• Written by Angela Predhomme

It’s a great time to be alive for indie music makers! There are many of us, maybe including you, who are creating good music out there, armed with nothing but our own ingenuity and the few dollars in our shallow pockets. But what’s the best way to make music, real or programmed? I like to do a combination of these two because it’s cost effective and gives me more creative control as a producer.

Use Your Strengths as the Anchor

If you’re a good guitar player, go with it. If you’re a good beat-maker or a wizard with patches or cool synths, go with that as the anchor to your music. For me, I’m a classically trained singer and piano player, so that’s where I stay the most “real” in my recordings.

Keyboard Tracks

For keys, I import midi from my full-size Yamaha digital piano. I like playing a real-feeling piano with weighted keys and a pedal, because, as all piano players know, you just have to. If you’re used to playing a real piano, you can’t just play some little bouncy-key keyboard. Unless, that is, you’re Stevie Wonder, and then you can get magic out of anything with keys.

The coolest thing about using midi for piano parts is that I can go in and alter the notes if I need to. Let’s say I was a little early or late on some notes, or I want to bring down the volume of a note that sticks out. I just zoom in and make those little tweaks in my DAW. After working like this, I would hate to record straight audio and give up this tasty little cheat. Does tweaking my naturally-played midi make me less of a musician? That depends on who’s answering the question. But is this an ego contest? Or is it trying to get the best product in a reasonable amount of time, and accepting my own limitations?


On to the vocals. Yes, I’ve worked hard at my singing, taking lessons, pushing myself, and training my ear. Am I perfect? No way. A caveat of a trained ear is that you hear, in fine detail, how much you’re off pitch, not only as you listen back, but even as it’s coming out of your mouth. I’ve developed a technique with vocals that works for my singer-songwriter style: My finished vocal tracks are created with a combination of careful editing and a delicate touch of pitch correction.

Depending on the song, for some vocal tracks, I just edit together a decent comp from several takes and re-sung sections, and then forego any pitch correction. This is how I did my recent single, “Changeless Sky.” Here, the bending and sliding of the notes in this soulful style is forgiving enough that I didn’t mess with it.

However, most other vocal tracks of mine were tweaked in parts with Melodyne. I never, ever just click an auto-tune button. I go in and carefully listen, selecting words or syllables in the vocal that stick out to me. Then, I adjust sketchy notes anywhere from 10% to 70%, not 100%. This preserves the humanness.

This mix of natural and pitch-adjusted in the vocal track is what I did with my recent upbeat acoustic song, “So Good to Be Free.” The goal is always that my vocals are reasonably on pitch, and don’t offend my ear.

Drums and Percussion

One of my favorite things is to walk the line between real and programmed with percussion. On my last full album, Love, many of the tracks were recorded with a real drummer playing an electronic kit. The kit sent midi straight into my DAW, connected by a standard USB. The drum tracks on my songs “Hey Mr. Sunshine,” “Top of the Mountain,” Time for a Change” and more were all recorded this way. I was lucky enough to know a good drummer (my brother Jim) who owns an e-kit. The beauty of this method is that you, as the producer, have the midi. You can assign any virtual kit you want to it, move hits to fix a timing fluke, or modify it to experiment with variations.

Also, I didn’t dare quantize these naturally-played midi drum tracks. That’d defeat the purpose of using a real drummer. I moved a couple little hits where they sounded off the click to me, and I used the Sunset producer kit in Logic, which separates each drum or cymbal on its own track for mixing.

Guitar and Bass

I keep guitars real for the most part. For bass, I’ve used both real players and programmed. Real bass players are my preference, but sometimes the budget is tight. For example, in my simple ukulele track “Alive and Free,” the uke is real, but I programmed the bass from a keyboard. In an opposite example, on my song “Always OK,” the guitar is programmed (Native Instruments’ Strummed Acoustic) and the bass is a real player. “Always OK” is a reggae-pop song, so I used a real bass player to stay true to the reggae genre, which puts importance on the bass line. The result is that these tracks blend real and programmed, and didn’t break the bank.

At the end of the day, who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Of course you can -- you’re an artist. You can do whatever you want, and craft your own masterpieces with your own unique mix of real and programmed music.

Bio: Singer-songwriter Angela Predhomme’s music has been heard by millions through television, film, radio and streaming. Her soulful songs have been featured in the popular Hallmark movie “Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane,” Lifetime’s hit show “Dance Moms,” commercials for ING Bank and Fiat, and more.

Apple Music:

Entertainment News

My Musical Journey – Zarbo

People call me Zarbo. I call myself an artist/producer currently focused on creating catchy electronic dance music and exploring new genres that didn’t exist at the beginning of my musical career in the ‘70’s.  I am the original founding member, fr...

Alex Zarbo - avatar Alex Zarbo

News Company asked some Music Industry “Insiders” their thoughts on the current state and future of “Real Music”

To get a feel for the current state of the music industry, NewsCo asked some insiders to share their thoughts. Here is what they had to say. Real Music, to me, means music created by real instruments where you can hear the bow go across the fiddle o...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Navigating the Gender Gap, Part 2 For Women: How to Work with Men in Music

After comparing notes with some of my female music friends, I’ve come up with some pointers for women about working with male colleagues. As I mentioned in my previous article, “How to Work with Women in Music,” these guidelines are based on per...

Angela Predhomme - avatar Angela Predhomme

The Making Of “ Birkenhead Drill”

The process of self producing a full length album in the middle of a pandemic has been an unending lesson in humility, but it’s also affirmed our love of music and more importantly the music we make together. The journey of Birkenhead Drill taught ...

The Jones Title - avatar The Jones Title

A Healing Power of Rap and Rock

What do Jay-Z, Rick Ruben, Neil Diamond, Snoop Dogg, Chago G. Williams, and Toto’s Steve Lukather have in common?  They can be combined into Six Degrees of Inclusion (not separation per-se).   They all have millions of fans and they have all hugely...

Rebecca DGD - avatar Rebecca DGD

Gold selling and Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist Ny'a, giving back to her community

Gold selling and Platinum Award Winning Recording Artist Ny'a, will be Live in concert on Sessions Livestream, Saturday April 24th at 7:00pm EST. Tickets are $5 dollars, with a donation going to Rahway Food For Friends. Ny'a believe in giving back ...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Metropolitan Business News

4 Creative suggestions for your first business card

Almost all businesses nowadays have a business card. Business cards are important to easily showcase your brand, yourself, and your business. However, not all business cards are made the same. Som...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo


Ask any of her thousands of global followers - especially the 11,000-plus who’ve learned to monetize their social media, and the 700-plus who’ve created six figure incomes – and they’ll be happy to ...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Why Creativity Is So Important In Digital Marketing

The Role of Creativity in Digital Marketing's Future  As marketers, one of the key tasks is to be creative and look for ways to generate demand and interest in our services and products. Creati...

NewsCo - avatar NewsCo

Essential Tips for Developing Corporate Websites

The corporate industry, just like the others, is experiencing a massive technological revolution. Organizations have changed their marketing criteria by embracing the internet. Therefore, do not be ...

News Co - avatar News Co

How to Make a Personal Injury Claim for Minors

As a parent, you want to make sure your child is always safe. But as much as you want to keep him under your watch, it is impossible to be there for him all the time. When he is out there attendin...

News Co - avatar News Co

Dress for Success - Style Essentials for Every Businessmen

Did you ever glance at a person in passing and instantly think, “Wow, they must be successful”? It seems like the rich and successful people always stand out from the crowd without even trying, ...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Writers Wanted

News Co Media

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion