any tips on how to escape the boring beat loop syndrome?

Ultimately, you have to come up with a non-linear way of thinking about music arrangement in a way that makes sense to your way of thinking and your creativity. Try to think of the entire arrangement outside of the verse-chorus-verse structure. I build variations on loops and once you use a pattern, I use a variation of it but never re-use the original pattern.

I like to listen through and once I use the same pattern and it variation over maybe 24 bars (say pattern A is first 8, then variation A2 is 9-16, then A3 for 17-24).

I also try to vary the size of these "sections" so they aren't all the same length, which helps with variation, though you don't want to be as drastic here as it'll remove too much of the musical structure and won't sound cohesive, it'll sound like a much of small ideas kinda lumped together. So maybe B will be 25 to 32 and B2 will be 33 to 40 with no B3.

Finally, once I have the whole arrangement I like I'll go back and edit individual bars and throw in variation at the transition between sections (maybe last two bars of A3 switch up, variation in last bar of A1 etc.). I'll also go back and do the same type of variation for automation sound parameters later but I usually do the sounds after all the arrangement is done.

That's how I work but I have a friend that will play a few chords or come up with a lead and then once he has a few patterns, he'll then just repeat them in a simple pattern. But he'll go through and then play all the drums in live from start to finish. He'll naturally play a bunch of variations then he'll go back and keep what he likes and clean it up. The variations in that instrument then will give him ideas for the instruments he already composed. Then the third instrument may make him chance the first two which may make him revise the third, etc. he'll do this all the way until he has a full arrangement. It drives me nuts to watch him but it works well for him and mine works for me. If we tried each other's way, we probably be slower, less inspired, etc.

One way you could find out what works for you is take a really dynamic arrangement of a song you like a recreate it. Don't worry about the sound design, just pick instruments/presets that sound close and focus on the musical side. Based on how you recreate it, you may get some ideas as to how you think musically. Then, you can apply it to your own songwriting.

Good luck.

/r/trapproduction Thread