Odds are, if you have a band, you have tried recording or have considered the possibility of mixing a song with multiple tracks.
Whether you’re recording a jamming session with your group, or using amp simulators, drum and bass machines or other solo multi-tracking devices, there is a general order in which band music is constructed and tracks for each individual instrument are laid out.
Like most things, music consists of a base or foundation upon which a melody is built. There are constant and variables that change slightly amongst genres, but all repeat a general pattern of musical order. In a classic rock band line-up:
- The drums or percussion establish a beat and tempo to the mix, a constant that makes up the first and most important layer of foundation for a song.
- The bass aids the drums, incorporating a new, more defining tone for the rhythm of the song that gives cue to a rhythm pattern for the guitar.
- The rhythm guitar’s groundwork is more flexible than percussion and bass, and establishes a new base for the lead guitar to work around.
- The lead guitar is the most versatile and variable constant in a set of tracks, since the wavelength of sounds it can tackle is almost infinite in comparison to the founding instruments that require a more demanded constancy to maintain a tempo for the rhythm-pattern base.
Project Studios & Multi-Track Recording
From intricate DAW’s, mixing consoles/soundboards, isolation booths, commercial quality soundproofing to the physics of acoustics; recording studios have all the gadgets to produce quality sound multi-track records.
At home however, when putting together a project studio, it’s a little different.
Home studios are molded to each artist’s musical orientation and expertise, their space and budget.
Mixing consoles operate electrically for track mixing, sub-mixing and layout. Each track (signal) is processed and controlled independently. Like in many other multi-track recording devices, each signal can be managed with effects even after being recorded. It can also be merged into another track to create a sub-mix (or bus) like with a drum and bass, and be manipulated with many other recording/sound treatments.
In addition, many modeling amps have recording capabilities and sample tracks incorporated which can as well be used for these purposes.
Multi-track recording can now be easily achieved with multi-track recorders such as MIDI’s, analog and digital recorders, some as small as the size of an iPod.
In this video, I use a BOSS Micro BR 4-track recorder that provides me with built-in rhythm patterns, multi-effects and simultaneous playback tracks to explain track layout for a 4-man band.