October 24, 2010
Home Recording, Songwriting
In the Ancient Days, the only way to record a song was to get your guitar (or whatever) ready, hit the “Record” button and simply play the entire song straight through. If you wanted additional instruments or vocals, you listened to the existing tracks as you recorded those new parts, playing straight through the whole song each time.
The capability of “punching in” new material to fix weak passages in an otherwise great part began to break this pattern, but you were still basically playing (or singing) the song all the way through every time you put on a new instrument or vocal.
With the current-day DAW software that so many of us use (GarageBand, Logic, Cubase, etc.), you can still record a song this way if you want to. But, the amazing editing capabilities of even the simplest of these software packages allow you to take your creativity down paths that simply never existed before.
As an example, let me lead you through the process I followed to create a song that was never played all the way through by anybody, but rather was “assembled” from selected bits of previously recorded musical parts.
Read the rest…
June 28, 2008
If you have a set of electronic drums, you know how many sounds there are available for each kind of drum. My Yamaha DTX system has dozens of options each for the snare, the cymbals, the high-hat (open hit, closed hit, and pedal closure), and so on. The thing is, there is no limit on which sound can be mapped to which pad, meaning that you don’t have to assign snare sounds to the snare pad, tom sounds to the tom pads, etc. Anything can be anything!
One song I wrote preceded each verse with a snappy “ba-da-BAP” fill, with the “BAP” on the 4-beat just before the verse started. The “ba-da” was to be sixteenth notes on the kick. Um, sorry, I just can’t reliably hit the kick that fast in time. Now what? Once I realized I wasn’t using the floor tom pad anywhere in the song, I remapped it to the same sound and settings as the kick pad. Then I simply played the tricky fill with sticks on the floor tom and snare pads. But it sounds like I’m really fast on the kick!
[A longer version of this Mini-Tip appears in my eBook, Cheap Advice On Home Recording.]
May 20, 2008
When I took piano lessons, my teacher would sometimes have me play along with a ticking metronome to help me stay on beat and avoid speeding up or slowing down during the piece. This same concept applies to modern recording in the form of the “click track,” a metronome-like ticking recorded first, on its own track, to keep all the later parts synchronized. Some of the songs I hear online have the kind of rhythmic miscues and off-beat sections that can happen without a click track. My suggestion is to use one!
Some of the songs I record have a dramatic pause at some point, where everything hits on the 1-beat and holds through 2, 3, 4….then boom! Everything comes back in on the next 1-beat. Let me tell you, it is really hard to have all of the parts come in together like that after a pause without that tick-tick-tick to mark the time for you! Or what if the first instrument you record doesn’t play through the whole song?
Without a click, there may be a tendency to speed up during the song as you get “into” it. If you do this on the first instrument you record, the others are stuck with following it. If you do any copying and pasting from one part of the song to another, the tempos will line up only if you recorded with a click to ensure a steady pace. For all of these reasons and more, for most songs it is important for the first track you record to be that ticking metronome!
[An expanded version of this Mini-Tip appears in my eBook, Cheap Advice On Home Recording.]