8 techniques for generating new musical ideas

8 techniques for generating new musical ideas
12th September 2017 Dave Rose

1. Ghost sample!

Crate Digging


This is a great method of sampling records without the copyright worries. Find a 16 bar clip from a song you like, be that an old soul record, a piece of classical music or some pounding techno, drag it into your DAW, then start building a track around it. Once you have a groove going, take the original sample out and continue to build your track! Just make sure you take it in your own direction to avoid any lawsuits.


2. Capture ideas at source

Record Notes


Ideas can come at any time, so make sure you’re ready for them. In the shower, on the bus, in the middle of the night…there’s nothing worse than being caught empty handed with the world’s greatest idea and no way to memorise it. To prepare, ensure you always have some kind of microphone on you (that could be your phone) and ideally some paper to scribble down notes. Next time you’re out of ideas, just load up your recordings and flick through your notes and before you know it the ideas will be flowing again.


3. Get Random

Random Browsing


One of my favourite ways to get new ideas is to use the randomise function on Noiiz, then skip through loops super quickly until something sparks my imagination. OK, I am biased because I work here, but honestly, it works every time! Simply browse all sounds, sort by random, then use the down arrow keys to flick through the list.



4. Disrupt your workflow



Get out of the box. Whatever you do usually, do the opposite. If you start making music with a drum groove, then build melodies around it, do the opposite. If you make music with just your computer, try and get hold of an instrument. If you find yourself spending hours programming synths, try using samples. It might be uncomfortable at first, but before you know it you’ll have a whole new perspective on the writing process.



5. Think backwards

Crystal Ball


Literally! Bounce down your melodic parts, then reverse them. Then chop up bits, and paste them back together. There’s nothing like completely butchering your creation to take it in a new direction!


6. Change your mindset



Why do ideas always strike you in the shower? Well, there’s probably a very good scientific reason for it if you google hard enough. But most people are in agreement that altering your state of mind, whether that’s by taking a shower, a short walk, doing some yoga, blasting out some heavy metal or consuming items of a toxic nature (not recommended) are great ways for getting over writers block.


7. Think outside the genre



If you make future bass and you try to make another future bass, you know what you get? The same old sh**, that’s what! Expand the gene pool and pull in influences from outside your genre, however unusual. Learn the rules, then break them! With Noiiz, try browsing by the sound rather than its metadata – chances are you’ll stumble across something far more interesting.


8. Create problems



‘I got 99 problems, but ideas ain’t one.’ said some rapper once, or something. But sometimes the difficulty with knowing what to do next is too many ideas, too many options and no direction. DAW’s put amazing power at our fingertips, but with great power comes great responsibility.


A fun way to get around this is to create a set of rules before you make your track, then ensure  you stick to them no matter what. For example:


  • Make a track using only found sound recordings.
  • Make a whole track using just one synth for everything.
  • Give yourself a time limit for each part (a kitchen timer is your friend)
  • Limit yourself to just 4 audio tracks
  • Make the track at 4x the bpm than you do usually, but sequence the notes at 1/4 the rate
  • Ban quantise!
  • Create your own sample library, then only use sounds from that.
  • …and so on!



I’d love to hear how you keep the ideas fresh – tweet us @noiizapp, write to us on Facebook or email me at [email protected] and we’ll share with the rest of the family.


Thanks for reading ❤