Trees. An exercise in going DAW-less…

I recorded and overdubbed this music without a DAW, without tape, without editing. I tried to free myself from the controlling elements of so called “editing freedom” by playing a tailor-made layered Kontakt instrument (see below) in one take into Quicktime (or similar), dropping this recording into Audacity, playing back this take on same then overdubbing live with Pigments 3 back into Quicktime. Only then did I do some sound editing to remove an extra loud click on the fade and then passed it through the Landr engine to beef it up.

(This tune can be downloaded freely if you wish. Click the pic below then click — More)

This recording process requires Soundflower, a tiny software DL that allows the computer to record itself. This works on Mac and can be downloaded here

Windows users can get the same result from VB-Audio Cable here

You just have to do a minor set-up in the prefs of each software instrument beforehand and away you go.

For example, assuming you are on a Mac and have installed Soundflower (follow their instructions please as I don’t do FAQ on this) open Kontakt for example and go to Preferences/Audio and select Soundflower (2 ch)

Then DON’T PANIC. You have temporarily muted the instrument until you open Quicktime (or similar).

Open Quicktime and select Soundflower (2 ch) as the source and SLIDE THE INPUT VOLUME UP.

Now hit record and play Kontakt (or whatever you choose).

The resulting M4a can be played back in Audacity (or similar) once you have set up your next instrument ready for overdubbing. Don’t forget to set up Audacity’s prefs too or it will be heard but not recorded.

And finally, once you have done all this fiddly nonsense don’t forget to reset your instruments and recording software to Built-in or Core Audio afterwards or you will think everything is broken next time you come to use it.


Doubtless some people will think “why bother doing this if it sounds so rough?” but this is is exactly what I want.

I have found myself disappearing into hours of re-takes, tweaking compression chains, micro-managing note positions etc when using Ableton (or Logic, or Bitwig) and losing sight of the initial musical inspiration.

Anyone else feel the same about DAWs? Anyone else long for some freedom?

Join this thread on VI Control


The beating, gibbering synth in the background is provided by Straylight, Noire Pure is used to provide piano warmth, Noire Felt to provide piano click and hammer noises. Lo-Fi Glow adds more hiss and tinny electric piano atmos.

The single overdub track was created with Pigments 3 using a preset I created from an upcoming pack called GHOST.


Trees now on SPOTIFY

Check out this experiment on going DAW-less in the luxury of your own phone!

And why not look at David Hilowitz for another way of going DAW-LESS