For years I have been recording and producing music. My compositional process is quite standard: first I collect material, then I start experimenting with it, combine several results of experiments, rework and let it rest for a couple of months. Then I start working on the provisional result, cutting away stuff, adding new material, reworking other parts. Then another period of rest and then, after another month or so, the final countdown.
That moment, when you consider whether or not the work is done, is crucial. You make that decision based on experience, feeling, compositorial principles. Actually you just decide that you have no more to add to it. You’re done.
About a small year ago I encountered software called Reaper. Reaper is developed by Justin Frankel (with the aid of a few others) and released as share ware, but a license costs only 50 dollars or so. Which is really cheap when you consider its potential.
Reaper is actually designed to service (big) commercial studio’s. There are tons of shortcuts to make work streamlined.
Say, you need to record a drummer and you have a set up with 8 mics, each with its own sort of mic and each drum requires a tweak with several fx to make it sound better, etc. If you have to set up the tracks to record the drum kit anew with each session that would take half a day. With Reaper you can design a preset for such tracks and add them to the mixer with one move. And there are many other examples to make life easy for a studio engineer. Next to that the quality of the plugins that come with the software are really outstanding. The only setback that I have encountered is that there is no wave editor included. But that’s not a real problem as Reaper has its own internal routing system (somewhat like Rewire) with which you can connect your wave editor or any other sound software (like Ableton or Audiomulch) to Reaper. Remember, we’re still talking about 50 bucks for a license here. Only when you start making money out of it, you are politely asked to donate 225 dollars for a commercial license.
So, why is this so important to me? First of all: the software taught me a lot about professional audio engineering. It taught me that there’s very little rock’n’roll coming with that profession and a lot of open ears, creativity, and hard science. And that triggered me to dive into the world of post production. It also triggered to go one or two steps further with my composition when I am at the point in the process when I say that I’m done with it. Because it cán become better still when you have reached the point where you are done with structure and working on your sound material.
I will talk more about my experiences with postproduction from now on. If you are interested, you can follow along.