What are your experiences in trying to evolve beyond using a formula when making music?

thought this might be helpful for myself and some others…

so far the only thing i can come up for getting away from formulas
Using different samples
listening to other types of music
using different chord progressions and time signatures
and lastly patience with the music making process…

considering i mostly make tracks built around practicing music production techniques
but even by doing this i was recently made aware that i was following the same formula maybe its because i listen to a lot of pop rock on a casual basis…

so what are your thoughts?
and what do you do to stay fresh/make yourself grow musically?

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I definitely agree with your list… I would add:
Play and write on live instruments on a regular basis… especially instruments that you are not too familiar with (keeps you humble and forces you to explore!)
Jam! …especially on live instruments and with other musicians at various levels. I find that when I jam with beginners that it (wait for it…:ear:) keeps you humble and forces you to explore. (it’s an art… making a beginner sound good by enhancing what they are doing, rather than showing off what you can do better! I call it “Music Therapy”)
Establish a pulse and focus grouping it into two for a while and then three for a while… until you can do either at any moment. Do the same by dividing the pulse… in this way you are not focused on 4/4 or 3/4 or 7/8 or whatever… instead you are exploring how to reach various time signatures buy pivoting off of a continuous pulse.
Take a random sound or noise and make music with it…

You get the idea… It’s about tapping into the gut human experience of taking sounds and shaping them into a musical expression… stay away from the familiar and… (that’s right! ) it will keep you humble and force you to explore.

By the way… formulas are not a bad thing… they are useful. But they get stale after a while if you don’t take time to follow your Muse. :sunglasses:

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Music is always a good relief when you are stressed. New formulas while making music are limited to the imagination and creativity of the person. Also, the composition is the key to any good music.

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I try to make music in a genre I don’t usually work with. It typically gives me ideas I hadn’t thought of, or considered, or whatever. Time signatures as mentioned earlier was a good one, too. Put down a “four on the floor” in 5/4 or 7/4 (ie, 5 kicks or 7 kicks per measure, not 4), make a breakbeat in 7/8 or 5/8 which can be pretty wild. Change time signatures from verse to chorus. Metallica did this on the song Blackened off the top of my head if you want an example.

I guess the key we’re all talking about is to mix it up and do something different :tipping_hand_woman:

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Here’s what I do. I just combine lots of unrelated sound design sessions. Sometimes things just start flowing naturally together when you expect them work the least. You pick the strongest idea thinking “okay this is it” and start building around it, could be some cool loop, a couple of bars, etc… Starting with generic track structure basics like making an intro to this one thing you really dig at the moment and adding/removing/replacing some layers for the sake of variation, duplicating, muting tracks, etc. Your track keeps expanding just as simple as that. Doesn’t mean it’s already amazing but I just do it for the sake of doing til something just clicks. Once you got a much longer skeleton of a track structure it helps to get this overall idea of where it’s going to. Then I just keep adding extras, increasing the complexity of it. Trial and error, basically. Most of the time the structure shifts from one way to another in between when I do unrelated sound design sessions if I feel I’m super stuck with this full track progress. And that’s a great way to improve things constantly. You come back to a track with bunch of new layers and ideas and just glue them in. Helps to maintain a constant variation if you’re going for that thing. Hope I made some sense.


Yeah. I’m trying to develop my track in linear fashion not like creating 8 bar loop and duplicating same shit.


For way too long, I thought ‘good’ music was 99% production techniques (computers, too!) and 1% musicianship, instruments, writing, theory, etc. This is a slight exaggeration, but somehow my brain put an ass-backward emphasis on sound over actual music. So naturally, I just made a bunch of shitty sounds.

Formulas like this are extremely hard to break, and I’m only scratching the surface in my attempts to correct this error in my thinking. I spend much more time listening to music, checking out other peoples’ playing styles, and learning how to play much more intricate and richer chords than I had even thought was possible. One day I might even learn how to properly arrange songs, chord progressions, and know exactly what I’m playing or why I’m playing it. It’s a work in progress.

I guess being stuck in a rut and using your own formula over and over again can just kill your mood, your music, and make you reluctant to try and get better. So in my experience, going beyond this is like breathing fresh air for the first time, or like beginning music all over again. There’s just so much more to learn and do, always.


In regards to the next big thing thread as well, I feel that the artists that take in the ability to design and engineer both sound and hardware/software components that stamp a truly unique sound are the ones that will stand out from others.


being in a band mostly. other than that i strive more to find a structure or formula for anything these days.

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I couldn’t have said it better…

It can yield interesting results

We refuse to learn from the past… at our own trepidation