This could be adding piano, organ, strings, choir, electric piano... whatever suits the song and the original artist's vision of where they'd like the track to go.
Some people are surprised at how quickly I work. I by no means take any shortcuts in effort or quality, but rather have a clear process that I run through with each new track I record for. As people are often interested in exactly what I do, here's the basic process I follow for each project:
- I listen through the track provided by the artist, and get an understanding of where they're wanting the song to go musically and stylistically. Often people provide me with YouTube links to songs, artists, styles or sounds they would like to capture in layers added to their own track.
- I import the track into my recording software, and firstly colour code the various section changes in the song (click the image above for a larger version to see what I mean). e.g. blue might be the intro riff, yellow the bridge, orange the chorus, green the part behind the guitar solo, etc. This is an important step that saves a lot of time getting quickly familiar with changes in structure to an at-first-unknown song.
- I next listen back through the track a few more times, getting familiar with those chord transitions and patterns, while playing along and trying out ideas and sounds I think will work well.
- Once I've shortlisted a few ideas of sounds to use and have "jammed" with the song for a while, I hit record and start laying down my ideas.
- I do a rough mix of the keyboard layers I've added along with the originally-provided song, and send this as an mp3 to the original artist. Often people love what they hear straight up, but otherwise have the chance to provide feedback and let me know what they like or don't like before moving ahead to the final stage.
- After any tweaks are made, I export solo tracks of the individual layer/s I've added, and provide this as a WAV file to the original artist. This way they have the ability to mix the added keyboard part/s to taste themselves or with their engineer.
And that's it. It doesn't need to be made harder, and is a process I enjoy!
Paul Doolan provides online keyboard recording sessions for bands and solo artists.
Want to add keyboards to your track? Learn more now.