What is a DAW?

 
       
 
Oct 06, 2017, 05:42 PM

Hey folks. Joel Fass asked a question in another thread (check out Jeremy’s “This too shall pass” in the Lyrics Library). Joel asked what is a DAW, so I thought we could talk about that here instead of pirating the other thread.

A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation. It’s recording software that takes the place of or enhances a mixing desk. With it, you can record all the parts of your song separately (vocal track, a guitar track, drum tracks, etc) and then mix them together at different levels and with different effects added. You can record/edit a midi track (if that’s your kind of thing) and more expensive programs allow you to edit your score. There are free DAWs available that do a good job and there are one’s you pay for that are more complex and have a better support service because of it.

What I love about using a DAW over a desk is that I can record anywhere I have my computer and a mic. Gavin was recording frogsong in his back garden not long ago and I remember Michael Standing reported that he was on a hilltop recording nature sounds (that was some time last year). I can send dry recordings across the globe to some dude in Germany or the US or Timbuktu to mix and master into a song. If I’m collaborating, we can share ideas at the touch of a button and if the other person is using StudioOne (which is the DAW I use), they can see what I’m seeing on their screen, add to it, highlight parts of the song, make suggestions, all in real time. Amazing.

DAW users, did I forget anything?

https://soundcloud.com/jennystokes-nz
http://www.evansandstokes.com

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
- Bob Marley

 
     
Jenny Stokes Joined Sep 24, 2015
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Oct 06, 2017, 06:01 PM

I think the only thing you maybe missed was to say it’s a lot easier than it might sound to some people. These things are pretty intuitive, at least the basics. You can be up and running pretty quickly.

 
     
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Gavin Sinclair Joined Dec 02, 2014
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Oct 06, 2017, 06:18 PM

Very good point, Gavin. As you know, I’m a techno-idiot and even I can use a DAW. The first time I opened one up, I found a screen so busy with buttons I was freaked out by it. But, one 6 minute how-to video later, I was setting up to record my first song. Pretty neat.

https://soundcloud.com/jennystokes-nz
http://www.evansandstokes.com

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
- Bob Marley

 
     
Jenny Stokes Joined Sep 24, 2015
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Oct 07, 2017, 06:04 AM

i think what joel is after is an actual writing tool, which is really what you need for ‘jazz’. something
that allows you to write measure by measure because jazz is so….. non-repetitive. my dad was
messing around with a program like that several years ago, it allowed you to write your chords
and notes onto a digital staff then pick your instruments and hit play. the problem however was
that it wasn’t very intuitive, it was very tedious in fact….. this was pre-touchscreen, and of course
it sounded computer generated. i never messed with the program myself but i know they exist,
and with current advances in sound and touchscreen technology they’re probably really fun for
someone who actually reads and writes complicated music :)

[ Edited: 07 October 2017 06:13 AM by JAPOV]
 
     
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JAPOV Joined Jul 02, 2006
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Oct 07, 2017, 04:24 PM

Oh I know that’s where he’s headed. We had been talking about Sebelius (which is the score writer I played with for a while but decided I preferred a pencil, a rubber, and a handful of staff paper). But he asked what a DAW was and I thought I should move said discussion to another thread so Jeremy’s wasn’t taken over by technical questions. Like your Dad, I found the score writer tedious. For me, it was much faster doing it manually.

https://soundcloud.com/jennystokes-nz
http://www.evansandstokes.com

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
- Bob Marley

 
     
Jenny Stokes Joined Sep 24, 2015
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Oct 11, 2017, 04:27 AM

Well, I remember - the first DAW I had in use was back in 1997 - it was called “Cool Edit pro”. It was possible to record single tracks, cut and paste, reduce noise, add hall and so on. it only worked with audio tracks. That was a good one :).

Over the years the DAW devoloped. Some are easy to use, some are not. Once I got the free “Light Edition” of Steinbergs Cubase. No, I could not handle it. It was (and still is) too complicated for me. Now I am with Logic. That´s good. But I think I only use 10 % of what Logic is capable doin. It is wonderful to simply plug in a Keyboard, record something as midi and assign an Instrument to the midi. So things became a little “easier”. Even mistakes can be edited right now

...every once in a while, I get in the mood or so…and start to play..

http://www.songcycle.org

 
     
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Martin G Joined May 27, 2009
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Oct 11, 2017, 07:22 AM

I hear you about the 10 percent, Martin. I’m learning new skills all the time with my DAW. It seems there’s no end to this learning curve.  :)

https://soundcloud.com/jennystokes-nz
http://www.evansandstokes.com

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain”
- Bob Marley

 
     
Jenny Stokes Joined Sep 24, 2015
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