We all have experienced this before. We finally have time to sit down to make music and nothing comes. The creative spark is simply not there. This article tells you different approaches to overcome this creative drought.
Use an a cappella vocal, lead instrument or even full song that you like and start creating a remix for it. Once you get going you can simply take it out again and continue working on the track you’ve built around it.
Inspiration From Visual Art Forms
Being open for new input sometimes simply is necessary before you can generate new output yourself. Inspiration cannot only be found in other people’s music. We’re very visual creatures and anything from design, photography, architecture, books, paintings or films etc. could give you a creative spark. You could try to translate a painting into sound or mute one of your favourite movies and create your own soundtrack to it.
Use Audio to MIDI
Take a riff, chord progression or drum beat and use the Audio to MIDI functions in Ableton Live. This gives you a melody, harmony or rhythm to build on. Or use Slice to MIDI on anything from a beat, riff to a vocal sample and mash it up. Don’t forget you can also use these features the “wrong” way, e.g. Melody to MIDI on drums.
Create Your Own Presets
Tweaking Live devices and saving them as presets can spark musical beginnings. You need to play while adjusting the parameters, yet your focus is not on the playing, but on the sound of it. This can be helpful to take off the pressure to come up with something great. Sometimes this is all it takes to feel inspired again. Creating unique MIDI instruments with their very own sound qualities also helps define your own musical signature and it might only take a couple of notes to achieve something interesting sounding.
Use Field Recordings
These days we practically all carry recording devices with us at all times. Yes, the sound quality you get with smartphones and the built-in mic isn’t stellar, but even lo-fi samples can give you great results if used effectively. So if you hear an interesting sound while on the go, why not record it? There are also great Creative Commons databases for field recordings like Freesound if you are too lazy or busy to record your own. An interesting noise strategically placed can spruce up an average sounding beat in no time.
You can also find a whole lot of free Live Packs filled with intriguing field recording noises right here on Sonic Bloom.
Sound Mangling With Warping
The Warp feature in Live can be used to pin everything in place when the timing isn’t quite right. That’s how it’s most often used, but you can also use it to stretch or contract a bit of audio to the extreme. Don’t forget to play around with the warp modes and their settings and you can get some very inspiring results. If that isn’t enough, (duplicate and) consolidate the clip and continue warping.