• Gus Harrower

using your daw as a writing tool

Often when I write, I will have a blank session open in Logic as there’s many tools in the DAW to help when composing. Some people like to write on pen and paper, or write lyrics down on Word or Pages but for me, being able to quickly sketch out a rough arrangement of the song can make the world of difference. This post is going to touch on a few things that I do when I write which can make the writing process quicker and less frustrating if like me, you can easily get stuck in a rut.


Most DAWs have the ability to add markers to the timeline and these are essential when working out an arrangement for your song. Logic also has an ‘Arrangement’ tab which is similar to markers but is more specific to inputting info such as verse, bridge, chorus etc. and if you were to add a drummer track, the drummer will automatically work out parts based on the section of the song. This is great if you want to start working out drum parts. When writing, I use markers to point out where I want any instrumentation to come in, for example in a pre - chorus I might add “bring in bass/drums”. This solidifies the song in your head but also makes it easier to record if you were to go into a studio. Knowing the arrangement of a song in pre-production can save so much time. I’ll also use markers to put in an alternative lyrics where there is an option for one.


One of the simplest things to do when writing is to have easy access to any instruments. I recently invested in a Focusrite Clarett 4pre which has way more inputs my my last Focusrite 2i2. This means I can have my keyboard constantly plugged in and set up and same with my guitars and any vocal microphones. This has saved a lot of time trying to find extra cables, plugging and unplugging stuff and it’s thankful easier and quicker to lay down ideas and get a rough acoustic demo recorded.

Track Alternatives

Logic has a great tool called ‘Track Alternatives’. Track alternatives are like ‘playlists’ for individual tracks that can be used to try out different ideas or archive tracks at different stages of development. Each alternative can contain different regions or arrangements, while sharing the same channel strip and plug-ins. It’s a very powerful feature that allows you to try out different arrangement ideas without having to save and load different versions of a project. Sound on Sound did an in-depth look into this feature when it was released and this is a great sum-up of how useful it can be. “Track Alternatives give you the freedom to try out different arrangement ideas, so let’s leave A as your original idea. Then, in B, delete the intro section, and in variation C record a different intro section. Your melody part should now have three different arrangement ideas as Track Alternatives; to audition them hit play and compare the different arrangement ideas by switching between A, B or C in the drop-down menu.”

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wrapping up

For me, this blog has been useful to talk about how I think about my music and how others music influences me. From a production standpoint, my knowledge on hardware, plugins, DAW’s etc is pretty limi