How do I get that organic sound?

I have loggeed some serious hours on Garageband this week.  I spent all last night on it and had to peel myself away at midnight.  This past weekend I abandoned my first project in favor of recording another song called The Oil Opigoply, which is a song I wrote a year or so ago.  I needed to work on a song I had already written in order to have some semblance of structure to work with.  It has been helpful.  I started by playing the acoustic guitar riff in the song, which, is the same all the way through.  I played it for about one minute and then took the best four bar chunk of it, cut it, pasted it, and looped it.  Next was the bass.  I spent probably 4 hours on the bass just trying to figure out a nice, non-obtrusive bassline.  I finally found one and did the same thing;  I played it for about one minute and took the best four bar chunk from it and looped it.   They fit together perfectly.  Mind you that this was all put together to a synthetic drum track.  I like to create a drum track first since it is a bit more dynamic that just following the metronome.

I have never dealt with looping before.  On the one hand, it can be a time saver, since you don’t have to play a track for the entire 3 minutes like I had to do on the Boss BR1180.  On the flip side, it gives the song a more mechanized sound which I do not particularly like.  I am a sucker for flubs and for the swing that you get when the instruments arent all EXACTLY on the one and when a 3 minute take instills an overabundance of humanity into the take.  This makes the sound song real.  A bit off-kilter, but still very real.  Editing in Garageband encourages me to line things up more metronomically and this creates a more robitic sound.  So I am really struggling with how to use the editing tools of Garageband to my advantage to give the song a more organic feel and not vice versa.  The synthetic drum track deinitely contributes to the metronomic feel, and I think I may need to go back to the old days of playing live drums into one mic.  Anything to give the song a more real feel. 

Speaking of playing drums into one mic, this brings up one of the limitations I am still dealing with.  My Apogee Duet interface only has 2 XLR mic inputs, so I can only use 2 mics at a time for drums.  Another option is to buy an interface that is more expensive, which has more XLR inputs, or to get a mixer, which I can use to mic all the drums separately and which would then feed into one of the XLR inputs on the Apogee.  But since I jsut spent a shitload of money on my existing set-up, I cannot yet justify the cost of spending more money. That time will come.  After all, with recording and everything else, there is always something better out there that we MUST have.  Then everything will be just great.

When I was looking into interfaces, I considered the drum conundrum, but i didn’t have an extra $1,500 to spend on the Apogee Ensemble, which has additional XLR inputs.  Also, I would have needed to buy a whole set of drum mics.  So, I am stuck with what I am stuck with.  But overall I am really happy with the Apogee Duet.  The sound is great, as is the functionality.  Great bang for your buck.

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One comment on “How do I get that organic sound?

  1. triptopine says:

    Hey,
    Cool blog! Like you, I’m a GarageBand junkie who stays up late at night writing and recording. I’ve also gotten sick of the loops in GarageBand (basic setup). I recently discovered something VERY cool that helps in that arena– natural, real-sounding loops at BetaMonkey.com. They’ve got all KINDS of loop packages… jazz, rock, metal, blues… and some basic packages that you can use for whatever you like. And they sound like the real deal, because they ARE the real deal. (I don’t work for them… It’s just that I’ve spent 16.5 of the past 24 hours working on one song, and these loops made all the difference for me.)
    I’ve been messing with GarageBand for the past 4 years, and these loops definitely have opened up things for me. The best thing is that I can make a loop in 5/4, or 7/4, or whatever I want, just by cutting and pasting.
    Anyway, I look forward to checking out that song you’ve been working on. If you feel like it, you can check out my music here: http://www.timbirchard.bandcamp.com.
    Take it easy. And whatever you do, keep on writing and recording!
    Peace, Tim

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