When it comes to organization, this can be the difference between a song being done in 30 minutes or 3 hours. Your job as the engineer is to know where things are at all times and to make it easy for everyone to get their ideas out and into your DAW. I will discuss some tips I’ve learned throughout my time in the industry to hopefully help give you a good perspective on how to organize your session so you can keep the flow of the session going smoothly.
In this post we will speak in the context of engineering for writing sessions in the genre of Urban/Pop.
When I start a session I have a premade template for writing sessions. It consists of a certain amount of vocal tracks that are sub-grouped to an Aux Return track. On that track I generally have a compressor or EQ that I’m comfortable with along with a few sends to FX returns for Delays and Reverbs.
I also have a track assigned to receive the mic input and once I record something I move it down to one of the empty tracks that I setup before.
Now when Pro Tools plays back it will have the inserts on your Vocal subgroup you created and the Reverbs and Delay sends.
In this session I’m using as an example, there were multiple amazing lyric writers.
So, when I tracked a writer, I made sure I colored and labeled an available track including: the name of the writer and put down what they are doing (Mike Jay Writer idea Track) so that I know later in the session where that writer’s idea was. In this example, the writer’s name is “Mike Jay” so I labeled as seen. I do that process for every person who steps into the booth. When we get to the point where the writers have all of the lyrics down and the main vocalist is ready to record, I usually set up 2 tracks that I will use as my main playback vocal tracks. The reason I use two tracks and not one, is a cautionary measure just in case there are vocal phrases that collide or the vocalist wants to punch in a lot. My whole goal is to make it easier on my eyes when looking for things and to make sure that if someone needs something we did, it is easy to find and access.
Want more on this topic? Leave a comment and share and I’ll do a hangout for it.
Hope this helps!