Armin van Buuren shares how he finds melodic inspirations for his music
Armin Van Buuren, Five times the number one DJ in the world has his own radio show called ‘A State Of Trance‘ and has his own label called ‘Armada‘. The legendary DJ & Producer shares his workflow with aspiring DJ & producers in his masterclass called: ‘Armin Van Buuren Teaches Dance Music’. We have compiled some techniques that Armin Van Buuren adopts to find his melodic inspirations.
Working in those big studio’s with big artists can be intimidating, but don’t worry. They are working in the same way you are. Armin’s process of writing a song isn’t a standard process that happens with every song. It all happens in an organic way. Grab your guitar, piano and just play. It’s all about having fun, so you don’t need to feel the pressure to make a hit record. Be yourself, because you are your own sound. Don’t try to be someone else, as it will block your creativity and productivity.
If it sounds good, it is good. If there are any rules, break them. Do what you think is right. As an experienced musician, like Armin Van Buuren, you gain a lot of knowledge. But be careful with putting too much knowledge into your music while writing a song. Having a lot of knowledge is a must, but it can hold you back from being creative. Be in the moment and let it take you on a journey. It’s all about the idea in your head and it doesn’t matter how you reach and complete that idea.
‘If it touches you, record it and start fooling around with it’
Especially in Trance music, it is important to have a powerful melody, that’s why Armin starts with the chords, to lay down the structure of the track. You can start with the drums, but it’s more effective to have a melody as a foundation. A great way of creating chords and melodies is looking at the chords of other songs. Especially classical music contain these chords that are timeless. Every hit record contain these chords. So why not grab these chords, as an inspiration and create new chords out of it. Add a top melody that goes well with the chords and the foundation of the song is ready.
You can use melodies in different ways. In the most common way, where the melody is being supported by the drums. But you can also use the melody to create the rhythm of the song. For example Armin’s A State Of Trance anthem ‘I Live For That Energy‘ main melody contains only two notes. The top notes keep playing on the same notes, but the bass line of the piano is moving up in the scale which creates this tension in his songs. He isn’t using all the notes of the scale, but he is using the advantage of the rhythm. This way of structuring your chords and melodies will create that epic feel.
The most effective melodies are those who you can sing along with. For example the ‘Seven Nation Army‘ track. The melody is really simple, but really effective. Most of the people that are listening to music aren’t musically trained and don’t understand complex melodies. The last thing you want is people not understanding your music. You want a stadium filled with people singing along to that melody. Keeping it simple is key.
Being one of the best DJ’s for such a long time, will give you the luxury to work with big artists. While creating a song you can get professional input to make your songs even better. But Armin still sends his songs to friends or other DJ’s, to check if they like it or not. Feedback is like a puzzle piece where you need to complete the big puzzle. So good ahead and ask for feedback!
Not being creative or productive for a longer time is normal. It is happening to everybody. Try some new approaches, like:
- Using an acapella of a song you like and start to remix it
- Dig into your toolset and look for a sound you like
- Start listening to some music you like
- Start working with some loops/beats
- Scrolling through previous projects and use the sounds that inspired you
Armin: ‘but if nothing works, grab your PlayStation’
The techniques stated here are a synopsis of the complete Masterclass by Armin Van Buuren. Armin van Buuren’s masterclass is available at the price of $90 for lifetime access, or $180 per year for the All-Access pass, which grants unlimited access to all new and existing masterclasses. You can check out Armin Van Buuren’s masterclass by clicking the button down below.
Armin Van Buuren Masterclass
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Image Credit: Marc van der Aa