If you’re at like me, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to get songs materialized quick enough. I am working on the first 5 tunes of a project and have the ideas charted in my Moleskine notebook and lyrics in an Evernote notebook (my hybrid songwriting tools). I have a songwriting process that I will get into in more detail in a future post, but I just learned about a feature in PreSonus’ Studio One 3 that just took my fairly efficient process and chopped off about 2/3 of the time it normally takes to lay down my initial scratch tracks.
That feature is the Arranger Track and inspector window. You can see a great overview and demonstration here, but here’s how it works at a high level: With the arranger track, you take each section of your tune, like intro-verse-chorus-bridge-end and record them all once, in a continuous sequence. This can be a singe guitar track, or all of your tracks—it’s up to you how much you need in order to have enough to sort your arrangement out.
Once you are finished, using the Arranger Track at the top of the timeline in the track view, you simply paint (using the pencil tool) over each of the the sections you just laid down. Then, either by copying/dragging and dropping in the Arranger Track or using the arrangement items that appear in the inspector pane, you then create your arrangement like putting together pieces of Legos. As you edit your arrangement, you can see the actual tracks appear in the timeline.
This is really cool and incredibly useful, qualifying it as an official Smart Musician Tool in my toolbox. I am sure that other DAWs have similar functionality, but I am not yet aware of them. If yours doesn’t have this type of tool, you can do virtually the same thing by recording your parts as described above, and then slice the tracks at the beginning and end of each section of your song. Then, copy and paste your newly built LEGO pieces together to create your arrangement.
This is a great way to quickly make your song idea a reality to share with other musicians who may be recording or performance the tune, or maybe serve as a starting point for the song to evolve into your next hit. What tools, creative ticks or approaches do you have that you use to write and record your music? Share them in the comments below!