Production sessions are for artists who have the idea of a unique and original track but need help putting it together as a finished product. There are different ways of approaching this, which will depend on the style of music and the final results expected. Advice will be given on arrangement, instrumentation, rhythmical choices, including key, tempo, types of instruments and sounds used. It also covers decisions made during the mixing and editing process and writing of the track from a simple idea where and when required. The co-ordination of and creation of all these elements is also part of the production. It will use all of the professional editing and mixing techniques available. See here for production costs.
Basically a track can be created using three different methods or a combination of them all. Those methods are musicians, samples or software.
If the track requires real musicians to perform on it, I can arrange this for you. Whether it’s drums, bass, guitars, violins, vocalists, pianists, keyboards etc. I work with many session musicians from different styles of music including myself. Each have their own abilities, style and hire costs, so choosing the correct one for a particular track is important. They can bring their own ideas to the track or play your ideas for you. The advantage of this method is that you get the natural human feel and extra ideas put in to the song. The disadvantage is that it’s a more costly method than the others. There’s no extra cost for me to play real instruments within my scope.
Samples are small clips of license free prerecorded music and vocal parts. For example a short 1 to 8 bar guitar part, drum loop, bass line or vocal phrase etc.
It’s like have session musicians that have already played their part, we just need to choose which parts are appropriate for the track. I have access to well over half a million of these with more being added all the time. They are all recorded in different style, key and tempo. A track can be put together by using just this method or by combining it with the other methods (which is normally the case). The advantage of samples is that you get the natural human feel of the part at a fraction of the cost. The disadvantage is that finding the exact parts for that specific track may need some compromise.
Using this method a track can be created using software emulations of instruments and synthesizers. It is used in many styles of music now a days and is extensively used in dance, pop and electronic music. However, you will find it in many more styles of music. Software emulations are very accurate in reproducing the original instrument. Let’s take piano emulations as an example. When the emulation is made by the manufacturer, they will take many hundreds of small recordings of the notes played on the originally instrument at many different volumes and collect them in a library of data. When that note is then used in the software, it references this library and you hear the actual sound of the original instrument at that specific volume.
So when producing a track, we first work out the notes and chords of the part required. We can then either program the notes in individually, play them in correctly or play them in roughly and edit them afterwards. They are recorded in a format called midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). The advantage of this method is that it gives great flexibility and results with only a minimum amount of musicianship. However, the better the musicianship, the better the ‘natural feel’ will be, so sessions musicians may, or may not be required. Many genre’s of dance, pop and electronic music don’t benefit from a ‘natural feel’ (they use a more structured swing and groove), so that’s why they lend themselves to this method very easily, as the notes can be programmed in to fit the swing and groove .
When producing a track together, it’s important to have an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve, what the style of music is and what will be the end purpose of the track? If you have a definitive idea of how you want the track to sound, then you should bring along a few examples of something similar, to get us ‘in the ball park’. Generally, we should be trying to produce tracks that take influence from previous tracks, but have their own unique edge.
Back in the day if something was considered good it used to get you the deal. In the music industry today, supply far out strips demand and as the saying goes ‘good isn’t good enough anymore, it has to be great’. It’s simple maths, if the world buys 100 of something and you have 1000 people making it, the world buys 10% (that’s the old days). If the world buys 100 of something and you have 10,000 making it, the world buys 1% (that’s today). So when we produce something we must have this concept in mind and aim to stand out somehow to get in the 1%. Our aim must be to have something unique and different but at the same time, something that appeals to the market you’re aiming at. This concept is always in my mind when I’m producing a track.