The key to writing great music quickly is in the workflow. By understanding which workflow to use, we can ensure we have the right ingredients before starting the production process. In this example we’ll use the VCDBM workflow.
In order of creation it looks like this:
Vocal > Chords > Drums > Bassline > Melody
We’re using the VCDBM workflow which means we’re starting with a vocal. This can be something completely original that you recorded, or a vocal from a sample pack – the choice is yours!
We know the vocal is 124 BPM and in the key and scale of C Major, as this information is contained in the sample pack. If we didn’t know the key and scale of the vocal, we could use Mixed In Key Studio Edition to find it. Once we add the vocal to our DAW we can set the project tempo to match.
This is where things get really fun! We can add an instance of Captain Chords to our project, set it to C Major, and then use the ‘Play’ tab to jam along with our vocal to find an amazing chord progression to match. We decided on the following 8-bar progression with the timing set to 1-bar for each chord. We also layered two instances of Captain Chords to create a more interesting and fuller sound.
Dance music drums don’t need to be complex to sound great. It’s more important to use suitable drum instruments than adding lots of drum layers. A great starting point would be a sample drum loop with a 4/4 bass drum playing on each beat, combined with a clap on the 2nd and 4th beat of each bar. Add to that a tuned percussion element, such as a Tom, then a closed Hi-Hat with some swing to give a looser feel. Once you flesh-out the song, you should add some rhythm variations and breaks to help maintain listener interest.
When it comes to dance music basslines, less is more. One general rule-of-thumb; if there are chord changes, then the bassline should change to coincide. It’s not a hard-fast rule, but it’s tried and tested! In Captain Deep we can choose to ‘Follow The Chords’ and opt for a simple sustained-note bassline, then add some dynamic movement using sidechain compression. Use the filter to remove any unwanted mid-range frequencies. This will create a subtle, but weighted, bottom-end to our song without cluttering the mix and detracted from our melodic elements.
To help support the vocal melody we can create a counter-melody using Captain Melody. This subordinate melody will help to harmonize the vocals and fill any mid-range frequency gaps in our song. Using the ‘Idea Tool’ we can generate notes within ‘Idea Boxes’ for each two-chord section and then fine tune the results with the various parameters. Once we have found an idea we like, we can copy the idea box across each chord and choose to ‘Update Lanes’ to ensure note tensions remain relative to each chord in the progression – viola!
“Captain can inspire you. I’m using it every day and showing my friends. Captain Melody is super convenient for songwriting. I love the color feature that tells you how stable the note is in the scale. It’s also cool to see what melodies are suggested when you are looking for a new idea.”