Everything I do ends up in a DAW so this may not be as easy for everyone depending on what you use.
It also depends on what kind of music you make.
I make dance music mostly and sometimes more chill synth stuff. Who am I kidding it’s all synthy stuff.
To the point:
Let’s say first session is just building a bunch of elements that sound nice together in a loop. Drums, Bass, Pads, Leads, etc… Honestly this is what most people do, it makes sense. It’s also when it sounds the best because it’s raw and fresh and you’re feeling it.
If the initial loop takes a couple sessions that’s okay. Just work on the loop until you like the loop, nothing more.
Okay so this is where most people get stuck or stop until the next session and get stuck.
Let me help.
If the loop sounds pretty decent that’s good enough.
Now take your MIDI notes and repeat the loop for like 3 or 4 minutes in your arrangement view. Just lay it out the same thing for 3-4 minutes.
Route each part to its own audio track.
Record the audio of the loop for the whole 3-4 minutes one at a time.
The biggest thing is, don’t worry if it’s perfect, you won’t know what perfect until you start arranging.
If it’s a hardware synth, let it play normal (don’t touch the synth) for a couple of loops then start tweaking the synth live for the remainder of of the 3-4 minutes.
Do this one at a time for each synth on its own track
Record your drum parts as audio tracks too.
Now you have 3-4 minutes of recorded audio to work with for every track.
On your next session just chop up and make an arrangement of this audio.
Keep your MIDI parts in case you want to record some more takes after you get an arrangement worked out.
Now you just fine tune, mix, master, done.
Wham bam thank you ma’am!
You work fast, you don’t dwell. You have fun. You make lots of tracks, you get better. What’s not to like?
Seriously, just try this once. Don’t worry if it’s gonna be great. Just push it out and see what happens.
Make sure to go hog wild tweaking those synths while recording! One take, that’s it.