Developing the development process

I have just returned from a really great studio session for the project where we have begun building some structures to the songs. I thought I’d take a minute and try and share the process so far.

Pre-work

I wrote some song ideas with Mats (guitarist and general musical genius!) down in the home studio. From these sessions we had around 30 song ideas in various states. Some were almost complete and others were just improvisations that we liked.

Last weekend we all hooked up in the studio to start the project. So Mats and I were joined by Linn (Bass / Sound production) and Dan (Producer and sound designer). We played through a few ideas and started capturing some piano riffs.

90% of the demos for the project had me on electric guitar and vocal and Mats playing upright piano. The piano lines and really strong are probably something we will keep as the songs progress into the production stage.

Development from the first hook up

That first session went well, it really helped us see how differently we all worked and what we could bring individually to the project. I took from it the fact that we are all very comfortable in the studio environment and this could be the best way to build the songs (rather than sitting in a room together and developing the songs on instruments).

Creating Pro Tools roughs

This last week Mats and I have been working through 5 songs and creating Pro Tools sessions that have the piano, vocal and guitar parts. We have been working on the structure of the songs and basically creating a blue-print for the foundation of each composition.

Tonights session

So tonight we met up with Linn in the studio and we started working from the Pro Tools rough sessions, adding basslines and additional tracks. This process really helped us to push forward because we have something on the speakers to discuss and creatively express onto. I really feel we are onto something really positive and fun!

Future

As the posts go on I will try and share the process in as much detail as I can. These are all professional musicians, engineers and producers so I think these blogposts could really help out other musicians that are wanting to progress in the music industry and develop their ideas into professional products.

There is a really deep personal level to this project and of course I will try and share that too, but all I can say is that it has taken me 20 years in music to reach the stage where I am finally in a state of mind where I feel ready for this amazing adventure into music. The other music projects have been a build up to this… It really feels like that at the moment!

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Rough mixing time

Now I’ve transferred the sessions onto the studio computer and started listening a few of the songs through the studio speakers… just working through and making some basic mix fixes with EQ, compression and levels.

Heres a video from today. Again its a realtime thing showing my work process.

As I’ve posted before, this is my first Logic Pro project… I’ve always worked on Pro Tools before now so finding some of the functions is sometimes a little long winded!! (like finding specific UAD plugins!! Nightmare!)

Logic Pro X -Using arrangement feature

Yesterday I finished roughly arranging all 14 song ideas…. after a quick listen back some are sounding great… some are terrible and most are in the middle somewhere.

Today I have been reapproaching some of the arrangments on the songs, I came across a nice feature in Logic where you can label the various sections of the song and then just move duplicate them or move them around.

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As you can see on the top of the main window there is an ‘arrangement’ row running across the timeline. I have only worked on a couple of songs… but it proving to be a great way of working quickly and getting to level 2 with the arrangements.

Here is the video I found that helped me out with this feature.

 

Building rough song arrangments

I have just finished arranging song eleven of fourteen. Slowly getting there! Trying not to think too much about when the next stage is right now, just getting some sort of rough arrangements in place for the songs.

In the back of my mind I am starting to think about the next stage… adding other instruments? adding vocals or voices? adding live samples? who knows. I will set those boundaries when I have completed all the songs. For now I am just focused on getting all the songs into an arrangement for the next stage of the process.

Here is a real-time video (around 10 minutes) of how I have been arranging the songs from 8 bar loops into 2-3 minute compositions.

I am not sure where this song will go… I am just trying to stick to the rules of my previous post and trust the path! Fun.

 

Website, recordings, merch and live show

My focus over the last couple of days has been on planning all the promotional elements of the ‘Grenna Bluegrass Project’ ready for going public with the project in two weeks.

Here’s a list:

  • Create a project website (Here is a working outline)
  • Record a single and music video (Deadline – Mid July)
  • Record an EP / Album (Deadline August 1st)
  • Arrange online distribution of music (Mid-July)
  • Artwork
  • Prepare live show
  • Create merchandise

It’s not a big list… the music and much of the background work is now done; I have the songs, I know the sound and we have the image all in place. The big focus are on recording and merchandise I think…

HITTING THE DEADLINES

At this stage of the project I am working really closely with Mats (The guy that plays 2nd guitar) as we prepare for an intense production week starting on 10th July. Setting time lines and keeping the project on track to hit the deadlines is important… It’s also important to be realistic with the goals.  Being driven to work hard, to commit to achieving your aims is king… but being aware of not taking on too much and that the people involved enjoy everyday of the project and have ‘fun’ is at the centre of it all.

I love that the festival shows are booked (Live shows on August 17th / 19th). I have a clear end for this stage of the project. I really cant wait to get to the 20th August and look back at the project! Its quite a journey!!!

 

 

Writing lyrics…easy? 

I used to write lyrics a lot but sort of feel out of love with the process over for the last 5-6 years. In the past it’s always meant a lot of soul searching and I couldn’t get over the ugly feeling of self importance that I felt when writing. 

Recently I’ve been writing a lot of melodies, but asking a friend who write lyrics to do the ‘words’part of the job. This has been working fine, but now that I’m working more on my own music, I felt it was a bonus if I could also write the words. 

I’ve just been trying a new method which has really worked for me… Once I have a melody idea (which comes pretty quick and clearly to me on most ideas) I press record and put down a vocal track… Saying whatever comes into my head. And for all the songs, so far, I’ve been able to work from this track and almost ‘fill in the missing words’…in the last hour I’ve managed to write 7 complete songs. Which is really good going for me. They just spilled out onto the page. 
How does anyone else out there write lyrics? I’m guessing (hoping) it’s just a case of finding the right process that works for you… Right?