How I compose a new song from scratch to premaster

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It all begins from a feeling that I could write something new. I grab my bass, guitar or play with Hammond or piano to improvise for a while. Usually some melody starts to get more attention in my head and it will become the seed of the new song.

Now things are evolving fast. I make the chord progression in minutes and make a quick demo in SONAR. First track may is usually bass or rhythm guitar. I don’t need to make any drum track – I’m used to play over the ¼ metronome.

After making a rough structure of the song I play electric demo drums and pay more attention to the groove. Now I play all instruments again 1-3 times. Each time I learn more about the song and finally I know exactly what all instruments are doing (and WHY). Mixing process has already started – it’s integral part of the arrangement and sound choices.

It’s time for the vocals. Demo vocals are recorded quickly but refining continues all the time to the last minute before mixing.

Now the professional drummer comes to studio. I give him the song structure, play the demo for a couple of times and he makes his own markings. Drums are recorded in 1-5 takes and in two hours I have got superb drum track (no editing required), including sound check and rough drum mix. I have learned that it is cheaper and faster to hire a seasoned professional drummer than trying to make drums on my own.

Drums are ready. Next I play bass and guitar again and make them groove with drums. Vocals, keyboards, programming, rough mixing, backing vocals etc. follow in random order.
Mixing phase: sometimes I tend to use “advanced mixing techniques” which means that I could re-record any instrument track or even lead vocals if I have a feeling that song does not feel right. “Song is ready when it is ready”. Normally, however, mixing is just mixing.

Finally it’s time to send song for the mastering engineer. It’s good to have a deadline; otherwise the mix would not become ready until year 2080…