Welcome to Quick Tips, my brand spanking new series devoted to bringing you tasty morsels of production advice in easily digestible, bite-sized chunks. With a loose focus on expressivity, that all important secret ingredient that really brings electronic music to life, I hope to bring you helpful nuggets of wisdom I've picked up during my own personal music production journey.
To kick things off, I thought I'd start from the very beginning - the genesis of a brand new track. One of the most useful things I've ever done to help improve my workflow and cut down on the time it takes to really get started making music, is to create template projects.
A template project can be as complicated or as simple as you like - for example I'm often not very sure how I want to work with drums in my next track, so all I really need is a project containing a few audio tracks and one software track so I have both options covered. On other occasions, I know I'll want to make use of bus groups so I open up a default sessions containing groups of tracks already preassigned to different busses.
Often, DAWs come with their own template projects to choose from when starting a new tune. I heartily recommend that you either disregard or save over these immediately - in my experience producers use software tools in a different way to how the manufacturers envisioned them being used.
The point is to create a session that is as general purpose as you can make it, whilst at the same time having useful routines and procedures setup in advance so you can get making music faster. Sometimes having one of these ready is the difference between making some music and never getting started at all!
1. Open up a blank session in your favourite DAW.
2. Try to think of the things you almost always use in your music (this could be putting a reverb plugin on a send bus; creating a MIDI track with a Drum Rack preselected in Ableton Live; making sure the zoom tool is selected in the second tool slot in Logic and so on) and set them up.
3. Either save the session in your DAW's default template folder (Logic has one of these for instance, see the documentation for more) or create your own called something useful like 'Template Projects'.
4. If you can think of an equally useful setup that is a bit different from the first, repeat the process.
Check out the complete Quick Tips series here.