Stuck in a rut, need recommendations to break out of it

sticking with current machines: do something you haven’t already done. try to recreate a piece of music/genre that sounds nothing like what you normally make. you may end up in a completely different space that will trigger alternative approaches, or you’ll start pulling in the old approaches in a new context.


Great, so learn a new instrument! I started teaching myself drums in lockdown and it did great things for my electronic drum programming. :metal:


That’s actually a great idea and something I haven’t done in a long time! I did that a couple of years ago with Nils Frahm’s “All melody” and I had tons of fun and learned quite a few things along the way, I just might try doing that again. :slight_smile:

I think an ideal result is that ones creative approach becomes a “happy accident” machine. I think one of the best things about solo production is also the worst. The requisite need of self participation. At its best, one can be as experimental and exploratory as they want. At its worst, it can become repetitively obnoxious and uninspiring.

I find that a lighter more playful approach can help spark new ideas. Of course nothing will work if one doesn’t attempt. Or as thoughtful little green gent once said “do or do not, there is no try”


This might seem overly simple, but when I get stuck making tracks because of repetitive styles, practices I mute all previous tracks/parts and try to record new ones silently/muted without hearing or being influenced to play over the previous tracks.


More gear won’t help you. You need to change your music goals

  • Get into sound design and create your own soundbanks for instruments.
  • Start building up your own sample packs by sampling drums, foley, synths.
  • Pursue completely different genres. Stuff that others like and you never bother with.
  • Make music for a video game or commission music for other artists.
  • Collaborate with another musician who can add something weird, like a tuba.
  • Combine other artforms. For example create small 3d scenes or apps and make tiny loops.

This could be the problem. Hardware by design is limiting.

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If it was easier to find someone local to play with over buying a device, would GAS be a thing? :smiley:

Depends on how you’re wired? Creative limitations are pretty liberating to me.

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If this hasn’t been mentioned yet.

• Acid

Or anything that forces you out of your normal mental habits for a day or so. Inspiration is rarely one of those problems you can think/justify/rationalise your way out of.


Or see if you can push yourself by making a track in a form you aren’t super fond of.

Even better if your instruments don’t match “traditional” choices for the form.

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stop trying to make songs. just jam and record stuff. listen to it like a week or two later after you forgot what you did.

just jam. forget about genres and stuff. use fewer sounds. be messy. stop thinking. use your other hand.


What you need is the Moog Subharmonicon. It is the “happy accident machine” and if you do a little research on the internet you’ll find other people calling it exactly that.
I just got mine recently and when you run it through the Digitone (or Digitakt) effects it sounds amazing.
I did a lot of research before I bought mine and I recommend that you do the same. The Thomann synthesizer Youtube channel has a video about it and after seeing it I had pretty much made up mind to buy the Subharmonicon.
Good luck, whatever you decide.

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Often instead of new gear, it’s great to look around for videos or audio of amazing music that others have created using gear that you already own. That helps encourage a mindset that any kind of creative rut likely isn’t gear related.

For the past year or so, I’ve been doing quite a bit of more “mixed” music making, where the end product is a song exported from a DAW, with some parts coming from external hardware, and other parts coming from software sequencing and working directly on the computer.

But lately I’ve been getting back into some hardware-only work, with a focus on modern house sounds as well as some nu-disco and funk. I’ve also been getting inspired by some more recent works of others, like a great house music set someone did entirely on the Syntakt after having it for only five days. I think it was Jeremy/Red Means Recording. Yeah, Jeremy’s a beast on Elektrons, but even so, that kind of thing underscores that I DO have all the gear I need for the job and then some. I just need to put in the work to create a new updated Elektron-based set, applying all of those principles I’ve been using in my more recent DAW-produced songs and drawing inspiration from other talented musicians.

That’s just my long winded way of saying, if you’re stuck musically, new gear isn’t likely to unstick you unless you definitely have specific musical goals in mind that would require that new gear.


Try microdosing shrooms or lsd. Obviously you dont have to if you dont want to, and it may be illegal. However, just throwing it out there, worth considering if you are stuck in a rut as you say.

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I’ve definitely suffered with GAS and trying to ‘buy’ more creativity, so I agree with the people advising against that.

Many of the times I’ve come up with something interesting and new have been when I’ve tried to ‘create’ a bit of gear I wanted with something I already have.

e.g. a while back I wanted a Grendel drone commander so I tried making one with the modular I had (which wasn’t enough, but got me thinking of different things and making new sounds):

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Youtube channels like Adam Neely has really opened up new avenues for me whenever i felt like im in a rut.

He introduced to concept of Konnakol to me and other cool rhythmical concepts. the key for me was owning a piece of gear which i know inside out and then try and adapt the different theoretical concepts to that device.

so maybe check out some different general music making Youtubers to get inspiration, preferably some that isn’t doing electronic music.

i also stay away from making music whenever i feel like im in a rut.


Some more context, please. You mentioned coming from a rock background and played in bands for over 20 years.

What did you do in these bands?

Your story sounds a lot like mine, except for the rut part at the moment.

I got into painting with acrylics and that has opened a new horizon for me and it has had an immense impact on the way I see making music.

It’s making my artistic life easier and more interesting bcs now if I’m not feeling it with music I can always switch to painting and that gives me inspiration to make music, and it makes me approach making music differently.

Two years ago I would have never thought I’d be into painting someday and now it’s a huge part of my life.

My point is that it’s good to try new artistic things outside the music making.
Totally new creative directions can be found by exploring different mediums.


Thank you all for all the great input, this is exactly why this is my favorite online community for sharing thoughts on music and inspiration in general! :heartpulse:

A lot of great suggestions here, all in all you’ve helped me realize what deep down I already knew: it’s not a gear issue, it’s an approach issue.

A few key takeaways that I got from this thread:

  • remembering this is just a phase (I’ve had many like this before) and forcing myself not to obsess over it. I’ll try a more playful approach to music making for a while, just playing around with different things without any intention of building a track.
  • trying to replicate a song I like with the current gear I have. That’s always a fun exercise that takes the pressure out of having to create something new, and I can learn a few things on production and sound design in the process.
  • maybe try to do some online collaborations, that’s something I used to do a lot back in the day but haven’t done so in recent years.
  • if everyhing else fails, I’ll just stop playing for a few weeks and focus on other hobbies, in the past that has helped me get over these “downers” and come back with fresh enthusiasm.

A bit of everything, really. Mostly drums and guitar, but I also played some bass and very basic keys.
I was lucky enough to play in a band where we all played different instruments so we kept switching around… that was always a fun challenge on stage! :smiley:

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