Workflow question: salvaging a messy "spur of the moment"

So I threw together something last night in an effort to test out some new samples and vst instruments I just purchased and now I’ve ended up with a beautiful mess that I want to salvage. I started out improvising a simple piano part then, in a bit of a frenzy, I began adding more instruments until the piece finally began to resemble something that I could maybe start to mold into a cohesive piece of music.

The problem is I kept adding parts in an effort to not lose the inspiration before cleaning up the mess that is the piano part. It doesn’t help that my chops, limited to begin with, got rusty over a period of 18 months. This is the first thing I’ve done since getting my DAW back on line that I don’t hate and it didn’t start out as something meant to be worth keeping.

There are motivic elements and a few whole phrases that will work for a finished piece and an arrangement that also started to present itself. The piano part and the first couple of instrument additions are, while not necessarily all over the map, straying into unusable territory, though. I usually quit adding instruments at a much earlier point than this which is why it feels like a mess now. Each instrument that was added on top got closer and closer to where everything should end up musically but now the aforementioned foundation needs to be rebuilt without destroying the overall spirit that put me in a frenzy to begin with.

I really like where the music wants to go. Very Christmasy, with strings, trombones and trumpets, choir voices, sleigh bells, and the classic holiday staple, DX7 tubular bells (nothing says Christmas these past 30 years quite like the DX7, LOL). Where it stands right now, it’s a mess but within that mess are these moments that I find… it’s hard to describe. I don’t want to lose that, whatever it is.

I’m trying to figure out where to start deconstructing and rebuilding it all from a compositional and technical standpoint. Top down? Somewhere in the middle? Keep the tracks frozen at the top of the arrange window and rebuild/re-record new tracks below them? I’m not much into cutting and pasting.

Anyone else ever have this problem? Surely. How did you go about solving it?

Thanks in advance.

You can try to just re-write the entire piece in the sequencer, starting by defining all the notes as full notes (eg 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 etc).

I thought about your approach you suggested and split the difference. I went into the midi editor and adjusted what was there by hand; time consuming but it revealed that most of the parts weren’t as harmonically incoherent as I initially thought. It was a mess, to be sure, but it’s started to coalesce.

Thanks for the different perspective. Eighteen months away from this and it feels like I’ve forgotten everything I once knew.