Music Tips Q&A

There’s loads of talented musicians on here might be nice to have a repository where little tips and bits of production/composition knowledge can be shared?

Just a thought!


Ok so I feel I’m still newish to ambient/electronic music and a big thing that’s haunting me is how much variation does a track need?

Can you get away with essentially one drum loop/groove with minor variations?

Feel I’m still stuck in the rockist mould of verse/chorus structures.

If it’s a good groove, then absolutely. As someone who deals almost entirely in layers of looped phrases I have a self-imposed rule that at least one element has to change at least every 16 bars.

1 Like

Technical Q - what sort of decent spec should I be looking at for a desktop/laptop to do stuff on? I basically just want to run protools and reason on it, and plug in some related hardware and have it all going at once. My current laptop basically can’t cope with it.

I don’t have a strict budget in mind, just want to know what I need for it to run comfortably and I’ll work from there.

yeah that’s a good rule of thumb isn’t it?

I think I do that subconsciously without thinking about it. Still feel sometimes like I’m just being lazy and should compose more beats but on the flipside you can ruin the feel of a track if you swerve it too much y’know?

1 Like

Yup. My advice would be to listen to Slip and Cichli Suite by Autechre. Perfect examples of how to gradually evolve a loop-driven track.

sometimes they intimidate me though because there’s a lot of satisfying subtle textures in their music I would fail to replicate :slight_smile:

1 Like

here’s something that may seem obvious that I’ve hit upon lately though:

Never be too afraid to cut harshly when EQing!

It’s easy when you record something or have an idea to get too attached to that in the mix isn’t it?


p.s. I have no training so don’t know what I’m talking about :wink:

1 Like

Ha! Yep, there’s definitely that side to them. It’s so cool to pick apart what they’re doing. It’s all these little discrete components in a fluid dance.

1 Like

sometimes my laptop now struggles with ableton but it was fine when I got it so it’s probably just the natural decay of PCs when you fill them with stuff. Reckon I spent £500 on it 5 years ago or something so you can probably get something that’s fine for £300, external soundcard will be your biggest factor though and I doubt you can get a decent one for less that £100

Feels like it should be based on what you want from the track. If it’s full on ambient/groove-based, I’d have no problem having a long expanse of what’s essentially the same repeated groove to get lost in. Builds tension and makes even more of whatever release/variation you’ve got coming next. I’m thinking CAN/Swans – they do this so well.

1 Like

Anyone got any suggestions for these. I could probably do with one - my PC is probably up to scratch, but there’s a lot of lag between my keyboard and the PC reading what I’m playing, and it would be good to get one with multiple inputs so I could plug in a mic or other line ins.

I love this one and use it for everything, it’s perfect for my needs as I’m only really recording with one or two tracks at once and it sounds great

yeah this is very true. I think it’s like a confidence thing in your own music or something? I mean I rarely think of other people “oh they’re so lazy they just repeated the same theme for ages” y’know?

probably happens in loads of tracks I love and I don’t even notice

The only time I notice it is when I think “Holy fuck this has been going on for 5 minutes. Amazing!”, but then I like that sort of thing. I like to be surprised.


I imagine as a drummer it’s pretty fun to just get into the zone with a beat for ages


Yeah probably this too. Selfish advice, that’s what I’m about.

1 Like

I just always play the generic Motorik beat when I’m behind a kit. If it ain’t broke…