One Hour - iPhone TimerIf you follow me on Twitter, then you may have noticed the other night that I gave myself a challenge. I had a song I hadn’t recorded yet, so I thought it would be fun to see how much I could get done in one hour.

Whenever I think about recording in my home studio, I tend to tell myself that I need to set aside at least two hours if I really want to accomplish anything of worth. As you can imagine, this is stupid.

I had a suspicion that this was stupid, hence the challenge. If I only have one hour to record, can I get anything done? Or would it be better that I just watch TV or surf the internet? After all, an hour isn’t very long.

So, in an attempt to prove myself wrong, I set the timer on my iPhone for one hour, hit start, and opened up Pro Tools.

When the alarm went off one hour later, I bounced the mix of what I had done. And? The result? I was rather surprised. With a little focus (and a little sweat…hey, I was a little stressed), I was able to put together a decent little song. Here it is. The song is called “So Close.”

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While You Listen…

Here’s the list of what I did over the course of the hour:

  • Opened new session in Pro Tools (via one of my session templates).
  • Inserted EZDrummer on an instrument track, and used tap tempo in the Transport Window to determine the tempo of the song.
  • Opened up the groove window in EZDrummer and found a simple groove. Copied and pasted this MIDI groove onto the track in Pro Tools and duplicated it until it was five or six minutes long.
  • Recorded a scratch vocal and guitar tracks (listening to the drum groove) – I used a pair condenser mics on acoustic guitar. (These were still set up from when I did my review of the stereo mic bar.) I sang through an AKG D5 dynamic microphone. (I used a dynamic with a supercardioid pickup pattern, so it wouldn’t pick up much guitar.)
  • After recording the scratch parts, I listened quickly in Pro Tools to make sure the arrangement was how I want it.
  • Moving forward, I muted the scratch guitar track and recorded acoustic guitar while listening to the drums and scratch vocal.
  • Then I recorded bass direct.
  • Then I went back to acoustic and recorded a higher part, with a capo on the 7th fret.
  • Then I recorded the lead vocal (singing into one of the condenser mics in the stereo mic bar.)
  • At this point, I had about 10-15 minutes left. I quickly threw up some EQ on everything, rolling off a lot of bottom end off the guitars and vocals, cutting some low-midrange from the drums and bass. I added a limiter to the bass to keep the levels somewhat consistent.
  • Then I added a compressor and limiter on the master bus and tweaked these a bit to “glue” things together.
  • Then the alarm went off.
  • At this point, I had routed all my tracks through the master aux and out to a stereo audio track. I hit record and mixed the song in real time, adjusting levels as needed. (This is rather obvious, especially at the beginning, when I needed to turn up the vocals.) Since I was mixing via record-to-disk rather than bounce-to-disk, I was able to make these adjustments during the final mixdown.

Obviously, it’s not the most exciting or polished recording in the world, but I think it gets the point across. You can accomplish quite a bit over the course of one hour. Try it sometime, maybe this weekend? I think you’ll find that with a little focus, you can get that album done a lot sooner than you expected.