DIY by Yourself, of Yourself, sadly probably for Yourself...

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comfortstarr
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DIY by Yourself, of Yourself, sadly probably for Yourself...

Post by comfortstarr » Mon Oct 05, 2015 1:21 pm

The Glyn Johns article got me thinking about something I've been struggling with. I love his thoughts on bands and tracking together and having someone play a tom louder if they say they can't hear it, etc.

I'm not currently playing with anyone and do all my writing and recording by myself. I'm curious if people have approaches to doing this in a way that they find yields the best "performance." I'm sure the answer will be, "it varies." Where do you start? I'll usually generate ideas on a bass or guitar, then get that into Logic. I'll then usually add another part or two (or whatever), then different instruments, then drums. Sometimes I'll cheat and loop the original part, paste together an arrangement...

I guess the process question here is pretty entwined with people's writing process. I'd just be curious to hear some stories of how others record themselves.

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Post by A.David.MacKinnon » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:46 pm

My process is all over the place (probably like everybody else). Sometimes, but not often I'll write the whole tune on one instrument before hitting record. Other times the writing, arranging and recording get all mixed up together and one task effects all the others.
I'm working on new songs at the moment and this time I've been playing piano along to a drum machine to work out ideas. Those performances usually get chopped up and shuffled around. Then I add other instruments and/or vocals. Usually as the vocal melody develops it dictates changes to the structure and chords so I'll end up chopping and shuffling things again. Once I get to the point that the structure and lyrics are where I want them to be I go back to the beginning and re-record the song. If there's something good from the first version I'll keep it but the second version is mainly about full passes (not edits) of each instrument and getting the sounds and arrangement to work together.
I'd also add that switching between instruments while writing is a godsend. Nothing unlocks a song and helps me take it somewhere else like switching from piano to guitar or vice-versa. Learning to play drums has also been a game changer.

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Post by kslight » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:31 pm

Using loop record helps get started, and building a structure is one of the first things I do. Mapping out markers/cues/blocks, depending on what program I'm in. Building up a song additively after its structured and then working subtractively to lose the things that aren't important any more, or using them to keep dynamics going. I often cut songs way down if I feel like a part is "just jamming" (think like the album version outro of NIN's "Closer"), if I find myself losing focus its got to go..I would rather listen to one tight 2.5 minute song twice in a row than one 5 minute (or 7, or 12) minute jam session, because frankly sometimes the music just doesn't go anywhere that interesting. It depends.

It's very interesting for say my drummer to ftp me a tune which has full time drum machines, and I'll play to that...then when we go in the studio he plays half time...makes a totally different song. For better or for worse, sometimes.

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Post by dfuruta » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:55 am

first i figure out what the "core" of the song will be (guitar part, percussion, something else) and record that; then i write and record the rest of it. i use a click as necessary. my music tends to have many different instruments on each track, and so i build it up layer by layer.

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Post by vvv » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:27 am

Because I use percussion loops and stems, etc., I usually start with finding drums that will fit where I'm gong - sometimes cool drums will show me the way. When I have a arrangement I like (looking forward to what will come next) I go to either bass or guitar.

I'm a pretty busy bassist and play various styles and with various instruments and approaches (2 string slide, electric fretless, acoustic/electric, acoustic/electric fretless, long-scale vs. short-scale, drop-D or open tunings, pick vs. fingers vs. slide vs. slap-n-pop, FX vs. FX-less, etc.), and probably start with that the most. Even DI vs. amp can be a creative influence (a Meek compressor DI'd with dark EQ will write a different song than a room-mic'd solid-state combo vs. a tube 1/2 stack) ...

Musically, on guitar, I find that rhythms vs. riffs, and how/if to combine 'em, are the biggest variants, followed by the sounds used (delays, modulation, distortion, no FX, etc.) and of course the instruments used (electric vs. acoustic vs. 12 string electric or acoustic, and even Tele vs. Paul, etc.) as well as pick vs. finger vs. slide vs. Ebow vs. Sustainor. I seldom DI guitar, but obviously a clean Fender amp will write a different song than a gained-up Marshall.

At that writing stage I am already conceiving lyrics, and typically nearly complete them, next. (I sometimes have 'em pre-written, but not so much anymore, mebbe 10% or less).

The "steps", of course, are intermingled and so subject to change, replacement, removal or being added to as I go along, up to and including mix time, and then maybe again before I "master".

Sometimes a found sound (a bell, etc.) or a cool process onna backing vocal can alter arrangements. Yesterday I cut out a breakdown chorus and lengthened a double-time ... That was a lotta work onna already recorded song.
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Post by austin » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:41 am

I've always found that my performances are better if they're not to a click, so if I want a precise tempo, I will:
1. record guitar to a click
2. record drums while listening only to the guitar (no click)
3. replace the guitar while listening only to the drums.

That way the keeper takes were all done while listening only to "another" musician (me) in the headphones. Seems to work for me.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:46 am

most of my stuff is improvised. i start with a basic drum machine beat and put a guitar track to that. i'll just hit record and play for a half hour, see what happens.

then i'll go through that half hour and see if there's any good bits. arrange those into something vaguely coherent. that'll give me the overall outline of the song.

then usually do drums. i'll do a few takes and cut a master take together from those.

then i start piling on whatever i can think of. i can usually think of a lot. it gets dense.

then i think "this sucks", and it sits unloved and unlistened to for years.

and then eventually i dust it off, take 3/4 of the overdubs off, put a nice coat of paint on it and call it done.

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Post by comfortstarr » Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:15 am

austin wrote:I've always found that my performances are better if they're not to a click, so if I want a precise tempo, I will:
1. record guitar to a click
2. record drums while listening only to the guitar (no click)
3. replace the guitar while listening only to the drums.

That way the keeper takes were all done while listening only to "another" musician (me) in the headphones. Seems to work for me.
I'd been thinking of something like this too, it was percolating when I made the original post. Someone else mentioned learning drums. That's another thing I've been thinking of for a while. Of course, what I probably should unearth is someone to collaborate with.

Anyways... nice to hear from everyone about what they do/how they work.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:36 pm

>>>>then i'll go through that half hour and see if there's any good bits. arrange those into something vaguely coherent. that'll give me the overall outline of the song.<<<<

Shades of Miles & Teo!!

My "process" is all over the place too, if I'm writing "freestyle" (a situation that is not "write on-demand" and that is without a deadline). I oftentimes complete a song ahead of time (chords, melody, lyrics), then hash out an arrangement and record. Other times, I use processes liker many of you have described-- starting with a drum groove, bassline, or synth part and seeing where it develops. When collaborating, that can be a good way to approach things.

If it's "write on demand" (like a jingle session or show, or something for another artist), I will start with an objective ("a song about X" or "something with X in the title/chorus"), and work backwards from there.

I have also used what I call the "Scozzaro Method," which I have detailed in earlier posts here at the TOMB.

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Post by Drone » Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:32 pm

Can I mention you should not be sad about making music for yourself. I love listening to music, all kinds of artists, but nothing makes me happier than to have created a piece of music that I like as much as I like other peoples music, given that I'm my own harshest critic, it must be pretty good, and it's been made especially for me :mrgreen:

I have two modes of work.

1. Make all the noise and record it all at once, trying to get different elements on different tracks,but also getting what it sounds like in the room, try and record it as well as possible, and polish it after.

2. Found and recorded sound manipulation, start with somthing, and keep adding stuff and changing it until I'm happy, or fed up with it.

of the two I'd say #1 usually produces the results I enjoy more, but sometimes #2 surprises me.
The previous statement is from a guy who records his own, and other projects for fun. No money is made.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Tue Oct 06, 2015 1:48 pm

Gregg Juke wrote:Shades of Miles & Teo!!
damn straight. i could happily spend the rest of my life ripping off 'in a silent way'.

i can edit a whole lot better than teo though. :shock: :D :twisted:

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Post by drumsound » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:48 pm

You all go about it the hard way. I just have songwriters pay me to produce and record.


Seriously, though, this is an interesting thread.

Back in the 4-track days, I would come up with something to play and record it. I'd then listen and think of what could go with it, and record that. Rinse and repeat.

If I had a song, I'd go about it more traditionally, record drums, then bass, guitars etc.

The most recent was a song I wrote and submitted for a TV show theme. I hired a singer (because I'm not a good singer) and it worked quite well. The producers didn't use the song.

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Post by I'm Painting Again » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:04 pm

drums first

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