Songwritng: From Bedroom To Studio

Article by Juan Abella

As a musician, I’ve never followed rules or scales. I’ve always let my passion and ears lead. Today, here’s 5 ideas on my songwriting workflow:

Songwriting: From Bedroom To Studio

    1. Improvise Until You Get An Idea You Find Interesting
      When you’re creating something new, don’t try to follow any paths. Just start playing whatever and combining different notes waiting for something to trigger an idea. I usually use a guitar to create the note progressions as it is the instrument I’ve played the longest. Chords in my case, condition me to follow certain melodic paths which I want to avoid, so, by using notes and not chords, I create a melody but have more options. I can go minor or major in every case, besides the rhythm variation. With that being said, you don’t have to be a great guitar player, bass player, or piano player to write a good and catchy melody.
    2. Give The Song A Structure
      Once you have one or more interesting melodies that you can repeat and put together, is time to give the song some structure. Although there are many established song structures one can work around, your creation might have it’s own, and that’s great. Lots of popular songs don’t have a common structure. But it’s a good practice to write it down so you can visualize the sections of your song, along with the lyrics for each one of them.
    3. Find Your Singing Voice
      Once the note progression and the structure are defined, it’s time to find a lead melody. The way I usually do it is playing what I have and humming different ideas on top of it. Sometimes it can be the same note progression, sometimes it can be something that goes in and out of the progression or you can have another melody of its own that is complementary and contrasts well with the first one. I usually try to go for the latter. This singing voice will lead the song, whether if it has vocals, or if it’s an instrumental.
    4. Adding Emotion To The Mix
      Now it’s time to inject some emotion into it. Whether it is a instrumental or has vocals, every song needs to have a unique feeling and mood. For instrumentals, try exploring ways to reflect your emotions as you perform your song. Try experimenting with dynamics and silence (dead space), besides the melody and the rhythm. When vocalizing, try to focus on the rhythm of the words.  This will help develop the rhyme scheme and the message. Do you want your words to be clear and honest, or dark and mysterious? Your audience will appreciate your authenticity.
    5. Own It!
      Now that you’ve got your words and music, it’s time to get into the performance. This is the way we express our musical ideas and emotions. After practicing a new song over and over, we start finding new ways of expression. dynamics and arrangements, that will shape the purpose of the song. It’s our job to own the song as we perform it whether in the studio or on the stage. This will glue all the elements together and will help us deliver our story to our audience.
How will you use these tools and ideas in your songwriting and art? I’d love to hear from you.
Article by Juan Abella
image credit: Adi Goldstein

Article by Jose Chipi Estrada

Collaborating is an essential tool as an independent musician…

…and technology has allowed marvelous distance-collaborations in the last couple of decades, but it used to be either too complicated or too expensive. Today it has become quite accessible and reliable to collaborate, and not only that but because of the latest circumstances, even mandatory. Fortunately, now you don’t have to be a recording engineer or network assistant to achieve it, and we’re going to help you do it. Today, here’s our

5 Essential Tools You Need To Produce And Collaborate From Home

    1. Setup Your Home Studio
      The basics are, a microphone, an audio interface, a desktop or laptop of any kind, reference speakers or monitoring headphones, MIDI keyboard and an acoustically treated room. If you’re a singer or an acoustic instrumentalist, then focus on getting the best microphone you can afford. Also treat your room, try to remove all the echo you can, check some videos or articles on how to do so, you don’t need to spend much money on it, but you need to do some furniture re-arranging. If you’re a producer a nice MIDI keyboard and a powerful computer would be the ideal and some good headphones because treating your room properly for mixing would take some cash off your wallet. And finally, you need the highest speed internet you can afford, you will find that transferring files and having online sessions will feel much more comfortable with a stable connection.
    2. DAWs and Plug-ins
      This could be overwhelming, fortunately almost all of them offer free trial versions except for my recommendation for you. Logic Pro X would be my choice if you can afford it and more importantly if you own an Apple computer since it won’t run in any operating system. There are many other DAW’s that you can use but they’ll be more expensive and maybe a little harder to use like Pro Tools, Cubase, Ableton, etc. There are also cheaper ones like Reaper for only $60 and free ones like Cakewalk and Waveform which you can use to record your ideas quite proficiently. There is a special mention for collaborating and that is Soundtrap. You can try it for a month free of charge and they have subscription plans. They offer a web-based platform with real time collaboration, which means many people can be logged at the same time and record at the same time in the same session.
    3. Conferencing Rooms
      You’ve probably have heard many people using Zoom for work or school, well it turns out it will be useful to you too. With apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, etc. you can do songwriting sessions, exchange ideas and have barnstorming meetings to plan the new strategies with your band members.
    4. File Transfer and Storage
      This is an important yet forgotten one. The easiest way to share your projects is just to send the audio stems through file transfer sites like WeTransfer, but those services eventually delete your files and you can’t get them back if you don’t have them backed up. So, I recommend that if you’re short on money get all of them, Dropbox, Mediafire, Google Drive, Drive One and similar services, with a free account of each one of those you can store up to 15 to 20Gb of audio or more. The best option is to actually invest in paying a pro subscription from one of those so keep everything in just one place. A special mention goes to Gobbler, which offers direct integration to DAWs like Pro Tools and Cakewalk Sonar and promises to include more soon. It has a free version that offers 5GB and then you can hire its services if you want to expand your storage.
    5. Remote Software
      If you want to go pro, then you have to increase your investment and spend some money in specialized software. One of the first applications you want to consider is a Plugin called Audio Movers, it will allow you to share your DAW sound to remote clients or collaborators. They would be able to hear in high definition with very little latency. It’s a subscription service and only for monitoring and listening. You can use this software with the likes of Zoom to share your DAW screen while you’re mixing or recording and have a more complete experience. To do remote recordings there are other tools like Sessionwire, Source-Connect, Steinberg VST Connect for example that will virtually connect your DAW to your collaborator’s DAW or allow them to connect directly to your session and have real-time recording sessions. Some of them are subscription based and some are one-time purchases like Steinberg VST Connect (for Cubase only).
There you go, if you manage to get at least from 1 to 4 you’re set to collaborate with anyone you want from wherever you want. So, let’s keeps those tracks recording and the music flowing! How will you use these tools in your workflow? I’d love to hear from you.
Article by Jose Chipi Estrada
image credit: Panos Sakalakis
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