Evolution Music Production
Haven’t heard of Evolution Production? Either had I.
But from the last couple weeks of very productive work since starting the 1 Hour a Day Ableton Group I’ve come to make several new discoveries when it comes to music making. These discoveries have increased my music output by probably 1000% with no exaggeration at all.
Evolution Production is a term I coined for a process that has given me some pretty incredible results. Let me explain.
One of the absolute worst things a creative person can face is a blank page, a blank canvas or in our case, a blank computer screen. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we hate it so much that we will unconsciously sabotage ourselves into not finishing our music for fear of facing the mountain all over again.
For computer musicians who are trying to improve their skills, this can be a huge energy suck. You’ve just finished a track that you aren’t overall ecstatic about & here you go building something completely new, that requires a new template of sounds & tools.
Although all experience is good experience, you aren’t practicing 1 skill long enough to get proficient at it. Instead, you convince yourself you are bored, abandon your current skill set and go after that shiny new sound that peaks your interest. That is, if you can find the motivation to even get started.
This is similar to being a science fiction writer & before getting proficient at that skill, writing horror, then a mystery and perhaps a documentary next. Unfortunately, us creatives tend to repeatedly change direction or set a new goal before we ever “nail” the last one.
You know what they say about the jack of all trades. He’s not very good at any of them.
The Evolution approach
Everybody knows practice makes perfect. What they don’t tell you (although it should be obvious to most of us), is that you have to practice the same actions repeatedly until it becomes 2nd nature. As you do this, you make little tweaks that, over time, dramatically improve your results.
Here’s a tool that not only will greatly increase your creative output, but you will also notice you are continuously getting better and fine tuning your skills into creative crack.
1. The first step, and this is an important one, is to choose your direction for the long term. You are going to stick with it until you excel at it, so don’t pick something that is just going to be a passing interest for you, really think about how you want to define yourself as an artist for the next year.
2. If you have any unfinished ideas that are in this direction, it’ll be easier for you to get started, because you won’t be starting with a blank slate. If you don’t have something to get you started, collect some songs that have the vibe you are looking for, or better yet, a DJ mix since it’ll be more cohesive of a sound. work on building a template with drum sounds, bass & signature sounds that will get you started. I know this is the hard part, but you’ll really only have to do it once.
Having your sounds at the ready is extremely important if you want to have a solid workflow. You don’t want to mess around searching for sounds when you are trying to make music. It’s ok if the sounds aren’t perfect. Just make sure they are inspiring enough to get you moving.
3. Start building a groove that fits your style, get enough going on that your song sounds legit for at least 32 bars. Dial in your sounds with EQ, compression & effects that give you what you are looking for.
4. Before going into full arrangement mode save your tune. Then highlight a 4-8 bar section, mute anything that is key specific (so you don’t have key clashing) & write a new bassline, or if you prefer, a new melody (or both) using the sounds you have already just created. Save it as another tune. Now you know you won’t have a blank slate when starting the next song after your current one is finished.
5. Now when you start dialing in your new song, you will likely tweak or improve your current sounds & make small improvements to your template & change how the beats play or even the tempo. Once you get the next groove dialed in for 32 bars, repeat step 4. This way, as your are getting better at dialing in the sounds you want and improving your skill set, you’ve always got your next tune ready to go.
I’ve found myself having loads of basslines in my head recently or having a sample or 2 that I want to put to use, so instead of building up from scratch, I piggyback on my previous work, to get the idea out quickly. Sometimes during on song session I’ll have 3 new ideas that spark from it. It only takes me 15 minutes or so to get the new idea out and saved so I can continue finishing my current song.
It’s been a couple weeks now & I’ve finished the better part of 5 tracks & have 3 more grooves ready when I am done with those. This is highly motivating and also is huge in helping you develop your own sound.
Another reason this works so well is because most of your best ideas are sparked when you are already creating. It’s like the gods of creativity smile upon you when instead of waiting for inspiration, you just get your ass to work.
When you try it for yourself, you’ll realize that each song will take on it’s own life & end up sounding quite a bit different from the last. Also your template will go through so many evolutions, you you will end up with many different starting points to choose from. As long as you are continuing to listen to music & let new sounds inspire you, there is really no limit to how long you can carry on this process and how much better you will get at producing in a short amount of time.
Feel free to follow myself & several other producers taking on my 1 Hour a Day Ableton Group challenge. It’s a free group and you are welcome to join in the conversation, or take on the challenge yourself.
Happy Music Making,
I always have the song’s melody in my head (I write lyrics first), and put those in the DAW as piano notes. I’ve also got a standard orchestral setup file.
To be honest, even though I can imagine simple original orchestrated pieces in my head without much trouble I’m still trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing. I’ll need to do the “Evolution” process with my other songs though. 🙂 Thanks