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How to speed up the pre-production process? Is it even necessary?
Old 21st January 2007
  #1
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How to speed up the pre-production process? Is it even necessary?

I dont know if this is really a problem.... but since I built my home studio I seem to spend a ****load of time on pre-producing each of my songs. It's not like this is really new because in general I always tend to write 1 song to get 1. I am just a perfectionist. I dont even bother with ideas that dont blow me away instantly after they come up. I mean, where's the point? Sure.. you can always mold something mediocre into something decent. But if it's not great to start with, I dont see any way for it to turn into something AMAZING. No matter how much time I'd spend on it.

What's your experience? How do you write? Any tips for speeding up the pre-production process? Is it even necessary to do that? Or do good things just require a lot of time? And how many songs do you finish (FINISH!) on average each month?

I am just always amazed at how writers in Nashville do 30-45 songs a month... at least that's what most of them say. It's insane. YES.. writing is their job, but I'm pretty sure that 90% of all those "songs" arent worth pursuing anyway.
Old 21st January 2007
  #2
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s0nguy's Avatar
 

As a staff writer and producer here in Nashvegas, I can tell you that there are a few writers that write that many songs. However, ask their publishers if they wish they would slow down... the answer is yes. They would trade 30 of those crap songs for one or two that rise above. There are also writers who get put in breach of contract because they might write 10 songs a year... but guess what... a higher percentage of those songs get recorded. Its all about finding the balance between quantity and quality.

Quantity doesnt breed quality. Even the biggest names, the Craig Wisemans and Rivers Rutherfords, have only about 4-7 percent of their catalog cut. I tend to write 30-50 songs a year. Out of those I might demo 12-15. And even then sometimes I am demoing only because my co-writer wanted too.

However, when I get my teeth into something and I know its a great song worth doing right.. the preproduction is as follows:

- Find tempo and Key
- Lay down locked in g/v to a click track in PT
- Have band play chart and play to that
- be open to changes that hit you in the tracking session... sometimes magic happens.

As long as you have the bones to the song and a good i dea of what you want in your head you're good. preproduction nednt be a huge time investment.

My tracking process is a little different than most demos here... having a nice studio in my home makes things a lot easier. I will go somewhere and do drums bass and acoustics... then spend a TON of time in OD and mixing..


Do I wish I could write more songs? yes...

When I listen to my recorded songs, am I proud of them because they dont sound like I went to a "churn and burn" demo house? Absolutely...

I chose the road of the writer/Producer/Mixer... I'm only one person so I just have to hit it hard each day and pray for the best.

Hope this helped a little bit..

-S0nguy
Old 21st January 2007
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s0nguy View Post
As a staff writer and producer here in Nashvegas, I can tell you that there are a few writers that write that many songs. However, ask their publishers if they wish they would slow down... the answer is yes.
Wow.. so most writers (in Nashville) actually just write that many songs cause they hope that it gives them a higher chance at scoring a "hit"? If that's true.. I dont know, to me writing songs is not a numbers game. If that'd be the case everyone could have a hit!
Old 21st January 2007
  #4
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Jose Mrochek's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
Wow.. so most writers (in Nashville) actually just write that many songs cause they hope that it gives them a higher chance at scoring a "hit"? If that's true.. I dont know, to me writing songs is not a numbers game. If that'd be the case everyone could have a hit!
it is a numbers game, I feel that the more I write the better I become specially when it comes to arrangement.

About your preproduction question, if it was done right.. then recording and overdubbing shouldn't take more than a couple of days or less to fully complete, so yes I think it's a great idea to spend time preproducing if you don't know exactly what you will do on recording day. And another great thing about preproduction is that when recording day comes, you will not have to worry of coming up with ideas, but you will worry about performance and picking the best take. (which is thought consuming enough)
Old 21st January 2007
  #5
Gear Addict
 

I think it depends. If you're the guy writing the song then I would try to make as many of those decisions as possible before you start recording (not the rough tracks).

If you're the engineer, then IMO, you probably shouldn't be doing pre-production, because you're not the producer. Now if you're the engineer and producer, well, that's different.

Now, the singer-songwriter, Nashville, situation is a slighlty different in that the pre-production is really what's going to shape the song into the "final" product.
Old 21st January 2007
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
I dont know if this is really a problem.... but since I built my home studio I seem to spend a ****load of time on pre-producing each of my songs. It's not like this is really new because in general I always tend to write 1 song to get 1. I am just a perfectionist. I dont even bother with ideas that dont blow me away instantly after they come up. I mean, where's the point? Sure.. you can always mold something mediocre into something decent. But if it's not great to start with, I dont see any way for it to turn into something AMAZING. No matter how much time I'd spend on it.

What's your experience? How do you write? Any tips for speeding up the pre-production process? Is it even necessary to do that? Or do good things just require a lot of time? And how many songs do you finish (FINISH!) on average each month?

I am just always amazed at how writers in Nashville do 30-45 songs a month... at least that's what most of them say. It's insane. YES.. writing is their job, but I'm pretty sure that 90% of all those "songs" arent worth pursuing anyway.


What Mosby said and get on of these. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Tyros2/

(NO KIDDING). You'll come up with more ideas than you could possibly imagine.

Danny
Old 21st January 2007
  #7
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"Lay down locked in g/v to a click track in PT
- Have band play chart and play to that"

What do you mean by this?
Old 21st January 2007
  #8
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5down1up's Avatar
 

for me the worst case that can happen ( and it happens a lot heh ) is, that your doing EVERYTHING on your own. i like writing songs quick & dirty with some others ( rare & hard to find people ) involved in that progress. it so easy shooting off some melodies and hear somone else sing or play them.

so sitting in front of a computer waiting for the holy inspiration to me is just : BORING BORING BORING

if a preproduction is neccessary or not ? if you keep the idea rough & fresh, chances are high that you gonna get confused in the middle of your progress.
advantage is that your experimenting a lot more and thats always a good thing to do. but when realizing, that the new found drumloop your browsing is more inspiring than the whole idea your working on. it can be an ugly perfect circle.

if you do the preproduction, you are way more into the whole thing. which can be misleading as well. its hard to keep the distance about whats good and what isnt.

a lot of stuff has left my place ( cause it needed to be done ) where i was thinking after a couple of days listening to it again ... damn ? where was i ?

i dont believe songwriting is a numbers game, it can be if you have somebody else you can interact with. if not, a Cmaj chord can become boring real fast ( even if its part of a lot of songs ).

the best thing to do is still imho giving away the parts and bringing some fresh brains & different skills to the music. some might be good in doing it all ( singing, drums, piano, strings, arranging, recording, mixing, mastering, painting the cover, etc. ). but thats rare.

i am looking forward what solutions will come up here, cool thread, good luck
Old 22nd January 2007
  #9
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s0nguy's Avatar
 

If youre writing for a living, it is a numbers game.... writing in Nashville is approaced as a few people go in a room at 10 am or 2pm, sit down, throw ideas around and hopefully have a verse and chorus by lunch. Come back... try to bang out the rest of the song.. If not, get another date to write and finish the song.

Show me a Songwriter who writes only when they are inspired and Ill show you a starving Songwriter.

About locking in the g/v to a click track... that means playing a guitar vocal arrangment of the song to a grid in ProTools...Nothing special.

-S0nguy
Old 22nd January 2007
  #10
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
I am just always amazed at how writers in Nashville do 30-45 songs a month...
Most of these songs are co-writes. That means 2 or three times as many ideas to start from. And at that level, they can craft a good song out of just about any old idea. If you had meetings with a couple of different songwriters every day of the week, you'd write that many songs too.
As far as preproduction goes, it depends on the purpose. If you're demoing the song for the players, consider that if you leave no room for interpretation, you're going to be missing out on the genius of 3 or 4 other players who might otherwise be able to contribute to your arrangement. My drummer prefers a piano/vocal demo to a produced demo, because he has good ideas and doesn't need a drum loop to point him in the right direction. However, if your players aren't especially inspired, or if you have a particular groove, or bass line, in mind, then doing the demo would be necessary for you to convey your vision.
Speaking generally, a great song will shine through any arrangement, and a poor one won't be disguised by production, since, even with a great singer and the best players in the world, it'll still be a crappy song. So consider why you're doing all the production. Maybe it's not needed. But if you enjoy it, why worry about it?
(There was a good thread about this a few days ago. I believe the title was 'when songwriting and production collide' or something to that affect.)
Old 22nd January 2007
  #11
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Jose Mrochek's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle duncan View Post
Speaking generally, a great song will shine through any arrangement)
I strongly disagree. Unless you are takling of a guitar and vocal, yes a good song should shine that way. But as soon as you start putting different parts, it better be well thought or you can screw up a good song VERY EASY.
Old 22nd January 2007
  #12
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djui5's Avatar
 

Pre-production is everything. If the song isn't right there, it's not worth recording IMO. If you can't play it on acoustic and really love the hell out of it, it's not worth it (unless your talking about rap or electronic music). Arrangement is your friend. Never underestimate arrangement.
Old 22nd January 2007
  #13
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uncle duncan's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose Mrochek View Post
I strongly disagree. Unless you are takling of a guitar and vocal, yes a good song should shine that way. But as soon as you start putting different parts, it better be well thought or you can screw up a good song VERY EASY.
I was looking at it from the perspective of an industry professional with good ears. They can recognize a great song, or a crap song, no matter what you do to it. (This would be more in the Nashville realm, where the term 'good song' refers to lyrics and melody.) But definitely in the realm of production, it's really easy to ruin a good song by piling a bunch of crap on top of it. This seems to be the biggest peril for self-produced artists - the artists who don't realize they need a producer. They get all wrapped in the production side of things, doubling parts, putting in pads, stacking up harmonies, and they lose sight of the big picture, which is supposed to be the song. Even some studio owners are in this boat. I know guys who can wring every last ounce of magic out of a song, and charge $60 per hour to do it, and, because they have a nice facility, they can get away with it. And the clients, equally as clueless as the studio owner, walk away happy!
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