The key as a musician is to have creative ideas and then be able to turn that ideas into a reality. Many times when I get an idea for a piece of music I got the whole picture. The skill is then to take the picture and create the individual parts that go together to make the whole picture. The next step is where to start. The big picture things like mood, dynamics, tempo and the length of the piece all need to be decided first.
The worst thing is to start with a riff and then try and build a whole song from it.
Doing the big picture things first means that you will get closer to the finished idea that started the whole process going.
Once you have the big picture stuff worked out the next question, for me, is how much can I play myself, how much is programmable and how much do I need other musicians for?
This is really important because if the whole song hangs together around and instrument that I cannot play or programme I need someone else. How do I get the performance from them? What do they need to achieve what I want? How much can I create without them to help them play?
At this point there may be some need for compromise. If I can’t a good enough musician to play the part, can I get someone with better programming skills to create the part? Lastly can I create the same effect using a different instrument which I can play?
Then I go and create. I create the core instruments, usually a rhythm section, even if they aren’t in the final piece. They give me the structure that I need to create the end product.
I generally create a complete drum track, even if I am only using it in one section. This gives me a continuity throughout the piece and I know that the other instruments that I record will come together as one piece.
There is so much more to talk about but that is for another day. So, get your big picture stuff first, get your rhythm section second and then create over the top. Enjoy.