Scratch Tracks

Steph in front of keyboard

Getting ready for scratch tracks.

Have you heard of a scratch track before?  Well, that’s the first step for all the songs you know and love on CDs or the radio.  A scratch track is a very simple, rough recording of the song.  The first day I met with Aaron in his studio, I sat at the keyboard with headphones on, with a microphone in front of me.

We first chose a tempo for each song.  Remember that metronome during piano lessons? It let you know how many beats per minute you should play.  Same idea here.  But Aaron is able to let me hear the tempo as a “click” in my headphones.

So with the click in my headphones, I played the piano and sang the words for each of my songs.  There are 11 songs total.  Did I play piano perfectly?  No!  Did I sing flawlessly? No way!  But that’s OK at this stage of the game.

The notes I played on the keyboard get sent to Aaron’s computer as digital information.  On his computer he can fix wrong notes, make notes last longer, or even transpose the entire song to a new key.  The piano notes show up on one line on his screen, and my voice track shows up on a different line.  They can be changed independently of each other.

Once these two tracks are in the computer, it’s time to play!  We tried lots of instrument sounds to see what fits, what doesn’t fit.  Within seconds we could have a sample drum line for the whole song, just to see if we like it.

With a scratch track ready, it’s time for the ideas to flow for each song.  So exciting to see these songs in my head come to life!

Posted in Notes from Steph

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