Starting a new track - where to begin!?

Whats your strategy for starting a new track?
Completely empty project?
Template project with all your favorite sounds/effects loaded and ready to be tweaked?
Pre-made arrangement markers to give a basic skeleton before you even start making sound?


Never an empty project.
At least, I have a simple melody in my head.
A project may be empty only if it’s a sound design session and I want to try a new synth or some ideas. Sometimes these sessions end with a new sketch.

Templates are great if you have some predefined setup which you use in each project. My templates contain routings, hardware connections and some instruments depending on style (set of drum synths, configured acoustic drums, empty tracks with preconfigured fx chains for guitar recordings, orchestral setups). I recommend you build at least one template for your workflow.

I don’t like predefined structure of song, but for many genres it works well and should be added to the template. Like intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, drop, chorus, chorus, outro.

1 Like

Turn the metronome on… then a big fat kick on the quarter notes…

I jest.

If part of a bigger project, like an album, I usually pull something from a sketch, or reference another track already finished, that I want to reinforce, or explore further. Sometimes I will copy a pattern from another track and just start changing things.

Or I might have been humming a melody for a few days so I nut that out. Or I like a particular scale so I jam around to get a riff.

Sometimes its a simple as, hmm that synth patch sounds alright, and then i build a track out of it. Or maybe a drum pattern or sample loop.

Or maybe I just hit record while aimlessly jamming and its alright so then I call it a track.

If its a new project, I start with first choosing which instruments and effects I will use. And what kind of signal path I will use. Then I usually settle down on a theme, or a story. Once I have those elements I keep them common for the whole project. (Example, currently Im working on an album, using sh101, digitone and TR8-S, with quadraverb for reverb)


Start from blank, and always destroy my shita-e when finished.

But seriously, I don’t use templates, so it usually starts with a rhythm or melody in my head, a particular mood/need to relieve stress, or an interesting synth patch or sample. Or experimenting with a cool feature on a particular piece of gear, like the modulators on a deep synth. But the finished product still ends up sounding like shita-e.

Hello! That’s a few good questions.

Whats your strategy for starting a new track?
Completely empty project?

it’s really depends of music genre I guess
I try to not start with the kick because it may influence me in terms of key, ( I may vary the tempo very fast in the process) i may start with a groove/mood - experiment then I will try to feel tempo wise and build. Very fast I try to switch from session view to arrangement and start the construction. otherwise you will lock you in the loop to shape it as hell and possibly miss arrangement segments where you could do the same from point A to point B in a section. But in session you will hear point A, shape to point B and stick with it and forget. (it could be a shame depending on point A quality)

inevitably your actual human mood will influence you so better to make good use of it
you can also randomly pick the day’s project music genre, in fact with age and years my notion of fun has diminished over the years so I inject “FUN” with lots of crazy ideas like this kind of little game…

A lot online, in courses, teachers, people will claim a “template” man !

I Try few idea regarding that and it doesn’t work for me. Maybe if you have your own signature and your favorite sounds/effects are relative to the signature it may work as you use over and over the SAME plugins.

For me, it doesn’t work. I think I have “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” sort of. I absolutely didn’t like to start on a new track with a Template with plenty of channel strips. BUT if you are like me you can make something like this but Modular more tailored for you.

  • There’s two options at this point. “strict minimum required” you notice when working that every time you put an EQ8, an utility on every track, then set an audio track with those, set a midi track with those and save both as audio default and midi default.
  • Prepare Ableton folder(s) by Subjects like : Drum Synthesis and all your favorites VST and Favorite Processing for drums and dynamics. Sound Synthesis and all your favorites VST renamed by distinctive “nature” of sounds like Analog Bass Design + favorite VST to process it and so on… and so on…

Then you keep those folder(s) in the sidebar of Ableton Live so you can open and drag only channel strip you want to add in the blank and new track you start.

Also to develop a bit more on why it doesn’t work although the second method that I use is very close to “a template” but it fit better my philosophy : which is every track is different, in terms of genre slightly different (I do electro jazz, electronica, idm, deep house, tribal house, tribal techno, techno, deep techno and I can’t make this list longer) that why a template is for me not an option. Therefore pick in a synthesis folder an FM Bass house channel strip to work in a vintage house project is a better way of working… focusing on the context on the new track I want to deal with.

The elements and Mixing strategy for me is relative to the track, and another track will not necessarily need the same tools. Also as in synthesis when you shape, you experiment with tools and this process is a trial and error thing. Where you try add, remove, let the track on the side to come few days later and remove, add, fix, tweak… etc…

So a template for me ? not working.
Few modular folder(s) in the Ableton Browser linked where I can pick or recall complete channel strip based on subject like synthesis “get THAT sounds + process” work way better to me…

Pre-made arrangement markers to give a basic skeleton before you even start making sound?

Track deserve its own timings and sparkles so :
not working.

On top of that I make a good use of the favorite tags in Ableton Live where colors is reflecting as my arrangement color coding channel strips. And all my favorites plugins appears as Drums & Dynamic tag + color, Sub and Bass tag + color, Foreground Synth + color, Background Synth + color, SFX Arrange Tools + color, vocal processing tag + color, and so on… Master chain + grey tag (grey as the grey is unused in my arrangement color coding system, and my master is grey color assigned)

1 Like

Browse my samples, lay down a few more or less random trigs. Check out what it sounds like with a straight 4/4 or “broken” beat. Lose focus and move on.


i start with a template project with various types of bass (ostinato 8ths, ostinato 16ths, offbeat, octaves) and drums (4/4 beat, rock beat) just to provide me a minimal rhythm foundation, and 4 empty synth tracks with my to-go timbres.

works either for DAW or groovebox.

not doing any sound design or mixing jobs when starting a track (and always wondering why a lot of youtube tutorials start from half an hour of EQing things).

1 Like