A tem­plate for suc­cess

Future Music - - FEATURE -

DAW tem­plates are among the most ef­fec­tive ways to or­gan­ise your mu­si­cal work­flow. So much time can be lost brows­ing and wait­ing for a plugin to be in­stan­ti­ated, and some­times you can even feel the ex­cite­ment at a good mu­si­cal idea fiz­zling out as you browse for a sound. The is­sue for those who work with elec­tronic mu­sic tools is that not only do we have to think about ‘the notes’, we also have to think about the sounds those notes will play, which means we’re con­stantly tog­gling be­tween be­ing mu­si­cians/ com­posers and then pro­gram­mers/ en­gi­neers, look­ing for the right sounds to do our ideas jus­tice.

Most mu­si­cians are pre­pared to com­pro­mise on the finer de­tails of sounds un­til the song­writ­ing/ com­pos­ing stage of their work is com­plete, so long as the sounds in front of them are in­spir­ing enough to al­low a good idea to be ex­plored. En­ter the tem­plate. This is a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for your DAW which can be tai­lored to your spe­cific mu­si­cal needs. If you’re a song­writer who likes to work chords out on the pi­ano be­fore record­ing gui­tar through a mi­cro­phone, then en­ter­ing a ba­sic idea for a bassline via a favourite plugin and fi­nally adding ba­sic drum grooves via a spe­cific li­brary, why would you open a blank doc­u­ment in your DAW each time if, al­most al­ways, you reach for these same in­stru­ments and au­dio tracks? Wouldn’t it be bet­ter and more time­sav­ing to have a track saved with your spe­cific pref­er­ences and in­stru­ment choices, so that you can have all of those sounds ready and wait­ing in front of you? Yes, it would. Per­haps a bet­ter ex­am­ple would be a tem­plate for those com­pos­ing mu­sic for pic­ture. Junkie XL (aka Tom Holken­borg) has switched his ca­reer from pro­duc­ing sta­dium-fill­ing dance mu­sic to that of a film com­poser (his scores in­clude Mad Max: Fury Road and Dead­pool) and his Stu­dio Time With Junkie XL se­ries on YouTube is well worth a watch. His com­pos­ing tem­plate ex­tends to over 1,000 tracks so ev­ery time he sits down to work, ev­ery or­ches­tral sec­tion, with ev­ery pos­si­ble ar­tic­u­la­tion, in ev­ery dif­fer­ent size of or­ches­tral group from solo to massed or­ches­tral play­ers is avail­able. Along­side these, he has a huge ar­ray of drum li­braries (third-party ones, as well as those he’s made him­self), ac­cess to a phe­nom­e­nal col­lec­tion of hard­ware synths and vast swathes of in­stru­ment plug­ins too. Add to this, ef­fects so­lu­tions aplenty, so when he finds a sound he likes, he’s ready to place it in one or more ‘spaces’.

Now, you might be think­ing, isn’t that overkill? Even the fastest com­put­ers in the world would take sev­eral min­utes to load up that level of track count, so what do you do if in­spi­ra­tion strikes and you don’t want to drum your fin­gers on the ta­ble, rest­lessly await­ing your com­puter to com­plete the load­ing process just for you to have ac­cess to a sin­gle pi­ano plugin? The so­lu­tion is to make sev­eral tem­plates to cover your as­sorted needs. At the very be­gin­ning of the writ­ing process, per­haps lim­it­ing your­self to a pi­ano, some en­sem­ble strings (rather than ded­i­cated in­stru­ments for ev­ery string sec­tion) and a cou­ple of per­cus­sive in­stru­ments to pro­vide mo­men­tum might be enough to al­low you to get up and run­ning quickly. This will be par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive if the in­stru­ments and ef­fects set­tings within this smaller tem­plate are a pared-down ver­sion of the larger one, as trans­lat­ing these scratch ideas into more so­phis­ti­cated ones will be more straight­for­ward. Tem­plates aren’t the only way to stream­line your cre­ative process but they’re among the most worth­while.

The so­lu­tion is to make sev­eral tem­plates to cover your as­sorted needs

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