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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Do you one take tracks? Help me learn how to be like you!
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next [all]
Author Do you one take tracks? Help me learn how to be like you!
Bogus
Until recently my only real medium of writing music has been through a DAW. It's a slow process for me but I enjoy it. However, I've noticed that as my hardware arsenal has grown I'm able to write longer and longer parts outside of the box and even get sections I consider able to stand alone and, in one patch, something that would take me weeks on a computer. So, to accelerate my learning process I'd like to ask:

For those of you who aim to 1-take tracks, what tendencies, mind sets, techniques and gear help you achieve that end?
aaooaa
Yeah I'd love to hear some tips from more experienced one-take wigglers too. This is exactly the creative approach I've been working toward since putting together my modular system. I used to play a lot of improvised music in groups and the kind of immediacy and the loss of sense of self you can achieve when you find yourself in a 'moment' is out of reach when working in the box so to speak. When I moved to making more music on my own that gap my process really sucked the life out of the whole music making experience.

Using a DAW is still a major part of my process though and I find that both elements can work perfectly together, which may or may not be applicable for you. I find that live looping of modular elements in Ableton allows me to build structure and form that becomes playable with sections you can return to for arrangement purposes. I use an iPad with Touchable to make this as 'playable' as possible. I'm sure this could be achieved with a full modular system but I'm nowhere close to having a setup like that yet.

All outputs from my modular go into an Allen & Heath Zed14 with the main outs routed to my interface. I have an outboard compressor and multi-effects unit for stereo widening on the master channel. EQ and mixing is done through the mixer as well so I can pretty much achieve the sound I want before it's recorded to file. As little tweaking as possible is the point I want to get to once it's recorded, I'm not averse to some editing afterwards but I really don't want to spend more that an hour doing so.

I'm not sure whether messing around with a patch, a bit of EQ'ing and then hitting record is really enough for me or whether I should actually sit down and plan and structure the track once I've achieved the sound I want. I'm still in my infancy when it comes to mastering this process but I think the main thing is to not be worried about making shit songs. The idea is to get good at finishing something, it's a skill just like any other. The more you practice the better you'll get at it.
suboptimal
I suck at it, but my approach has always been about single takes, because I loathe post-processing work. The main emphasis of my studio enhancements over the last few years has been to find a way to make my arrangement function as an intuitive, unified whole, rather than collection of wildly distinct pieces that add technical complexity without enhancing my experience. This has meant stripping away everything other than the modular and drum machine, and patching together my mixer (an AH MixWizard 16:9) to optimize routing and effects control.

After that it's about musicianship, which in the case of a modular+mixer arrangement is about really mastering the setup as an instrument. Very hard. I lack the talent for it, but I enjoy the process . . .
tIB
Im a one take wiggler- I build stuff on multiple machines, jam it out into a stereo master recorder. The option is there to edit the stereo file afterwards, which I sometimes do and sometimes dont.

For better or worse it is my preferred way of working and I've been working that way pretty much always- I tried on the computer when I first started out but didnt get very far- much prefer working up a track, getting it sounding as good as I can and jamming it out to sitting with loops at a computer.

I'll try to add more to this if needed... just off to bed now but if you have specifics you want answers to fire away.
X PRO
tIB wrote:
Im a one take wiggler- I build stuff on multiple machines, jam it out into a stereo master recorder. The option is there to edit the stereo file afterwards, which I sometimes do and sometimes dont.

For better or worse it is my preferred way of working and I've been working that way pretty much always- I tried on the computer when I first started out but didnt get very far- much prefer working up a track, getting it sounding as good as I can and jamming it out to sitting with loops at a computer.

I'll try to add more to this if needed... just off to bed now but if you have specifics you want answers to fire away.


i work basically the same way.
usually i sequence out whatever i want, when i'm happy with it i play thru my sequences as i want and mess with stuff live as it records.

i always just finish my work until i like how it sounds, turn on the recorder and let it go

as long as i don't fuck it up while recording that's it really.

i also usually play most of it live while it's recording with a few layers looping on a sequencer, i would play it all live but i don't have enough hands or perfect enough timing
flx
Basically the same here. I just create a bunch of sounds and sequences and then try to play them all at once with my two hands. That gets recorded onto my Zoom r16 eight-track recorder, where I can apply some reverb and stereo pan and mix the tracks afterwards into a stereo WAV.

When I was using Ableton Live, I also had that workflow, using a Launchpad to control sequences. So a DAW doesn't have to be boring or tedious.

Here's an old video in which I explain that workflow (with hardware synths, but it works the same with VSTis):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFkiUeLZzZY&index=1&list=PLa9Em_H8Xs_b MlncCAFzYUzEpHrmDDLWB
Umcorps
Pretty much everything I do with the modular I do as live, one-take with no post-production. For me, that was the whole point of putting together a physical system. I'd had enough of DAWs, plug-ins and mouse moderated interfaces.

The key for me is having a mixer capable enough to bring everything together in one place. Aux busses are particularly important there.

For ergonomic reasons, once I've set things up on the main mixer that tends to remain static throughout the take and I'll control the levels of the various elements directly from the modular instead. Which means that, when patching, I need to build that control into the patch as well as everything else.

The other thing is practice. Sometimes stuff will just come together very quickly but, more often than not, once I've got some complex patching going on it takes me a while to explore it properly and discover the implications of what I've made.

Once I think I'm ready I then just use Audio Hijack to grab the master output from the mixer as it happens. The only editing I do is to top and tail the take. If there are fades, they are done during the recording.
davidh
flx wrote:
try to play them all at once with my two hands.

you should use your 8 tentacles ? smile

I record mostly live, various number of tracks
or sometimes just a sequence to use it later
try to make a maximum of variations
sometimes the live recording is fine
sometimes I rearange parts into Reaper, cutting sections, adding other track or sequences
or remix all in the octatrack
but I try to keep postprocessing as minimal as possible
maruwan
I'm usually just messing around with the modular, but when I find something that works I always do multiple takes and listen to them on the way to work the next day. Then I make mental notes of what I think worked well / didnt work too well and I delete everything except the best version. I've never used a DAW.

I think the main challenge is finding an "entry point" into the patch: a way to start and build up the sound. I sometimes change the patch while playing but never too drastically.

When I'm recording ACID it's the same multiple-take approach; but I start from MIDI and follow a very rigid, almost mathematical, structure wrt tempo, buildups & breaks.
Bogus
This is good, thank you all for the detailed responses. I'm taking notes.
IR
I usually record direct to stereo, but not that often in one take because I often mess up and it could be more takes to get the version I'm happy with.
_nathan
A lot of people in this thread are probably better at improvising a live-to-2-track set. I do it the more fussy, control freak way - everything is sequenced on the Octatrack so by the time I record it's pretty much there.

Takes a lot of time in arrange mode, copying and altering patterns, and parameter locks but I prefer that to multitracking and getting lost editing in the computer.
scozbor
I love the magical happy accidents I get while jamming into a stereo recorder. Then I take those recordings and edit the hell out of them in DAW arrangements, with effects, new midi tracks, etc, etc...
X PRO
_nathan wrote:
A lot of people in this thread are probably better at improvising a live-to-2-track set. I do it the more fussy, control freak way - everything is sequenced on the Octatrack so by the time I record it's pretty much there.

Takes a lot of time in arrange mode, copying and altering patterns, and parameter locks but I prefer that to multitracking and getting lost editing in the computer.


this is a way i like to do it because if i already know what i want a piece to sound like arrangement-wise then i can focus on messing with sounds and doing other stuff.
markstyles
I have not had modular stuff in a while. But I worked at a studio with a large custom Moog (with a one of kind 4 x 256 step sequencer),an ARP 2600 and two cabinets of ARIES modules.. There was enough there to get a fairly full sound.. So I would usually record it live onto tape..

Other times, I would lay a sequenced section down to tape, and then hand play a bunch of orther parts..

I jury wrigged a sync system, by recording a square way onto tape, and feeding back to Aries envelop follower module, to sync additional sequencer.. That was sometimes rough.. Often I would just 'fly' additional sequencer onto tape, using my hand on flange to keep sync.. Of course the syncing situation is much better now..

I would leave the 3 synths patched together for days, always on... I would do a number of passes, and pick the best one.. There is a thrill to having all those parameters in front of you, and deciding how your going to proceed.

Now with computers and DAWs. Things are pretty much limitless. Now I build a song, listen to it countless times, then go back in and re-overdub certain sections, for variety, sometimes just cut/splice/copy sections after the original recordings to add another layer of dimension to it.
Bogus
markstyles wrote:
I have not had modular stuff in a while. But I worked at a studio with a large custom Moog (with a one of kind 4 x 256 step sequencer),an ARP 2600 and two cabinets of ARIES modules.. There was enough there to get a fairly full sound.. So I would usually record it live onto tape..

Other times, I would lay a sequenced section down to tape, and then hand play a bunch of orther parts..

I jury wrigged a sync system, by recording a square way onto tape, and feeding back to Aries envelop follower module, to sync additional sequencer.. That was sometimes rough.. Often I would just 'fly' additional sequencer onto tape, using my hand on flange to keep sync.. Of course the syncing situation is much better now..

I would leave the 3 synths patched together for days, always on... I would do a number of passes, and pick the best one.. There is a thrill to having all those parameters in front of you, and deciding how your going to proceed.

Now with computers and DAWs. Things are pretty much limitless. Now I build a song, listen to it countless times, then go back in and re-overdub certain sections, for variety, sometimes just cut/splice/copy sections after the original recordings to add another layer of dimension to it.


Sounds like a hell of a good time despite the limitations smile
EarlJemmings
get a couple beers, turn up the volume, run through it once or twice, and give 'er

I have tried multi-tracking, but I just get so, so bored.
One take, master it in daw, done.
nbirnel
I like microphones. Patch up a drone or a sequence, ms20 mini or microbrute for 'melody', and keep a glockenspiel or a ukelele at hand. Alternate between playing the 'real' instruments and the keyboards, and tweaking knobs and adjusting patches. One mic, straight to mono.
nbirnel
1 microphone, straight to mono. modular, monosynth, and some 'real' instrument (ukulele, glockenspiel?) Go.
pricklyrobot
Not quite one-take, but I will frequently use my EHX 2880 as a four-track when I don't feel like messing with the PC/Pro-Tools.

You can do some basic mixing and panning, but there aren't endless options to fiddle with, so I tend to focus more on the song than the recording process.
maudibe
Hi wigglers.

Production preferences and processes - a great subject, but 'how to' all depends on your approach and preferences, and of course kit.

Some people don't want to work in the DAW, and that is very cool IMHO because it limits you and gives a straight pathway towards your goal. The disadvantage is of course that yo do it in one take, warts and all. When it goes well, then it's brilliant. When it goes wrong you just chalk it up as a lesson learned and move on.

Personally, I am a bit of an old school multi-track head. (Yes, harking back to the days of tape and recorders the size of domestic ovens). LOL

So, my love for recording (I'm, I guess a pro) led me to DAW workflow, having started out back in the day with Steinbergs Pro-24 which was MIDI only.

Fast forward, and I'm using Cubase 7.5 with my modular, and other sound sources, loops, found recordings etc etc.

So what has this to do with the original question?

Well, despite having all the software and hardware tools available I still love to patch out the modular to the DAW and make a 'complete instrument'.

To my mind this is getting the best of both worlds: I tend to make an interesting patch and record the results. Cherry pick perhaps out of 15-20 minutes of wiggling. Then the fun starts... or the pain... I go in and perhaps overdub whatever the piece needs. Since everything is synced up then no problem laying extra modular parts, MIDI parts or loops.

My mate who likes to remix berates me for not tracking *everything* separately.

The thing is though, I find if I take every modular element out to a separate track it doesn't sound the same! Also, then there are just too many options for fx, eq and the like.

So, my response in a nutshell is a hybrid way of working:

Live modular into the DAW, added to and edited - most of the stuff I start gets finished Mr. Green

Happy wiggling... yea, keep it live (ish) Guinness ftw!
Zon
I've been drifting towards outboard gear more and more these couple of months but have always recorded in DAW. This night i was droning for about 2 hours when it suddenly crashed on me and i'm fucking done with it. I'm going to record to my H4N from now on, and perhaps straight to tape or reel in the near future. Great topic and very helpful
thresholdpeople
I don't like to overdub. Much of my compositional method and decision making is based on the conglomeration of sound interacting at any given moment. I don't think of it as one voice on top of another, etc, so it isn't an option for me to say lay down a bassline, then write a melody on top of it, even if the end result does have such definable elements. I may not know exactly what my melody (or harmony, or...) should be unless I know what my bassline (or harmony.. ) should be. But that I don't know unless I know the melody... etc etc. I work from the bottom up, so this roundabout way makes sense when working surgically in a DAW, or playing on the fly with hardware (or a well mapped controller). Anyway, I think not in terms of these elements but in terms of timbre and rhythm.

I've struggled for a long time to figure how to make music with a one take approach, as I started earnestly making music with a computer and VSTs, so that would be a slow process of instance by instance getting the sounds the way I want. To me it comes down to setting up my instruments (at this point a bunch of semi-modular cohesive and playable instruments, cross patched) in a way that my composition is my interaction with them, and their interaction with each other. I judge the merit of my piece based on the success of these elements, and am interested in pushing the envelope of interaction.

I guess my longwinded approach to your question is that I play my gear in a way that only allows for the finished thing to be that take, or the best version of attempting to capture the piece, often learning and refining as a go -- this also helps keep the magic of the moment.

I went through a period before this one where I had a large modular system, robust enough for multiple voices all interacting at once. I found this very unapproachable though, largely do to a lack of cohesive interface to play. It was an awkward space of being somewhere between composing ITB moment by moment, statically, listening back and making decisions, and doing a one take balls to the wall, while achieving neither. I simply attempted to have too much happening at once without a clear and dedicated way to tame what was happening.

As Umcorps said:
Quote:
The other thing is practice. Sometimes stuff will just come together very quickly but, more often than not, once I've got some complex patching going on it takes me a while to explore it properly and discover the implications of what I've made.


I do however multitrack everything when recording, as opposed to going straight to a stereo track. I do this with the idea that I can use the recorded pieces for further surgical style DAW compositions. Or for small edits of taking a very nice snippet from one take and pasting it in to the take I will use for the final version.
JohnLRice
For the one shot's, which many of my YouTube videos are, I'll typically get a simple to complex sequence and/or drone running and then 'wiggle' the settings while it's recording and/or play an additional part on a keyboard at the same time.

More often than not I'd like to build up and perfect the track with more parts and practice but I know I wont have the time or energy so I'll just add video clips, either totally random or sometimes in a way that seems to tell a story, and I think the video aspect often effectively 'fills in the music where it's lacking', meaning that I think the music or video separately wouldn't work so well on their own but together are greater than the sum of their parts. (hopefully!)
Villarceau
It's good to warm up before recording/really start working. I tend to jam for an hour at least before I start recording a track. It's a habit that I successfully patched over from my guitar playing days.
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