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Production Tip 3 – The Power of Guide Tracks to Build Better Songs.

The way that I work to build better songs is, firstly, to decide on the global aspects of the song. I then record guide tracks for guitar and vocals. The reason I record guitar because I song write on the guitar.

Thinking Globally

The global aspects are –

Tempo – how fast.

Genre – music type.

Mood – quiet or loud or a bit of both.

Structure – Verses and Choruses and other sections.

Instrumentation – The instruments or sounds used.

The Guide Track

By recording the guitar and vocal guide tracks I am giving as much information about the global aspects as possible. There is the melody and harmonic information. There is the tempo, genre and mood. There is the structure.

I can now take these to any musicians I need for the song. They can work out parts along to the guide tracks. I can also sit down and work my own parts to the guide tracks.

Adding the bones

Once everyone has come up with their ideas I get them to record the ideas to the guide track and then I can listen to them. At this stage I may have 2 or 3 ideas from different people. I can quickly pick the bits that work with my vision of the song and then go back to the musicians and relate that.

Putting the track together

Record the drums and bass together as they play along to the guide track. I do this because they work best as a team and recording them separately doesn’t really get the togetherness that I am looking for from a rhythm section.

Once I have this foundation, I can then re-record the guitar track or tracks and I have the rhythm section finished. This then gives the singer and other musicians a strong foundation to work on.

I have found that when you give your musicians the tools, they need they work much better than trying to perform in the dark.

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