Ask – Studio Workflow – What Works Best?

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I hope you take production as well as technical questions. When recording, is it best to have an idea of exactly what you want and implement it as you go along, or just start with a basic idea and write “in the studio”?


Even with an audio loop-oriented program like Ableton Live, don’t overlook using MIDI tracks to help build a song.

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Different people gravitate naturally to particular workflows, so try both and see which produces the most satisfying results. That said, we prefer getting tracks down fast, while the creative juices are flowing. As soon as you leave that mindset and start editing parts, you’ve crossed over from “right-brain” thinking to “left-brain” thinking, and it’s not always easy to get back into a creative groove. (It’s the same principle as hearing the phone ring when you’re recording, and getting sufficiently distracted that you lose your creative spark.)

This is one reason why MIDI is useful for sketching out songs—the data is so “fluid.” You can change sounds, key, and tempo at any time, as well as record audio versions of parts to replace the MIDI versions. This offers the best of both worlds: You can lay down tracks fast and use them if they’re “keepers,” but if not, you can revisit them for additional editing. As a bonus, MIDI sequences lend themselves well to template projects with pre-assigned instruments and tracks; this can also encourage the creative process by reducing the “boot computer to start recording” time.