There was a similar thread going a few days ago in the A4 forum. I think a lot of people struggle with bridging the gap from jamming to creating an actual track. I know I do!
A big part of getting a track together seems to be being able to isolate the process of sound design from the song writing, so you aren’t constantly recreating your sound palette as you go. Endless tweaking doesn’t help finish tracks!
I like to copy/paste patterns a lot, so I don’t lose moments of sweetness, and so I always have a backup, just in case. Once I get a good ‘master’ pattern or loop of patterns going, I’ll copy it to new locations right away and start removing or changing elements ( first using MUTE to find what combo of sounds go well together and create a distinctly different feel to the other parts of the the track). I make lots of different patterns and just start playing with which patterns sound good as transitions to each other. I usually have to delete and move patterns around a lot so they make chronological sense.
I’ve had the makings of a nice little track going for a while, and rather than trying to force it into a structure right away, like I always do but fail at, I’ve been just jamming with it for a while. Trying different things and getting really familiar with the different elements of the jam. I think this is good because I see what parts are interesting enough for repeated listening, and what parts don’t hold up. Letting it simmer, so to speak!
I’m also trying an experiment where I pick a track (by a pro artist) and use it as a template for my track’s structure. I think this will really give me a lesson in how to make transitions, progression, breakdowns, etc. Forcing me to do the process with my own set up and sounds.
It’s important to for me to break out of the dumb-dumb cycle of just chaining loops and “jamming” with mutes, which ends up sounding cheap and super boring. When I listen to music now I try to pick out how many patterns variations and how often new changes happen. There are a lot, for a good track! The good news is that a track really only needs to be a few minutes long, so once you get some great sounds, a solid groove, and few changes, you basically have the skeleton of a song. You just need to figure out how it all goes together!
As a professional graphic designer, I know that things always look different, and issues become crystal clear after I’ve stopped working on a project and stepped away from it for a while (days or weeks). Then when I come back I feel refreshed and ready to take things to the next level.