I’m currently in Hungary staying with my wife’s side of the family for a short holiday. Naturally I brought the laptop with me so I could work on some music and keep updating the site. 🙂
Anyway… I’ve started a new tune and thought maybe it would be interesting for you to see an example of the type of creative process I go through. And so begins the ‘Diary of a New Song’. I hope you find it interesting and helpful in some way.
Part 1 – In The Beginning
As we’re not really starting right at the absolute very beginning I’ll give a little back-story. I’ve been toying with a chord progression based idea for a while now on the keyboard at home. I decided to use the song creator tool in EZ Keys to quickly build a basic structure as a starting point for a complete new song. Having set up the chord progression I chose some fitting MIDI templates from the library provided to give them some rhythm. I then pulled up EZ Drummer and looked through the MIDI browser for a suitable drum beat, which I pulled into the song creator and used to generate a basic template with an ABAB structure.
This is one of the reasons I love the EX Keys and EZ Drummer programs. They make it so simple (or ‘EZ’) to get a basic idea down so you can start building on it. As I work on this I will completely re-write and re-record the drum and piano parts but as it is I’ve got a solid basis to work from in less than 30 minutes. Watch the video to see where I’ve got to today and read on below for more details.
What’s going on there then?
So far everything is ‘in the box’ and I’ve only used four instruments in FL Studio; EZ Keys, EZ Drummer, FL Slayer and Sytrus. As I’m at the ideas stage of writing I’ve not got too involved in fine-tuning the sounds, I’ve used the standard Grand Piano preset for keys and my favourite Vintage drum kit with the Old School Plate preset for drums. I just quickly tried a few presets and settled on the one that fitted best for now. For the bass guitar I’ve used the Fretless preset in FL Slayer and laid down the root notes. When I’ve got the structure for the song nailed I’ll record a real bass part.
Finally I’ve added a lovely rich organ sound which is achieved by running FL Studio’s native synth Sytrus with the ‘4 drawbars’ setting through the default Amplitube 3 amp with a Rotary Speaker effect added to the rack to give it a more organic (‘scuse the pun) sound. At the moment this is just playing the basic chords, again I’ll return to this later and record the instrument being played via a MIDI keyboard, rather than just programming it in the piano roll.
I’ve done a tiny bit of EQ to separate the parts and just to add a little depth I’ve also created a reverb send with EpicVerb on there using a medium-sized hall setting. There’s also a smidge of tape saturation and compression across the whole mix, which is going through the FerricTDS plugin. This is really just to glue everything together a little bit and will all be overhauled when all the parts are ready and I come to the final mixing stage.
Now I’ve got the basic progression down and an idea of the rhythm, tempo and rough sound of the piece, I’ll start to think about melody and structure, as well as other parts I might bring in. I’ve already got an idea for a melody I can use and I’m thinking I’d like to have a few layers of vocals (this of course means writing lyrics too, something I have a love/hate relationship with, so we’ll see how that goes) and probably some electric guitar in there too. It’s very likely the whole thing will change quite drastically from where it is now but I have a good starting point. This is just one method of songwriting and everyone will have a different approach. This certainly isn’t the way I always work, but it is one option that is greatly facilitated by the software that is available today.
Thanks for reading part one of this diary of a new song. I hope you enjoyed it and will check out part two when it’s done. Please do feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments or via the contact form. Please also give the DIY Music Facebook page a ‘like’ and follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with my latest posts, articles and tutorials.