Finding Your Inspiration


Through this process I will teach you how to listen to music both creative and technically and the goal is to make your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) template for your music productions. I use Logic Pro and will demo in there. You can follow along in any DAW, if you need a DAW I highly recommend Logic Pro and the Apple ecosystem for music production.

As you will see in the outline below I will label each step with either Creative or Technical. This is the key to my process. This will help you get past the frustration and complication of having to switch to very different modes of thinking which will optimize your success of going from inspiration to creating and finishing songs. The goal is to know what tasks you can do while staying in either Creative or Technical Mode.

Unleash your creativity and get inspired by listening to music. Pay close attention to the mood, lyrics and song structure.

Create playlists as references for your ideas and song production. This is where you learn how many colors your musical pallet will contain. Having a musicians understanding of music is crucial to understanding your creative possibilities and your likes and dislikes.

This will be an on-going process and will allow the flow of unlimited ideas and possibilities to turn your musical visions into reality!

I have a separate blog post call Listen & Learn where I explain what I listen for and how I get inspired. You can use this as a starting point to create your playlist.

How I Define Creative Mode vs. Technical Mode:

Creative Mode – Allowing your creativity loose in order to create music. Using your senses and imagination to experience and guide your musical journey while feeling the emotions that occur while listening, writing and creating music.

Technical Mode – Using your brain to solve technical problems, using the computer to actively do a task in an effort to pave the way for when we need to be in Creative mode.

Listen To Music To Get Inspiration (Creative)

Listen to music to get inspired. I recommend listening for at least an hour a day. Make sure you are in a comfortable listening environment and not distracted. Pay attention to what songs evoke your emotions, what soundscape is being created and what sonic qualities you enjoy most. Stay in creative mode while listening.

Listen to music where it is convenient to you. Examples are, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud, Pandora, BandCamp.

Listen deep into the music, what instruments are being played, why did they choose this song structure, what feelings do you feel? Why did they write this song? Keep all of these thoughts in your head while staying creative and listen only. It may take many listens to a song to fully grasp the why.

I have made playlist on both Spotify and Apple Music for you to Listen & Learn from to start with. Go to the Listen & Learn blog post, then come back to here, for the next step.

Create A Creative Reference Playlist (Technical)

I recommend using Spotify and/or Apple Music to make your playlists.

Go into Spotify, click on the + symbol to the right of Your Library, then select Create a new playlist.

Then search for songs and click the Add button:

Gather MP3, AIFF or WAV Files For Reference Tracks (Technical)

I highly recommend buying your reference tracks. We are looking to make music for other’s to buy and would appreciate them buying our music so let’s return the favor and buy our tracks. If you have old CD’s you can import them into Apple Music and also use the tracks for references since you own this music.

How To Buy From Apple Music:

Search for the song you wish to buy on Apple Music. Click on three dots … then click on Show in iTunes Store.

Then click on price to purchase:

Save the song file to your computer or iCloud Library.

Add As Reference Tracks Into DAW (Technical)

Open up your DAW, open your finder window to where you saved your song, then drag n’ drop the music file into your DAW in track 1.

Look at the wave form. You will see two wave shapes on top of each other. This represents left and right channels since this is a stereo mix.

You can zoom into the track by using the sliders in the upper right hand of the snap below:

Looking at the zoomed in waves do you see differences between the left and right channels? Yes, there are slight differences, but mostly very similar on the whole.

Make note of how long the song’s running time, how it fades in at the beginning or not and how it fades out at the end. You can see below that the song length in three minutes and 59 seconds long and that there is a fade out and basically silence for the last three bars:

Listen Like an Engineer In Your DAW (Technical)

Get used to listening to music in your DAW. Press play or spacebar in Logic and listen to the entire track from start to finish.

Add Markers To Understand The Song Structure (Technical)

As the song plays hit keyboard shortcut M, when you feel like there is a song structure change. By this I mean, the framework of a song, outlining its various sections like verse, chorus, and bridge.

Here are Logic Pro Keyboard Shortcuts that will be useful for this:

  1. Show/Hide Global Tracks (G)
  2. Global Tracks View Settings (Option + G)
  3. Show Marker Track Only (‘)
  4. Add New Marker (Option + ‘)
  5. Rename Marker (Shift + ‘)
  6. Delete Marker (Option + Backspace)

To start click (Option + G), this will open the Global Tracks View Settings, uncheck all but Arrangement and Marker:

In Logic Pro, click the word Arrangement in the Arrangement track, then choose Suspend Content Connection from the shortcut menu that appears. The word Arrangement changes to Arrangement (suspended).To reconnect arrangement markers, choose Suspend Content Connection again:

Now, to the right of Arrangement (suspended) click the + button to add in Arrangement sections. Ex. Intro, Verse1, Bridge, Verse2. Move these around till you feel you have figured out the song Structure.

I found the follow song structure when I listen:

  1. Intro
  2. Verse1
  3. Bridge
  4. Verse2
  5. Bridge
  6. Chorus1
  7. Transition1 – Saxophone
  8. Verse3
  9. Bridge
  10. Chorus2
  11. Transition2 – Saxophone
  12. Outro

It’s ok if you do not get this “perfect” the idea here is to start to learn more out productions and song structure.

Write Notes In Your DAW (Technical)

To open the notes section click on the document icon in the upper right hand corner. This will open/close the notes section. You can add notes for the Project and for each Track. To start adding notes click the Edit button. The Edit button will turn into a Done button, so when you are done with adding notes click Done.

As you listen and think about the song structure take any notes that come to mind. Think about the following:

  1. How many different parts comprise the song structure?
  2. What instruments are in this song?
  3. How does the song begin vs end?
  4. What shape is the audio wave?
  5. Is the stereo image exactly the same? How is it different?
  6. What emotions do you feel when listening?
  7. What are the lyrics about?
  8. What mood is the song trying to convey?
  9. What do you like about the song? What don’t you like?
  10. What parts can you use as inspiration for your songs?

Add Tracks To Recreate Reference Track (Technical)

Add in all the tracks in your DAW that you think are necessary to recreate the song. This is a way to learn about the song’s production based on what you hear.

In David Bowie’s – Modern Love I hear the following instruments:

  1. Guitar
  2. Drum Kit
  3. Piano
  4. Vocals
  5. Backing Vocals
  6. Bass Guitar
  7. Saxophone

Do you agree? What instruments do you hear?


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