That One Neat Trick

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How about this? Post your one best trick.

Be it songwriting, production, lyrics, music. Anything. What do you do when you need to pull out something awesome?

I'll start - Generally I have at least 3 tracks of drums on every song. And normally 2 kicks and 2 snares. It provides a richer, more interesting sound; especially when you creatively mute between them Smile

When I write lyrics, I purposely take my erasers off my pencils so I am not tempted to erase anything. If I want to take something out, I have to scribble it out, forcing myself to think about whether I really want to do that or not. Half the time I do want to change it, but the other half I end up using my original words. Had I erased them, they might've been gone forever!

Of course, I'm probably one of the few dinosaurs that still use paper and pencil. I'm not sure if I could do that electronically in Word or something...

Comping takes is not cheating. If you are multitracking especially (although I've used it even for the guitar in a guitar and vox recording.. well and vox, too) record a couple of takes and then splice different parts together to make one good take. I use this on bass guitar a lot. Since I'm not a bassist, I just play through three or so times and then splice. Sometimes I even copy and paste a section if all three have flubs at the same point. I do it even more often on vocals. If you are writing 50 songs in 90 days (or even just a couple) you rarely have time to actually learn the part much less perfect it. So comp it.

Well I'm not going to give away any of my "technical" secrets, but I will say that if I'm stuck I remember my two songwriting mantras; "There Are No Rules" and "What If I Try This...?"

OK, great thread thought.

Trick one, --try not to suck? Smile

Otherwise, --most folks don't know how to create depth or separation and use way to much reverb and etc. (OMG or "chorus" on some multiplier... for vocals, for the entire track!) And, actually if one considers how the human ear "hears", like it sees, in stereo, well, I manage it differently.

I occassionally hear, "wow, sounds like your in the room with me" and/or, kinda too good a track for audacity, etc.

I doubt anyone here will care... so...

So, well, derUgo Smile


Especially near D major.

@tcelliott bass compers of the world unite! I'm not sure I've ever successfully played bass for a whole song, haha.

My one neat trick is this free delay plugin that sounds good on anything:

As a lyricist, I'm rarely at a loss for words. But when that happens, I find that if I take a song I love and use its structure as a template - which initially might also include its rhyme scheme and melody - I can very quickly come up with a lyric.

I then revise/restructure it, changing words/lines as well as the metering and the rhyme scheme, and quite often the length, making the format different from the original template, meaning the eventual melody will also be completely different.

I sometimes keep the theme/genre of the original (e.g. a love song), but the result is entirely my own, and one that I usually consider a 'keeper'.

(This method/trick is often used by songwriters.)

The absolute worst thing about switching to Ableton Live is that you can't record multiple takes. What were they thinking? I mean, it's probably to save RAM, or CPU load, but still...

@Donna Devine that is a great idea. In fact sometimes, I often just rewrite someone else's concept and change it a bit.

Right now, it's the partial capo. Everything sounds better with the partial capo! LOL

I don't know, I like dropping in that chord which isn't in the key structure of the main of the tune. That usually helps the tune be more memorable for me.

Oh, metalfoot made me remember one that others may like:
If using a guitar that "hurts", e.g. 12 Str, poor action, etc. ... tune down 1/2 - 1 step and put that capo at F or F# and enjoy the same chords, then still in standard tuning but with more relaxed string tension.

Kind of an obvious one, and many may know it, but, I never thought of it. I have no use for a capo otherwise Smile

I posted a 50 page guide of guitar practicing tricks. Biggrin

my trick for myself WAS to make a note pad out of titles with a quick note on the pad (often just the title). then i put the note pad on my desk top, and since i would like more notepads in the line of completed songs, for FAWM, 50/90, or my personal months of writing, which i have in rows across my screen, than to the side, in the idea section, i usually churn those that are to the side into the queues of finished product. that really hasn't worked this summer, though. my idea side is clogged, and the queues are short, not even 2 full lines now, which would be 20 songs.

Actually @French Cricket you *can* record multiple takes in Live.

1. Drag the "loop" bracket above the track window to the start and end points of the section you want to record (and yes, they can be the start and end points of the track.)
2. Make sure the punch in, loop and punch out buttons are enabled.
3. Enable the appropriate track, hit record, and play/sing through the loop as many times as you want. Then stop recording.
4. At this point you'll see the *final* pass of your active track through the loop on the track bar.
5. All you need to do now is to drag the left edge of that recorded loop area on the track to the left. Lo and behold: all the previous passes through that loop are revealed. It's that simple!

My one neat trick is...joining FAWM and 50/90! Honestly there is nothing I have ever done that has yielded more results.

The humble crossfade is the glue for many a mix of mine.

Reaper is set to auto cross fade. Of course it needs tweaking sometimes. But I don't even think about it even though it's used all. the. time. Good one.

I've never done this myself, but Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys used to take 10 seconds from someone else's song, another 10 seconds from another song etc and build them into a new melody. I always thought that was quite an interesting way of doing it.

I make awesome coffee.

@johnstaples I couldn't agree with you more.

On a more personal level though my latest trick is when i have an idea to record it on my phone real quick so I don't forget it.

My best trick is to force myself to get bored. I have an hour's drive each way to work, and I usually walk for half an hour around the office park in my lunch break. If I can tear myself away from podcasts, this is when I'll have all my ideas for songs. I usually sketch out melodies on my phone, then work out the chords when I get home from work. In the middle two weeks of FAWM, I wrote a song a day this way, five or six of which were better than anything I've ever done before.

I just decided to keep this 12 str acoustic I've been banging on so had to get "brave" and do a Nut
Action Filing and Truss Rod adjustment... so in that, the "Trick" ? :

Made the:
Treble E String (of course Smile ) made them 10, 9
G String unwound of the pair, I made that a 10

(Supposed to be a stock set of 12's to 52 was on it, -- don't think so, but are new strings..., don't know the B strings and the G unwound replaced string was suspect as a high tension brand... really really tight, possibly a 14 guage)

This all took some pressure off the neck, and the strings (of course) and per the * dB meter, did NOT loose any volume and did loose some weird overtones I was hearing --likely for many reasons (not well fretted high Nut action and etc.)

I have to say that bringing the over all action down with Truss Rod Adjustment may have helped too since one then Frets the strings in alignment, more, --high action equals "Sharp" intonation (if you know how that works).

-- Also, bonus trick?

I got a small 4v Black and Decker batt screw driver... you know the kind, a light duty, "chicks tool" Wink ... anyway... PERFECT with a Peg Winder Bit... lovely for unwinding and winding strings on a 12 string guitar!! OMG. And for me, if not much cheaper, far better than the "music" made offerings. Saved lots of time and poked bloody fingers, -- how it goes for me, anyway.

At the moment for 50/90 my one neat trick is just trying to learn some new tricks. Even if it's just one little thing I've never done before in each song I consider that progress.

Using pink noise to set initial track levels in my mixes.

Using hard panning L-R for main backing tracks like guitars while drums, bass and vocals are dead center.

I learned to love presets, especially for the guitar sounds in Logic pro. They sound so good. I choose my sound quickly and then commit to that.
Another thing: leave my room and go to the rehearsal space to not let my internet addiction get in the way of creating.

@johnstaples, LCR panning (or LRC) works wonders. Simply double tracking a guitar part and panning each track hard opposite ways can make a huge difference in the sound.

Vocal harmonies.

Oh there are so many. Probably the one trick set I use most is to do a one-track one-take recording of vocal and guitar, duplicate it, offset the second track by the smallest fraction of a second that Garageband will tolerate, use a vocal effect on one track, a guitar track on the other, and pan one track halfway left and the other halfway right.

That's interesting, Andy. I might have to experiment with that on the skirmishes. It sounds fairly easy and fast.

Here's a non-technology trick. I try writing at least one thing just after getting up in the morning before I'm properly awake, I find I can write more freely without thinking too much about whether something is correctly written or not. Then later in the day I can review it and shape it.

I was reading through these again, -- Andy's resonates the most for me Lol I don't get why in all these "courses" the low tech (so to speak), "manual" technique, simply done, is not emphasized, --not the plug in. Another along Andy's line of thinking I've used forever is using the wet-*only reverb of a "primary" track and pan/+- dbB it to best affect. Many times, pending on what's used, you may even sound like you have a Bass line but don't, it's just that. The other part of that is, define "reverb", --for me, it's likely far less than the vocal harmony levels others use, much < 10% on any control, even <5%... it's amazing how much a little is.

On that "issue" --how much is to much, I "think" ?... some of the problem is what folks Listen with. One of your best investments imo is a Studio Monitor Headphone, --uncolored. I've added a headset preamp so can really control the volume feed to them specifically (many high quality, tiny footprint preamps, very cheap and USB charged < the size of a CC).

Anyway..., one of the best other thoughts:
... I've had as a result of learning "tricks", kinda obvious was, what's the fewest things I can do in my very consistent recording venue? I've got it down to three things. You?

(I've gotten things, recorded, processed and on SC in like 10-15mins, maybe 30min total w/lyrics here unless leave that out 'till later. Good/bad, it is what it is, but it is "consistent" and predictable in result.)

Any dry recording in that environment with that equipment, those three things, -- gud'nuff (for a demo --separation, tone, presence...), and unless is one of my Cell Phone direct uploads (then it is, what it is Lol ). We can't control how stuff is listened to, however, it's reasonable to assume it's a Bass Heavy Ear Bud, or PC/Phone speakers 1/8in Smile in size, two extremes. I know stuff is always going to sound better on my iPad, vs [?].

Anyway, as this all winds down and folks move onto "recording" (and very complicated, didactic how-to)... a last minute practicum brain dump is always helpful for me to read through. I think if a one mic track, done well, is learned first, then one can build from there, (or two mics simultaneous vocal/instrument focused, one-track) , --not start with 10 Tracks and then learn how to back it down to a good, dry, single sound source "mastered" in.

-- derUgo Lol