Posted: May 30, 2017
demo diy diy recording layering midi portable setup recording soundcheck stage time touring
**Guest post written by Ben Jacklin.
"Anyone who has found any degree of success as a musician will probably tell you that it isn’t as glamorous as many people would have you believe. For any touring outfit, life on the road can be fun, but can also mean a lot of fast food, cramming in the back of vans and plenty of spare time. For musicians, this can present an opportunity to write, practice and even record songs whilst making your way from one show to another.
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We’ve put together some top tips for putting together your next demo whilst you’re touring, the perfect way to fill the hours from one city to another and at a time when many bands and artists can be at their most creative.
It is important to get the right equipment to take out and about with you, and as technology continues to improve, this continues to get easier. Gorillaz set a precedent, recording and producing their album ‘The Fall’ whilst on an American tour, using an iPad as their main tool. Sometimes, a laptop, some headphones and a decent USB microphone can be more than enough to lay down a rough demo, or even a complete mix of a track.
If it is feasible to do so, using the time you are on stage is a must. Sound checks and such are a great opportunity to try out new ideas and play as a band, and some audio engineers will be able to give you a copy of the audio from the mixing desk (if you bribe them enough). This can result in a load more material for you to work with, and is especially useful for larger bands.
On the road, recording hard audio isn’t always the best option, and finding somewhere suitable to record without the whurr of a 20 year old engine or the sound of unloading amplifiers can be pretty tough. If you are able to set up some acoustic treatments somewhere, this may not be necessary. If not, MIDI is a superb alternative. Recording software has come a long way, and even if acoustic instruments are your particular bag, many MIDI instruments have some exceptionally sampled acoustic emulations. You can even ‘draw’ the MIDI files in, so you don’t have to have a MIDI keyboard. If needed, you can always re-record at a later date, but having a way to capture ideas in the moment without recordings being interrupted by Kevin the Bus Driver can only be a good thing.
Many bands are used to recording as a band, live, and then mixing afterwards. The idea of each member recording their section separately may be a new concept, but can be extremely effective. Using a click track to stay in time, you can layer multiple guitar parts, bass, multiple vocals, and gradually build a track from the ground up, immensely more convenient than having to play together.
Bands and recording artists that keep their finger on the pulse of technology are instantly at an advantage. We truly live in the age of the ‘DIY’ musician, and being able to make the most of one of the essential aspects of musicianship, touring, to record your next demo, is the perfect solution for thousands of musicians. "
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