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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.
One of the best features of Pro Tools is the playlist feature. Playlists enable you to record multiple takes of a part on the same track on top of each other, on separate playlists. Then you can edit between the different takes to create a comp of the best pieces from each take. Let me show you what I'm talking about. On the piano part, you know, we had this part that was like this. Now I've found, after playing through this arrangement a little bit, that that was kind of clashing with the main guitar hook that I put in.
So, I went in and created a new playlist, and you do that by hitting this Playlist Selector button. I am choosing New but I am actually going to choose the one that I already created, which is Panel 01, and I went and recorded a new part that is mimicking the acoustic guitar hook. So, it's got that repeated phrase. But I don't want to just have that whole thing go through the whole piece. So, what I want to do is, combine this first part, and I'll use the first part in the verse.
And then use the riff from this second playlist in the parts where the acoustic guitar is playing it's same riff. So, I want to have parts from both of these two playlists on the same playlist. So, I created this playlist and this is the comp. So, it's got this second playlist part here, the first playlist here, and then the second playlist part here. So, it's really easy to create this. Let me show you how to do it. I'm going to go to New>Create a New Playlist. We'll just keep the name the same, okay, and now it's completely blank.
This is a new playlist, but let's comp together these parts. So, if I want this part, I'm going to double-click with the selector, Copy, go down and select our comp track, Paste. Boom. It puts it right there, in the same spot, on this new playlist. Then I can go back to this other playlist, select this material. Copy. Paste. Do the same for the end part here. Copy. And paste. And so that's easy, fast.
Now we've created a comp of the two parts that we wanted on the piano part. I've also recorded vocals that you can see up here. So, I've got two backing vocals and a lead vocal. I did a number of takes. Now, I'm not the best singer. Definitely not a lead singer. This is a demo song idea and the purpose of it is just to get the idea down quickly. So, after I had the arrangement of the song, I started demoing some lyric ideas and some melodies. And once I found something that I liked, I laid down a number of different versions of it. And pulled out the best pieces and put together a comp.
So, let's take a look at these playlists. I'm going to change the track view from waveform to playlists and we can see all of the original takes that I did, and then the comp is up here at the top. So, this is pretty slick. It's really fast to be able to put together a comp in this way, so you can actually go, select a piece down here. Let's say I want this whole ending bit, and all I gotta do is hit this arrow and it copies the section to the main playlist.
And I can do that for a number of pieces here. Let's just say I want to do that. And you can build your comp that way, very fast, very quick, to get your rough ideas into a nice performance that you can share with everybody. I'm going to undo those, and collapse this back up by choosing wave form. Once you've got your comp, you can go in and add crossfades if you want, to smooth out these edits. I did one right here, you can see, crossfade between two different parts.
Sometimes you'll need them, sometimes you won't. But, again, this is just a quick demo of the song. And we've got it together here with the vocals, the back end vocals and this comped piano part.
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