the screen for a full run down and how I use them.
The main reason I start with a template is it starts me off further down the creative process, in a comfortable and familiar place to get your musical ideas out and moving towards your goal. I’ve heard arguments that it leads to formulaic end results but I’ve never found this to be true. Since I’ve started using a template I’ve found exactly the opposite result - the limitations put in place force me to be more creative with my choices and experimental with sound design and composition.
If you’re working in Ableton Live, I’ve made my template available for a FREE download. Look for the link below and head to my website www.ElectronicMisicTips.com for the FREE template.
And if you’re looking for more great tips on how I use this template in my creative process, be sure to pick up my FREE 6 Step Guide to creating a dance floor track that also includes PRO TIPS and bonus steps on effects and mixing.
Be sure to let me know in the comments below what you include in your template if you use one, or if you don’t and why you prefer it! I’m always interested in hearing your creative ideas.
Until next time, friend!