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When you're jamming and have created a sound that you think would be really good if only you combined it with another layer or two, but you're not sure what it needs, what do you do?

I've had this problem before, but it happened again last night. I can tell the sound has potential, but that it doesn't stand up on its own. Thing is, not being very used to building sounds by layering, I'm not sure how to go about beginning the process of experimenting with layers to fit around it. Perhaps it's too abstract a question, but if anyone has any tips or workflows they'd be willing to share, I'd be very interested.

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Well, in the abstract, you could begin by literally experimenting. The "sound" you have created, whether it be a single instrument or a few, still has sonic characteristics. As a first step, try adding something that you perceive to have a lot of contrast to those characteristics. Such as if the sound is very slick or smooth, add a layer that is grainy or gritty. If your original sound is very continuous or sustained, add a sound that is choppy. You can also add layers of very similar sounds and create a "build up". In every case let your ear be your guide. Very quickly you will find that certain combinations are more interesting to you than others, and from there some answers should emerge as to the next steps to take.

A great reference point is music whose sonic qualities you admire. Even a small section of a song can point at something you have been looking for. I dont write music ANYthing like Imagine Dragons, but the song Thunder has what sounds like an instrument solo with is actually Reynolds close mic-ing himself with a filter and in the CD version the voice is removed leaving only the filtered version. (Live it seems the voice is retained in the mix) Point being: that sound is something that sent me looking for a way to replicate it.

If you hear something interesting, pursue it. If something is missing, you don't so much hunt for the sound as try to grow it. Well, maybe its a bit of both.

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