How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...

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1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #678 by Jim Phillips
Jim Phillips created the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
I have just responded to a post about 'full band sound' and it got me thinking about my approach and wondering how others deal specifically with the issue of saving time. Is it normal to keep a bucket next to your recording system to prevent wasting time walking to the bathroom for instance? ;)

We know this is called a 'challenge' for a reason and the relatively short space of time means that you have to be quite focused or tactical to hit the deadline. So I wondered if anyone had any great time saving tips to share?

I've been a bit 'ambitiously daft' (true to form) and am attempting 10 tracks, all with guitar, bass, drums etc and don't have a designated room set up, so I have to set up every time I record. Sad times. Because of this I have tried to do a different instrument each sitting (ie. Guitar parts one day, bass the next, wobbly and out of tune vocals the next, etc). This has just about resulted in 10 backing tracks to date though, none finished or worthy of upload.

Other time saving tactics I've used include ...
Doing some artwork in advance (I fought the urge to make a model of myself out of pipe cleaners, so just did a drawing and collage. Michaelangelo can rest easy)
Noting down a few chord progressions/ melodies before Feb - to prevent writer's block (not recording though, I read/ skimmed the rules. Hehe)
Going straight in and 'clean' with the guitars and bass (not tirelessly faffing around with mic placement, effects and amp settings as I usually would. I'll battle guitar effects, amp simulators, poop polishers etc at the mixing stage)
Limiting myself to one guitar, one bass (i have GAS), one mic etc - so I don't waste time distracted/ noodling with each for hours on end trying to decide whether a dark blue guitar might sound better on that intro.
Not wasting any time shopping for the wife's valentines present ;) (though I might need to reconsider this)

Anyways, I am sure I must be missing some time saving tricks and would appreciate any other pearls of wisdom you good folk may have. After all 'sharing is caring'. Thanks in advance, Jim :)
Last Edit: 1 week 4 days ago by Jim Phillips.

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1 week 4 days ago #679 by A Beautiful Scene
A Beautiful Scene replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
When I first started the challenge in 2006 I was a bit of an insomniac. And I get that posting at 2:30 in the morning doesn't exactly help say that I asm cured of that. I have planned records out in advance, and recored on the fly. One year I was able to write and record a song within 4 hours - Mad inspiration that year.

There really is no one sure fire trick to the challenge. Different things will work different years. Different songs even.

I knew that I wanted live drums this year, and the only way to accomplish that was to write ahead of time and practice the ever living snot out of them.

So I have a musical completed demo that my friend and I are building from the drum up.

Sometimes you need to worry less about the "worthiness" of a song and just get it out there. If the next one is better, than the challenge is helping - If you learn anything from one recording to the next than the challenge is doing its job.

I find that building a template might save you a little time, however I feel like it also might box you in a little.

Writing stuff down over the year will keep you to a fixed idea but might stop you from spontaneous inspiration. It the words of the ever wise Philosopher Dory the fish "Just keep swimming."

You will certainly get some ideas from this thread though, just keep it up and always ask questions! This community is a strong one and will help anyway they can!
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1 week 4 days ago #680 by KazzyLizz
KazzyLizz replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
Last year I wasted time in search of a guitar sound, changing pedals and turning the knowbs all the time. That was a time waster and a stress factor because if I had recorded something and changed the sound later then I had difficulty finding the same sound again. Now I'm in a happy state of using one pedal which has a nice sound. I don't know how is this possible, I have never before in my life had such situation that I do have a great lead an rhythm guitar sound at the same time without changing anything. I just plug in the guitar (or bass or whatever) and record, without without needing to change the settings, or room setup.

I live in an apartment where I can't make noises at night so my schedule is to do singing and other recording at daytime, and then maybe write lyrics and try some keyboard things later at night. This seems to work nicely. Some philosophy I read from somewhere is: maximum results with minimum effort. That works when I write stuff at night and then record next day.

This is my second time around and already I see a pattern in that "old ideas" thing. I have a lot of old lyrics I'd like to use but most of the time it just doesn't flow...it feels like a drag somehow. Then, an spontaneous new lyric might come out of thin air and become a new song very quickly. Here too that "results/effort" thing applies; don't waste too much time with songs that are difficult to record or don't just feel right. Move on, do something else while waiting for an answer if that difficult song is worthy or does some better idea come instead.

That's my best tactical advice I guess.
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1 week 4 days ago #681 by Matt Parker
Matt Parker replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
I've had to plan this years challenge like a military operation. This February I've got so much stuff on. I've played two gigs this week for example, and I'm also away for part of the month. Effectively my challenge is a two week one.

With that in mind I bit the bullet and gave myself the last two weeks of January to write the songs which worked out quite well. I hit that deadline and had 10 songs going into day one. And there's nothing too terrible, so I'm happy with that.

So far I'm a little behind in general, I'd hoped to have all the drum tracks done by today, but I've only got two left to do, so it's not too bad.

I'm also planning to record vocals much earlier in the process. Normally I'd do them last, but due to time constraints I'm going to get those down early and then work on adding instrumentation. That way if I run out of time I'll still have finished songs just a bit less polished, rather than a set of instrumentals.

The biggest change for me this year is that I bought a new MacBook Pro, mostly for work purposes, but safe in the knowledge that it will also run Logic. I have a 1.5 hour train commute to and from work, so what I've been doing is getting the recording done at home then doing the editing/comping on the train and at lunchtime. That's the single thing that's going to get me through the challenge I suspect.

I'm also playing live drums this year as I got a set of e-drums last year. I'm finding it's much quicker to play drums that program them so that's been quite a time saver as well.
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1 week 4 days ago #682 by Dweeb
Dweeb replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
There are just too many options, so not only do I deliberately limit myself, but when trying to "dial in" something I just go for the first thing that sounds good. Really, you can spend 4 hours testing every possible setting on that synth and then settle on the same thing anyway.
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1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #683 by A Relative Term
A Relative Term replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
I've found the best way to save time is to trust my instincts and rely on my knowledge of the tools that I have. No need to overstretch.

I try to use only the mics I know and like and can get the most out of. Same for mic pres (and effects really). I try to only use cables I know and trust (I have a lot hanging around and who knows which ones work).

I don't fuss with sounds overtly. If it doesn't bother me, then I don't bother it. And if it does bother me, then I fix it. Simple as that. Sometimes when wandering down a path I'll stop and ask myself 'is this worth it?' and whatever my answer is dictates what will happen next and either way, it tends to put a hustle on things.

These probably sound like common sense but I know from rpms of the past that with the idea of creating a whole album in one month comes all kinds of crazy ideas about mic placement, weird sound gathering, grandiose orchestrations etc etc. But really, that's what the rest of the year's for. ;)
Last Edit: 1 week 4 days ago by A Relative Term.
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1 week 4 days ago - 1 week 4 days ago #697 by klandry
klandry replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
I'll respond to this question in two different ways: The big epic, collaborative album method and the one man/one guitar method. I've recorded both kinds with variable success.

Big, epic: To get this done right takes TONS of planning. One year, I recorded full demos of tracks and sent them off to brilliant musicians well ahead of February (I know this is of no help now that we're ten days in), but once February started, I immediately recorded rhythm guitar tracks and scratch vocals to pre-set click tracks. I got those tracks into other artists' hands as soon as possible. Then, once I started receiving bass, drums, lead guitar, vocals, etc. back from the resident geniuses, I re-recorded my own vocals (and at times guitar tracks) to rise to the level of my collaborators. I recorded and mixed at a feverish rate whenever I had a spare minute - at work, after work, at kids' sports practices, dance classes, etc. I really didn't have a schedule, because EVERY free minute was RPM time. As you can imagine, this burned my out with the lingering result of recording relatively simple songs for years... Until I got the urge to go nuts again.

The one man/one guitar method is a much more scheduled (and sane) way to do things - it's what I'm doing this year. On night one, I recorded guitar for one track. Every ensuing night, I get my ass into the basement and record all the vocals for the previous nights' track as well as the guitar for the next track. I try like hell to keep this schedule all the way until everything's recorded, with mixing done here and there in spare time (which isn't as hectic considering it's just a guitar and a vocal). I listen to everything in my car throughout the month, seeing if hooks, riffs, or picked guitar parts present themselves, and if there's time, I record those as well to round out the album.

As for pre-RPM things that can be done, I, too, do all album artwork ahead of time. I actually tend to do this with non-RPM albums as well - perhaps something psychological about needing to get something done because, hey, the cover exists.

I'll get all my click tracks in order ahead of time as well, playing along with them to make sure they're right. I didn't used to do this, and the time I'd lose trying to get the tempo right in real time was brutal for the first couple of challenges I completed.

Stick to a plan. If you have twelve songs ready to go, get them done. Now, there's always the chance that something will write itself mid-February that's impossible to dismiss, but I've found that songs come out best when they're allowed to marinate properly. I've written a beautiful song just this week, but I'll be saving it for a summer album or maybe all the way until RPM 2019.

Just get ten songs done. They probably won't sound perfect (I always fight through volume issues with vocals somehow being too loud and too soft at the same time). There is plenty of time afterwards to try to get EQ, volume levels, filters just right. My mantra is, "Make sure your preferred track sounds great. You have time to fix the rest in the future." Or not. It's up to you.

Finally, don't be too hard on yourself. Ever. You're creating something that never existed before. It likely won't be perfect, but it's probably a hell of a lot better than your self-critical ear will think.
Last Edit: 1 week 4 days ago by klandry.
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1 week 3 days ago #703 by jarrettosborn
jarrettosborn replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
I write ahead of time, which is the biggest time saver. I am seriously impressed by those who complete the challenge more traditionally by also writing in February. That said, from there I have to be very segmented in how I record, with pre-planned days for everything.

Usually, drums are 1 day, electric guitar is 5 days, acoustic guitar is 1 day, bass is 2 days, vocals are 6-7 days, and editing/mixing/mastering is 10+ days. If I go over budget on any recording days, I have to take them from other instruments, as mixing simply can’t go faster than 10 days for me.

If I’m running behind, I won’t review tracks after I record them. I’ll just go by feeling and hope there’s no huge issues. I also try to set up tracks with the same plugins from previous years so I’m not wasting time searching for those each year, even though I don’t necessarily end up with the same plugins or mix in the end.
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1 week 3 days ago - 1 week 3 days ago #711 by Lunarsight
Lunarsight replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
I may go about it a little differently, since I'm primarily composing on computer, but I find I get the best results not actively composing every possible second that I can. I'll spend maybe an hour at the computer working, and then go and do something else. This gives your brain a chance to breathe, I find I'll get little creative insights when I'm doing something else.

A few other things I do :

* Stick to a grand schedule -- I'll generally try and get certain steps of the process done by certain days in the month. (For instance, after X day, I'll stop creating new music, and just work to polish what I already have.)

* Lay down a good foundation. I try and get the levels right in the composition early on, since I find it saves me time trying to fix a screwy mix later on. It's a double-edged sword doing this, since sometimes putting on the editor's cap too early mucks with the creative process, but a lot of the time it does really help.
Last Edit: 1 week 3 days ago by Lunarsight.
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1 week 2 days ago #717 by angiefightscrime
angiefightscrime replied the topic: How Do You Battle The 'Time' Issue? Tactics Please ...
go listen to my demos, i tracked 8 songs drums, bass, guitars in 2 days.
it can be done. the secret is, write easy songs, play them well on a few takes and don't get hung up on yourself.
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