This is a pretty vague question, for which I apologise!
There are lots of people making music, and I consider myself among them. I produce many tracks each year and lots of people enjoy them. But I often feel like I don't really know what I'm doing and would find it difficult to branch out into different styles. Without the luxury of being able to do 3 or 4 years of full time music education it's hard to know where to start.
Recently I watched a video by Mike Verta called Composing Live where he showed his process for composing a piece. The process was basically:
- Decide what sort of thing you want to hear
- Play it
- Refine it
- Record it
For Mike, there was no explicit step 2. Once he knew he wanted some suspended chords and a memorable motif, he could just play that straight away. What he doesn't talk about is how he decides he wants suspended chords, and how he chooses several in a row that work well together without even thinking about it. Obviously if you stick to one key you can't go far wrong harmonically, but without some extra sense of purpose or direction you're unlikely to come out with anything compelling in terms of tension and resolution or melodic flow either. It takes me milliseconds to play an arbitrary suspended chord, but I have no idea which chord to play next.
So my question to other composers is this: what is your step 2? How do you go from having a general idea of the sort of thing you want to hear, to knowing which chords you want or what type of melody to use?