Track starting tools
In an ideal world, you'd approach ever music making session with a head full of ideas and the enthusiasm to turn them into fully-formed productions.
Sadly, it doesn't always work out like that, and there are inevitably going to be times when that creative spark just won't watch fire.
On those occasions, there are various things you can try. Our list of 10 fresh ways to start a new track might be all you need to solve the problem, but if you're still struggling to get going, maybe a plugin could get things moving.
We've put together a list of 10 instantly inspiring plugins that will kickstart your creativity, complete with videos showing what each one can do. When you're feeling drained and going through the motions, maybe one of these can help.
1. Kirnu Cream
An evolved, inspirational take on sequencing that places a wildly flexible real-time, keyboard-triggered pattern sequencer inside your DAW.
With four tracks and chord memory, it’s a thumping, pumping powerhouse.
2. Michael Ourednik Argotlunar
Granular processing lets you break down a signal into constituent “grains” that can be manipulated in a variety of ways - the results can be unpredictable, but very often exciting.
With Argotlunar, you can turn a riff into an ambient atmosphere or drums into an alien landslide.
3. Audio Damage Automaton
What happens when you turn John Conway’s Game of Life cell replication simulation into a sequencer controlling Stutter, Modulate, Replicate and Bitcrush effects? Automaton is the answer!
Results range from subtle effects like humanising and fills to wild rearrangements.
4. Sonic Charge Synplant
Free of traditional knobs and sliders, Synplant lets you break away from standard synthesizer designs and work in a totally new way, growing new sounds organically from seeds.
Genetic algorithms are in play, but you needn’t even think about that to grow exciting new sounds.
5. Plogue chipspeech
There has never been a better way to get your Cyberman on! Simply type in the text you want chipspeech to speak/sing and play the results from your MIDI keyboard or sequencer.
Stuck for a lyric? Type in a string of gibberish, copy/paste from spam mails, etc, and see what comes out!
6. Sugar Bytes Turnado
This multi-effects plugin houses two dozen one-knob effects ranging from the mundane (Phaser, Flanger) to the bizarre (Reactor, Spectralizer).
A supremely quick and intuitive tool for transforming your sounds creatively, this is one weird and wonderful plugin!
7. Inear Display Eurydice CM
You can no longer buy the full version of this monumental multi-effects machine, but the CM version has more than enough to inspire. Its Buffer, Filter, Crusher and Delay effects, four LFOs and flexible routing can launch even the most ordinary sound into unknown territory.
8. iZotope Stutter Edit
BT is a record-holding microediting maestro, and he teamed up with iZotope to make this remarkable processor that can be played like an instrument.
It chops, filters, gates, slices, stutters and otherwise reconfigures any incoming signal. The ideal tool for any experimental beatmaker or remixer.
9. Celemony Melodyne
Much more than just a tuning tool, especially in its Assistant and Studio incarnations, Melodyne can detect the pitch of mono and polyphonic signals and adjust them at will.
The creative possibilities are truly mind-boggling, from deconstructing tracks to rewriting vocal parts or guitar chords in a few clicks.
OK, this one isn’t a plugin, but it’s too inspiring to exclude.
Photosounder is an amazing sound design tool, allowing you to not only convert images to sound and vice versa, but also to edit and draw sound with familiar art tools.
It’s a perfect creative antidote for when you’re getting nowhere in your DAW.
Get 20 track-starting ideas, 10 workflow-accelerating techniques, 10 easy music theory tips, 40+ videos, and tons more with Computer Music's Instant Inspiration issue (221, October 2015)