melodiusI have developed an extremely low-overhead (cost and time) way to produce music from scratch.  I acquired most of my gear used or many years ago when I had tons of money (long story), and I purchased the most tonally appropriate/flexible equipment I could for the sound I prefer. 

1. I prefer to buy good stuff used vs. bad stuff new, as I already have a good indication of the long-term quality of the equipment, and I am not paying more than I need to in order to get high quality equipment.

I also use a digital multi-effect unit rather than effects pedals. I use a generic tape-based 4-track for portable recording, and my official ‘studio’ is just an ancient computer, a used 12 channel mini mixer (to pre-level the mic’s/instruments and minimize cord switching into the pc) with a stereo y-cable into the PC, and an open-source multi-track recorder to do all of my digital recording. 

I lay down melodies as rapidly as I can think them up, then I go back and put down a drum loop in order to orchestrate the melody into more of a song loop.  I have trouble completing songs due to my difficulties in generating natural-sounding drum tracks. 

2. I hope to get a set of electronic drums.  Even for an sub-par drummer, e-drums take mere minutes to get a quantized (bad drumming-fixed) drum track to a song, vs. the hours I waste now trying to program drum passages via synth-based or computerized MIDI drum machines.

My rig has other significant drawbacks; first, inspirational recording on a whim is hampered by a time-consuming boot of the computer.  Second, because I have to work the recording equipment and play the instruments almost simultaneously, changing instruments and tracks is highly time-consuming. 

3. I would be wise to enlist a friend as a “recording engineer” (i.e. hit the button).  Just having a separate person from me to work the controls would shave a huge percentage of time off of my production process.

I mix down anything interesting to mp3 format and get it either uploaded or burned right away so that it isn’t lost in case of a power outage, equipment failure, etc.  Aside from my hectic schedule, there is nothing in my rig that should prevent me from fully finishing my project album at some point.  However, because of my hectic schedule, I save all post-production for “later”.  I opt to focus first on getting as much music down as possible in raw form. 

Once I have all the tracks in raw form for each song on the album, I can dedicate a whole day to getting each song ‘just right’ and crank out all the finished songs in a row. 

4. I try to keep my mind separated into “create the music” and then “finalize the music” so in the finishing stages, I’m not trying to make major changes to the songs.  That may be doable (albeit under protest from the A&R guy) using big record company money, but I don’t want any of that.

If I focus on one song per day, it should be doable not counting mastering or other post-production stuff that big studios waste weeks and thousands of dollars on.  I say “waste” because unless I know for sure I am going to ship millions of cd’s, I do not need a perfect mix. 

5. I always felt that most bands’ most popular or creatively interesting works are nonetheless very listenable on their cheaply mixed early albums.

Anyhow, I could always get a remaster later when the album goes multi-platinum (HAHAHA!)

Devin Moore
Principal Artist, Melodius and the Soulforge