So songwriting in a guitar band is a shouting match, and whoever shouts or cranks their amp the loudest during band practice gets their song learned or rehearsed. Or, songwriting solo means your demos are want ads for musicians to play your songs or collaborate. If your demos suck, expect to spend a lot of time in your basement by yourself, wondering if there must be something wrong with the music you write, and how you’ll ever be able to move out of your mom’s basement. You’re 35, for god sakes.
Improvisation is Good Songwriting
Time and time again I have expounded the superiority of improvising over drum loops as the foundation of good songwriting. Far better than anything accomplished by thinking. How many times have I told you that thinking is stupid and useless? Stop thinking. Famous musicians are never intelligent; you shouldn’t try to be either.
So you tried playing over a drum loop, and you don’t like it. You’re still not winning the band practice shouting match, and no one is banging on your door to form a band or collaborate. Why oh why can’t they just hear the unpolished jewel beneath all that lo-fi grit?
Could it be your demos sound thin and lame because you have no stereo field?
I hope so.
Because that’s one area I can help you fix.
Great Demo? Or Best Demo
Now your first thought about getting your demos into stereo are likely ill-informed and hopeless. No, two mics on your amp will not do it. Nor will stereo plug ins or routing your DI box into a stereo track. If you needed to record some kind of unreproduceable guitar solo, then yes indeed, two mics, chorus, reverb, stereo tracks, all the way. But we want professional super wide, and dry.
As much fun as it is to stealing expensive plugins, there actually is a better way.
Just play the same thing twice.
Duplication is Super
If you are a producer, this is a duh moment. If you are a good producer, you obviously have your guitar players play through the entire song twice, once for the hard left side, and once for the hard right side. Or, you assign each of two guitar players to their own side, which is the only way to keep them from fighting and keep the band from breaking up. Good on you; you’re making a real difference in the world.
But news flash: that doesn’t work for writing by improvising.
What if I’m improvising over a drum loop for 10 – 15 minutes? You’re telling me I’d have to go back and learn all the parts in order to get them in stereo. And frankly, if that’s what you’re telling me, I’m not listening.
Thank goodness in my youth I figured out the better way to do things. And as poor as my songwriting was when I first started, my demos did the talking for me on the internet, and put me on the road.
So you probably want to listen up.
Build that Field Good
For our purposes, the most efficient means to generate a wide, professional stereo field when writing (improvising), is through duplication of performance.
Since you probably aren’t too bright, the easy answer is that stereo depends on differences between the left & right channels. The more different when panned hard left and right, the wider the stereo.
Two performances are inherently more different than audio recorded by two microphones, so this widens the stereo field.
So all we need to do is play a part twice, and use our digital studio software to move the second repetition to be played simultaneously with the first. By panning one performance to the hard left, and the other to the hard right, you can build a stereo field.
How does this apply to when we are writing through improvisation?
That’s something for the next part in this series… dun dun dun