Reflective Journal: Ocean Scratch Project

Reflective Journal: Ocean Scratch Project

Intro

Recently I worked with Darcy Wilson to create an electronic music track. Between my background in acoustic composition and recording and Darcy's knowledge of electronic dance music and synths, we were able to blend the two styles to create a relaxed, ambient song.

Preproduction

I had already written a short acoustic guitar track, which I had wanted to transform into a chilled electronic track. Darcy liked the track and understood basically where I wanted to go with it. He recommended using "Daydream" by Tycho as a reference track (check out my analysis blog of Daydream). 

The basic plan for composing the song was that I would create a few chord progressions and melodies (all written on guitar). We would then head into the studio to track the acoustic guitar and could decide on the final song structure from there. I could also rewrite the melodies and chords into midi to which Darcy could create some synth patches for them to run through. Darcy would also program the drums for the track.

We decided we would make use of both Protools and Ableton for this project. Protools is a bit more convenient to record tracks into so the guitar would be recorded and edited this way then imported into Ableton. Ableton seemed a better choice for writing and mixing the majority of the track as this is the DAW that Darcy was most proficient with and he would be more involved in the mixing of the track. 

We used two different studios to record the guitar purely because that is what was available at the time. This didn't concern us much as during the first recording session we did a rough mix with what we had so far and had made the decision to heavily EQ the guitar, which would cancel out any sound difference between the studios (check out my blog on tracking the guitar for this project here).

Mixing

Our plan for mixing was that Darcy would do the majority of it on his own and then we would meet on a weekly basis in a studio to tweak it together. I pretty much took a quality control position in the mixing process. I would try not to use my personal opinion to criticise Darcy's mix. I would instead just try to concentrate on anything that would be distracting for the listening. I concentrated on if an instrument sticks out too much in the mix or whether transitions between sections were smooth enough. We actually had the idea to use whisper tracks to smoothen out our transitions, which worked great and was consistent with our reference track.

Learning Outcomes

This project was a definite learning curve for me as I had never finished an electronic song before and I had never written an entire song with another person. I really enjoyed the experience as writing music with another person makes things so much easier and more interesting. If ever I have a mental block and can't finish a section or get a transition right then the other person steps in creates something for you and vice versa. Also seeing what someone else can add to your work is really interesting and inspiring.

Darcy also did up an edit of some drone footage for the track. Check out the final version below.