One of the first steps in the recording process is to think about the arrangement of your songs. What I mean by arrangement is; what instruments you will use, when and where you will use them, what equipment and effects you will use and what techniques you will use while playing your instrument. Below we will examine this in more detail.
A songs arrangement plays a big part in the overall finished sound you're going for. Think about the song "Knockin' On Heavens Door" by Bob Dylan and then compare it to the Guns 'N' Roses cover version of the same song. They sound completely different although they both use the same chords, lyrics and melodies. All that has changed is the arrangement.
To be honest arranging a song is something that most songwriters do unconsciously. They would use a certain instrument/effect etc. purely because it's there natural taste and preference but the magic happens when you actually start to think consciously about your songs arrangement, you will start to notice a whole new world unravel at your feet.
Some of the skills involved in song arrangement are:
- Delaying an instruments entry until the right moment
- Knowing when to remove an instrument
- Understanding which instruments belong to a particular style
- Not overusing a sound to the extent that it becomes ineffective
So as you can see, in order to master arrangements you need to get a grasp of the different sounds that the many instruments out there can make. A great way of doing this is to simply use some form of virtual instrument.
A midi keyboard hooked up to virtual instrument software will allow you to hear different instruments.
Once you know what the instruments sound like it's then important to hear them in context. So for instance, if you liked the sound of a cello then it would be a good idea to listen to music such as classical. This will allow you to hear the cello used at its best and understand what works and what doesn't.