What it does it mean to write a song when so much of today’s music is wordless? This is a great question for another article. But for our purposes, let’s say that songwriting is the process of putting musical ideas together to form a larger structure of coherent melody, harmony and rhythm. It’s the process of brainstorming that results in a beginning, middle and end.
Of all the stages of music production, arranging is perhaps the least understood and most neglected. When a song has a good beat and melody but gets too repetitive after a while, this is usually a problem of arrangement. It’s the arrangement that makes a song interesting.
Now we bring the gear in. Since the recording process can refer to many things, we’ll stick to calling this stage “tracking”, and the goal is to capture a performance of the song.
The possibilities of digital editing have made capturing a great performance easier than ever. But it’s best to use these tools as a fallback, not a go-to. And when it comes time to do some editing, you should treat this as a separate stage for a couple of reasons.
For many, this is where the real fun starts. You’ve written your song, recorded the parts, and now it’s time to sit back, relax, and turn this track into a masterpiece. Knowing how to mix well is an art form that takes years of learning and practice. But that doesn’t stop anybody from doing it, and you should feel free to dive right in and start exploring the possibilities.
Mastering has traditionally been treated as its own stage. But for many bedroom producers, it’s simply become the last part of the mixing stage. For most of you reading this it’s probably the latter, but it’s still helpful to know how it came about.