This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.

 There's a lot of talk of the writing and demoing process in this book, but with each year that passes, more and more musicians are writing and recording their music all within their own studio. This process takes away the traditional separation of writing and recording as two separate modes that have existed for nearly a century. I've always welcomed this change since musicians having more control over their vision gives us more interesting creative flavors. With that said, it's worth analyzing what this lack of separation can bring to your process or possibly detract from it.

 The best part of the traditional divide of writing and recording was commitment. In the 1930-60s, the way a song sounded in rehearsal was a commitment since little would be able to be done to enhance it past what you had come up with in the studio since overdubbing and effects were so limited. After this period, the advent of producers who helped shape, polish and eventually co-write them led to a commitment that an artist needed to craft a song as good as they could get it on their own, but a producer would patch up any flaws. The producer, mixer or in some cases outside writers would then help shape the songs into a better work.

Many producers and A&R bemoan this erosion of standards for being a degradation of the craft of songwriting since musicians aren't working tirelessly to a song's ultimate actualization. Instead, when songs are brought into the studio they’re "good enough to record," and that standard seemed to slip lower and lower with the advent of Pro Tools and musicians believing that anything can be fixed by a computer wizard. This "fix it in the mix" philosophy is the Achilles’ heel of countless productions.

 This border line of commitment became a zigzagged scribble by the time home recording became what it is today, which is a part of nearly every great record's process to some extent. While many musicians may only use home recording as demoing and drafting, the line has been blurred for almost every musician making music today. With that established, is there still a benefit to separating writing from recording when you record your own music? I think the answer lies in the commitment it brings.

 What many home recordists do is have a demo time where their soft synths and other sounds can still be tweaked and arrangements are malleable, but if you watch interviews with most of the top "bedroom producers," they all say that they eventually begin a commitment process. They print down or freeze the synths to begin to work on perfecting a song that's essentially the recording process. They then start a mixing process and commit the way traditional recordings have. This practice is commonly lost on novice home recordists. Having a controlled process gives many musicians a focus that benefits from the past but has the flexibility of the future. While it's beneficial to not have a ticking clock on the mixing process at home, the distinctions between the parts of the process are often able to bring a project a separation that benefits an artist's focus.

 In pop productions, the process most often has the initial writer demo a song and it goes through various stages as a beat writer will hand it off to a producer who polishes the song and the vocals. Then there’s a later commitment as it goes to mixing that all tracking and editing are completed. Seeing your production in stages can help you gain focus by committing along the way while gaining objectivity.

This is an excerpt of the book Processing Creativity: The Tools, Practices And Habits Used To Make Music You’re Happy With. If you would like to download an excerpt or buy a copy you can do so here.