How do you work on your tracks?

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How do you work on your tracks?

Post by gcoudert » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:10 pm

Just wondering...

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
Do you let a specific sound inspire you?
Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?
Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?
At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
What instruments do you record first / last?

Just wondering what works best for you all.
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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by Psy_Free » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:45 pm

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio? : Sometimes
Do you let a specific sound inspire you? : Sometimes
Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first? : Both
Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow? : Go with the flow
Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later? : No
At which point do you fire up the sequencer? : Depends if I need to use one & when I plan to record a sequence
Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually? : Live & then overdubs (I use multitrack recorders, not a computer)
What instruments do you record first / last? : The one which finishes the track i.e. nothing specifically

I generally don't have a defined or rigid procedure, I just do whatever works/fits at any particular moment & let it flow.
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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by silikon » Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:20 pm

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio? Nope. Don't think I've ever started with the beat, oddly. Usually start with a melody/part and build from there.

Do you let a specific sound inspire you? Most often always. Usually a sample or a sound that has either happened on purpose or by happy accident.

Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first? Sometimes, but often the plans get overridden by the needs of whatever transpires -- which is never according to plan.

Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow? Usually flow-based.

Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later? Sometimes I'll sample environments on the phone or a sound or something that catches my ear and use it as a building block.

At which point do you fire up the sequencer? After I've got tired of manually playing it, or when the track demands such things.

Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually? Mostly live takes, but lots of things often require manual intervention to sit or sound correct.

What instruments do you record first / last? First: Often Basslines or some melody parts. But when I work in more 'noise' modes I start with a blank modular and patch parts together, literally. Last is often rhythmic parts (if any).
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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by tomorrowstops » Tue Oct 28, 2014 6:40 pm

The infancy stages of any project I work on typically comes from previous sessions of just plunking around on the piano and/or making noise on synths. Sometimes recorded on the computer, or on the phone. Inspiration for those sessions can come from many places - boredom, music theory studies, or watching movies. Sound can definitely inspire a direction, which leads to....

The hardest part; deciding what the framework of the project is going to be. What's the concept? What kind of orchestration? Those types of questions. I really enjoy putting together a concept before writing, to give me inspiration and direction. Very much akin to the creation of film score. I also enjoy trying to limit myself to xyz instruments. This can be a pain with synths of course, since they have such a wide range of possibilities within themselves! I love working within rules.....and then breaking them ha.

I tend to write and record all at the same time, mostly in the box. Then, replacing various elements with real synths and real instruments. Gotta say, this process backfired a bit on me with the last project, as I put a LOT of effort into my mockup, thus diminishing my focus on composition a bit. By the time I got to recording the real instruments, a lot of the original inspiration/vibe was lost, and it turned into more of an 'crossing things off a list' exercise than inspired performances. *Somehow* it all worked out in the end and I've got something I'm happy with, but certainly not what I set out to create. Since then, I've made a vow to overhaul my pre-production process on this next project; keep the full realization of orchestration to be discovered at time of tracking, heard mostly in my imagination before hand! So hopefully lots of pencil and paper, but most likely notation software with minimal minimal MINIMAL plugins (Sibelius or Logic). Its gotta be copied for players to read anyways.

The tracking process is usually building one layer at a time, instead of a group performance. I try to perform each layer by hand, but I'm certainly not afraid of editing and manipulating performances to where I want them. I've done it all different ways really. I start with whatever the key rhythmic element is (i.e. drum kit or synth sequence) and build from there.

This topic is a favorite of mine - I love to see how everyone executes the creative process!

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by commodorejohn » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:23 pm

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
It varies from song to song, but I usually start with some strongly rhythmic element (usually a bassline, sometimes a drum pattern or melody,) as I find it easier to build off of something that gives me natural reference points for timing and rhythm.

Do you let a specific sound inspire you?
Frequently this is sort of how I start a song - I'll come up with some patch I like, noodle around with it, and hit on something that hooks me into the songwriting process. This isn't always the rhythmic element I mentioned - sometimes I'll hit a snippet of a melody or a chord progression, think "alright, gotta make a song with this," and then lay down a rhythmic part to match it before actually adding the part that inspired me.

Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?
I only rarely plan ahead before starting a piece, but sometimes (especially with longer pieces - "Remnant of the Universal Veil," for example) I'll get partway in and stop to work out what I want the overall structure of the piece to look like before diving back in to the actual songwriting.

Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
The vast majority of my songwriting is go-with-the-flow - I tend to get into the groove of a piece and just keep plugging away until it's done (even to the point of some of my shorter tracks being done in the space of an afternoon.) I do have some common fallbacks for when I think "hmm, needs something here," though - I particularly tend to throw in syncopated organ/organ-like parts or some kind of arpeggio when I want to punch up a section, and I like to revisit previous sections with a changed-up, more active bass or drum line.

Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?
Sorta-kinda. Sometimes I'll hit on a snippet of a melody or chord progression that I like, but can't get a feel for making an actual song out of it, so I'll write it down or save it in the sequencer for future reference. Sometimes this leads to surprising results - I had a particular snippet I wrote when I was reading The House on the Borderland that sat around on my hard drive for around three years before finally getting worked into "Remnant of the Universal Veil," which had itself sat half-finished and awaiting further inspiration for months before I finally thought to stick it in there and got back on track to finish the rest of it. (It's the bit in the middle that sounds like it wants to be the intro to "Tubular Bells," which I swear was unintentional.)

At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
Usually right when I get the first spark of inspiration. I find that it tends to die on me if I don't get right on it, so I try to start working on the full track as soon as possible.

Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
I started with MOD trackers, so I've actually tended to do primarily manual entry. This has changed a bit as I've gotten into hardware synthesizers and MIDI sequencers, since I've yet to find a MIDI sequencer that's anywhere near as good for manual entry as trackers (or a tracker that lends itself to MIDI control anywhere near as well as most sequencers,) so I've had to start doing more live recording.

What instruments do you record first / last?
Like I said, usually the bassline and/or the drums come first. Last is usually chord/pad stuff.
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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by UltimateOutsider » Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:11 pm

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
I start with a click track or a very basic 1-2 measure drum pattern and get the main melody for each song section down first.

Do you let a specific sound inspire you?
Almost never. Most of the time if I'm in front of the keyboard it's because I already have an idea. (My ideas come at the most inconvenient times; in bed, in the shower, in the car... I hear this is common, though). I can think of maybe two times where I was browsing through a synth's presets and something caught me, inspiring a song. But I very rarely browse presets, unless I'm just checking out a brand new HW/SW synth. There are just far too many.

Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?
When I was younger I frequently had the entire song mapped out in my head before I laid down the first track. Part of this was due to having more time to think about these things, and part was because I recorded everything live to tape, and I basically HAD to know how the whole thing was going to go down before recording.

Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
I am almost always simply trying to get the sounds/songs I hear in my head out into the open. Nearly every musical flourish I've done, whether it was a key or tempo change, or an unusual arrangement or production technique I'd never tried before was simply the result of trying to realize the music in my mind. (In other words, it's rarely a conscious academic/artistic choice.) Occasionally I'll challenge myself to use a specific production technique or limited toolset, but that's mostly just for learning.

Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?
Into my phone and iPod. Before smart phones I used a microcassette recorder or even called my own answering machine to sing little snippets. When I was a student I wrote out percussion patterns in my notebooks and had a weird little musical shorthand for melody lines while I was in class. I was a pretty bad student.

At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
From the beginning, these days.

Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
For my own stuff it's almost all live play, with some velocity compression applied afterwards, but I record one section at a time instead of all the way through like I used to do in the tape days. When I'm doing covers (another learning exercise), I sometimes mouse notes in if I'm working out a complex or hard-to-decipher part.

What instruments do you record first / last?
Usually start with the melody, but that's normally something that doesn't make it into the final recording. It's just a guide when I'm building chords and rhythm. The first "real" instrument I start with is usually bass.

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by sequentialsoftshock » Tue Oct 28, 2014 11:26 pm

yes
bonne chance

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by Ashe37 » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:47 am

sequentialsoftshock wrote:yes
aww man he stole my answer.

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by max badwan » Wed Oct 29, 2014 6:49 am

Ashe37 wrote:
sequentialsoftshock wrote:yes
aww man he stole my answer.
plus 1

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:40 am

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
Sometimes, usually, not always, depends.

Do you let a specific sound inspire you?
Generally if I'm recording with the modular I'll just be noodling until I come across something that sounds really cool and then that develops into a track.

Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?
Not usually, although when I have they've tended to come out 'better' (more song-like, with verses and choruses) than when I do things more free-form.

Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
I'm not sure I understand the question. I just do what it seems like the song needs.

Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?
No, my gear is hooked up through my Fireface to monitor anyway so it's no effort to record the final version straight away. Also when using a modular you often don't get a second chance with a sound, once it's gone it's gone forever.

At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
Right at the start. Sequencer is always going for me, even when I'm playing things in by hand.

Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
Both.

What instruments do you record first / last?
First depends on the song, last is generally noise/atmos or leads.

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by CS_TBL » Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:15 am

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?

Somewhere between 'rarely' and 'no'.

Do you let a specific sound inspire you?

No

Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?

Not really. I work vertically, meaning that I first fully orchestrate/arrange a couple o' bars. Then I copy/paste/change/explore from there.

Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?

When doing orchestral things, it's common to use most/all of those instruments anyway. But yea, when making xmas-music I intend to use sleighbells at some point. Into the other direction: for a game I've done this summer I chose not to use any brass. The rest is all there; strings, woodwinds, percussion, choir, just no brass.

Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?

Never, OMG, teh horror!

At which point do you fire up the sequencer?

At the start. I begin with an empty sheet and fill in the dots. In fact, I begin with an idea in my head, a visual picture or a concept. If I've nothing to do for any client, I'm usually not composing at all.

Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?

Each and every note is entered manually. Even my sleighbell tracks are some 40+ round robins of individual shakes.. :)

What instruments do you record first / last?

First strings.
Last is random.

Just wondering what works best for you all.

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by Miles Powerhouse » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:14 pm

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?

Usually drum patterns, sometimes riffs or arpeggios


Do you let a specific sound inspire you?

Sometimes, yes. Sometimes it's just a cool patch, sometimes it's an interesting sound I've heard, sometimes it's a record or song sped up or slowed down and possibly reversed. Hidden sounds.


Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?

Rarely do I have a strict "plan" for a song; I just wing it and go.


Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?

Both.


Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?

That's usually just piano stuff for me.


At which point do you fire up the sequencer?

I'll assume this means "computer" for me. It's usually as soon as I get an idea. I plan on using it less and less, though.


Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?

Usually depends on the following factors:

a. how complex the riff is
b. how much time I have
c. how quickly I start to morph the idea

Trying to get more jams in too, just making a riff and then working on it live.

What instruments do you record first / last?


What ever comes first/last in my mind.

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by calaverasgrande » Thu Oct 30, 2014 7:14 pm

I have two different ways that I work on songs.
One is that I just brainstorm and make a huge long 'jam' in my DAW and then edit out all the c**p parts.
The other is to build a song up from the ground from an idea that occurs to me. Usually when I am out running or biking.

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
I almost always construct a beat first or load up a rhythm in on of my drum machines. I've got a very particular method for making beats that I've evolved over the years. Both form being a drummer and from working with hip hop groups.
Do you let a specific sound inspire you?
Funny you should mention that. Quite often I'll be RTFM-ing and will stumble across a prefect sinister patch sound that will just lead to me staying up all night making music. Did that the other day with PPG 2.V, a softsynth I've had for years, but hadn't read the manual for recently.
Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
I'm pretty old school in that I always include a beat, bass, melody and counter-melody. Quite often the vocal is just a sample or music concrete type thing. Sometimes I deliberately leave out an element, or mute it in the final mix just for experiments sake.
At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
Always.
Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
Both. I use a mix of hardware recorded as sound files (non midi analog gear) and softsynths. Quite a lot of what I like to do is simply not possible for a human to do as a drummer or keyboardist.
What instruments do you record first / last?
Drum Machine/Sequenced drum AU/VST first always. Vocals last.
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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by Voodoo Ray » Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:54 am

Do you start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
55% of the time.
Do you let a specific sound inspire you?
45% of the time
Do you plan the track in your head or on paper first?
Mixture, although sometimes the planned idea doesn't work out as well as expected.
Do you make a point of including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
Mostly go with the flow. Sometimes you're just in the zone.
Do you record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?
Yes. But I use a tape machine.
At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
Always.
Do you only record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
Both are valid. Each more suitable for different tasks.
What instruments do you record first / last?
Varies.

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Re: How do you work on your tracks?

Post by garranimal » Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:34 pm

Start with a beat / drum pattern / arpeggio?
Seldom do I start with rhythm and movement elements. Usually its about pinning down the feel or chord progressions to a click track.

Specific sound inspire you?
Absolutely. After noodling w/ certain timbres and effects, will dictate what and how it gets played. This is probably how most of my track ideas originate.

Plan the track in your head or on paper first?
There is no plan. More like a process of discovery, unfolding, and layering. Everything comes from the essential first idea, to help support that idea.

Including certain musical elements or do you just go with the flow?
I may try to include certain elements, but if they do not sound good in the mix I will ax them.

Record rough ideas into your phone or whatever and develop them later?
When I discover ideas at latent times I use a portable field recorder, or more often take an improvised video shoot, to revisit them later.

At which point do you fire up the sequencer?
When I feel I have a track idea worth pursuing. It isn't something I have to push, it will draw me in.

Record live takes or do you ever enter notes manually?
Both are very interesting to me. I record live first, then fix a couple of botched notes here and there if necessary. Some of the non-midi gear I am using will dictate live recording.

What instruments do you record first / last?
I layer things in a hierarchy. 1) Whatever is driving the ideas behind the track come first. 2) I will try to pin down a beatloop to capture the feel, then record rhythm variations later. 3) Bass, must have bass. 4) Viscera, like arpeggios and pads that fill out the track. 5) Then I render some sound effects, swells, samples, whatever else it may need as long as it helps the track come together and do not sound like last minute additions.

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