Some of you have asked for more technical details around the writing and production process. 
The technical stuff is mostly boring by itself (I think), even though 98% of the time, a production is very detail oriented. It requires  "microscopic vision", "telescopic vision" and several "ground maps". 

Sometimes you're just painting with broad strokes and different shades, other times it’s pure improvisation. But most of the time, I have it all ready before I start recording.

When I started with music, there weren't that many tools to help me out (at least that I could afford), but I quickly realized that my mind could imagine things much easier than any instrument or recording equipment. 

I’m going to focus on a few parts of the arrangement that hopefully illustrates some of this. 

The song tempo accelerates (probably more than some of you are comfortable with). Here is a picture of the tempo graph from Pro Tools (the recording software that I tend to use) that shows the increase:

Before the tempo (or accelerato) is decided up on, the song is recorded many times (without metronome). Every bar gets analyzed manually, and plotted into the recording software (I do this on most productions). After this, further adjustment of the tempo is usually required, and done before I continue the arrangement. The tempo is often linked to certain keys (in my head) so if you change the tempo, it might require a different key, and arrangement all together. 

If I’m not satisfied with the production and it doesn't communicate my vision, I start everything all over again from scratch: re-record all instruments and map the tempos. This easily takes weeks. 
«All Ends Here» was recorded 3 times, and so I have 3 versions of it. 

When I’m happy with the feel, colour and direction of the song, in its basic form, I continue with the arrangement and production. 

Many things happen here, so I’ll give you some examples of different elements in the mix playing together.
The first example is part of the string section, together with the main vocal:

One vision I had for this particular arrangement (and from the very beginning of the composing stage) was to use echo for rhythm in an «invisible way», or in a way that didn’t draw too much attention. And you'll find several delays on the key instruments in the song Most of them are not made to sound like delays though, more like the original instrument, but not quite. If that makes sense.

The reason for this is that, echoes can suggest a different tempo or even time signature. When delays are playing 16 notes, it can make it feel more like 8 notes, for instance. You can do this with instrumensts too, but the result is pretty different. Delays are more related to ambience, and therefore easier to manipulate, without sounding artificial or frenetic (but you can do that too).

Here’s one example of a sequence where the main vocal uses 4 different delay times, which is turned up or down on different frases, to make a rhytmical choir.  It’s prety subtle in the mix.

 

The third example is some of the drums along with 3 of the basses. The basses were recorded with an electric bass (by Audun Havåg) through different synth processors, and manipulated in real time (by me) during recording:

You don't need fancy equipment to do this though, all echoes and arrangement ideas was made long before I had any equipment to realize it with (yes it is an old song). The guitar delays was done in real time with a guitar pedal for instance, and I had to tap the increasing tempo and adjusting the note resolution with my feet, while playing. When it became too difficult, I just punched in that section. But I like the wobbly delay artifacts coming from changing tempo, and therefore needed to do as much as possible in real time. Since everything was planned, the echoes for the vocals and guitar (etc) took me around 15 minutes combined in studio time.

So again, I always prefer composing/arranging and even producing (other artists as well) in my head before I start. That way, I don’t get tied to a computer mouse, keyboard, drums, a guitar, or scores for that matter.  They all get their moment in the sun in good time. 

 

(Speaking of keyboards,  one of the recordings I meant to post here,  was done on piano, and has a completely different expression. I'll try to update this post with a clip, when I have more time).

 

With me on the session:

Audun Havåg: Electric Bass & Synthbass

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