Song fragment management

Posted in Creativity, Production, Recording on Mai 9th, 2012 by EO-Manager

Sometimes my harddisk is literally full of musical ideas and snippets I recorded as reminders and ideas but never had the time to finish them. This never stops and the output is constant. Of course I am working towards an endpoint (could be a CD, could be a project or something else) but I usually record about 3 to 4 songs if I need only one. This gives me the flexibility to choose and finally decide what is the best song. Read more »

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Five easy steps to improve your songs

Posted in Production, Recording, Songwriting on März 13th, 2011 by EO-Manager

Apart from talent and good ideas for songwriting, you can improve your songs and recordings quite a lot using a handful of things that have proven to be working. A new song often leads to  overexcitement and urge to finish everything as soon as possible. Unfortunately that very often leads to mistakes you can avoid.

When you work in your homestudio it is necessary to change roles from musician to recording or mastering engineer. But it also means you have to do different tasks with different results. So when you finished the song as a musician, it is always a good adea to leave it for a day or two. When you come back with fresh ears – be critical. Is the hook line really good? Are parts of the songs only copied and pasted? Is the singing the final answer? As a „producer“ it is your task to check all of this – and change it to the best possible result. Arranging the song is sometimes hard because you might have to delete the solo you and the band have been working on for hours. But if it is necessary, don’t hesitate.

Also, arranging a song does not mean to generally add things – quite the contrary, if you ask me. Arranging means that a song has to be thoroughly carved out of the raw material. Often it means a reduction or deletion of all the unimportant and unnecessary stuff that clutters the nucleus.

Sometimes you hear songs with good potential – but awfully bad arrangement. Example: check, if your songs have multivoicings or choirs in your production. Listen to „pro“ songs: you will often find exactly that to underline the singer or the chorus. At the same time you find only drum and bass parts during the verse (with a few sparse musical effects on top) that accompanies the singer. Most songs also have a catchy melody (which is often used right at the start of a song) to draw your attention. If you say it’s not important, ask yourself: what part of a song would you whistle? The rhythm? The bassline? Piano? Certainly not.

Ok, here are my top 5 that improve songs almost automatically:

1. catchy tunes – as said before, find a melody. You can even start with it when writing songs. If you don’t start with it (like me), try to spend some time on it to make it sound well thought. It will definitely pay (and often helps the singer, too).

2. work on the drums – yes, that’s right. Even if you are not a drummer. Take extra care on the production and sound of the rhythm section. They will carry the song. If your drums sound weak, the whole song sounds weak. You will find lots of professional producers in the web explaning in detail why and how.

3. less is more – don’t always add…reduce. It might be hard sometimes to strip down a song, but  it helps when finding the „soul“ of the song.

4. spread the instruments – again something that can be found in many amateur recordings: all instrument mixed into the middle. Be brave, pan things. It will not only open up the song, it  also leaves space for the really important parts. What belongs in the middle? Voice, bassdrum, snare and bass. That’s all.

5. don’t overproduce – that speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Too much compression squeezes the life out of songs. Too loud productions kill it, too. Also, make room for each intrument. Not every instrument needs a full range mix between 20hz and 20 kHz. Trust your ears, not your computer. Try to find a niche for every instrument and leave enough space for the lead vocals. Vocals are the most important part of a song.

I know, there are millions of other things that help producing and mastering, but this is how I always start my „reality check“. If you have more tips how to improve songs – let the readers know by commenting. As always you are most welcome.

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