Recording Your Music At Home – Part 4 – More About Arranging

Improving your arrangement

Now you have decided that you like that beautiful, harmonic strings section on your CD but never managed to include it in your original recording so go to your keyboard and practice just the harmonic strings. You can play back the tracks you already have recorded as often as you like and play along with your keyboard until you have the strings just right.

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Open another audio track and hit record. Listen to the playback and at the right moment come in with the string section. Didn’t like it? Click ‘Delete’ and do it again.

Finally you like it all but that drum in track 2 sounds a bit tinny and you want a big drum sound so click on the equaliser and add a bit of extra bass.

Still not right so you select a bigger drum from you voices, play the whole lot back and at the appropriate beat include the big heavy drum.

Now it is all perfect except that you wanted the final chorus to sound a bit louder so get the mixer up and increase the volume just for that section. Oh! you wanted a fade out at the end? Fine.

After another week of listening to this masterpiece you decide that it is a bit weak after the last verse just before the chorus and you have found a nice little fill in somewhere else inside your keyboard that you think would sound absolutely perfect in that spot but you don’t want to record the whole thing again. You might even develop this to a whole 8 bar bridge section.

All you have to do is snip the tracks you already have at the spot where you want to insert the extra 8 bars, move them to the right for 8 bars then play back the recording. When you reach the cue where you want to insert the extra 8 bars begin playing. When you finish playing the recording will pick up the final bars that you have moved. If you didn’t quite get the new bit in the right place you can move it about until it fits exactly.

Using your computer to create sequences and additional voices.

Some instruments allow you to record sequences and separate voices which you can play back while you play along with them. You can then re record the whole thing together and slowly build up a complete orchestration. If you do not have this feature on your instrument it is a very easy matter to use your computer to do the same thing.

When you start with this it is helpful to have some sort of beat going, if only a metronome, for the length of the entire song. You then record the sequences in one track at the correct place in the score. You can then play back this one track as you play the major score on your keyboard and the sequence pops up exactly where you want it.

If you have a ‘line in’ from your audio interface to your keyboard you may be able to record this into your keyboard so that you can take it wherever your keyboard goes. Just play around with whatever you’ve got until you find a method that works for you.

It is the same with additional voices. Your instrument might allow you to play only one voice at a time but you want to add an angelic choir singing harmony in the background for the chorus. Simply add the track as described previously then play along and the angels will start singing at exactly the right time… with a bit of practice. You can then record the whole lot.

Creating a CD

Now that you have some really great tracks recorded you want to create a CD so that you and you friends can listen in the lounge. Or perhaps you want somebody else to listen but you don’t want to take you instrument everywhere you go.

Most recording software allows you to mix down all of your tracks into one, final .wav file suitable for burning onto a CD so you simply get ‘Export’ up on the screen from the menu and the job is done. Now all you need is some burning software such as Windows Media Player and you can burn as many copies as you like. (Beware… They could be a big as 50 megs each). If you want to share your stuff around the Net you will want to convert the .wav file to mp3.

Conclusions

If nothing else I hope you have had some fun playing around with these ideas. What you have been doing in the process is practicing your instrument and improving you skills. Perhaps you have further investigated the capabilities of that wonderful instrument of yours. If so… Mission accomplished.

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