As home studio folk, we love to talk about EQ, Plugins, Mixing Techniques, and DAWs.
But sometimes, we forget about some of the key things that can really make or break a production before you ever get to the mixing phase.
Like instrumentation and arrangement.
- How many tracks should I record?
- What parts do I need?
- What parts don’t I need?
- How much is too much?
These are all great questions that we should be asking ourselves as we’re producing our music.
You see, as home studio musicians, we often serve as the talent, the recording engineer, the mixing engineer, the mastering engineer, and everything in between.
But sometimes we forget about being a producer.
What does a producer DO anyway?
The producer’s job is to maintain the grand vision for the song. The producer decides when to record another part, or scrap a previously recorded part, in order to best serve the song.
Recently, Graham posted a fantastic article over the The Recording Revolution about The Curse Of Unlimited Tracks and how “less is more” when it comes to recording.
While I agree with his point, I think it’s important to realize that we need to be intentional about what we record.
If you’re going to record 40 tracks for a song, make sure you have a reason for every single one. Make sure that every track has a purpose, and the song is made better by including that track.
Even if you’re only going to record 8 tracks for a song, the same rule applies. Each of those 8 tracks should be intentional, and should contribute to the song.
If it’s not making a positive contribution to the song, scrap it. Better yet, save yourself some time and don’t record it in the first place.
Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t experiment and try recording some things that may not work. By all means, go ahead!
But make sure the track is working. And if it’s not, get rid of it.
Another way to tackle arrangement is in the pre-production phase.
Plan out what instruments you’re going to want:
- How are the drums going to sound?
- How are we going to fill up the low end, without making it muddy?
- What are the guitars going to do?
- Will we have enough energy in the top end?
- What instruments will we feature at various points in the song?
A little bit of planning can go a long way. Of course, as you’re recording, allow your creativity to take you in unexpected directions, by all means.
But just taking an hour to put together a plan can save you many hours of wasted time in the recording phase.
So next time you’re recording a part for a song, be intentional. Ask yourself why this part is being recorded. Does the song really need it? Or is it just going to add to the clutter?
What do you think? Are you intentional with your recording, or do you just record whatever comes to mind? Leave a comment!