Quick Tracks is Soundfly’s monthly series of creative musical challenges. To get your right brain bubbling with creative ideas, we love thinking up short production and songwriting challenges, aimed at helping you solve fun musical conundrums.
Feel free to tackle any one you like.
1. Record ahead, behind, and right on top of the beat
Carter Lee’s “The Expanding Triplet, and How to Internalize Time with Practice”recent article, explores three creative ways to infuse your practice routine with techniques to help you, internalize a better sense of musical timing.
One of the exercises is to open up a DAW of your choice, set the BPM to something you can easily stay on top of, and start attacking single notes as the metronome strikes each beat. One great way to analyze your sense of timing is to hit record and try to purposefully, consistently play behind the beat for a relaxed feel (great for jazz), ahead of the beat for an agitated, angular feel (great for rock, and jazz), and right smack on top of the beat for a true feel (great for classical, and also jazz).
Creative Challenge: Check out Lee’s article, and try incorporating these creative timing techniques into your practice routine this week, and send us a recording of playing purposefully ahead, behind, and right on top of a metronome beat with your instrument.
2. Vocal overload!
Mentor Sırma Munyar gave us her tried-and-true tips for home producing your own vocals. She offers advice on how to use production techniques such as doubling, using different mics, fading breaths, and layering octaves so you can record professional-sounding tracks catered to your own needs and budget. Now, since we’re always looking for ways to take things up a notch, we challenge to use these tips to create a piece with nothing but vocals in it. If you need help, refer back to Sırma’s article, or go wild and experiment with your own new ideas and processes.
Creative Challenge: Compose a piece of music lasting 60-seconds or less that is comprised entirely of vocal sounds.
3. Room mic roulette
This time Andrea De Carlo details “How to Mic a Guitar Amp in 4 Easy Steps.” With tips like setting the tone right on the amp first, how to choose the right microphones to use, where to place each mic, and some common patterns for setting up two mics to capture different timbral aspects of the same signal at its source, we love this piece because you can literally become a slightly better self-service engineer in ten minutes.
Whatever your instrument may be, if you’re using an amplifier, go ahead and set up a few mics placed strategically around the signal. Experiment to try different combinations and record everything, but just watch out for phasing issues! Send us your tracks and tell us what you learned in the process.
Creative Challenge: Use at least two different setups to capture the same amplified signal.
4. Invert alert!
Practice your chord chops this week by creating a short piece of music that doesn’t have any chords in root position. That means no root notes in the bass line or in the bottom voice of your chords. That’s the only rule!
Need a refresher on inversions? Head over to our free course Music Theory for Beginner Pianists to learn the basics about inversions, or dive head first into our premium harmonic theory courses, Unlocking the Emotional Power of Chords and The Creative Power of Advanced Harmony, to gain a deeper and more thorough understanding of using chords and progressions to create certain moods and affects with your music!
Creative Challenge: Make a 60-second track using only chords that feature inverted root notes.
Take any one of these challenges, create a track that responds to the creative prompt, and share your work with us via email or on social media with the hashtag #quicktracks (and by tagging us @learntosoundfly). We’re excited to see what you come up with! Don’t hold back.
Ready to reach your musical goals?
Our one-on-one mentorship program is built on our belief that accountability and guidance can have a huge impact on students reaching their goals and developing their musical identities. Soundfly’s community of mentors will help you set the right goals, pave the right path toward success, and stick to schedules and routines that you develop together, so you improve every step of the way.
Tell us what you’re working on, and we’ll find the right mentor or course for you!