This unique sound may not be a special genre, but it could be a recognizable way that you combine instruments, how you arrange tracks, or how you play certain melodies. It may not even be possible to pinpoint exactly why it is unique. In my case I know I've succeeded when someone listens to my track and says "Yes - this is an Imphenzia track."
I started making music back in the early 1990s and as a method to learn I tried to copy the music of artists I admired. I repeatedly failed, many times over. I was disappointed at first but as time passed the failures turned out to be the key in creating my unique sound.
My advice to beginner artists (the target audience of this post) is to listen to the music you like and try to write down what you hear. Don’t look at midi data to find out exactly what notes are being played, exactly what instruments are used, exact melodies and note duration, etc.
Instead, use your ears and write down what you hear and what you like. Some of you are well educated in musical lingo while others may describe music in very generic terms. I, for example, listened to Astral Projection and I didn't (and still don't) know the proper musical terms for many things so I made very simple notes such as:
- The lead instrument plays melodic scales and often transforms in sound from muffled to crisp.
- One bassline plays a note on an interval offset to the kick drum. It also plays the same note many times over before transposing up or down.
- Another bassline plays rapid notes in succession. I suspect every 16th. The notes alter octave up and down rapidly. One note may occasionally be transposed up a semi tone.
- The percussion consists of a steady beating kick with a clap every other kick. A hihat plays in between every kick.
After you listen to the music and once you've written down some notes covering what you hear, start up your music making software and try to create music based on your written notes. To begin with, try to recreate a particular part that you like and not a full length track. Listen to it for a while then refer back to your notes and make necessary adjustments.
Avoid listening to the original music you based your notes on while you compose your own music. This may cloud your creativity and influence you to make micro adjustments to get it to sound exactly like the original.
When you have a piece of music that you are happy with you may become discouraged when you finally do listen to the music that you compiled your notes from. The original track will, most probably, still sound much better and it is important at this stage to realize that it is perfectly okay to feel this way.
Repeat this process over and over with different tracks. Try to make a complete track from each attempt and not just fragments and clips. You'll find that your skills will improve with each attempt (with some exceptions =) and that you will favor some elements that reoccur as you progress. It is a fair chance that the elements you favor are what makes you unique.
My conclusion is as comic as it is simple: Create your unique sound by failing to copy others.
Here are some examples of what some of my "failed" attempts sounded like in the mid 90s and what my music sounds like today:
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761296" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761451" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761635" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]
[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35761912" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=ff7700" width="100%" height="81" iframe="false" /]