Beyond the Click Track

So now that we’re starting to solidify some tracks, what comes next in the recording process? Well usually, laying the percussion down is a good first step. Yes, I said first.

This is a bit of a chicken and egg situation, but in order to write drums, you first need to know the structure and tone of the song.  That is exactly what I’ve been working towards with Track 4. Once the vocals set the tone, the structure can be finalized, and only then drums can be written. But let’s recap the process:

  1. Record basic version of song with all key elements
    (such as the verse, chorus, etc.)
  2. Write lyrics, altering song structure if necessary
  3. Record the scratch track
  4. Send to drummer
  5. Re-record guitar parts…

recording the acoustic guitar parts. gotta get that mic nice and close!

What is a scratch track, you ask?  Well, as I mentioned before, drums are typically the first thing you record.  But quite often, the drummer has something to listen to while he is laying down the tracks.  This is quite often a rough recording of the rhythm guitar, and will later be thrown away…hence, the scratch track.

One key thing about the scratch track: it has to be right on tempo.

In order to accomplish this, one might listen to a metronome whilst recording.  To better lock into my parts, however, I like to take it a step further and write a MIDI drum part.

The MIDI drums can express feel and intricate rhythms much better than a standard click track (which is usually a metronome with accents on certain beats.)

I’d like to present to you Track 4 with the MIDI drums I utilized to record.  Please do not think that the final drums are supposed to sound like this, because they’re not.

The MIDI drums are there solely to help me record the scratch track. Notice I added some MIDI bass in there too, just for kicks (but no vocals this time.)

Well then, at this point I think we’re ready to send this to Jake for percussion!

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