Different DAWs For Different Music

The digital audio workstation I use on a given day directly affects how I write.

On my desktop, I use three different DAWs: Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, and Native Instruments Maschine. I love all three, but I find myself choosing one over the other depending on what I’m writing/recording.

Piano is my main instrument. When I’m doing a piano solo or something that is piano-based and very expressive, I use Logic Pro. Its straightforward timeline and ease of use (Logic remote on the iPad, anyone?) make it my DAW of choice when I just want to lay down an improv track or play a piano piece from start to finish.

Ableton Live, to me, is more suited for pattern/loop-based writing. When I’m writing music that depends on separate sections repeating or being dropped in to different places of the track as needed, Live is what I use. I love creating different sections of the song (intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) and then being able to jam along in real time with them as I’m recording in real time over them. I use a Novation Launchpad to trigger the various sections. It’s so much fun to play along while calling up different parts of the song, and really breaks the tedium of long hours of studio work. The enjoyment inevitably shows in the finished track.

That brings us to Maschine, the hardware-based groove machine by Native Instruments. I’ve had the Mikro for a couple of years now and like it so much that I wish I would have bought the full version. I use Maschine much in the same way I use Ableton Live, but Maschine takes it a step further by giving me a hands-on-hardware tactile approach. There’s nothing like reaching up and tweaking a control knob. Assigning sounds and/or samples to the pads and playing or finger drumming them strikes me as learning a new musical instrument for a new century. I often fire up Maschine if I’m looking for inspiration for a track. Once I loaded an old piano piece of mine, sliced it up among the pads, and, along with a sample of my door chimes, ended up creating an uptempo synth rock version of Joy To The World (I’ve embedded the video below).

I’m interested in hearing what DAWs you use and how you use them. Do they affect the way you write? Do you prefer one over the other, or does it depend on the application?

Till next time…