A simple (yeah, right) question:

December 23, 2017 5:35 AM

Why do you record your music?
posted by flapjax at midnite (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I like the zone I get in putting together all the tracks and fiddling with them. It can make time disappear like nothing else.

It's also just my way to keep playing, and not get too rusty.
posted by umbú at 8:13 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Somedays I ask myself that very question.
For me, though, recording it is the biggest part of the writing. I like the tracking part, thinking up different parts, working out harmonies, etc. The actual writing, especially lyrics, is the worst part. Recording is fun.
And no one even has to hear it if you don't want!
posted by chococat at 11:34 AM on December 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

well, there isn't anything else i can really do with it - playing by myself wouldn't be fulfilling of the songs, i don't have time or energy to put a band together and the process of recording is often an integral part of the songwriting process - i often don't have a song written before i come up with the basic track - then i eventually think of a song to put over it or i don't

that's the neat thing about having my own studio, such as it is - i don't pay by the hour so i can screw around as much as i want, which isn't a lot, but i can if i want to
posted by pyramid termite at 4:49 PM on December 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was a kid I remember wanting to hear a certain kind of song, but no one had written it yet.

It's also nice to have something to leave behind.
posted by CarrotAdventure at 7:14 PM on December 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

I’ve always believed everyone is a music-maker, not just celebrities and the professionally-trained. It’s also a strange, often frightening time in history and I find myself wanting to express deep and complicated feelings to my family, my friends, myself about these troublesome times and my love for them. Even though I’m an amateur in every sense of the word when it comes to music, I love making things, and in the words of film director Mira Nair, 'we must always share our work.'
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:56 AM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm driven to make things. I also struggle to make things "just because", but music is more or less it's own "because".
posted by lmfsilva at 9:56 AM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lots of reasons, but a really important reason is about process and opportunity. I have always loved music and when I was younger, sometimes I dreamed about being a composer, especially for TV/film. But my performance chops and sight reading weren't great (still aren't; reading music to me = a frustrating experience).

When I was a student, one day one of my friends showed up with a Tascam multi-track cassette recorder -- it blew my mind that you could multi-track on plain old tapes at home, and that it wasn't some fancy process that only happened in a big studio or something. A family member then surprised me by getting a Tascam multi-tracker for me as a gift! and it's one of the most generous and significant gifts I have ever gotten -- just totally opened the world to me in terms of being able to participate as a music maker.

Recording and getting multiple takes, and stitching together a bunch of layers, allows me to create a song or piece that I wouldn't be able to play well live, or play alone live. Also allows me to communicate the melody/harmony/etc I can hear in my head without having to write it down on a staff first for someone else to play it, since reading/writing music that way has always been super difficult for me. (Thank goodness for music sequencing-to-notation software, for when I have to give someone actual written music.) If I couldn't record, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to create the songs I wanted to.

Also what chococat and umbú said about experimenting with multi-tracking -- being in that zone is awesome. Hours disappear when working on a music project. Being able to hear something and trying out various takes or methods is still, to me, like magic. Being able to collaborate with other musicians on the other side of the planet, and building a song from our separate recordings, is like magic.

tl;dr Yeah so I'm not a professional composer, but recording lets me compose and communicate music with other people, and that makes me happy.
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 11:27 PM on December 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have this strong feeling of needing to use and build upon the musical talents I have, just as I do with my writing and artistic talents. Recording things to the standard that other people could listen to them and actually enjoy them is a good way to get better fast, just as one does when regularly rehearsing with a band and playing out. It's important to me to leave something of myself for posterity, despite (or maybe somewhat because of) the fact that people in my life have been highly critical of and yet somehow always take for granted my artistic output. But yeah... It's important to me and I don't do it enough. That was part of why I set myself a challenge this past year to record myself singing something every day. I only ended up doing it every other day, but the results have nonetheless been good. Having a friend who listened to my stuff for a while and was nothing but encouraging helped me get started, too, which is a kindness I won't forget.

I've also long felt too self-conscious about recording, untrained, out of practice, etc. One consequence of growing up as a musician and having a lot of friends who are trained professional musicians or work with people who are can be this sense of dismissal of anyone whose work is rough-edged, imperfect, not produced to studio standards—whatever those are—not done after years of grinding and scales and lessons and dues-paying that they were told they'd have to do to be a serious musician. And I know it's been hard for me—and I have the vague sense it's hard for other women as well—to find like-minded musicians to do stuff with like start a rock band. There are just so many hurdles to overcome when first off, you have a critic's knowledge but you don't know anyone locally who likes or even knows the music you do, much less plays it. I think about Jack Black's character in High Fidelity and Corey Flood in Say Anything fairly often.

So I've kind of long felt like an underachiever in this regard. I didn't start to record my own stuff until 1. I did music writing and editing and got exposed to real local musicians and their process, 2. I listened to stuff like Guided by Voices and The Replacements and finally could hear for myself how parts came together in lo-fi production, and 3. I finally had the money to buy better equipment after college and didn't have to suffer a lot of fret buzzing and awful amp sounds and loose electrical connections. (If I ever have kids and they show interest, I'm getting them something better than I started off playing, agh.) It reminds me of that thing about women not applying for jobs until they meet the qualifications, whereas men more often just go for it even if they haven't met half the qualifications. I know there are many people who are better than I am, and that's fine, but I'm good enough and getting better, and that's important for me to remember. Just putting things out into the world is good. And trying is good. As one musician friend's email signature used to say, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.

But yeah, a lot of life stuff also happened and the things I started working on in 2008 gathered dust for the better part of a decade before I got back into this last year. I wish I'd done more in those intervening years. But maybe I had to experience some things and listen to a whole lot more sounds to get to a place where I could write with the depth I'd like to think I have now. Things happen when they happen.

What's still hard for me is finding time for this, since as ever, I hate people listening to me practice, and my husband, also once a recording musician in a band himself, is very critical. So I'm glad this space is here, even if I don't post here much, because you guys inspire me and give me a musical community to be part of in some peripheral way. And if this collab thing with cicadaverse continues to go well and be productive, you may yet hear more of my nonsense soon. Heh. So those are some thoughts!
posted by limeonaire at 8:21 AM on January 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

one day one of my friends showed up with a Tascam multi-track cassette recorder -- it blew my mind that you could multi-track on plain old tapes at home, and that it wasn't some fancy process that only happened in a big studio or something

YES. I used to record myself on one of those cheap Radio Shack tape decks, and then I was fascinated by a four-track a guy I knew had. And then another friend's dad bought one of the early Zip drive 8-track recorders that I manage to borrow for a few weeks and I was totally hooked. I made do with the truly awful shareware stuff available in the late 90s and early 2000s until I bought my first Mac with Garageband in 2005 and it was like an amazing revelation.

I'm still a better producer and recordist than I am a songwriter or musician, but there's always music happening somewhere in my head and I have to get it down sometimes. Figuring out that I could do it myself was like a beam of sunlight coming down from heaven.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:38 AM on January 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Because what else would I do? What's better for me to do, what gives me more joy than listening to something I made, that wasn't there before? Plus I am one of those who really enjoy their own music. I certainly don't do it for getting into the music business though. I'd love to do game soundtracks but that is not why I record and I have no desire to be the next big thing (or "make it" as people love to say in music). I am not interested in what's popular or gigging for that matter, so I doubt that I'd ever be that exposed anyway.

I postponed making music forever, then a little more than a year ago I thought enough is enough and started learning my way around my DAW of choice, theory and other intricacies of music production. I love it, it's been feeding me with such enthusiasm and happiness, plus I'm a person that doesn't feel great unless always learning or researching something. It checks all my boxes. I love it.

This is my first post here by the way, so hello :)
posted by superdaze at 3:06 AM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Partially, recording is just very much how I do things. I enjoy just jamming too and letting good stuff be ephemeral, but I've always been into recording even since before I was really making music. While I was still in elementary school I regularly wandered around the house with a cassette recorder grabbing sounds from the radio or TV or appliances, or went outside and tried to record birds or planes or whatever.

For a while, it was because recording something felt like an accomplishment -- a finished sort-of-product that I could point to and say "I did that."

Over the last couple of years I had a project to record and post as many songs as I reasonably could. That made the creative process flow a lot faster for me, and was more rewarding than just playing video games or whatever. Eventually I found myself listening to them at work as much as anyone else's music, and I got a pretty good feel for what kind of music was working and what wasn't -- after years of self-releasing albums in many different genres and styles I finally figured out what kind of music I wanted to make. :)
posted by Foosnark at 5:52 AM on February 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Short answer: what could be more fun?

Once as a kid, I heard a band playing in a playground off in the distance, and found myself drawn to go listen, zombie-like. I wanted to learn to play an instrument primarily to learn how to write music. Putting it on staff paper was a way to remember ideas and be able to play a finished piece later. Then I imagined other parts to my piano pieces, but there was no way to hear them. So, ditto to most of the reasons expressed above:

* Multi-tracking to be able to hear parts together.
* Sometimes I'll use a recording in combination with charts to communicate ideas to other musicians.
* Trying to best the last recording!
* My parents felt that doing and creating something, even badly, is somehow better than being a passive observer. Play the sport, don't just watch it. (Note - my dad was a great critic, and critical appreciation of art and literature is underrated.)

This question never occurred to me until after decades of making home recordings, probably because, as with most of the above replies, writing/recording was an end in itself. I observed early on that people listen intently for a few seconds (possibly), then start talking, etc. - this has nothing to do with whether the music is good or bad, mine or Beethoven's - it's perfectly normal. I did finally make a CD to bring along on gigs, because people sometimes ask "do you have a CD?" But the goal there was just to break even (which I knew would be easy). I think of myself as an enthusiast/hobbyist - arguably, the world doesn't need more recordings, but we can't imagine not doing it anyway. Paul McCartney said it best in "Silly Love Songs".

I hope you'll keep on making recordings and hope you'll share your thoughts on your own question.
posted by AppleSeed at 3:39 PM on March 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I started doing it when I thought it allowed me to externalize meaning. Then I realized that was either impossible or useless. But I still like how it feels. And sometimes I get to work with nice folks.
posted by es_de_bah at 1:59 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

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