Every musician is naturally drawn towards new experiments. That is precisely how one finds their true style. One of the common hurdles of recording experiments in the studio is the dearth of something genuinely new. Inspirations are not elusive but unique ideas are. What a musician may try might have been tried and done many times before. There has to be some kind of a strategic approach too. Recording experiments cannot always be unplanned, random or instantaneous. Here is a comprehensive guide to try new things in the studio.


  • Explore aleatoricism during your recordings. Aleatoricism is incorporating the element of chance. Bring some randomness into a composition or track you are working on. Let your composition take an unexpected turn at some stage.


  • Try beat matching and manipulate the tempo of multiple tracks to decipher hidden melodies or rhythms. This is an essential technique used by DJs and can lead to amazing revelations.


  • Sonic experimentation has always fascinated musicians. Try cranking it up and you may find a truly different kind of sonic destruction. The gear in your studio will obviously influence how much you can crank it up but do test the limits.


  • Explore double tracking by stacking the multiple takes of a particular part of your composition. This kind of layering often changes the sound you have just produced. It is not a new technique. Studios have been using it for decades now.


  • Experiment with the audio effects. Aim for a transformation. Do not hold on to your original creation. The goal is to see how your sound changes as you incorporate different effects.


  • Always explore field recordings whenever some organic sounds can improve your composition. Many tracks can sound much more natural when audible elements of the real environment are incorporated.


  • Use gates, not only to eliminate noise but also on unconventional sources. You can use expanders and gates to route their sidechains to distinct sources.


  • Use humanizer tools. Every once in a while, musicians and mixers or producers should go beyond the grid.


  • One of the easiest recording experiments but also more uncertain is jamming. There could be many jamming sessions when you do not come out with anything substantial but the few moments of pure magic demand spontaneous improvisation.


  • Try to juxtapose disparate sources and see how well they complement in a particular track. This is an effective way of showcasing your experimental self and emphasizing on the contrast.


  • Be clever with the key change. Listeners, especially avid fans, can gauge an upcoming key change. Use key change as a surprise.


  • Layering different sounds or multiple versions of the same composition and some relevant samples is a useful technique. You never know what will be the eventual outcome of stacking different sounds and it may be a pleasant surprise.


  • Switch modes and explore different moods. Every mode has a particular melodic signature. You have to toy with the element of drama and the feel of the sound for effective experimentation.


  • Explore the full spectrum of noise. While much of the noise you can comprehend may be utterly futile and totally irrelevant for your composition, some sounds could be useful and their incorporation would be creative.


  • Try oblique strategies like the card based tool of Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno. At times, you have to do something oblique to shuffle things up so you can think out of the box.


  • Parallel chains are a useful technique to process your tracks. You can come up with a distinct sound with parallel compression.


  • Quantize a portion of your composition and observe the patterns. You may be quite surprised.


  • Reverse the samples or your tracks to explore new textures. This is an old experimentation technique but it works wonders sometimes.


  • Always work on samples. They do not have to comply with any norm. Go wild and come up with as outlandish samples as you can. You may find something beautiful in the bizarre.


  • Change the time signatures to influence the rhythms and phrases. It is a simple technique with a lot of potential impact.


  • Have a sense of urgency when you experiment. This will shake and stir you up.


  • Varispeed empowers musicians to play with time. The classic technique can help you manipulate your recordings and you may have a distinct sound.


  • Use the waveform to gain visual insights and use such assessments to think of changes.


  • Try new instruments, such as a xylophone. Disrupting an expected pattern is great experimentation.


  • Always try anything you can think of. Do not let it die inside you. Seek out inspirations in any form and from any source you get. Experimentation will make it yours.



The A to Z Guide for Recording Experiments in the Studio

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