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How to re-record your demo without loosing that 'spark'
Old 15th February 2019
  #1
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How to re-record your demo without loosing that 'spark'

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.
Old 15th February 2019
  #2
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You have to re-create the groove first imo.

I prefer a real instrument like bass....and maybe some scratch vocals to start.

If I can re-purpose the original project and some instrument sounds I do.
Old 16th February 2019
  #3
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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.
You totally changed the setting that was all.

First recording was dry, upfront, direct vocal - conversational, the piano was raw sounding.

You then recorded with FX, reverb, multiple voices and sweetened the piano with strings.

Try making a third recording that is a proper recording but has the same "setting/scene" as your phone recording.

A great LDC close miking your voice with absolute minimal effects - no extra voices and a leave your piano stark.

What was lost was not the emotion but the scene and setting.
Old 16th February 2019
  #4
Great general topic, it seems to me.

I think a lot of folks have difficulties with this from time to time.
Old 17th February 2019
  #5
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s wave's Avatar
Yea great thread. Over half of my recordings hit it much better on first try - first take (as far as feel/emotion). The mistakes an all ugliness is usually better on my 1st take.. (vocals or instruments) I do not mind using the raw demo in the final mix. Some times you have to compile and take time pursing that great 'emotional' feeling that was 'captured'. I will always try to get a better take but it doesn't always happen. Most of my success comes down to recreating everything that was going on in the 1st take. Little things can throw off the feel very easily. Type of mic, mic distance, settings, location, reflections and most of all mindset. To be able to lock in a mindset and commit seems even more important with vocal takes. Vocals tend to go all over the place very quickly if you are not Celine Dion. After doing what you are doing a half a dozen times; I now at least try to get a decent higher bit/higher frequency recording on the first take. If I am afraid I will 'forget' important things... I will still get a scratch track down... but often I will sabotage my 1st recording on purpose so I really have nothing to save - its just a 'rough' that is far from usable with intentional bad mistakes. Thus saving my 1st attempt for later. Then I will wait until I feel it and go, If I miss the mark I always ask myself how bad do I want it. Then get on with the work. gl
Old 17th February 2019
  #6
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

I agree. First takes sometimes have an energy in the performance that's hard to redo. My solution, record/save everything. Make sure everything sounds good before you do a take, levels, mic position etc. If the first take is good, move on. 4/5ths of my guitar/bass tracks are first takes. I'm a guitarist and play well. Drums take a million takes and are comped and looped like mad, takes forever. I suck as a drummer.
Old 17th February 2019
  #7
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilRoy View Post
I agree. First takes sometimes have an energy in the performance that's hard to redo. My solution, record/save everything. Make sure everything sounds good before you do a take, levels, mic position etc. If the first take is good, move on. 4/5ths of my guitar/bass tracks are first takes. I'm a guitarist and play well. Drums take a million takes and are comped and looped like mad, takes forever. I suck as a drummer.
For me the same thing... you only have one chance to record the 1st recording... sometimes you can re-get that magic or even do better - but for me not often.
Old 17th February 2019
  #8
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Jeff Hayat's Avatar
 

How to re-record your demo without loosing that 'spark'

Great Q

IMHO, it's a mental thing. When you are writing, and enjoying the creating process, there is something that gets the emotion going - be it adrenaline, or what have you... you feel the creative juices flowing, you are happy about it, and that shows in the performance.

Comes time to record, and you no longer have that 'natural rush' or 'natural high'. You have to bring that forth. You have to go to a place mentally, that allows you to perform with that same level of emotion. Easier said than done, I get it, but you have to do it. Most people can't. And that, AFAIC, is one of the big things that separates the Pros from the Average Joes.

Cheers.
Old 18th February 2019
  #9
js1
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Funny timing.... I just watched a new video on Rick Beato's channel about "demo-itis" and trying to beat the demo:



I can't beat my own one-man-band demos myself. With good, creative musicians, playing together, no problem.

For that to happen, I tell them that I want them to trust their own instincts. And, I have to mean it. It has taken me a long time for me to realize that I cannot possibly have any perspective on my first demo because anything heard that many times sounds "correct" to me.

I know that it's going to turn out different than my demo. I may lose some of what I liked about my demo. But I gain so much more.
Old 18th February 2019
  #10
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It's like cooking food, you make the song hot and fresh.
Old 18th February 2019
  #11
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noisewagon View Post
It's like cooking food, you make the song hot and fresh.
You can never make the same cake twice. The Beato video reminds me of when they where going to release the Katy Perry song Roar, I think it was... the first hearing was kinda thats not gonna make it... but the Prod said wait until the public hears it 8 times on the radio...
Old 18th February 2019
  #12
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. Lot’s of artists no longer do demos because they are notorious for being very hard to top.
My other solution is to make your demos very matter of fact. Don’t put a lot of passion into them, don’t put a lot of effort into them. Make them like basic notes, as a reminder.
Of course sometimes demos have to convince other people, in which case they have to be good.
Old 20th February 2019
  #13
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EvilRoy's Avatar
 

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. Lot’s of artists no longer do demos because they are notorious for being very hard to top.
My other solution is to make your demos very matter of fact. Don’t put a lot of passion into them, don’t put a lot of effort into them. Make them like basic notes, as a reminder.
Of course sometimes demos have to convince other people, in which case they have to be good.
Demos no longer exist. I was told by a producer that with home recording being so good now, producers won't even listen to anything not ready for release. Maybe add some real horns or drums or remaster after signing, but they don't want to pay to redo everything.
Old 20th February 2019
  #14
Gear Head
This is an excellent topic that I too have pondered over for some time now and have come to some simple yet profound conclusions....

This topic is what separates true recording artist from amateurs. Any of our favorite artist once warm can immediately go to "That place" where the magic is. What one must do is develop an inner confidence that "YOU CAN TOTALLY OUT DO THE DEMO" this is imperative to getting over that hump. If you did it once you can surely do it again!!! As I've applied this I've found that once I'm in front of the mic I am full of confidence in myself to GET THE JOB DONE!!! NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES. If I fail today I try again tomorrow. Determination! Just like that!

I've suffered from this so much and YES there are demos that just can't be topped. But I believe the answer is inside of us!!!

Second, like others here stated. When going for a demo try and approach it as if it's the actual song and give your all. Basically never record demos ONLY SONGS!!! Then you won't have to worry about chasing and properly capturing the part or song.

Confidence and full throttle from the gates!!!

Old 20th February 2019
  #15
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Thanks for all the posts guys, glad to hear I'm not alone in my frustration.

Quote:
Originally Posted by js1 View Post
I can't beat my own one-man-band demos myself. With good, creative musicians, playing together, no problem.

For that to happen, I tell them that I want them to trust their own instincts. And, I have to mean it. It has taken me a long time for me to realize that I cannot possibly have any perspective on my first demo because anything heard that many times sounds "correct" to me.

I know that it's going to turn out different than my demo. I may lose some of what I liked about my demo. But I gain so much more.

I think this is probably the thing that sits with me the closest. Recording the demo is the spark of the idea and then perhaps to get the most of that you have to then spark off others, otherwise you can just end up dulling the spark on your own.

The other thing is a really quick demo (put the phone nearby and hit record) is about the song where as when you try and record you are thinking about recording as well, so for me, perhaps don't try and record your own songs just the idea of the song.

Has anyone got any examples of where they have a demo that they really liked but prefer the final recording? Particularly interested in vocal lead singer/songwriter type examples.
Old 21st February 2019
  #16
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I also wonder if it's just my aesthetic, that I'm drawn more to the rough as I see it as more 'honest' (brain just makes that connection subconsciously)

To me of the two versions of the above song the demo is a lot better but I wonder if most would disagree?
Old 21st February 2019
  #17
js1
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OK, I'll play. Not sure how long I'll keep up the demo.

Crashing Down demo: Crashing Down demo

Final: Crashing Down final. If you're not on Spotify, it's on most services - search "Crashing Down The Static Between"

Demo was me playing everything, with a friend singing. Final is 5 guys live off the floor, plus overdubs. The guys had the demo, but I did not tell them what to play. Almost no editing...
Old 21st February 2019
  #18
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s wave's Avatar
Excellent job... improv and 'there'

Last edited by s wave; 21st February 2019 at 01:04 AM.. Reason: did not want to leave others link up
Old 21st February 2019
  #19
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The phone version is a keeper... Amazing singing. It has a mystery to it and has a great vibe.
Old 22nd February 2019
  #20
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s wave's Avatar
You know many say that the 'Spark' is overcome by real professional singers, and not to discredit the pros, they are more regimented to be able to get into the 'pro zone'. BUT I believe you also have to take that into context. More pro singers have more conducive situations to sing in... with better supporting engineers and producers and song content and studios. With that said many great artists spent a lot of time and energy trying to achieve a good song release. I believe the Doors took 9 months in the late 60's to record an album. (with a lot of supporting man hours) 'More than a Feeling (Boston) took maybe 5 years to get it where Sholz/they wanted. That is just one song. BUT it also shows the dedication and commitment. So never give up. You have to look at the long haul and its reward if this is your dream/goal all is possible.
Old 22nd February 2019
  #21
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave View Post
You know many say that the 'Spark' is overcome by real professional singers, and not to discredit the pros, they are more regimented to be able to get into the 'pro zone'. BUT I believe you also have to take that into context. More pro singers have more conducive situations to sing in... with better supporting engineers and producers and song content and studios. With that said many great artists spent a lot of time and energy trying to achieve a good song release. I believe the Doors took 9 months in the late 60's to record an album. (with a lot of supporting man hours) 'More than a Feeling (Boston) took maybe 5 years to get it where Sholz/they wanted. That is just one song. BUT it also shows the dedication and commitment. So never give up. You have to look at the long haul and its reward if this is your dream/goal all is possible.
Yes! Exactly!!! I've surprised myself many times just by being persistent and continuously trying to get the right feel and take. KEEP TRYING & more importantly!!!! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!! YOU CAN TOTALLY GET IT RIGHT A SECOND, THIRD, & EVEN FOURTH TIME!!! In that belief and conviction resides an answer to the OP's quandary.

Catching that original emotional wave is almost impossible.... But TOPPING IT IS NOT!!!

Believe!!!!
Old 22nd February 2019
  #22
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClassyTouch View Post
Yes! Exactly!!! I've surprised myself many times just by being persistent and continuously trying to get the right feel and take. KEEP TRYING & more importantly!!!! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!! YOU CAN TOTALLY GET IT RIGHT A SECOND, THIRD, & EVEN FOURTH TIME!!! In that belief and conviction resides an answer to the OP's quandary.

Catching that original emotional wave is almost impossible.... But TOPPING IT IS NOT!!!

Believe!!!!
How true! I love studying other peoples inspirations (it keeps my fires BURNING)
other trivia 'More than a Feeling' and others were deeply inspired by the new(now old) sound of Baroque n Roll or Bach n Roll ( the song was 'Don't Walk away Renee' /Left Banke
YouTube
Songs like THIS inspire me sooo much... and many others. It captures that feeling of losing something so poignantly - so beautifully to me. There are so many frontiers to still conquer in song writing.
Old 22nd February 2019
  #23
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by brockorama View Post
You have to re-create the groove first imo.

I prefer a real instrument like bass....and maybe some scratch vocals to start.

If I can re-purpose the original project and some instrument sounds I do.
Ditto on re-purposing as much content from the original as possible!

Nowadays (especially with VSTis and ITB amp sims for DI gtr/bass) I should expect that re-purposing is a heck of a lot easier than it was in the days where all you may have had was a 4 track cassette recorder or handheld micro cassette recorder...

How are you tracking your original demos to begin with? iPhone, cassette, daw?
Old 22nd February 2019
  #24
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by s wave View Post
You know many say that the 'Spark' is overcome by real professional singers, and not to discredit the pros, they are more regimented to be able to get into the 'pro zone'. BUT I believe you also have to take that into context. More pro singers have more conducive situations to sing in... with better supporting engineers and producers and song content and studios. With that said many great artists spent a lot of time and energy trying to achieve a good song release. I believe the Doors took 9 months in the late 60's to record an album. (with a lot of supporting man hours) 'More than a Feeling (Boston) took maybe 5 years to get it where Sholz/they wanted. That is just one song. BUT it also shows the dedication and commitment. So never give up. You have to look at the long haul and its reward if this is your dream/goal all is possible.
Different problems, though, entirely... The Doors had to deal with getting records out while already wildly popular, touring and all while the singer descended deeper and deeper into dumb a$$ behaviors and the lack of focus that tends to pop up among the poly-drug addled...

Boston was a whole other ball of wax and IMO mirrors the problems that if anything are more amplified now... one (or two) man bands working in their own space, acting also as engineer, producer and mixers on their own gear whilst also being terribly OCD... I see that combo a lot during the daw era.
Old 22nd February 2019
  #25
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bgood's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by warmer View Post
Thanks for all the posts guys, glad to hear I'm not alone in my frustration.




I think this is probably the thing that sits with me the closest. Recording the demo is the spark of the idea and then perhaps to get the most of that you have to then spark off others, otherwise you can just end up dulling the spark on your own.

The other thing is a really quick demo (put the phone nearby and hit record) is about the song where as when you try and record you are thinking about recording as well, so for me, perhaps don't try and record your own songs just the idea of the song.

Has anyone got any examples of where they have a demo that they really liked but prefer the final recording? Particularly interested in vocal lead singer/songwriter type examples.
One man’s spark is another man’s final composition. In other words, I think we’re talking about workflow more than creative inspiration or capturing lightening in s bottle... some folks are cool with handing out a head chart to the musicians and playing through the changes a couple of times until the group hits on a magical combination... some record every practice session and consider these to be “demos”... others spend a lot more time and only call the players in once every part is written out and studio time has been booked. Between those extremes is every other way dudes write tunes.

Find which workflow results in the most sparkles for you and schedule recording time around that approach so everything’s captured.
Old 23rd February 2019
  #26
Gear Addict
 

I learned something that helps me with this issue: Record the demo, or record a new song - always with the best quality possible.
Before I would have just grabbed a 57 to put down the melody or the instrumental ideas probably even with the speakers on, just to get the vibe (thinking to re-do everything at a later stage).
Now I would try to put my best condenser and find a good position for a certain mic right away.
Still trying to be as fast as possible so I, or the artist I'm working with, wouldn't lose the creative vibe and spark.

It's important to be spontaneous, but if you get a great "record-usable" recording of that first take ever of a song/composition that didn't exist 10 minutes earlier it is a very powerful thing indeed.
Also the lyrics that have just been freshly written just weight more, and you can usually notice it in the performance.

Old 23rd February 2019
  #27
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioloud View Post
I learned something that helps me with this issue: Record the demo, or record a new song - always with the best quality possible.
Before I would have just grabbed a 57 to put down the melody or the instrumental ideas probably even with the speakers on, just to get the vibe (thinking to re-do everything at a later stage).
Now I would try to put my best condenser and find a good position for a certain mic right away.
Still trying to be as fast as possible so I, or the artist I'm working with, wouldn't lose the creative vibe and spark.

It's important to be spontaneous, but if you get a great "record-usable" recording of that first take ever of a song/composition that didn't exist 10 minutes earlier it is a very powerful thing indeed.
Also the lyrics that have just been freshly written just weight more, and you can usually notice it in the performance.

Yea something to be said for striking the iron when its hot. If you are inspired by a feeling and have that feeling and write lyrics with that feeling and record right then when you have that feeling... the emotions bleed through the speakers... ya
Old 26th February 2019
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

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?
Yep, this is a great topic since my guess is it haunts most songwriters.

I have made a practice of destroying all scratch and rough demos of all my compositions. I mark all the tapes/CDs/flash drives I give to the session musicians 'destroy when done'. The reason is, I guess, I want the final produced track to stand as the representation of the song, not these crappy rough demos.

As for capturing the feel/emotion of the song as it pours out of me, I get it, sometimes the produced version loses the vibe altogether. But if it's a good song, a truly good song, the produced version will stand-alone, or it crashes (then it probably wasn't that good???)

The times I regret is when I lose the battle with my producer who suggests a change and I don't stand up for my stuff as written. Most of the time the producer is right, but sometimes these things bug you every time you hear the song.
Old 26th February 2019
  #29
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s wave's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwillms View Post
Yep, this is a great topic since my guess is it haunts most songwriters.

I have made a practice of destroying all scratch and rough demos of all my compositions. I mark all the tapes/CDs/flash drives I give to the session musicians 'destroy when done'. The reason is, I guess, I want the final produced track to stand as the representation of the song, not these crappy rough demos.

As for capturing the feel/emotion of the song as it pours out of me, I get it, sometimes the produced version loses the vibe altogether. But if it's a good song, a truly good song, the produced version will stand-alone, or it crashes (then it probably wasn't that good???)

The times I regret is when I lose the battle with my producer who suggests a change and I don't stand up for my stuff as written. Most of the time the producer is right, but sometimes these things bug you every time you hear the song.
I posted earlier (different thread) Picasso destroyed many finished works that he thought were a great paintings. He never looked back. Anything that would take the creative spark away from his life was not in his universe. Thats like destroying master tapes... thats commitment and preserving that creative flame within.

I whole heartedly agree that a great song (heck - even great lyrics) will eventually rise to the top. Even if its butchered you can see and feel it. I think this speaks volumes of constructing a piece that purposely gets the emotion/idea across to the audience.

On many occasions the 1st take adds something to the work in almost immeasurable ways. This must not be confused with the stand alone composition. (As work 'new' to different artists could achieve the same result in a myriad of ways.) With top line well funded studios or partnerships; they are not as affected as the go-it-alone underfunded singer-songwriters and producers.

It sticks out when a lower level producer gets that oh-so-close take that will make the song competitive. Kinda - if I could only do this I can make it work - and sometimes it works.

I have always tried to insulate artists from corporate interference... giving support in many ways for them to hit it out of the park. It works much better than micromanaging, (of course I am talking when the artist is trying to lay down their own work opposed to a producers vision of getting a composition to master)

I have been lucky, in this regard, as far as my artistic work is concerned - because I have never allowed others to take that spark from me (or the projects spark)... because I was taught this and BECAUSE I was appalled when I saw it happen to incredible artists that never went back to the arts - ever. AND partly because I was educated/aware enough to to 'see' that specific spark that is inherently woven into a piece of work. You can have a good work but not a great work if THAT is changed. (Think of a great Gospel song - "and lets change some critical words here")

Dealing with producers, artists, executive producers can be a battle... but it doesn't have to be.

As the old Toltecs said simply - FOCUS - CLARITY - INTENT.

Those words will get you over the hill every time. (similar to ancient Scripture) You must first understand what your intent is... (on a specific project/or as a lifestyle) - is this project to make money for me? (then you must compromise sometimes - 'pay Caesar what is due Caesar' in order to get payed) or is this project for expression and soul evolvement etc.? or is this project sitting in-between the 2? This is the focus and clarity of INTENT.

If you have the intent and focus of CLARITY - this is seeing EVERYTHING clearly.

If you have the clarity and intent of FOCUS this is the burning flame that propels/inspires with determination to complete the project.

The other note I follow is this... If a great song Idea comes to me out of the blue... I minimally write that down (what is the inspiration of the idea) on a piece of paper. I keep that paper and store it as one would a precious real seed and treat it as such. I place that seed in a crystal jar in a well protected place (for when the time is right). I want to make sure I have the right soil to plant it in. I want to have the right amount of time to care for that plant when the seed germinates. And I want to 'be' there with the plant through the proverbial fruition. (harvest of the fruit).

Please protect what is near and dear to you - and realize WHEN we are trying to accomplish something without perfect circumstances... we can still get a great fruit tree - but we NEED the right soil FIRST then we must have a window for time and energy for the 'care'. At that point (ideally) is when we go for it.
Old 1st March 2019
  #30
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

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
Yes yes yes!

Not that you have to get all perfect about everything an disrupt your creative process, but at least lay things out as a followable roadmap so you can go back and swap in tidier performances.
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