Keyboard Magazine "In The Studio"
Article # 29
Keeping Track Of Your Tracks
by Bobby Nathan
I've dedicated this month's column to record keeping. Not necessarily keeping your record collection in order, but keeping accurate records both in the studio, on the job and at home.
In my last article we discussed Automation and the art of Automation and how to recall the mix. As a professional Midi programmer it is essential to be able to recall exactly what you have created in your pre-production environment so that when you go into the studio, you will be able to make the magic happen again Making all the charts you'll need is fairly easy. But, if you start a session with out having charts already made up you could pull your hair out for not being prepared. It's not real professional to end a programming session by scribbling recall notes of the back of your lunch while your client is watching you biting his finger nails off worrying if you can get the same sounds back in the studio.
Here's some pointers on making a great recall charts. First list all the equipment you use regularly to program. Include some other popular items that you may not have but your client might. Arrange all the gear into categories such as Drum Machines, Sequencers, Samplers and Synthesizers. A Sample Chart might look like this:
Drum Machine - Linn 9000 Pattern Numbers :
Song Numbers : Samples Kick: Snare: Toms : Claps: Other: _____: _____: _____: Midi Channel: Effects Snare: Toms: Claps: Other:
Sequencer - Roland MC-500 MKII Pattern #'s -Intro#:___Verse#___Chorus#:___Bridge#:___OutChorus#___ Song # ___ Track1 Instrument__________Synths:_______________Midi Channel:___ Track 2 Instrument:_________Synths:_______________Midi Channel:___ Etc,
Synthesizer Patches Yamaha DX7IIFD A:__________ Octave:___ Midi Channel:___ B:__________ Octave:___ Midi Channel:___ Roland D-50 Upper:__________ Octave:___ Midi Channel:___ Lower:__________ Octave:___ Midi Channel:___ Etc,
Sampler Akai S-900 Disk Name: _________ Bank Name:_______ Sample 1 Name:_____KeyGroup:___Midi Channel:___ Output#:__Trigger in#:___ Octave:____ Sample 2 Name:_____Key Group:___Midi Channel:___ Output#:__Trigger in#:___ Octave:____ Etc,
And the list goes on and on! What I've given you is just an a few examples. When you make up your own recall sheets, you'll include all the needed information about each piece of gear that is used. If you use still use analog synths like the Minimoog and etc, than you know keeping recall sheets of their settings is a must to recreate special custom sounds and even then after following a recall sheet, you may not get the same sound back again exactly!
Numeric or graphics pictorial charts? The choice is yours! Many prefer actual pictures of the knobs and then you can just draw the pointer for the knob on the sheet. But be forewarned, this type of recall sheet is not as accurate as the numeric type. No problem for today's modern synths and samplers, but again numeric sheets won't help you recall a Minimoog.
Since most of you have computers you can use your Word Processor's you create your sheets. You can also use computer based drawing type program's to make graphic charts for the older gear. Those of you who don't can borrow a typewriter or hand write / draw it out and have some one type it up for you for a song or two or maybe royalties?
Now if you are you are one of those who own a computer, chances are that you may have a database software package. In that case you may want to write a database program to store all your recall information on screen. Many of toady's newer data base programs are menu driven and have built in word processors to lay out the screen so that you can do custom layouts. One of these programs for the IBM PC series of computers is PFS File. It is reasonably priced and can be master in a few hours. For the Macintosh family of computers, Microsoft's File is also very easy to learn. Both have on screen help to guide you thru the way. There are other programs that will do the job maybe better but remember we are musicians first, technicians second and we don't do windows! Unless you're talking 'bout Microsoft's Windows.
Some other item's to consider on your Midi Patch bay is the color of the midi cables hooked up to each input or output. Your Midi based reverbs and delays are important to list too. The program name, Midi channel, input level output level, what send feeds the input, what channel the output returns to at the mixer, how it is panned. Any other effects that use use must be notated too. Noise gates, compression, equalization, flanging, phasing, chorusing and etc. Many top programmers and player have rack of gear with all the synthesizers and samplers pre-wired to their Midi patchbay. he effects are routed to a sub mixer and the engineer gets a stereo output from the rack mounted mixer. The client doesn't have to know how you got the sounds onto tape but you had better be able to recreate them if you want to stay popular amongst today's producers. It is not uncommon to be called back on a session to overdub the same sounds but in different places for the 12" Re-mix or Dub versions of a song or on other songs for the same artist on the same albumn. Being prepared is the key to being in demand.
One last point ... Always write it down. It's always the client that say's don't bother to write it down that will call you one hour after the session and ask "Is it too late?". Play it safe. A pro always takes notes
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