shockwave-sound.com
View Cart | License | Blog | Contact
[ Home ][ Testimonials ][ Help/FAQ ][ Affiliate program ][ CD collections ][ My tags ][ My orders ]

Enhancing creative work flow with Sonar

Part 1

By Johan Hynynen



Introduction

Making music with a DAW involves knowing both hardware and software very well – you just can’t escape music technology. This can be a show stopper for our creativity when we need to write music. Many times
we’re also working to match short deadlines, so with that in mind I will try to give you a few tips on how you easily can enhance your workflow and creative output working with Sonar. Even though this article is written with a regular song kind of project in mind, most ideas, tips or tricks can be implemented while working with voice talents making jingles and audio books, or even sound design for computer games. As other DAWs have similar functions as Sonar’s you might be able in applying some tips in other applications as well. The tips described in this article are straight forward to get around and can easily help you sorting things out so that you can spend more time making music and less time dabbling around your software.

Project Templates

Most of us come back to a certain frame work where we like to start making music. It could be a few channels loaded with guitar amp plug-ins or a sampler loaded with a good sounding grand piano. Instead of recreating all of these instances of soft synths, channels and effects you can make a template that will automatically recreate favorite your setup.

To create a project template, simply open up an empty project and start creating the channels, buses, effects and soft synths you want to include. Then go to the file menu and select “Save As” and then choose “Template” in the menu labeled “Save as type”. In order for your templates to appear
in the dialogue window at start up, you also need to save them down to the right folder. Which folder holds your templates can be set by going to the “Options” menu, then “Global” and finally, click the “Folders” tab. Your project templates are stored in the folder selected in the “Templates” menu.

Make a template for all the different kinds of music you usually record or produce. You may want to create one for rock band, another for ambient music and so on. Also create a template that uses smaller sample libraries and less CPU demanding soft synths. Depending on your computer’s specifications you could choose a setup that you can work with without freezing or bouncing tracks. While writing, an economy setup usually works well and you can always replace the temporary sounds with your best samples and soft synths during the mixdown of the song.

Track Templates

You may have been trying to figure out how you managed get that particular sound on a previous recording of yours? Of course, going back to that project and write down the settings and which plug-ins that where
used does the trick, but with track templates you have access to all your favorite sounds in seconds. By saving a particular channel which includes, let’s say, a guitar amp plug-in, compressor, equalizer settings and sends as a track template, you can easily recall all the settings.

To save a track as a track template right click on any track in the track pane and choose “Save As Track Template”. To load a template, simply right click in the tracks pane and choose “Insert From Track Template”. Select your track template and it opens up all plug-ins together with parameters associated to the track including sends and all effects.
Of course, as you move along saving more and more of your golden settings you build quite a library of track templates. Listen back to your recordings and take notes on elements you find particularly appealing - then open up those projects and locate and save your channels as track templates. Your favorite sound is now only a couple
of mouse clicks away.

 

Track Manager

When your track count gets high you might find it hard to navigate through them all. In most cases you aren’t working on all tracks at the same time and therefore, you can use the track manager to temporarily clean things up a little. What the track manager really does is to help you select the tracks you want to be visible and deselect the ones you want to hide. Once your selection has been made the track view in Sonar will only show the selected tracks.

If you arrange your tracks with the track manager you’ll want to check back to it time to time, otherwise you might start thinking there are tracks missing (which isn’t the case of course as they’ve only been hidden). Naming your tracks well is also crucial if you want to keep things tidy. Bring up the track manager by pressing “M”.

Track Folders

Using track folders is a clever way in handling many tracks of the same sort. If, for example, the vocal arrangement of your song includes more than a few tracks (lead, harmonies, overdubs etc) then placing them in a track folder is an easy way in making them take up less screen space. Sometimes the vocals alone on a song can extend up to ten, and even more channels, and while you work on other elements of the same song you really don’t need to see the vocal tracks. To create a track folder, right click in the tracks pane to the right of the inspector field, and choose “Create Track Folder”. Then drag the tracks you want to organize to the track folder. By clicking the plus sign you open the folder so that it reveals its contents, and by clicking the minus sign while the folder is open, it hides the tracks inside it.

Track folders that seem fairly obvious to create could be drum tracks, guitars or vocals but you can of course set up track folders as you like.

Markers

Use markers to point out certain sections in your arrangement that are particularly important. You may want to have a marker placed for each verse, chorus and bridge, but you can also use markers to point out a particular section you want to rework or change but have decided to do later. In order to add a marker, right click the time ruler and then choose “Insert Marker” (or press F11).

Colors

You can use colors to separate tracks and sections from each other. One idea is to give the choruses, let’s say, color blue and the verses color red. Or, you could make certain instrument groups have a specific color.

Last Words

Getting things sorted out in your DAW is means a lot for your workflow – but not everything. Try to keep things organized on your physical desk as well. Don’t leave things in mess, make sure you have note pads and working pens so that you’re always ready to take some notes or write down ideas. Some people like to use regular sketch pads for keeping track of thoughts and to do lists, some use a Wordpad document or similar,
some use a white board while some prefer to use a PDA. Other things such as a good armchair can definitely make you feel more comfortable while working.

Deadlines can be extremely pressing if we can’t organize are daily work. Make sure you plan your day well and that you get things done. Losing work due to a failing disk can be disastrous but also unnecessary. There are plenty of backup tools out there and extra storage is cheap, so there is little excuse for not doing backups frequently. I’m using Acronis True Image which is scheduled to do a backup every day. Deadlines must be met, and losing a client due to a failing disk would be quite awkward - not to mention all the love and effort put in each piece of work. Therefore do your backups well, you will feel much safer knowing that you can’t lose too many hours of work no matter what.

Some of the tips above might seem obvious, but they’re very often overlooked, so I thought that a little reminder could be well in use.

 

About the author: Johan Hynynen, aka Giannis, is a composer, producer and instrumentalist who is producing music in a wide variety of different genres for TV, computer games, corporate films, films and other productions. Look out for his label Akoume Music Productions which not only will produce high quality scores for film, TV and computer games, but will also produce Giannis' chill-out solo project. His website is at www.akoume.com
Other articles you may find useful:
Asset Management: How to keep track of sound clips using metadata and cataloguing. Three ways to build a sound library: Record sounds yourself, or find another way. Timeline of classical composers: Get an overview of the lives and times of classical music maestros. Depth and space in the mix, part 1: How to use reverb, pre-delay, EQ and delay to make your mix better. Depth and space in the mix, part 2: Further tips on improving the sound of your productions. Maximizing composer agreements: How you as a composer for games and other media can get the best out of the contract.
YouTube and music use: How "fingerprinted music" is causing advertisements on your YouTube video. Using Reverb to enhance your production: John Radford on the use and abuse of Reverb in music. Do the work: Music composers' tips and strategies for overcoming procrastination and getting the job done. Sound effects in music composition: How you can use sound FX in music production for games, film, media. Mixing as part of the composing process - part 1: Planning your instrumentation and approach. Mixing as part of the composing process - part 2: Making your sounds and instruments work with your composition to best effect.
Sound for picture - Faking it: Some great tips on making your audience feel they are there. Royalty Free music in 24-bit: Why we are upgrading to High Definition music downloads. Choosing music for a short film project: We look at some options for obtaining your musical score. Choosing music for a Documentary: Help and tips for obtaining your film soundtrack. Tips and Curiosities from Computer Game Music, pt 1: Piotr Koczewski discusses video game music. Tips and Curiosities from Computer Game Music, pt 2: More talk about composing music for video games.
Copyrights in Classical music and Public Domain music: We try to explain why "public domain music" still has rights attached to it. 1 year Shockwave-Sound.com exclusive: Some of our best music can be found only at Shockwave-Sound.com first year. Browse royalty-free music super quick: With our free Demo DVD-ROM you can skim through tracks quickly on your own PC. Getting started with voiceover: Things you need to know if you would like to make a living as a professional voice talent. Sennheiser PXC 450 noise canceling headphones: Video review of these classy noise reducing headphones Surviving your first composing gig: How to handle your client when composing music for video games or film/TV.
Creating radio ads with music and voice: We discuss some good practices and neat tricks for a great sounding ad spot. Recording sound for perspective: Good sound recording practice for a realistic result. Making a long-playing sound or Audio-CD starting out from a short, looping sound file. Creative workflow in Sonar, part 1: Save time and frustration while working in Sonar music production. Surround music in video games: Rob Bridgett discusses the viability and aesthetics of 5.1 sound heaven Shockwave-Sound's sister site for sound-fx
We introduce our new site for listening to and buying sound effects.
Cue the Music, Part 1: Using copyrighted music in your project or presentation Cue the Music, Part 2: We look at Five ways to get music for your project without breaking copyrights. Cue the Music, Part 3: How to use Royalty Free Music to the best effect for your project. Working with audio in Sony Vegas, Part 1: Importing & Timestretching audio files Working with audio in Sony Vegas, Part 2: Adding FX, Mixing & Rendering Audio Files Samson Zoom H4 portable recorder: An in-depth product review of this handy sound recording unit.
How to get music on your web site: We explain how to Embed music on a web page and how to make a Flash that plays music. Music rights terms and expressions: Podcast safe music, Sync License, Royalty Free Music, Performance Rights... Confused yet? Royalty free music explained: What really lies behind this term? We talk a little music licensing history and look at this expression. How to build a music track from loops: Do this to get the "set of music loops" to play as a longer music track YouTube Safe Music: How to find music for your YouTube video and properly credit the composer and publisher. Common myths and misunderstandings about music rights: We try to clear up some of these.
Orchestral MIDI arrangement: A beginner's guide to the Orchestral MIDI Mockup. A guide to virtual pianos: We take a look (and a very close listen) to virtual piano plug-ins. Strengthen your 3D animation with audio: How to use royalty-free music and sound-fx with 3D animation Ideas for Effectively Using Sibelius and Pro Tools 8: We look at ways to streamline and optimize your composing work. Cleaning up noisy dialogue: Get rid of background noise and improve sound quality of voice recordings Interactive Music in Games: We look at ways to make videogame music react and respond to the players actions.
Writing music for games, part 1: Video games composer Kole on some issues to keep in mind. Writing music for games, part 2: Kole dissects another video game music project. Writing music for games, part 3: Finding a way to compose music for Facebook games and stay within the boundaries. Writing music for games, part 4: How to make the most of what little resources you have available. The Cost of Music: Options for filmmakers to source music for their film. Music Production hardware and software tips, part 1: Important issues you need to consider when selecting your tools, computer, CPU, RAM, software etc.
Music Production hardware and software tips, part 2: Useful tips for choosing your hardware for music production. Composing music for cellphones / mobile phones - Part 1: Tips and tricks of the trade. Composing music for mobile phones / cellphones - Part 2: More useful info for producers. Observations of Memorable Themes: We discuss music composition and how to make your melodies memorable. Developing musical ideas in video games - Part 1. Ways of making the music work for the game. Developing musical ideas in video games - Part 2. More thoughts on scoring music for video games.
Ideas for creating unique musical colours: Tips to try to make it sound and feel 'different' Choosing the right classical music, part 1: We recommend 10 pieces of bombastic, powerful, awe inspiring classical music. Choosing the right classical music, part 2: In this part we recommend 10 beautiful, soft, heavenly and emotional classical music tracks      

Would you like to contribute an article to Shockwave-Sound.com? We will pay you $150.00, and we will include your bio, a link to your web site, and if you wish, a quick plug of your product or service. Shockwave-Sound.com is used by almost 4,000 unique visitors every day. Contact us if you have an article idea/pitch for us that you feel is useful, relevant and well written. First, though, you may want to read this blog post about article requirements.

Copyright notice: This article and all other text on this web site is under Copyright to Shockwave-Sound.com. This text may not be copied, re-printed, re-published, in print or electronically, in whole or in part, without written permission from Shockwave-Sound.com.

[Switch to Classic Navigation]