In this month's installment of Production Tip Tuesday we will be covering Finding Your Own Sound. If you missed last month's post, Sample Manipulation, you can check that out by clicking here. It ties in well with what you're about to read and I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself in a creative rut.
As every musician can attest, we are passionate about music. That passion didn't just start from nothing. It has been curated our whole lives by all the sounds we've taken in. The reason I started making music was because I loved the music I listened to and wanted to make my own. I think this is how it is for every musician. We take in all the sounds around us and we begin to emulate them as our own. The problem with this is we shouldn't only want to sound just like our favorite musicians. We need to find and develop our own sound.
When we first start making music it's okay to sound like someone else and copy certain styles. This is a great way to learn the basics of making music. I actually recommend doing this. Take your favorite song from your favorite artist and literally copy it. You will learn so much about sound design, song layout, drum programming, and workflow. It's only when we stay in this rut that we begin to have problems. I see far too often people get stuck trying to sound like someone else and never truly develop as their own artist.
Part of the biggest problem with this are sample packs and song kits. It's far too easy to go online and buy/download loops and song kits and arrange them as your own. Anyone can download the same kits and loops as you and make the same exact sounds. This will leave your music sounding bland and won't help you stand out among other musicians. These tools are fine for learning basics like song structure and sound design, but you should not be using these to complete your songs. Instead learn to emulate them. Once you learn to create these sounds you can experiment and expand on them and learn your own process which will also help you to create your own musical ideas.
Another vise for creativity is using presets in your software synths. This is another example of how anyone can use that same sound. Even buying or downloading new presets online won't keep this from happening. This isn't to say that you should shun presets all together, but instead use them as a tool to learn. I recommend using these presets to understand how certain parameters of your synths work, then making edits to the presets or creating your very own presets from scratch. This is a must if you want to maintain a fresh sound that is unique to you.
In the end finding your own unique sound is all about experimentation. The best way to do that is to expand on the knowledge you have about your tools for sound. It's really a give and take relationship that continuously bounces back and forth. You learn something new and experiment with that knowledge and that bout of experimentation will lead you to new knowledge and understandings of how your tools work which then lead you to more experimentation and so on and so forth. This is truly the process of developing your sound and signature style. If you just continue to use loops, sample packs, and presets to make music you will never fully develop as a musician. Never stop exploring and experimenting. You won’t know what you might discover until you discover it.