I usually make the track up as I go along. I get inspired by sounds so I usually start off by programming i patch until I get something that intrigues me. Then I program a simple house loop of drums and start building layers onto layers.
It generally starts with a general theme, the style of track I want to go after. I then start playing around with some sounds. That's often where the dynamic starts and I go with the flow. Starts out with the idea of a heavy industrial banger and ends up as a textured beat laden piece of old school vibe. It's all good. It's fun and I'm learning quite a bit.
Techno starts with a capital 'T', as in TB-303 and TR-808.
I always start by patching up the modular. When something cool arises, i record a long piece where everything morphs into different sounds. Then pick the coolest parts and use that in a track, add beats maybe, add other layers, etc
Usually I play some chord on my Keyboard, I try to set some nice harmonic pattern, if possible a little bit unusual with some unexpected voicing. Then once the harmonic pattern and the chord are in place I start messing up with the drum,so the chord progression and the drum fit correctly. And then come what I call the "orchestration" or "arrangement" phase, where I apply (from the VST plugin) the adequate sound to the correct chord to try to set the better and cleanest mix possible. And of course, if needed and depending of the mood of the track, before the "chord" phase" I can just start with setting a drum and bass connection (which need and underlaying presence of an harmonic pattern anyway) and then complete the drum and bass fondation by addings some (interesting if possbile) chords. From there I expand if something come out of it.
contrary to that old "Rusko Producer Masterclass" tutorial video on youtube we all know and love, i usually never start with a beat or anything other than the actual music.
sometimes ill start with something as simple as a bassline. and see what sounds good in key.
or sometimes. ill find an interesting sound and see if i can get something catchy out of it.
BUT MOST times its the same fuckin thing and i hate myself for it haha. A low passed distorted saw that i make some shwifty chords out of. i try not to settle for anything to mediocre. then i just write a plucky little melody over top. sometimes its random gold. sometimes its absolute garbage and i should kill myself.
then from there every now and then i see if it sounds good at a different tempo and wablam. then i start the inbetweens
In fact, further to this question I've just finished a blog post on using a template of a track you like and building in your own elements around a tried and tested structure (my one is for "Calvin Harris - This Is What You Came For (feat. Rihanna)". Check out EDMtips dot com and it's the latest post.
Hope it helps!
Because I first started writing and playing music in a band, I often find my songs taking their first shape while I'm playing on my bass, guitar or piano, not actually "composing" but just practicing or jamming out. Trying to force the process often leads to a painful place of creative constipation.
Sometimes the process can very intellectual, with musical ideas coming and going, whereas othertimes it can be very raw and emotional, and not at all an exercise of the mind but something much different. Idk if this helps anyone or not but great thread topic!
90% if the time i start with the beat. I just find it easier constructing my songs around a solid beat... but come to think of it. If i tried just making the melodies first for once, my songs would probably come out way different since I'm taking a different approach for once.
I start with what feels right for the mood I'm in. Sometimes it may be just noodling on keys or jamming guitar lol. Sometimes I start with a mechanical drum beat or a long winded atmosphere. I have no clear direction when starting a track honestly, I just go for it
Although after I start it, I always work from beginning to end, section by section. I have to perfect a section before moving onto the next.
Using hardware I'll sketch stuff with that. Record some stuff into the DAW and if I like it break it down into loops for a live set later. Usually record all rehearsals and gigs and listening back use that as a platform to make the track. I make techno more or less so this process works, even though Im mainly digital having that live element and having hardware (drum machine mainly) saves a lot of time
If you like this, you should definately look into Pure Data data structures. Gazillion ways to store anything.
As for me, I usually build a sequencer. But first I have an idea, then I let it come true building instrument by instrument.
all of those "scores" were made after the music was recorded and they are meaningless to anyone actually trying to recreate the intentions of the original composer. which is the point of creating a score. pretty? yes. sell that shit at urban outfitters for $80. specifically descriptive for performers attempting to recreate the piece true to the composer's intention in front of audiences for generations to come? no. sometimes i want to say fuck that whole era of cum-posers.
Usually on accident while I'm working on something else. Like, "I wonder if this would work here as a bassline LOL NOPE NEEDS TO BE A NEW SONG!". It makes my projects a bit slow to get done, but all things considered, it's a nice problem to have.
Wait for idea. Get my midi keyboard and select a sample that close to my idea, load into sampler and than mess and midi keyboard until the melody what I want to play worked out, then set bpm, length of the melody part, record it. Make a drumloop that fits under the melody part and after that, the other things will go well.
Option 2: load pad sample into sampler (or load pad preset into a synth), tweak it, and improv stuff on midi keyboard and record it. Then I have ambient textures. Other stuff might go later.