In an age where spare-room studios are the norm and artists are becoming increasingly DAW-proficient, the lines between songwriting and production are more blurred than ever. Here, producer/PSN blogger Eyal Levi creating rhythmic variations quickly and offers a clip from a video class he conducted at Audiohammer Studios.
Inspiration isn’t something that you can just turn on and off like a lightswitch. However, you can definitely give it a jumpstart with the right warmups. A key part of my songwriting routine is to warm up not just my hands, but also my brain with a few warmups. After 10 or 15 minutes of doing these warmups, I’ve got so many ideas flowing that my biggest problem is recording all of them.
This video shows one of my favorite warmups, a few exercises for exploring rhythmic variations. The key here is to set tight constraints that force you to deeply explore one and only one thing-- in this case, rhythm patterns. For example, write a 4-bar phrase using only 8th notes and rests. Or using only 16th notes and quarter notes. You get the idea-- it’s easy to come up with tons of variations on this exercise.
I did these on guitar because they’re part of my “Mastering Metal Songwriting” class on CreativeLive and guitar is the main writing tool for the genre, but you can see how this could just as easily translate into vocal patterns, hip hop beats, or anything other piece of a song in any genre. The point is that by setting very tight constraints, you force yourself to focus on one specific thing more deeply than you would if you just sat down to write with no direction.
If you’re a songwriter, I highly recommend adding warmups like this to your routine. Come up with similar ones for melody, harmony, and chord progressions and you will quickly find your musical palette expanding.