If I’m stuck with a part of a song, feeling like the energy isn’t quite right, sometimes it can be helpful for me to remove a layer.
This is much easier than adding a layer! No brainstorming of parts necessary; you can simply mute parts.
I often like to experiment with muting parts at section boundaries — at the downbeat of perhaps a chorus or a verse or a bridge. And because what I’m usually listening for is a scene change — that precise moment when that switch is flipped and the feeling becomes different — I like to do these experiments not by manually muting the part as I’m listening back, but by actually programming the mute into the track (or simply by deleting the waveforms at the relevant moment. In either instance the cursor should be set to grid mode, so the transitional moment is precise). That way I can listen through the transition point without being distracted by having to do something.
This thought process includes when I want the energy in a song to intensify. Sometimes the best way to make something more intense is to strip it back, not add more to it. Like how some people’s voices quiet and lower when they’re the most serious.
Minimally — jamie