Ditty-A-Day #011: Stack Reconstruction.

The goal I had intended for this ditty was to go through the paces to re-record a two-year-old song entitled, “This Side of the Bridge,” but to do it for realsies, meaning I want to make it final. Period. Be done with it. Commit it to a master track for a CD, before it fell out of my ears and was lost permanently. In order to do this, the structure needed to be mapped out, drums programmed, add a second bridge, and decide on things like: fade-in, A/B/A/B, Chorus, A/B/A/B, chorus, fade-out… maybe a “Q” part for good measure… yadda yadda yadda, you know the drill.

In order to compose stuff like this, or in this case re-do something I’ve already done, I have a standard setup (rig?) I use for both recording and live performance, which consists of virtual instruments at the ready (but not always all of them are used): 1) a piano with it’s own reverb, 2) a soft or heavy synth pad, 3) an arpeggiated left-hand bass pattern, 4) two or more separate (but complimentary) drum patterns, 5) two or more master effects, 6) some kind of solo sound, and 7) at least one or more live channels for organic elements–voice, guitar, or other real-world sound source; sometimes bringing in a hardware synth.

When you put all of this stuff together in one rig, it’s generally called a “stack” since these sounds are stacked in layers on one another and all played or triggered by one one performer.

Originally this whole rig was set up two years ago in Apple’s Mainstage 2. In electronic music composition, two years can be an eternity regarding the tools that we use. Mainstage hasn’t handled these heavyweight plugins so well in the past (Omnipshere, Stylus RMX, et al). I don’t feel like coughing up another $30 for the recent Mainstage upgrade that supposedly solves a number of the issues I had; besides, I’ve recently purchased Ableton Live 8. When converting a ditty into a final track, there can be a fair amount of prep work to be done translating and re-programming this rig from Mainstage (with Logic Pro Instruments) into Ableton Live 8 tracks and instruments.

For the record, this ditty here is not “This Side of the Bridge.” It’s not the same chord structure, but it uses most of the same synth patches and drum patterns. It’s more or less my typical noodling around with a synth stack; a trial run to look for missing elements from the translation between two DAWs (host programs). It was fun substituting out Am and Bb-maj now and again for a little flavor in the pattern. “This Side…” will show up in another D-a-D in the future.

iPad/iPhone/iPad Touch users:
CLICK HERE to hear this track.


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