What is your compositional workflow?


Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Nearly all of us here on RO started out as musicians before we became involved in the technical side of music and recording, and while I know that there are some guys here who have let go of the music part over the years, and have decided to concentrate solely on the engineering and production end of things, I know there are those engineers who still perform and write.

I'm one of those guys - I engineer lot of stuff for other people, but I still write and record my own stuff too... and this leads me to the main topic of this post:

What is your workflow when writing songs and recording them?

1. Do you still go by the 'old" way of doing things - meaning you write a song - maybe on guitar or keys - and over a period of time, you refine it.... arranging, adding things, deleting things, refining the song so that it sounds solid on the instrument you wrote it with, and then go into your studio and record what you have written? This was the way we used to do things, because God forbid you went into a studio unprepared, and decided that it was okay to write a song on the studio clock... (I'm not talking about production embellishments - those will happen in th studio. I'm talking about actually writing the song in the studio).


2. Assuming you have your own studio, do you start out with a rough idea - and then write, arrange, re-write, re-arrange while you are recording?

Today's technology has given songwriters some very powerful tools - drum tracks and loops, more synth sounds than one could ever begin to count, harmonizers, the ability to copy- paste- insert, the ability to edit out certain sections if they aren't 'working" - to the extent that I think it's become the most popular way to write and record at the same time.
If this is your workflow, do you feel that having to "wear all the hats" hinders your productivity or the quality of the song and/or recording? I know it often does for me.


3. Is there another method you are comfortable with using?

Just curious as to what our member's individual workflow(s) might be... ? :whistle:



Quality recording seeker !
Well-Known Member
Feb 21, 2013
Quebec, Canada
I'm not really a good composer.. Being a drummer, I lack of harmonisation skills but when I do, I improvise. I guess I did not find my way yet.

You need to start somewhere, you could start writing the lyrics or the music and let that first step inspire you for the second.
I stepped upon a iPhone app called Chord suggester. When I'm really stuck on a white page it's a good brain unlocking tool
View: http://youtu.be/Xyn3QPhcPRw

I'd like to have a band at my disposal, but I don't...

Kurt Foster

Well-Known Member
Jul 2, 2002
77 Sunset Lane.

mongo write song first, then record.

Tony Carpenter

The Minstrel
Well-Known Member
Aug 20, 2014
Keighley, England
I'm old school, write song, record it. What I have had for the last 27 years is a great lyricist, and I'm married to her. Somehow she writes (most) of the lyrics and I manage to find music for them, and usually not at the same time, are we in tune or what? :D. Usually I just sit with an acoustic guitar or on my 88 key and jam around with different feels and chords until something comes to me. As a non music reader and totally technically inept with no bar chords (finger issue) after 44 years of it, it still works for me. I then manage to get bogged down in the recording process if I am the only one doing it for myself.. that part sucks!!.