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How to Write or Arrange Original Music

Creating original music is exciting and daunting, whether you’re a seasoned recording artist or just starting out in the business. There is more to the process than simply coming up with an idea for an original music track.

You must choose the key and melody, which instruments would sound best with the piece, and where to get it mixed and mastered for the best quality sound.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know to write or arrange original music, including:

What is a music track arrangement?

A music track arrangement includes all elements of a song. Harmony, melody, instrumentation, and rhythm come together to create a cohesive sound that’s pleasing to the ear (at least that’s the goal, anyway).

Recording artists must carefully choose dynamics and effects, which instruments complement the intent behind the piece and the overall structure of the original music.

Both the musician and the producer can make decisions about any sections of the song that should be emphasized, which instruments should be played—including any lead instruments—and how to build and release within the track.

If you’ve chosen to work with an Albuquerque music studio, then trust the producer to make suggestions that take the basic elements of your song and mold them into a flawless finished product.

A man with a guitar and keyboard writing an original music piece.
A good arrangement enhances and supports the overall emotion and message of your original song.

What makes a good song arrangement?

Every original piece of music or arrangement of an existing piece should enhance and support the overall emotion and message of the song. The best artists know how to get their point across with soul-clenching lyrics and instrumental accompaniment that keeps listeners engaged.

Some key factors that contribute to a quality song arrangement include:

  • Balance and contrast between harmony and melody make the song more interesting.
  • Clear structure that includes an introduction, a middle, and an ending that flows like a story.
  • Effective instrument use that supports the overall mood of the piece.
  • Emotional impact that uses all components—instruments, vocals, harmony, melody, rhythm—to highlight the feeling behind the song.
  • Polished sound during mixing and mastering makes the song sound more professional.

Can you arrange copyrighted music?

Yes, with the right permissions. Typically, recording artists must get a license from the copyright holder of the original piece they wish to rearrange. If it’s a well-known artist, that can mean reaching out to their record label or their agent to get the approval you seek.

Be prepared to negotiate the terms of the permission for you to enhance the original. You’ll need a contract that outlines the scope of the license, the length of time you have permission to use the original work, and any fees or royalties paid to the original artist.

Never try to do this on your own. You’ll need the guidance of a legal representative experienced in copyrighted materials to assist. You can find more information from organizations like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC that specialize in copyright licensing.

A sheet of music on a page featuring an original song
Writing an original song requires an idea and a lot of creativity to get it out of your head and onto paper.

How do you write an original song?

Walking around with a song in your heart that’s just dying to get out onto a quality music track? Writing original music can be challenging but also rewarding.

Taking these steps can mean the difference between just humming your tune in your head and getting it out to the masses.

  1. Start with your idea
    Sometimes artists get a tune in their heads. If that’s the case for you, matching it with the right words is the first part of the songwriting process. Pair that tune with an experience, feeling, or story that inspires you.
  2. Create a melody
    If you don’t already have a tune in mind, you’ll want to take your idea for a song and create one. Use an instrument—guitars and pianos work best—and punch out your basic melody. You can fine-tune it later.
  3. Write your lyrics
    Sometimes artists prefer to write the lyrics before they come up with a tune. It makes no difference what you do first. Take the approach that works best for your creative process. Everyone is different.
  4. Create some harmony
    Songs that have harmony are more fulfilling to the human ear. Once you have your basic melody, find a few chords that go with it to strike a balance with some natural harmony progressions.
  5. Refine the song
    Now that you have the basic structure, you can go back and refine the original music. Edit lyrics, change the melody a bit, or experiment with different instruments. Tweak it until you’re satisfied.

The final step is to find an Albuquerque recording studio that can take your original song and mix and master it into a quality track to share with your fans.

How do you make sure your song is original?

The last thing any artist wants to do is accidentally plagiarize another musician’s work. It’s easy to get another tune stuck in your head and not realize it’s from a song you heard elsewhere. To be certain you’re not accidentally borrowing lyrics or tunes, you can take the following actions.

  • Research existing songs to make sure yours isn’t like any existing works. This can include Googling your intended lyrics and searching for similar accompaniment.
  • Seek a legal review to make sure your original music doesn’t infringe on any existing copyrights.

When in doubt, reach out to an Albuquerque recording studio for help finding the most effective ways to determine if your masterpiece is truly an original before recording.

Getting support for your original or reimagined track

Writing original music or arranging an existing piece can be time-consuming. Make sure you’re doing everything the right way before you book studio time. Our production manager and other recording studio staff have years of experience in the industry. We can guide you if assistance is needed, so don’t be afraid to reach out for a consultation.

Mixing and Mastering Techniques for Pro-Sounding Tracks

Mixing and mastering techniques play a crucial role in creating a polished, professional-sounding final product. Engineers, musicians, and producers must understand the basics of mixing and mastering to take music to the next level.

Equalization and compression, combined with stereo imaging and final mastering, achieve the best sound possible for your tracks. In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including:

How long does it take to mix and master a song?

Several factors influence how long it takes to mix and master a song. Among the components of the process that can slow it down or speed it up include:

  • Complexity of the music.
  • Number of instruments and tracks used.
  • Skill level of the mixing and mastering engineer.

Professional mixing and mastering engineers can spend anywhere from several hours to several days perfecting a single song. If budget is a concern for you, choose an experienced engineer who can rely on their knowledge and skills of advanced mixing and mastering techniques to get the job done as quickly as possible.

Keep in mind that some songs may require multiple rounds of mixing and mastering to get the finished product just right. It’s your track, so you get to decide when it’s ready for the masses.

A man using headphones and a mixing and master board as part of his technique for creating quality tracks.
Mixing and mastering are two separate processes that each require a skilled engineer using mixing and mastering techniques to produce a quality sound track.

What is the process for mixing and mastering a song?

Mixing and mastering techniques vary by sound engineer. However, the process usually requires the following 9 steps.

  1. Preparing the session
    Before the hard work of mixing and mastering your song begins, sound engineers must organize and label tracks, set up a mixing template, and make sure all audio files are properly synced.
  2. Balancing levels
    This mixing and mastering technique involves adjusting the volume levels of individual tracks to get them to a consistent level. The sounds blend better after balancing is complete.
  3. Equalization
    Adjusting the frequency balance of individual tracks enhances or reduces certain elements of the sound.
  4. Compression
    Dynamic range is the difference between the softest and loudest passages of an audio recording. Controlling the dynamic range of the audio helps to make the mix sound more polished.
  5. Stereo Imaging
    During this step, the engineer adjusts the stereo field of the mix to create a more spacious and dynamic sound.
  6. Reverb and delay
    The smoothest-sounding tracks use mixing and mastering techniques to add ambiance and depth to the mix through reverb and delay effects.
  7. Automation
    Volume, panning, and other effects are added to your song during this step of the process. Engineers create dynamic changes to the mix over time using automation.
  8. Mastering
    This is the final step in the process and involves the optimization of the mix for the desired output format. Your engineer adjusts the final product during the phase to make it suited for CDs, LPs, or streaming.
  9. Finalizing and exporting
    Once all adjustments are made, the engineer finalizes and exports the finished song.

Mixing and mastering techniques can vary depending on the preferences of the engineer. Some steps also might not be necessary for all songs. Always trust the recommendation of your engineer to get the best results.

Can you mix and master at the same time?

Technically, yes. However, most professional sound engineers prefer to keep them separate to ensure the highest quality final product.

Mixing and mastering are two distinct processes. Engineers typically complete the mixing phase first, which includes adjusting levels, EQ, compression, and adding other effects to individual tracks in a song. Mixing is all about creating balance. 

Mastering optimizes the final product for the desired playback systems, including CDs, LPs, and streaming services.

Finding an Albuquerque music studio for mixing and mastering

Choose an Albuquerque music studio that specializes in mixing and mastering techniques to get the smoothest-sounding recording money can buy. Big Cat Tracks’ mixing and mastering engineers have decades of experience helping artists sound their best. Give us a call today to schedule your mixing and mastering needs.

How Recording Studio Technology Impacts Your Tracks

Recording studio technology has come a long way in recent years. It’s now easier than ever to produce high-quality tracks to get your original music to the masses. As technology continues to advance, it’s important to understand how it impacts your sound as a recording artist.

In this post, we’ll discuss the latest trends in recording studio technology and how they affect your tracks. From cutting-edge software to advanced microphone techniques, you can learn about how all these tools take your music to the next level.

recording studio technology including an on air sign and a microphone.
Recording studio technology includes microphones, cables and adapters, and mixing consoles designed to make your music sound smooth and professional.

What equipment is used in a recording studio?

Walk into any recording studio, and you’ll find more equipment than is probably necessary to meet your needs. Some recording artists require more accommodation than others, so most Albuquerque recording studios carry top-of-the-line recording studio technology to suit everyone.

Some of the most common equipment you can find in recording studios include:

  • Audio interfaces convert analog audio signals into digital signals that can be processed by a computer.
  • Cables and adapters to connect equipment and transfer audio signals.
  • Digital audio workstations (DAWs) include software used to record, edit, and mix audio.
  • Headphones for recording, mixing, and monitoring.
  • Microphones for capturing sound, typically condenser or dynamic microphones.
  • Mixing consoles to adjust the levels, EQ, and other effects of individual tracks.
  • Monitors for mixing and mastering, typically near-field monitors.
  • Recording mediums like hard drives, USB drives, or tapes to record the audio.

This is not a comprehensive list of all recording studio technology and equipment used by Albuquerque recordings studios.

At Big Cat Tracks, the gear we use depends on the type of music being recorded and the preferences of our engineers and producers. Rest assured, we always recommend the recording studio technology and equipment needed to make your music sound its very best.

A screenshot of recording studio technology that includes computer software for mixing and mastering.
Recording studio technology can include software designed to mix and master final tracks to create a refined final product.

Which software do most recording studios use?

Physical equipment like audio interfaces, microphones, and monitors aren’t the only recording studio technology necessary for producing a smooth-sounding track.

Albuquerque recording studios also use a variety of software to make audio recordings sound professional.

  1. Audio Editing Software
    Software like Adobe Audition and Audacity is used for editing, cleaning, and adjusting audio levels.
  2. Automation Software
    Automating the mixing process can make an engineer’s job easier. Some Albuquerque recording studios rely on Pro Tools Automation and Logic Pro Automation to assist.
  3. Compression and Dynamic Processing
    Software like Waves, Izotope, and FabFilter process and shape the dynamic range of audio recordings.
  4. Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs)
    DAWs are the primary software used for recording, editing, and mixing audio. Some of the most popular DAWs include Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, and Studio One.
  5. Reverb and Delay
    Plugins like Altiverb, Lexicon, and Eventide add reverb and delay effects to audio recordings.
  6. Virtual Instruments
    Native Instruments, EastWest, and Spectrasonics are three types of virtual instrument software that can mimic the sound of instruments for playing, recording, and producing music.

These are just a few examples of the software Albuquerque recording studios may use to make your audio recording sound professional. Some engineers and producers have specific preferences for equipment and software, so you might find something completely different than what’s listed here when you go in for your studio session.

Don’t be afraid to ask what recording studio technology the engineer or producer plans to use and why they have selected it.

Albuquerque recording studios that use recording studio technology

Equipment isn’t the only factor in choosing a reputable Albuquerque recording studio. Make sure you choose one that meets your needs and can produce a quality recording. It doesn’t matter if a studio meets your budget if you end up with a final product that doesn’t help you accomplish your music goals.

To find a recording studio that fits the bill, remember to:

  • Ask for referrals from other musicians and industry experts in Albuquerque. They can guide you to reputable studios.
  • Check out the studio’s portfolio to get a sense of the quality of their recordings and the types of artists with whom they’ve previously worked.
  • Schedule a visit to the studio to confirm they have the equipment, engineers, and producers needed for your music project.

Big Cat Tracks has helped other successful Albuquerque artists advance their careers and meet their goals. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation to discuss your needs.

5 Tips for Booking an Albuquerque Recording Studio

Choosing an Albuquerque recording studio is the first step in getting your tracks to the masses. With so many recording studios to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming to make a decision.

Thanks to a 2017 effort by former Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry to create a better music ecosystem for Albuquerque, there is hardly a shortage of professional recording studios artists can rely on to lay their tracks.

Not all Albuquerque recording studios are created equally. Choosing the wrong one can mean the difference between getting your music into the right hands and having it ignored by music industry professionals who can make or break your music career.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top 5 tips for booking an Albuquerque recording studio.

Albuquerque recording studio
Ask other musicians in the area for recommendations on the best Albuquerque recording studio.

1 – Ask for recommendations

The numbers don’t lie. According to Nielson, 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations over any other kind of referral method. When these endorsements come from family or friends, they’re more impactful.

Check in with your friends to ask if they know of any Albuquerque recording studios that are reliable and reputable. Don’t be afraid to call up other local recording artists and ask them who they recommend as well. Musicians help one another out around here and you can always find some studios by asking around.

If the studio has provided you with references, call every one of them. Verify they’ve recorded with the studio and aren’t just friends of the owners.

Take your recommendations and rank them in order of interest before moving on to the next step.

2 – Find a studio that fits your budget

Once you have your list, it’s time to start phase two of the process. Albuquerque recording studios can range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per day. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, so go to the max you can afford to get the best quality.

With your budget in mind, start reviewing the studios on your list to determine which fit into your spending plan. If you find a studio that’s slightly more expensive but whose reputation makes you want to work with them, then talk to the studio. Some studios can make financial arrangements on request.

Albuquerque recording studio variety services
Choose an Albuquerque recording studio that offers a variety of services for the best experience.

3 – Look for a studio that offers a variety of services

Some Albuquerque recording studios offer basic or limited services. You must choose one that matches your recording goals. The last thing you want to happen is to choose a studio based solely on pricing, only to discover on recording day that it can’t accommodate your needs.

Make a separate list that outlines your goals for the recording session. Be sure to include the number of artists—instrumental and vocal—accompanying you during your studio time.  

Among your other considerations when choosing:

  • Do you have a live band that must be accommodated?
  • How many songs do you plan to record during your session?
  • Do you need to borrow instruments or backup singers from the studio?

Big Cat Tracks can accommodate full live bands or solo artists. Just let us know your needs at the time of booking and we’ll make sure you have a seamless recording session.

4 – Make sure the studio is reputable

Asking for recommendations is only one part of choosing an Albuquerque recording studio. Look for reviews, seek testimonials from current or former customers, and ask for a demo of the studio’s previous work to make sure they’re reputable.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of New Mexico and Southwest Colorado is another local source for verifying a studio’s reputation. Some studios, like other businesses in Albuquerque, can seek accreditation with the BBB. Once a studio is BBB accredited, it must adhere to the policies of the BBB, which include specific steps for resolving customer complaints or concerns.

5 – Visit the studio in person before booking

Seeing is believing. Part of verifying an Albuquerque recording studio’s reputation is to request an in-person consultation that includes a tour of the facilities.

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, schedule a visit with each studio to compare their facilities and meet their staff. Ideally, it would be beneficial to observe them in action. However, that may not be possible if the recording artists who have booked time in the studio object to the distraction. But it never hurts to ask if it’s possible.

High-quality recording studios feature comfortable and relaxing environments. Recording artists have access to finely integrated pro tools that make them sound like true professionals. If any of the studios you’re considering don’t offer these amenities, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Big Cat Tracks studio staff are happy to give you a tour of our state-of-the-art recording facilities. Give us a call today to schedule your visit. We can discuss your recording session needs and answer any questions you have before you decide to work with us.

5 Tips for Laying Tracks in an Albuquerque Recording Studio Easier

You’ve finally taken the last step to getting your music out to the masses. You’ve booked yourself a recording session with an Albuquerque recording studio. It can be easy to get so lost in the excitement of heading into the studio to lay your tracks that you forget the things needed to help your session go more smoothly.

Booking an Albuquerque recording studio isn’t cheap. It pays to anticipate any issues that can happen and have a backup plan for handling them. Know your goals for the day. Get everything in order before you step foot in the studio to get quality tracks that support your music career.

Consider these five tips for laying tracks in an Albuquerque recording studio easier before your recording session.

1 – Create realistic goals

Wasting time can get costly in an Albuquerque recording studio. The words “let’s just see what happens” should never cross your lips when consulting with a music studio technician. It’s a surefire recipe for disaster. Even the most experienced musicians never show up to lay tracks without a solid plan to follow.

The three most important questions to ask before booking your session include:

  • Who will be involved (musicians, singers)?
  • What songs do you plan to record?
  • How much time do you anticipate for the session?

If you can only afford two hours in the studio, be realistic about your goals. It’s unlikely you can record five songs in two hours (at least not versions you’d be proud to share).

Working with a competent producer or sound engineer can help you pinpoint a sensible set of agenda items for your Albuquerque recording studio session.

Albuquerque Recording Studio gear
Make sure you examine your gear before your session to reduce the risk of interruptions.

2 – Examine your gear before the session

One of the worst things that can happen to a musician is to have your equipment fail when you need it most. Professional musicians have backups they can quickly switch to when performing live to ensure the show goes on seamlessly.

Most amateur musicians may find it expensive to have backup instruments and other critical equipment. However, you should at least come with the basics, like extra strings for your guitar and picks if you use them.

Top-of-the-line Albuquerque recording studios keep spare parts handy. Sometimes they can even rent out instruments and vocal talent, but they must know in advance you need them.

3 – Know your parts

Disorganization can kill a music recording session faster than anything else. If you show up to the studio without an action plan, it wastes everyone’s time and your money.

Do you know what else is a time suck? Forgetting your parts. Hey, it can happen. Even for songs you wrote and think you know by heart. Get plenty of practice before the big recording session. If you think you need it, bring music or lyrics along for easy reference.

It’s important to make sure any other musicians or vocalists also know their parts. Practice together as much as possible before you attempt to lay tracks. While it’s still possible to make an error or two during your session, it’s less likely to be a total disaster if you’re prepared by knowing your parts.

Albuquerque Recording Studio sound engineer
Your Albuquerque Recording Studio sound engineer knows best. Listen to their suggestions for the best laid tracks.

4 – Listen to the recording engineer

You hired a professional Albuquerque recording studio to lay your tracks for a reason. One of the worst things you can do is argue with the recording engineer or other staff during the session about how things should go.

When working with a reputable Albuquerque recording studio, you can be sure the sound engineer and other employees know what they’re doing. It’s their mission to make you sound the best they possibly can. Do them and yourself a favor by following their directions and suggestions to the letter.

If they tell you that you have too much bass, turn it down until they tell you to stop. If something is humming mysteriously or giving feedback, start troubleshooting instead of arguing.

One last tip: there’s no such thing as a dumb question during your session. Don’t waste takes because you’re afraid to ask the sound engineer or other staff a question you think is unworthy of their time.

5 – Predict possible complications

There’s an unspoken rule in the universe that goes something like this. No matter how much you plan and prepare, something is bound to go wrong. Unforeseen obstacles aren’t uncommon when visiting an Albuquerque recording studio. Be prepared to be flexible to fix any unexpected issues.

What kind of disasters can possibly happen at the last minute? Well, maybe the mix of instruments you practiced with isn’t producing the sound you’d hoped for in the studio. Don’t be afraid to eliminate something until it’s more audibly smooth.

Maybe a hook you’d written into an original song just doesn’t have the same relevance you felt when you wrote it. Skip over it!

The best advice we can offer is to stay calm and trust your sound engineer. There’s no unexpected problem we can’t tackle together.

Creating Magic at an Albuquerque Music Studio

Making music is about more than laying quality tracks that excite your loyal fans (and maybe even a few record labels). Sure, working with a top-notch sound engineer and other knowledgeable staff at a reputable recording studio is a 100% necessary part of the process. However, creating magic at an Albuquerque music studio requires the support of a strong local music community as well.

Albuquerque has a diverse music scene. On any given day, you can find blues and jazz, hip hop, indie, metal, and even ska. There’s certainly no shortage of fellow musicians to jam with if you like company.

No matter what genre of music you plan to produce, you’ll need the support of your local music community to get it done. That includes finding a reputable Albuquerque music studio with experienced staff who can produce quality tracks.

In this blog we’ll discuss:

What makes an Albuquerque music studio unique?

Most Albuquerque music studios have similar amenities and equipment. Providing the latest and greatest recording equipment, instruments, and even backup vocalists can go a long way in making your tracks sound amazing. However, they aren’t the most important ingredients.

What makes or breaks a recording studio are the people who work there. A studio manager with a can-do attitude should be top of your list when deciding which Albuquerque music studio you want to entrust with your music recording. No matter what unexpected things occur before, during, or after your session, that kind of mindset goes a long way toward solving them.

Second only to the studio manager is the sound engineer. Choose one that has a great working relationship with the other studio staff. While the sound engineer calls most of the shots during your session, they need the support of everyone to pull off their ideas for your tracks.

Albuquerque music studio mentor
FInding a music mentor is an important part of building your music community outside of an Albuquerque music studio.

Why do you need a strong music studio community?

For musicians and vocalists who are just starting out, it takes a strong music community to succeed. Collaborating with and relying on other local artists for their expertise and advice can make or break a budding career.

Find yourself a good music mentor in Albuquerque or elsewhere in New Mexico who understands the music scene here. Tap their brains for help with marketing, songwriting, and recording. Most local artists who have been around for a while can identify quality Albuquerque music studios to add to your list.

It can be hard to ask for help, but the local music community in Albuquerque is welcoming. If you decide to work with a music mentor or even a small group of experienced artists here, choose someone with the following qualities:

  • Availability. A music mentor isn’t going to do your budding music career much good if they’re never available to answer your questions. If someone you’d like to work with says they don’t have time to do it, ask them for recommendations for other local musicians who might be suitable replacements.
  • Experience. It should go without saying (but we’ll say it anyway). Find a music mentor with extensive experience. Otherwise, they may not have the knowledge or skills to help you advance your music career.
  • Trustworthiness. One of the key principles of any effective mentorship is the ability to hold things in confidence. Make sure the person you’ve chosen understands that what you share with them stays between you unless you give consent for it to be shared with others.
Albuquerque music studio tribe
Finding your local music tribe can provide you with jamming buddies and a reliable source for networking.

What are the benefits of building a strong music community?

The music industry can be brutal. Finding your tribe can make navigating it more successful and far less stressful. Making the most of your music community—including a reputable Albuquerque music studio—means you can enjoy some of the following benefits.

  • Confidence boost. Having a supportive music community can help you establish career goals. More importantly, they can celebrate your successes and work through your failures to ensure you’re always growing and improving.
  • Motivation. It can be easy to quit, especially if you’ve been trying to break out on the Albuquerque music scene for a while. Surrounding yourself with a strong music community provides the encouragement and motivation you need to press forward.
  • Networking. There’s a lot of truth to the adage that it’s about who you know in the music industry sometimes. When you make the right connections, you can gain access to Albuquerque music industry professionals who can help you get noticed faster.

How do you find an Albuquerque music studio?

Part of a successful music community includes an Albuquerque music studio that can help you meet your music goals. Whether you need a demo track to send to agents or want to record your first full album after years of performing on the local music scene, having a quality music studio in your corner is a must. Let us be the support you need. Reach out today to book a session.

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