New-old music workflow

Here’s an idea to inject a bit of what’s missing from the recent tracks that I made in the 80s and early 90s tracks…

Some of this is specific to Ableton Live but it doesn’t have to be.

First, start the track as usual, which in this case means use Push in more or less the “standard” way: get a bassline going, duplicate scene, add hi-hats, duplicate scene, add kick + snare, duplicate scene, add strings… and so on.

Then mess around with it finding good combinations of scenes and clips so it starts to sound like a song. Get an idea of how it should play out. Add “performance” effects here – stuff that’s not really targeted at mixing: delays, sweeps, whatever.

Start recording the session to arrangement mode, and run through the performance that’s been developing. Make it longer deliberately so sections can be cut out easily (if you like – maybe there’s no need?)

Possibly add some mixing type effects to the tracks in arrangement mode.

Record each MIDI track in the arrangement to an adjacent audio track, not necessarily with the effects in place.

Now it gets weird: record each stereo wave track to cassette around the 0dB mark, then immediately record it back in from cassette to another stereo wave track. If you have a 4-track, do two tracks at a time; with an 8-track, do four.

Once these newly “degraded” tracks are in you’ll probably have to do some lining up, but that’s another of the naturalistic effects we’re after. You might (will) end up with some micro-phasing artefacts which may or may not be interesting.

Now you can mix down with a combination of pristine stereo and cassette stereo tracks, even giving us the possibility of sliding from one to the other. How about making a track fade continuously from cassette to pristine as the track goes (or the reverse?) How about widening the stereo of the cassette track and narrowing the stereo of the digital? And so on and so forth…