Welcome back Guitar Nine readers. As promised, and I know you were all holding your breath, we will start with my talk on pre-production (PP). I think there are two forms of PP. I will go into the first. This is the more logical and structured way of going about it.
The first thing you need is some music or a song. The song might, and probably will be, in some form of shrapnel. This is the fun part of trying different arrangements of the song and seeing which chords work better with others. I find that the hardest transition to make is going between two sections. Exhaust your options to find the "choice" transition between parts. You will know which one it is because of the smile that will happen on your face.
Once you have your song, it is time to think about the mood of the song. First: what type of feeling do you want to portray with this piece? Happy? Sad? Scary? A blend of emotions (my favorite is a bit of everything)? Then you must think of the instrumentation. What instruments will be part of your masterpiece? Violin? Kazoo? Triangle? This is great fun, trying to hear the piece in your head with different instruments and counterpoint (combination of lines working together). The composers of the past could hear whole symphonies in their head before a note was played or written down! Amazing! I am not saying that we all must be Chopin or Mozart, but some serious thought should be given in this area. A good song produced incorrectly will fail!
Synthesizers are great for PP. They have so many sounds that can help you create. All of these ideas should be put down on some type of recording medium. I don't care if it is a regular cassette of a virtual studio, the point is to hear it back without physically playing it. I find that this gives me the truest objective opinion. The problem is when we are playing the part, it could sound cool but we are still trying to remember what the hell we just created. Record your rough parts and take a break just listening to it! Remember this is going to be a rough sketch. Perfection can be taken care of in the actual production.
My production usually starts with putting my song ideas into our Korg Trinity with a hard disk recorder (four track audio, sixteen track MIDI) I usually just use a straight MIDI beat to get rolling, blast my guitar parts in, record bass, and then lay down some MIDI stuff like percussion, voices, etc. Then I chill for a day just listening to what was done. This way our brain can digest the song and see what we love and hate about it. Then go back and make changes as you have heard in your head. After I have the structure, I will jam with the song for a week or so coming up with the final guitar melody ideas or vocals or whatever the main instrument is. By this time, you should have a very good understanding of the song and all of it's nuances and PP!
I find PP is like drawing with erasable paint. You can try all sorts of ideas before actually using the good sticky paint to create with.
Next month I will talk about pre-production method #2 which is the more avantguard of the two. Until then, may all of your creations be with you!
David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.
His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.