I was working on a cover for Neil Young’s Heart of Gold last night — it’s one of those side projects where I will selects songs I really like, rearrange them and see what happens. Anyway, as part of that I was curious about doing the “studio retake” trick of using multiple retakes of the same section, what Logic calls Take Folders, record small snippets of guitar or bass over and over and select the best take for the actual part. It’s a very common pattern out there today. With digital software and cheap hard disk space it’s a no-brainer compared with the days of analog tape.
Well, personally I was not that happy. You could indeed put together the most definite recording of a specific guitar arrangement, but for me it sounded less and less human or live, more like a polished product. It’s a point where the ‘sheen’ of music just makes it less interesting, at least for me.
The other issue was that you really needed every single other audio track to be super-tight, otherwise it didn’t work, the transitions from one section to another sounded somewhat choppy and not flowing. I also had problems now and then related to overlapping regions, the mentioned article tries to explain it all, but I saw other kinds of strange glitches. In cases like this, with any DAW, what I do is to get to a more simple work flow — making music is more important than spend time working about issues and read manuals..
So I ditched the 2+ hour effort and started from scratch. If you know Heart Of Gold there are basically two parts to it. I dropped in a generic drum loop, recorded the two bass parts continuously, in the first take. Did the same with the guitar comp, had to do three takes until I was happy. Then I just chopped up the parts and used them here and there, as well as added in some better drum patterns and a little bit Hammand EVb3 from Logic. This all took just under one hour. For me the results were more organic.
I see the beauty of doing take folders and select parts and put them in here and there. It might be I will use this in future. Anyway, as a musician I felt more in line to work on longer sections. As a benefit, you really need to be accurate so you also grow as a musician if you record longer stretches of music — long term this will help you with other recordings as well as live performances.
I need to put in the singing and most likely I will do another bass take and play the whole song from beginning to end with the bass, so the bass line is even more organic and changing.