10 Creative Tracking Tips

Here’s 10 personal principles that have helped me over time. Hope it helps!

1. Let go a bit.
Think of music as “Randomness that works”. Ideas for whole songs have originated from simply pressing a wrong button. You can squeeze the good out of every mistake that you make. 10 mistakes, at 10% good per mistake, is a pretty good outcome.

2. Subtract rather than add.
We all know that there’s a fine line between something that works, and something that doesn’t. Usually we look for what’s missing, and we compensate by adding. Perceive the space between the notes as notes themselves.

3. Start with your weaknesses and head towards your strengths.
Define to yourself what you are poorest at technically and start with that first.

4. Try remixing.
Remixing is all about gaining confidence and learning new tricks. Sometimes was intended as a remix can turn into something original and fresh!

5. Conquer your enemies.
Write about something on your mind. Often it’s what our minds to begin with which limits us.

6. Redefine your expectations.
Was everybody totally impressed by your last track? Feeling a bit under pressure? Find ways to deal with that. Perhaps produce under a pseudo-name. Announce an experimental stage.

7. Set time Goals.
As you spend time on your track, the rift in perception between you and your audience will escalate. Setting time goals can sometimes stop you from adding unnecessary complication which alienate rather than enhance. Following your instincts and hoping that it’s original can often work.

8. Modify or improve your environment.
Change your Renoise Colours. Colours will motivate certain areas of the brain. Change the temperature, clean your desk, open all the windows, drink water. Often us computer geeks aren’t aware when we’re even hungry, thirsty or tired.

9. Allow your ideas to evolve.
In a tracker environment, we’re always evaluating. We’re placing down notes, listening to tons of instruments and mixing - we’re always being critical and filtering ideas while we track. It pays to cull the constant evaluation and go with the flow. Don’t just exclude an idea because you feel there are so many other choices.

10. Think Human.
You are not writing music for computers, you are writing music for imperfect beings who in large are bored by perfection. I would rather look at a brick wall layed by a clueless idiot than a master tradesman. People appreciate precision, but what can they relate to more?

Some useful tips, definitely. I need to get back into the habit of letting go myself. It’s been quite difficult for me these past few years just getting a track past that early stage, where you’re not sure how it will turn out and are probably more inclined to think “gah, this sucks” and just stop. Now I have hundreds of random ideas which are only a handful of patterns long. Terribly bad habit!

There’s some good stuff there Mick.

Hehe… Like Maximalism? That’s a great song of yours ;)

I’ve a point to add:

11. Don’t write music that is part of a fad
You’ll only end up sounding like you’re part of the fad, which will be ugly in six months time. Write timeless soulful music instead. Whatever style, it has to connect and move people on a deep level. Don’t go for the quick fix, craft something you never want to stop listening to.

I’m finding increasingly that I have to start with lyrics and melody alone to do this properly.

btw, should this thread be in the Trips and Tricks forum?

My one and only tip that I follow:

Write music for yourself and not for other people.

of course you can’t always do this, especially if it’s your living ;)

Hehe, perhaps Maximalism was part of an experimental phase ;) Man, if I were to remix that, it would be so different. I actually cannot stand listening to that tune now. Perhaps a new version may include some sound between the notes! I’ll call it … Subtractionalism.

That’s a good question, I wasn’t sure. It felt like I was giving help. :unsure:

You certainly did. Couple of those don’ts caught me pretty bad. But as I see it this section is for asking help. If only someone had posted “Please give me 10 creative tips…” first, all would be well and I wouldn’t be replying and trying to appear funny.


My advise is: Don’t try to sound like your favourite artist/band - You can never be your own idol. (or maybe you can, but then you really should seek some professional help)

Instead. Cherish your own style, but take some slight influences from your personal Top10.

Here’s my only tip to anyone:
Just make the damn music if you’re up to it.
If you just think it would be cool to be musician but have no real interest in music, go and find another hobby.

Good points all Mick, thanks! I especially like 2, 3, 6 and 10.

Absolutely! I always try and write the exact kind of music I want to listen to, and if other people like it as well then even better :D

I read somewhere that making a committment to your track really helps in that regard, treat it like an entity if you have to, promise it you will see it through to the end. The idea of treating a track like it has emotions is stupid I know, but this mental trick does work. Even if the track isn’t great, the important thing is you finished it and you’re creating a habit of completion. I’ve found this trick has worked well for me anyway.