How do I stop noodling and start making songs?

I find myself opening up Renoise all the time whenever I get bored and chopping up breaks or making bass sounds or gabber kicks for fun, but I never seem to be able to sit down and make a full song. Most of the music I make is only 2-3 mins long or shorter and I really want to get into making full songs again. I want to make an EP/Album before I graduate in a few months.

So how do you guys go about making songs? Do you just start making a beat and go from there? Do you try to be thematic? Do you take time and brainstorm? Do you dig through your samples and crates and find something that sounds cool?

169, the best way to make yourself write songs is to enter compos :slight_smile:

I dont know why but i dont make any songs with renoise just detailed loops
with traditional daws situation is exactly opposite

no joke. im tryin to tell a story.

and i dont give a fuck about the length of a song/track. if its 20s its 20s long.

if you start to build a song with a certain length its guaranteed that you produce lengthy tracks.

means, you produce parts with boring lengthy character and no tension or wit (im still cheating myself a lot with this^^)

one basic advice i can give is, try to make a coverversion of tracks or songs you really like.

even if its a more or less full copy, even if it sounds shit at the end, you learn a lot about structures of songs, no matter if its techno, folk, metal or whatever

one more advice is, dont try to mix up music genres. your style will develop with your producing skills or you just dont have it.

and a last advice i give is, if your then still not able to write songs, then its not in you.

and dont ask me about my producing skills, i am closer to you as you might think.^^

all advices i gave are either from pros or transferred from my experiences in tryin to get my drawing skills better over years, and it worked pretty good so far. with drawing :D. hope it will work out with music too, sooner or later^^.

you need the idea first.

try to write a song about man fly to mars! ot whats your interest?

record some space sounds,
radio speech lirycs,
you already have some beats you said.

give song a name!

just make a couple of record days.
record it out of renoise, then choose the hottest records and mix them!
there was a good mixing DAW,
i think its name also starts from RE.

make some extra mixes for a taste.
drink some beer or what you prefer to celebrate work done.

leave it for a couple of days and choose one!

From my perspective, how to song write/compose is a very broad subject and whilst there are many ways in which to achieve the end result, quite often i find the way in which i do is varied.

The advice above is good and there quite a few resources on the internet which could be of value.

If structure is problematic for you, then studying tracks of other producers can be very helpful (The Good Dr has a small thread which touches on this:

Even just creating one small melody can be expanded into a song, by repetition, reversing the melody, removing or adding parts, transposing the melody, creating harmonies with the melody etc. Listen to artists you are familiar with this in mind and you will begin to notice the ways in which you can achieve this. Take note of how they structure their tracks, with particular attention taken to changes, even if they seem minor.

Also, compos were mentioned and in parallel, any form of deadline or similar restriction will help completion and workflow.

As also suggested a motif, idea/subject is a great starting point. You may try to think of a song as a journey you are taking your listener on; where does the journey start? what is it’s purpose? where are you taking them? what does the landscape look like? what characters will the listener meet along the way? etc. You may wish to think of it like story telling; Who are the characters? what is the main subject/plot/story? Allow the characters to communicate with each other. Define a beginning, middle and end.

or maybe you a re painting a picture etc. Sometimes thinking of sound abstractly can get the creative juices flowing.

Hope this helps.

One word, Focus

With that, you will have everything.

It’s the one reason I hate making music with a computer, it’s not meant as a musical device, so it is very distracting.

^ Focus is indeed needed.

I too agree computers can be distracting. It can also help to turn off the internet or anything else that may serve as a distraction.

Also, it just occurred to me, that maybe working on beats etc.first may be what is hindering progress?

Whilst the drums will drive the song and in no way is it “wrong” to begin with them, might I suggest developing a melody first?

Whether that be a bassline and you build a lead on top or lead and put bass to it, you may find that beats will slot in easier with the melody in place first.

One way i compose usually begins with a melody or motif, i develop my bass line or lead, harmonies etc and any other instruments and then find a suitable drum loop that fits. I then develop a rough composition and lay it all out, using the drum loop to kind of track with.

once I am happy with the composition, that is when i put it under the microscope. This may involve choosing more appropriate samples, sound design, drum mangling and any other tweaks.

Again, this is only one way I work, though I do find it helpful to have everything laid out in a rough edit of the full track to begin with most times. It is a lot easier to edit arrangements when it is like this and to keep a clearer idea on the whole picture.

…and a last advice i give is, if your then still not able to write songs, then its not in you.

I hope this doesn’t sound rude (as it is not intended to), but i believe we all have a song in us, some of us just need to find our voice.

Story of my life… I think I have a million “started” songs and only about 5 or 6 have actually turned out to a complete song.

169, the best way to make yourself write songs is to enter compos :slight_smile:

^^ This

I participated in the last 3-hour Renoise Compo and made it to the final so I had to make a total of 5 complete songs in (my usual timeline) a fairly short period of time.

Speaking of 3-hour Compo… I know I promised to bring it back, but due to lack of time… one day, though. One… day…

Depends on genre, but I have an advice for producing rapidly with a top-down method. Use chordpulse for A ) inspiration and roughly setting the style, B ) making a full song structure with chord progressions. Export to midi and then build/modify the arrangement (+melody, fx and transitions) in a DAW from that. It’s a very rational way of making a song.

Despite its simplicity and limitations, I consider this as kind of a secret production tool.

I hope this doesn’t sound rude (as it is not intended to), but i believe we all have a song in us, some of us just need to find our voice.

yes certainly right, i didnt mean that he should stop making music or sounds. just listen to himself and pushing his strength. maybe he turns out to be a new howard scarr, maybe he end up being a new urs heckmann, or a renoise crew member ;D or maybe just a performer like dan deacon or a brilliant dj playing his own stuff. whatever it is. but its not a good thing trying to be another something or someone just to be it. one need a bit of luck too on his way, thats for sure^^, sort of milestone or happy accidents (bobross foo ^^).


a good thing too is to set yourself a limit.

like using just 5 tracks/instruments, sort of classic band setup: drums bass guitar keyboard voice.

Here’s something to try… this is one way to do the intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/outro song form. and I’ve heard this approach called ‘subtractive composition’. Basically, come up with a good hook. This is your chorus… and then subtract things from it to make the supporting parts.

Make a loop that you like. Let’s say it’s 2 bars (64) long.

Duplicate it 8 times (for the “verse”)

Then duplicate it 4 times (for the “chorus”)

Make a section marker for the first 8 called verse 1

Make a section marker for the last 4 called chorus

Make the first “verse” pattern loop. First try muting tracks to strip it down and make it interesting. Now add some stuff to it to make it unique. Can you modify the drum pattern to keep the feel but make it unique?

When this sounds ok, copy your work and make variations across the other ‘verse’ patterns.

Now does it sound ok how the ‘verse’ transitions into the ‘chorus’? Probably not, make it better.

Do this same kind of work for the ‘chorus’ to make it better.

Listen to your intuition. As soon as you think to yourself, “I should add this” then add it. “I should take this out” then take it out.

Renoise lets you work pretty quick so listen to your intuition, don’t judge and just do it as soon as you think of it.

If you’ve worked out your first ‘verse’ then make a copy of it to go after your chorus. Label that section ‘verse 2’

I guess the trick here is to get the structure going as quick as possible and go back, pattern by pattern and add the details.

Copy your chorus and place it after verse 2.

Copy one or more of your verse pattern and place it after the second chorus and label that section Bridge. Do crazy stuff in here.

Copy your chorus one more time and place it after the bridge.

Now pick some patterns to place in the Outro and there you go.

Before you know it, you’ll have an entire song. Keep listening to your track and as soon as you have the thought “I should change that” stop the sequencer and change it.

Good luck…

How I Create Electronic Music -EatMeon Thu Aug 6, 2009

First, at start, there’s only a single piece of melody or a chord progression of two chords.

If I have a piece of melody (verse or chorus), I try to find the chords with them. Mainly, chords consist of 3 notes and are either major (0 0+4 0+7 semitones) or minor (0 0+3 0+7 semitones), and the nice icky notes lay around the 7th note in key of the chord, 0+11 semitones for major, 0+10 semitones for minor chords.

Then, I have some, say 2 chords, on paper.

I try to find the key, scale they’re in, which one can find by trying to play the major and minor scales in one of the chords or any note and see if the chords fit within the scale with all of their notes.

in semitones, from the main (ground note):
major scale: 0 +2 +4 +5 +7 +9 +11 +12
minor scale: 0 +2 +3 +5 +7 +8 +10 +12

I then try to alternate the chord scheme by shifting some notes in the chords according to the main scale, sometimes by shifting all notes to make different chords that are in the main scale. Applying tricks here, such as switches in scales are sometimes very hard to make without making a tune sound false, but can add to the dynamic tension.

Optionally, I already had a melody in mind, so I make the melody go with all the chords I have so far, or I decide to figure some parts of it out here, or I decide to only get a general idea of where the melody is suggesting to be.

I try to make a different set of chords that lead in to the main chord theme here, one can “start” it in reverse, towards (from) the main chord schemes starting chord, to see if it goes nicely. Sometimes I just shift the main chord scheme and alter it a bit, or just alter a bit of the main chord scheme. Sometimes I have another melody (verse or chorus) that I need to figure out the chord scheme for, so I do that then. The scale of this part may differ from the main scale, sometimes be in the same scale but start on a different note, sometimes have a shift of scale, anything you can think of, but make sure it sounds well together to or from the main chord scheme.

I optionally add some parts of a melody here in mind and paper.

One can repeat creating as many chord schemes and melodies as you like here, for a chorus, another verse, outtro, but I shall go on to making the first dynamic structures in the track, as I first do.

I put the main chord scheme into sequencer, the chords get in along with (automation of) long dynamic variation applied to them (on certain parameters of the instrument, volume in- or decrement, note decay, volume fadeout, note cutoff length, sample offset, reverb room size, delay send amount) and add the basics of the drums, with (most important) different volume for accents, maybe a hihat and snare, most of the times the kick drum is good to put in already here.

Optionally, add the melody, with a same set of dynamics / fades applied, and accents, so it has different volumes (perhaps in a repeated scheme) or notes that stand out in height with accents.

Make a copy of the main theme or make a different part of chords, edit the fades to even more or even less tension, shift some of the lower notes in the melodies and chords to a higher octave or shift some of the highest notes in the chords or melodies to a lower octave.

Now, from listening, I make a hook in melodics.

That is, something that goes well with the tension and is repetitive but variating, mostly around the 4-5 octave, and has elements of or follows the structure of the chords. It can be as less as 3 notes, but it has not to remain too much in the music, only be remaining in the mind and rembered by the listener.

Now, I add the chorus chord part, with all the dynamics on the chords, such as filtering, note decay, chorus depth, distortion amount, gain, whatever you can apply to make it dynamic and full sounding, maybe some basic drums and melodic accents. Then make a hook to that. It has to be rock solid, something that you can hum or sing,
Make it within the shift you have applied to the chord parts, and think of shifting it more or back later when it returns, make it around the 7th note of the main scale or used chords maybe, maybe use combinations of 2 notes in the scale of the theme, from the used chord(s).

This is where I go adding more structure to the song, an intro with drums or instruments, then a verse, then chorus, then whatever, maybe the verse again, maybe the chorus again, maybe the outro already, choose and structure.
Making a break can be one of these things, so no drums, ambient chords, maybe some melodics, building up again is a big part of a break.

Then, I add bass notes to the track. These mostly have to be short and stabbing, and can add to the fullness of a track very quickly if they’re long. Sine waves do very good as basses, as they give a good non-rambling bass. Try putting some sampled tremolo (volume wobble) on them, chorus, automated distortion, and more chorus, for a great dnb bass. Add send channels for mixed in filtered high mid distorted sections of the dnb bass to make it even more.

This would be about the first point to record some instruments or vocals when I do, that can be done at any point from here or even at the end as well and then mixed in. It is very hard to make a good song from only acoustic material, and it’s easier making it work if you already have parts of the track in the sequencer.

I go on with adding more drums with their dynamic accents, mostly repetetive groups of accents which are building up or down with the used chord scheme.

I figure where the melody has to be placed and not to be placed by trying to put it in in different parts (mostly not the first 4 seconds, then it really gets boring easily). I try to alternate more in the build of the used chords and melody by shifting the lowest notes to higher octaves or shifting the highest notes to lower octaves.

I add sound fx, like splashes, basicly sounds with long reverb and on-tempo delay, reversed faded long reverbed samples, and I do this only real-time mixed when my processor is capable enough, otherwise I pre-render-to-sample the effects and optionally also the chords and mix them together as samples instead of huge stacks of effects and long delayed and reverbed sounds.

I add more solid equalizing, I mostly do some in the meanwhile while setting up the track, this is the point that I listen really close to individual sounds in the mix and the present section of the sounds (300-650 Hz) in that section, like bass kick, bass synth, main chord scheme *(has to be present a bit, but not too much, sometimes in the higher presence more than the lower presence).

I add compression to the master track from about 70 to 80% of input, as high ratio as possible (starting from 1:15 decreasing to 1:5), if that sounds impossible I use less low treshold on the compressor and try again first with high ratio.
I equalize after the compressor, sometimes cut off the lowest basses with a filter, reduce presence a bit and add or reduce 1 to 3k and very rarely add, sometimes reduce 5-22k.

I listen to the track as it sounds now, and add more to the dynamics in builds and fades and automation and sending to effects as goes along with the track. What is important is to keep the groove in, so that all accents are either answering to each other or together, everything builds/fades the right way in the structure of the song. I remove some parts that sound too full, try to make the melodic parts more clear and stand out of the track but fit with the sound, get a more tight mix so that everything fits together.

I most of all try to make something sound good after it has been put in, and not wait with making it sound good and add another part in first, I write down any ideas I get during making the song and apply them later. That is what keeps me focused on one thing at the time and not doing millions of things that do not make it to final desired quality.

I hope this helps you all a bit to create a groovy pounding track. Bai

I find myself opening up Renoise all the time whenever I get bored and chopping up breaks or making bass sounds or gabber kicks for fun, but I never seem to be able to sit down and make a full song. Most of the music I make is only 2-3 mins long or shorter and I really want to get into making full songs again. I want to make an EP/Album before I graduate in a few months.

So how do you guys go about making songs? Do you just start making a beat and go from there? Do you try to be thematic? Do you take time and brainstorm? Do you dig through your samples and crates and find something that sounds cool?

the good thing is “deprivation”… try to go to army serving or may be just come to grandma for a week or two without internet, computer e.t.c.

And when you would come back for a day or two into your cave with renoise (or smth like this to get arms on) you shall work play and learn with much more intanse and pleasure as before =))) This is becouse you shall save some energy (may be mental?) while get out

Depends on genre, but I have an advice for producing rapidly with a top-down method. Use chordpulse for A ) inspiration and roughly setting the style

I often use which looks quite similar.

first method: when i focus on elements 1 by 1, i create “full song” (and it can last a whole day literally)
second method: when i get the idea down that i like (8/16 bar loop), i just keep nodding, take a break 10-15 mins (while keep playing it in background), make coffee, stare thru window, do some exercises, and short breaks, 5-15 minutes are enough to get back with some fresh ideas, and so i go back and forth, but now timespan differs, sometimes i rest 2 minutes, sometimes it’s 40 minutes… it depends on my mood, state of mind, and everything else…

…mostly i love fiddling with the edit/sequencer tab. I love editing notes back and forth… Sometimes i would pull MPC out to make simple beat, as whereas i’m sick of looking into PC as i work with pc, so i spend almost all time on pc…

There is no rule, should i start with drums, melody or anything else… If i like some drum break, then drum break it is initiator… maybe when i put some melody on it, and drums seem messed, or bass, i would delete tracks that i don’t like, save as projectname(2) and continue to work on new ideas regardless if i later like first version or so…

Id say there are two main ways, one way is to be completely systematic with it, the other way is almost completely random. If you are a noodler, just record as many nice ideas as you can into patterns…no song structure at all at first, just jam for a bit, record something…keep doing it. change instrument, jam over the patterns you have made with the first instrument.
I agree that MPC style drumming is the best way to start, and the most fun way.
After you have a bunch of random patterns, go into them and fix them up…then relisten, choose the catchiest parts and start moving stuff around into a song structure.

The other way is to be completely sytematic with it thinking more like:

What drums am I using
What instruments am I using
What keys and musical scales am I using
What chord progressions am I using
What is the song structure I want

Id say the second way can be quicker but the first way can yield better results…and people will think its dumb but I think its good to get stoned sometimes, you might find yourself jamming more slowly and ‘dwelling’ on things more…thats quite good for music…feeling the musical vibes not just being super technical and complex, but feeling what is a good thing to listen to later. might be simple, but simple can be better…taking time over things. put something together over a few months. not rushing to finish something low quality in one evening.

Also it can be a good idea to grab some guitar tabs and try to put that shit sown into renoise to do ‘covers’ - i think i will do some of that one of these days. its good practise to understand how to translate the timing of notes in the guitar tab into renoise (use the guitar tabs that have a notation part in addition to just tablature). it lets understand other musicians ideas and practise sound design

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The more you try to control the less you end up with when it comes to the “volume” (pun) of song productions.

Try becoming a control freak after you get something laid out, not before.