Music is first and foremost about the song and its performance. The performance can be seen as a collaboration among a group of musicians, and secondarily, the producer and recording engineer. Using a modern DAW you can easily create great music by yourself. But the real joy in music, that spark that makes us sit up and listen, comes from communication and interaction with other people that adds a new dimension to the music. If you create all the tracks by yourself, then your own individual musical or performance quirks tend to get magnified as they are reinforced in track upon track. Having other musicians contribute adds some randomness to the mix that prevents particular things from standing out too much, and gives the music more life.
But creating this musical vibe requires an environment for creativity and collaboration where musicians can interact and stimulate each other. The results can be unexpected, and sometimes pretty raw. But the outcome can produce some real jewels. However, this might required some time, with multiple takes to capture the best performances and recording setup.
This can be a challenge for GarageBand on the iPad because there are only limited tracks, and multiple takes in a track are not yet supported. But you can capture different takes in temporary scratch tracks and then use copy and paste to comp tracks to create a final result. What we want to be able to do is to send this song as a template to a number of different musicians so they can work on them individually. Then as they deliver their results, you will comp the tracks from the different projects to create the final mix. Here’s how. As a starting point, let’s assume you have created a song project, set the tempo and key, have a layout track, and a number of other instrument and vocal tracks. What you want to do is copy this project so you’re sure to have the same tempo, and the tracks will properly line up and sync. Next delete as many tracks in this copy as you can, keeping the layout or drum track, and any other tracks needed for monitoring. Record additional tracks or takes in this project. Repeat as much as needed in order to capture all the required tracks and takes. We’ll cover how to comp these tracks together into the final result in a future blog entry.
What you’re trying to do is deliver that “live” feeling to the listeners to add a new dimension to the music. Make sure everyone is comfortable and everyone can see and hear everyone else.
Another good tip is to avoid too much clutter. Nothing takes the creativity and joy out of a music session as much as tripping on wires, mic stands or music stands and dinging or breaking a treasured instrument.