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Everyone writes songs in their own way. Some start with a melody or a beat, some start with a lyric. Whatever your starting point, you need to get your ideas down quickly, and then polish them into demos worth presenting to partners, producers, and record labels. Pro Tools can help. It's one of the programs professional musicians and songwriters turn to for writing, recording, and mixing songs. In this short course, David Franz takes you from an initial seed-idea to a great sounding demo song, showing you how to find the best tempo, meter, and key; add in vocals, drums, and hooks; and put together a dynamic mix using effects like EQ, compression, and reverb and delay. These 10 simple steps can guide anyone with an idea and a little musical ability through the process of capturing a song idea before the inspiration fades.
Look for more courses in our Songwriting series in 2014! We'll cover Logic, GarageBand, and other popular DAWs.
Adding effects to the sounds in your session can inspire new musical ideas. In the least, effects can make writing music even more fun. For instance, I'd like my bass sound to be a little more beefy and rockin. So, I'm going to use SansAmp. I'm going to add that as a plug in here. It's down in the harmonic area here. Choose SansAmp, open that up. Now, sans means without in French, so, get it? Sans Amp, without amp. That's what this plug in is. Anyway, I'd like to add this to the bass track, and use a setting up here that I kind of like.
I'll use the 122 pre-amp speaker. So, let's listen to this in solo. So, that's the bass with it. That was the original. kind of turns it up, gives it a little bit more power. We could add some more effect if we wanted. Dirty it up. I'm going to leave this as it is right now. Now, let me clean up the session a little bit here too. I'm going to hide and make inactive that track and these other two drum tracks. We don't need them in the session.
But, I won't get rid of em, I'm just going to hide them and make them inactive. So, let's hear what this is really going to sound like with the drums over the chorus part. This second note here on this track is the opened up ride drum set part, so I'm going to make that a longer note so it plays over that whole section here that we have for the chorus baseline Let's switch to note view, and I'm actually going to duplicate this playlist. So, I can edit the playlist without worrying about adjusting the original.
because if I can go back to the original, you see it's the same exact thing. Now. Back to the duplicate, and I'm going to get rid of this note. I just chose the Grabber tool, clicked on it and I'm going to erase it. And now, I'll choose the Trimmer tool and we're in grid mode, so I'm going to go ahead and drag this out all the way to the beginning of the measure. And cut this off. So, now we have exactly eight measures. You can see that up here at the top. And it aligns with the bass part. So, if I solo the bass and the drums, we'll hear what that sounds like.
Alright, so that's a little more beefy for that big drum part. Now I want to add some reverb and delay to the acoustic guitar track and then re-record the main riff, simplifying it by taking out the bass note, because now we have a bass track in there. So, reverb is going to give it a little bit more ambiance, and the delay will give the part some depth, and make it more interesting. So, we have our demo up here. I'll switch to the selector and listen to the guitar part bias off with no effect. If we add some reverb.
Now you're not hearing the reverb and that's because only this track is soloed. What I usually like to do is solo safe our effects send. So I'm going to hit Cmd on a Mac or Ctrl on a PC and hit this Solo button. And you'll see they turn grey, and now they're always active, even when something else is soloed. Now we can hear the reverb. And that's just our deverb factory default. We'll just leave it there for now.
If we turn up the send on the delay. It's kind of interesting, but because the original wasn't tracked at the tempo of the session, the delay is going to sound a little funky. So, let me re-record the guitar part with those effects, and we'll hear how much better it sounds. So, I'm going to make a new playlist, start it from the top, got our click track, and record enable.
oh. So, what happens when you see that error dialog? You can go up to the playback engine and change this, the hardware buffer size. We'll increase it to 256 samples and see if that works. Undo that recording, record enable. Okay, so we've got the guitar down. Probably sounds a little more interesting with the reverb and delay. Let's check it out. And we can adjust our delay settings. We can choose something, you know, maybe we want to actually make it a chorus effect.
Or maybe we want some stereo effects. Choose whatever you want. We'll just keep it as it is for now. And so, now with the drums slightly dirty based, the effect of guitar, this track is starting to sound a little bit more interesting. Let's keep moving forward with the idea.
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