“All of these songs sounds exactly the same.”
When you’re a musician, it’s an infamous phrase that you don’t want to hear come out of anyone’s mouth, especially your own. That said, many new EDM and electronic musicians run into the phenomenon where they feel as if all of their tracks are identical when put side by side.
Fear not. You’re not doomed to identical recordings once you figure out subtle ways to switch up your sound and slightly alter your recordings. Rather than reinvent the wheel or start from scratch, consider the five things you can do your recordings to help them stand apart.
Experiment with Wavetables
Sometimes the most important elements of your recordings are based on what’s “under the hood” of your tracks. When dealing with synths in particular, trying new wavetables and waveforms can be a game-changer toward giving your keyboards a more epic, “sweeping” sound or polished vibe. Thankfully, there’s no shortage options from this ultimate list of free serum wavetables that you can integrate with your DAW to start transforming tracks ASAP.
Change Your Drum Presets…
Even if you’re totally in love with the bass kick or snare sound that you’ve recently discovered, make it a point to not use the exact same drum kit on each and every track. Drums are obviously integral to electronic music: just as a guitarist would change up their tone or the levels on their amp or pedals, electronic should do the same with their drums. Having a variety of drums on deck is an absolute must for composers who don’t want their tracks to grow stale.
…and Beat Patterns
While you may be totally in love with four-on-the-floor style tracks, using the exact same beat pattern can grow tedious as your tracks mesh together with no differentiation. Consider dedicating some time specifically to playing around with different beats and saving them, experimenting beyond the traditional 4/4 time signature.
In fact, electronic legend Deadmau5 has been criticized in the past for using identical beat patterns which make his catalog seem more uniform. Ironically, Deadmau5 has thrown the criticism that all EDM sounds the same, signaling the need for electronic musicians of all walks of life to constantly evolve their sound.
Mess with Your BPM
On a related note, slowing up or speeding down your sounds can give your tracks a whole new aura without actually changing the fine details of your composition. For example, a faster 140 BPM track can be turned into something more chilled out and melancholy when slowed down to 100 or 90 BPM. Much like beat patterns, finding the ideal speed for your songs makes a massive difference when listening to tracks side-by-side.
Try Some New Chords
If you’re recycling the same chord progressions over and over, it’s no surprise that your catalog will quickly grow tedious on your listeners. Try to throw in some minor chords or play with pitch-shifting to ensure that you aren’t only using the same sounds time and time again. The more chords you incorporate into your repertoire, the better.
Despite popular belief, making your tracks seem less uniform doesn’t have to be rocket science. Instead, consider the subtle ways to inject more personality into your recordings and give them a whole new vibe for your listeners.