Today a short article about equipment and why using simple gear may sometimes be more effective to expand your creativity.
Anyone who creates music may sometimes have these moments when they listen to music: “Hey I could have created something like that”. You may practise for days, feel you do not come up with any good ideas ect.
When you listen to most current music it is actually very simple: A lot of songs have Four-or Eight bar ideas which are varied by adding new sounds to the mix, or soloideas from additional instruments or vocals. Sure you could create something like that without needing to have a studio full of advanced gear!
To be creative with music it may sometimes be better to use simple tools, tools which do not have that many features and functions. Once you have many options you may get confused and not be as free to create music anymore.
When it comes to playing solos for your own songs why not first sing some of those ideas? You could first play the chord and then play some of the soloideas to give you an idea what it will sound like on a recording. I know, today there are many recorders on the market where you can record virtual solos: Play and play and play, until you get the best ideas, then copy and paste and create the solo out of the ideas you played. Why not think about that solo before you play and once you know where you are going then press Record. Record again if you feel you need to, but hopefully you have captured your ideas more or less in one take. The feel and energy of the solo will be more genuine than the Copy/Paste approach. More work? Yes, certainly, but you will have learned a lot during all that time when you were preparing yourself to get the best possible guitarsolo.
Going back again to my previous example of the current music of today: A lot of the simple Loop/Delay pedals we have today can be used to create simple ideas like some of those songs. Of course you could get a Loop pedal which will act almost like a small computer complete with backing-tracks and drumsamples, but as mentioned before, why not be creative with your gear: If you have a few Short Loop Pedals you may be able to get your drum sounds from one loop and connect it to the other looper while you create your short Four-or Eight bar chordsequence. Simple, but very effective and it will work. Once you have those two loopers playing in time you could record the results onto one track of your recorder and add more ideas on the other tracks to enhance the original loop idea.
Working in this manner will make you sweat for hours to get the right sounds, to get the loop-pedals to play in time with each other. Once you have a good sequence you will know why it sounds so good, this will help you for your future songs. If you were to use drums from the computer you will not experience in a similar way why they work so well with your bassline and guitarideas. It may work quicker, but your next song may sound very similar because of your method of working is similar.
Harmony and Loops:
Want to create harmony guitars but not sure about the music theory behind it? Use a short looping pedal to experiment to get the right results!
Of course, you could get yourself a dedicated Harmony Pedal and just play, but by creating your own harmonies you will learn so much more, you may even get interested in studying some music theory. Once you have a working knowledge how to create harmonies with your guitar you can still get a dedicated Harmony Pedal as it will make your life easier.
Using Simple Tools to Record Demos:
In the process of writing songs to record a demo? Why not record all your songs on a simple Cassette Four-Track machine? Bruce Springsteen used this approach to record his next album after his massive success with “Born in the USA”. Bruce could easily have gone to any studio and get to work. No, he descided to go off on his own and use something simple as a Cassette Multi-Track recorder to get his next album under his sleeve.
For those of you new to Cassette based Multi-Track Recorders: On a machine like this you will need to plan: No virtual tracks, samples or any other bells and whistles here. You will need to play anyhing yourself, which means the feel will be more honest and pure. You could still get the results of a polished soundrecording, but you do need to know how to do it manually, and will need to play anyhing yourself, no automation or anything of that kind. Once you can get great results on machines like this you will be King of Production in any advanced, digital Music Studio.
Once you have your finished Cassette based Multi-Track Demo, you could take this to a more advanced studio, or use more adanced tools yourself, and work the song into a finished product. The Cassette approach may have given you ideas which you may have overlooked while working with advanced gear in the first place. Again this approach to recording, and making music, will take more time but it may give you better sounding songs, and is that not what it is all about?!
See you soon,