Frustration Turns to Productivity

Burnout & exhaustion are as much a regular part of the do-it-yourself (DIY) era, as making a strong cup of coffee each morning. Right about the time it feels like it can’t get any worst, it’s important to remember not to give up. Push through. More often than not trying is enough to shed some light on the subject.

Before I get into the problem, let me backtrack a bit to provide context.  

I’ve been writing songs for roughly 30 years in such an unorganized fashion, I have little to show for it. Much of the work, for better or worse, has passed back into the ether it originated from. What remains is only what has been tracked, written down, or recorded as audio or video. Over time, the reservoir of ideas is overflowing but the ability to arrange & record is a challenge.

When I compare my songwriting with my efforts in visual arts ( I can see how disciplined I have been with the latter. I’ve archived everything, sketchbooks, notebooks, studies leading up to finished works, and the original works themselves, all cataloged and on record. Having such a record allows me to look back to a specific timeframe to track artistic evolution.

My songwriting workflow looks something like this…

  • Inspiration calls, pick up the guitar, hash out BPM, rhythm, chord changes, melody
  • Videotape a reference performance to remember neck voicings
  • Build arrangement track and chord changes in Logic & iRealPro
  • Use virtual drummer to dial in basic beat and feel as close to rhythm guitar as possible
  • Laydown rhythm guitar 2 outs: 1 mic guitar/1 midi in
  • Skat vocal track focusing on vowels, no need for words yet.
  • If needed cut a vocal track and harmony tracks
  • Track until completion, do best to get the mix near perfect.

I can get my mixes 99.9% there to my ears, and bounce a strong reference track for a pro mix & mastering handoff. Everything is buttery smooth up until I export to Pro Tools, all around the task of exporting and multi-tracking the drums generated by the virtual drummer. I didn’t know where to start, so I had to stop and figure it out.  At this point, my ability to proceed any further is at a standstill until I solve this problem properly. 

Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step to progress. Logic Pro X’s virtual drummer is hands down one of the most powerful songwriting tools ever created; knowing this gave me confidence. After a bit of research, trial & error, and googling the topic, the workflow was surprisingly easy and was a built-in feature of Logic Pro X’s virtual Drummer.  

All I had to do was to… 

  • Change over to the producer version of the kit I was using. Drum Kits > Producer Kits > Current Kit with “+” plus sign
  • Copy the track into the Overheads Channel at the top of the stack, which will convert to MIDI
  • Bounce Tack in Place
  • File > Bounce > Track In Place
  • Make sure to select “Include Instrument Multi-Outputs” and “As Aditional Tracks”. Normalize should be off.
  • All tracks should be populated with audio when this task cycles.
  • Keep or remove unused tracks, up to you
  • here is a video

Done, my friend with ProTools is happy and off to work.

In closing, my point is that old dogs steeped in their ways can learn to adapt and thrive with the tools available to us. As creatives, we have supercomputers at our fingertips & an audience that spans across the entire globe. Not embracing tools that make us more efficient, is foolishness. Giving up should never be an option as it places you squarely back at the starting point of your efforts.

That is of course unless its time to reinvent, then placing yourself back at square one is a conscious creative choice. I commend that as long as it’s not a cop-out.