I've got the four bar blues

Copy the pattern then turn all the melodies upside down

1 Like

Living the dream mate. Congratulations.


I really am


Strip the main pattern down to the basics. Play it in a loop. Pick up a real instrument, guitar, keyboard, etc… and play along until you come up with a good counter-pattern.

1 Like

Call and response…

You can get away with making a song with a 1 bar pattern with the above in mind


Short answer:
Leave your initial pattern alone for a week. When you come back it will be easier to say, “OK I can see where this could go. I need to do X, Y and Z to develop it”.

Long answer:
I think the problem you’re describing is the basic problem of composition. It’s not exclusive to working with electronic instruments. It’s easy to come up with a beat, a chord progression, a melodic phrase, a guitar riff. To make that into a piece of music is an old problem. It’s the challenge of composing, and there are a bunch of techniques you can apply to your kernel idea to develop it. Personally I divide these into musical techniques (chord/key/rythm/tempo/melodic retrograde&inversion etc), where you change the musical content, and sonic techniques (timbre/instrumentation/orchestration etc), where you change the sounds.

Elektron instruments make it easier to do sonic changes than musical. You can mess with synth parameters and effects easily, but there are no buttons to do a melodic inversion or retrograde, and only some Elektron boxes have a transpose function. I find I have to work more to do musical changes, and it’s easy to neglect that in favour of sonic manipulation.

It can be helpful to study how other people structure music. I don’t make pop music, but I see the verse/chorus/bridge approach is applicable to what I do, so I tend to work with that in mind. I make an A section, then B, repeat a couple of times, then contrast with a C section, and so on.


Don’t overwork the song early on. When you have a pattern that feels good, copy it to the next pattern and begin working on that. Do just a few small things before you copy that one and work on pattern 3. Don’t feel like you have to use every track in a pattern before you move on. Leave space. You can come back later to add sparkles. That’s the candy, you gotta eat dinner first. Moving, moving, keep moving. Use all those patterns up.


I usually begin by making a very rough and simple sketch of pattern 1 and as soon as a mood I’m happy with is accomplished I start making a second (a different) pattern to the pattern 5 (leaving patterns 2-4 free for variations of pattern 1) that works well with the pattern one, and perhaps make some variations of that.

Often times I then record a few takes of that and create a separate intro and/or outro for the track using various synths that don’t have a sequencer.

Sometimes I will first make a performance recording the whole thing as a stereo track to see that the structure is OK and then make separate recordings of all of the tracks individually to get the most out of the elements.

1 Like

I like the advice here. Some the more abstract suggestions are reminding me of Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies though. There’s at least one good Oblique Strategies app for iPhone now, which can have a tile on the … whatever the leftmost page is on iOS.

The last one I saw it display was “Turn it upside down.” Yes, do that. I just scanned and got the result “Disconnect from desire.”


My eternal struggle. My brain gets fixed on making the best pattern and while songs do happen, most projects have very nice patterns that sometimes get exported to DAW but I rarely tie together in real-time.

I need to frame it more as a game, certainly less “precious”

Probably that, being “in the moment” tends to blot out context and goals when the grooves can come later.

Thanks! My problems are usually conceptual before they get to execution :slight_smile:

The M8 tracker cured my four bar blues. It’s really amazing how it encourages song writing rather than looping.


That’s the first “diamond” of the two.

1 Like

I’ll avoid picking it up this year, but just the tracker flow?

I struggle with that many times, too.
It’s very easy and tempting to get stuck while noodling endless fine-grained parameter tweakings and in doing so develop some kind of fatique. After a while listening to the same over and over again you lose objectivity and focus for what is really important. The only way of escaping this seems to be »work fast, move on to the next and/or allow yourself a break«.


More so the M8 flow - phrases and chains and quick access to instruments. It all ties in so well and really easy to create variations that ppl above have mentioned. The tracker approach is helpful too - you can see a complete song on one page :slight_smile:


I legitimately haven’t heard a bad track made on this device.

I know that you can make a ‘headless M8’ with a Teensy 4.1 but does anyone know of any full M8 DIY builds? I’m a recent DIY convert and have most of the stuff that looks like the m8 uses.

A classic creative device!

1 Like

Sounds like what the market needs is a groovebox limited to 12 bar patterns in a blues scale. Bluetakt maybe? Catchy name, might not stick.


I made a project for my students. A series of fourth-finger exercises for strings. In between each exercise is 16 beats for them to rest. Instead of silence, I decided to put a drum pattern in the 16 beats. Instead of copying the drum part from the rest of the project, I created a new drum part. Sounded groovy!

Long story short, the new drum pattern was totally out of when placed between the existing music. Same tempo, same BD on 1/3 and SN on 2/4, with some other stuff added in. And it didn’t work at all.

Maybe I understand better why people on this forum make the kind of music they do. Very repetitive music, with incremental changes from pattern to pattern. Because it’s very difficult to make music any other way when the groove defines the music.

Copy/modify. That is the compositional style best suited to the machines we use. Creates, IMO, some pretty boring, repetitive results. Contrast is the enemy of our workflow.

How to create groovy music with contrasting sections. That is my challenge.

1 Like

Creative strategy: moving environments

When I keep coming back to certain patterns I bridge them over (via OB) to the DAW. Build an arrangement and voila. There’s a track.
…well not always, but sometimes. :slight_smile: just think about it! You have 10+ ideas (on each Elektron box) that are ready to be brought to the next level.

1 Like