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How to re-record your demo without loosing that 'spark'
Old 2nd March 2019
  #31
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Often the "spark" is just demo-itis.

"Demoitis - What happens when you listen to one version of something so much that when it’s properly recorded it’s difficult to accept." (Urban Dictionary: demoitis)

Just don't listen to the demo 1000 times like most creatives do.
Old 2nd March 2019
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warmer View Post
I don't think I've ever been able to re-record a really rough demo and make it better 'emotionally' if you get what I mean? How do people approach this, do you just have to let the old one go and make the new one it's own thing? Anyone got any examples of a rough demo they liked but a re-record that they like better?

Most recently I'm thinking about demo 1) phone recording

demo 2) re-record (still a rough demo), same piano, room but recorded with some sdc mics and string samples.
As a 3rd party quickly checking in, 1 doesn't have any kind of special magic to it that 2 is lacking. They have different vibes but both feel good. I think you're good.

For whatever reason iPhone recordings sound great. . the compression/saturation/destructive recording does something similar to tape that makes everything feel "nice."

I use this to my advantage all the time in sending out clips. An iPhone recording of a work in progress will sound amazing, where an mp3 bounce of the actual work in progress will sound very much like a work in progress.

Last edited by newguy1; 2nd March 2019 at 11:32 PM..
Old 4th March 2019
  #33
Quote:
Originally Posted by warmer View Post
I don't think I've ever been able to re-record a really rough demo and make it better 'emotionally' if you get what I mean? How do people approach this, do you just have to let the old one go and make the new one it's own thing? Anyone got any examples of a rough demo they liked but a re-record that they like better?
I learned a valuable lesson years ago: NEVER. RECORD. DEMOS.

Make the first recording your last recording. You cannot replicate the moment of conception.
Old 4th March 2019
  #34
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnny nowhere View Post
I learned a valuable lesson years ago: NEVER. RECORD. DEMOS.

Make the first recording your last recording. You cannot replicate the moment of conception.
Just last week I slapped down a quick demo of something so a friend could learn it and we could do it live together. I said something like, well, it's not a record but you can get the idea and blah blah blah. And she said, oh shut up, this is the record. Which wasn't 100% true, it needed some cleaning up, but she was essentially right.

But wheeling back around, fairly often the first time I lay down a song I get the tempo wrong. In those cases I give myself a Mulligan. Maybe more than one.
Old 4th March 2019
  #35
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The Convicted's Avatar
Back in 2001 I bought a used 4 track portastudio and a cheap radio shack mic. Didn't have a mic stand so I used a broomstick and duct tape, and recorded my ideas in the closet of my bedroom. I wasn't proud of the recording back then, but when I listen back to it now, I'm blown away.
It was the first time I had multi tracked so the ideas I had about different guitar parts I was able to lay them out and get them out of my mind. Later on when I recorded other demos of the same stuff with a full band it was even better. Today I am currently working on some of those same songs and almost finished with them, but I cant help but think to myself , that I wish that I could get some of those full band recording performances we did previously. The Performance really made a difference.
Old 4th March 2019
  #36
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Just last week I slapped down a quick demo of something so a friend could learn it and we could do it live together. I said something like, well, it's not a record but you can get the idea and blah blah blah. And she said, oh shut up, this is the record. Which wasn't 100% true, it needed some cleaning up, but she was essentially right.

But wheeling back around, fairly often the first time I lay down a song I get the tempo wrong. In those cases I give myself a Mulligan. Maybe more than one.
Same happens here - tempo, sometimes, can be tough - to find the sweet spot. Especially when the song lends itself to a flexible tempo.
Old 4th March 2019
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnny nowhere View Post
I learned a valuable lesson years ago: NEVER. RECORD. DEMOS.

Make the first recording your last recording. You cannot replicate the moment of conception.
Honestly I don't buy this at all. This is an emerging crutch brought on by the affordable personal studio. A byproduct of the unrehearsed make-as-you-write process by someone working alone in a room doing everything themselves.

There's a ridiculously long history of demos being cut and then a final record coming later that's absolutely amazing. Most records people love have been written, demo'd once, rehearsed to death and played live as things get felt out and finessed, demo'd again, gone to the professional studio, recorded over and over, and then nitpicked to death for months.

I find it impossible to believe that either 1. the vibe and energy of first moment cannot be replicated or 2. that the first moment is the best the performance can possibly be. Too much evidence to the contrary.
Old 4th March 2019
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
I find it impossible to believe that either 1. the vibe and energy of first moment cannot be replicated...
Not as a general rule, maybe. But once in a while. And maybe not a whole track, but something specific in it. Some singers can come back in a year later and undetectably punch in a line. Other people don't sound the same a half hour later.
Old 4th March 2019
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Not as a general rule, maybe. But once in a while. And maybe not a whole track, but something specific in it. Some singers can come back in a year later and undetectably punch in a line. Other people don't sound the same a half hour later.
Yeah I agree it can occasionally happen. Shouldn't be a chronic issue plaguing your recordings though, if its chronic then its probably more a mental thing. Or in the case of the singer that can't sound the same 30 mins later, they just need more practice.
Old 4th March 2019
  #40
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Honestly I don't buy this at all. This is an emerging crutch brought on by the affordable personal studio. A byproduct of the unrehearsed make-as-you-write process by someone working alone in a room doing everything themselves.

There's a ridiculously long history of demos being cut and then a final record coming later that's absolutely amazing. Most records people love have been written, demo'd once, rehearsed to death and played live as things get felt out and finessed, demo'd again, gone to the professional studio, recorded over and over, and then nitpicked to death for months.

I find it impossible to believe that either 1. the vibe and energy of first moment cannot be replicated or 2. that the first moment is the best the performance can possibly be. Too much evidence to the contrary.
I agree that for a 'do-it-all-yourself' person this is a much more common problem. And there is a big divide between that and good well oiled production team 'getting it right'. When a solo artist/producer has to nail it right on guitar and vocals and so forth - it is often becomes MUCH harder to re-create that magic of an earlier take.

Wasn't there an album way back that either Geffen (or Virgin?) went all in for the tune of $300k and it flopped. (Mayber Nyro or ?) but they turned around and used that expensive album as a DEMO which got many artists to cover the songs and in turn became successful?
Old 5th March 2019
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Honestly I don't buy this at all. This is an emerging crutch brought on by the affordable personal studio. A byproduct of the unrehearsed make-as-you-write process by someone working alone in a room doing everything themselves.

There's a ridiculously long history of demos being cut and then a final record coming later that's absolutely amazing. Most records people love have been written, demo'd once, rehearsed to death and played live as things get felt out and finessed, demo'd again, gone to the professional studio, recorded over and over, and then nitpicked to death for months.

I find it impossible to believe that either 1. the vibe and energy of first moment cannot be replicated or 2. that the first moment is the best the performance can possibly be. Too much evidence to the contrary.
Fair point. You are right, but you are also wrong

Philadelphia by Springsteen is a good, classic, example.
Also many Beatles, Pink Floyd and other mega-bands songs were entirely written in the studio and not played and rehearsed for years.
You can see so many session photos from the past with musicians writing lyrics and score as they record. That indicates that that is the first time a song has EVER been played, at least in its final form.
That, to me, is magical.
Old 5th March 2019
  #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioloud View Post
Also many Beatles, Pink Floyd and other mega-bands songs were entirely written in the studio and not played and rehearsed for years.
I think that was at least partly because those well-funded bands spent so much time in the studio. You can't write at home if you're never there. And with everything that's been documented about them, I don't recall ever reading about the Beatles having a rehearsal space or a demo studio.
Old 5th March 2019
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audioloud View Post
Fair point. You are right, but you are also wrong

Philadelphia by Springsteen is a good, classic, example.
Also many Beatles, Pink Floyd and other mega-bands songs were entirely written in the studio and not played and rehearsed for years.
You can see so many session photos from the past with musicians writing lyrics and score as they record. That indicates that that is the first time a song has EVER been played, at least in its final form.
That, to me, is magical.
The point is about going with the first take as you create in the studio.

Yeah some bands skipped the "live test" part of what I wrote once they got huge enough to live in the studio (don't think they didn't rehearse like crazy though).

Beatles and Floyd still cut demos though (often an individual demo, then a band demo), and they weren't going off first takes in the studio, their processes were meticulous and they were well rehearsed. Different members would go off on their own, come up with ideas, lay a solo demo down, come back to the band, rehearse a bit, lay a band demo down, start chipping away at the final record from there for months on end with continually improved performances until they were happy, etc etc





YouTube
YouTube
YouTube

etc etc
Old 5th March 2019
  #44
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s wave's Avatar
Maybe the Beatles didn't have a demo studio early on... BUT didn't John & Paul have recorders at home... about the relative-equivalant of todays DAW. Those lil recorders I am sure were paramount to some of their hit records. Putting them way ahead of the competitive curve.
Old 7th March 2019
  #45
Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy1 View Post
Honestly I don't buy this at all. This is an emerging crutch brought on by the affordable personal studio. A byproduct of the unrehearsed make-as-you-write process by someone working alone in a room doing everything themselves.

There's a ridiculously long history of demos being cut and then a final record coming later that's absolutely amazing. Most records people love have been written, demo'd once, rehearsed to death and played live as things get felt out and finessed, demo'd again, gone to the professional studio, recorded over and over, and then nitpicked to death for months.

I find it impossible to believe that either 1. the vibe and energy of first moment cannot be replicated or 2. that the first moment is the best the performance can possibly be. Too much evidence to the contrary.
1) I'm not selling anything.

2) Your assumption that this has been somehow arrived at through anything other than trial and error is mere speculation. I'm relating my personal experience, which is all I can speak to.
Old 7th March 2019
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnny nowhere View Post
1) I'm not selling anything.

2) Your assumption that this has been somehow arrived at through anything other than trial and error is mere speculation. I'm relating my personal experience, which is all I can speak to.
I know. . nothing personal to you. Its something I see increasingly come up in record making discussions, and I just don't buy it outside the very occasional.

What I think happens is one of these:

1. demo-itis / psych-yourself-out: you fall in love with the particularities of one performance and then any subsequent performances are, to some degree, trying to mimic/re-create that feel instead of coming directly from the heart. If you could let go of your love of the particularities of the initial performance, and focus on getting multiple emotional performances from the heart after you've rehearsed and lived in the part for a while, you can probably top both the emotional feel and the technical aspects of the initial performance.

2. The make-the-record-as-you-go process means you start building the record around those first takes. So the particularities of those takes end up influencing your record making decisions. If your guitar caught a certain harmonic in a certain spot, that can effect what you do with the bassline or a drum fill or a vocal performance decision, etc etc etc times 1000 decisions. At this point, if you try to go back and get a "better" guitar performance it will be less likely to fit the record, because the record was designed around something particular in a certain guitar recording. The hip hop sample artists who tried to re-create master recordings so they only had to clear publishing learned that this doesn't work. Once you build the vibe of a record based on a specific recording, then swapping things out, even with the "exact" same thing, doesn't keep the feel of the record.

3. The rare occasion you stumble over a feel very early on that's simply out of your ability to improve upon.

Last edited by newguy1; 7th March 2019 at 06:40 PM..
Old 7th March 2019
  #47
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Quote:
If you could let go of your love of the particularities of the initial performance, and focus on getting multiple emotional performances from the heart after you've rehearsed and lived in the part for a while, you can probably top both the emotional feel and the technical aspects of the initial performance.
I think looking at my own music this is the most important part for me. I was looking through to see if I have ever re-recorded something that I loved the rough demo of and I found one of a song that revisited around 10 years later but changed the instrumentation which meant that I sang it 'a new'

So for me it's a case of "don't try and cover your own songs" easier said than done though. I think this is why bands tend to do their best work early and later work often sounds like cover versions of older material. Some bands like radiohead are able to visit music making fresh without their own baggage but hardly any bands are.
Old 8th March 2019
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warmer View Post
Some bands like radiohead are able to visit music making fresh without their own baggage but hardly any bands are.
Imo they probably have a deeper knowledge of the process that most bands just don't have. Like the great ones in every genre.
Old 8th March 2019
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warmer View Post
I think looking at my own music this is the most important part for me. I was looking through to see if I have ever re-recorded something that I loved the rough demo of and I found one of a song that revisited around 10 years later but changed the instrumentation which meant that I sang it 'a new'

So for me it's a case of "don't try and cover your own songs" easier said than done though. I think this is why bands tend to do their best work early and later work often sounds like cover versions of older material. Some bands like radiohead are able to visit music making fresh without their own baggage but hardly any bands are.
I think both versions in your OP sound class. Which you prefer comes down to preference.

If you prefer a more stripped down version like the iPhone recording, you could try simply aiming for that at the hi-fi level. I'm sure if you did 10 heartfelt piano and vocal takes, chose your favorite among them as the main, and did minor comp'ing around that, you'd end up with a great hi-fi version of the phone recording.
Old 14th March 2019
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
This issue has plagued mankind since the dawn of mankind.
The first solution is to stop making demos. With home recording being so good now, start your final recording right at the beginning, with a release mindset, not a demoing mindset.
This is actually great advice...

However, I just don't have the gear, especially mics, in my little home office studio to compare to what is available at the studio where I do session work.

But your point is solid. To that end I will bring my own scratch files as complete and as well done as possible and use them as the base for the produced track. Once in a while ' 'some' of the demo tracks survive! Meaning the mix engineer and the producer (if I'm using one) let me!
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