Blog: How Many Summers Have You Got Left?

How to use your time effectively in the studio      31/07/13

Blog: How Many Summers Have You Got Left?

'Time is a funny thing. Time is a very peculiar item. You see when you're young, you're a kid, you got time, you got nothing but time. Throw away a couple of years here, a couple of years there... it doesn't matter. You know. The older you get you say, "Jesus, how much I got? I got thirty-five summers left." Think about it. Thirty-five summers.' - Rumble Fish, 1983

I don't want to preach, but life really is pretty short. Blink and you'll miss it. This doesn't need to be a depressing thought - it can actually be a positive one if it spurs you on to make the most of the time you have. And one of the best ways we can spend time is to use it well, doing what we love. Like making music.

Of course, things get in the way - work, chores, sleep, you name it. If you aren't talented enough and/or lucky enough to make a living from music, you'll need to try and squeeze the most from the time you do have.

Here are a few time-squeezing tactics that I've found helpful.

Tactic 1: Write before you record

My go to DAWWithout having a clear idea of what I want to record, I find I can waste large chunks of precious time on the computer. If I switch on my DAW without knowing what I want to record, I generally find myself auditioning sounds or loops rather than making music. After a couple of hours of aimless noodling I usually have nothing but a tired four-bar loop that isn't worth saving.

It's easy to forget, for me at least, that recording music isn't the same thing as making it. Want more time to make music? Spend more time making it and less time recording it. The act of creation needn't involve the act of recording. You could sit at your kitchen table with a guitar and a pad of paper (or a handy recorder). Freed up from the need to worry about your performance or how it's sounding, you're more likely to come up with music that is actually worth recording.

So my advice, for what it's worth (and Vince Clarke swears by it), is to work out what you want to record before you even switch on the machine. You're then ready to try Tactic 2.

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