So, I’m back into plugging away at a remix today. Didn’t have long to work, so I just pulled my computer out of my gig bag and setup in my studio as quickly as possible, taking no time to reconnect MIDI controllers, except for an Oxygen 8 that stays on my desk at all times.
Aside from plunking out a few notes on the Oxygen’s keyboard for a synth pad, I didn’t miss my controllers at all. The truth is, that even when I have everything set up, I use my mouse to record more than half of my automation. The reason? I know of no faster way.
There’s no question that the mouse can be a bit crude when compared to a really nice knob or fader, but unless I’m automating in such a way that I really need to get an excellent performance with a unique feel, I can have my automation recorded by using the mouse before I can even extend my arm to grab a physical control.
Beyond that, I end up editing most of the automation that I record anyway, so the initial automation recording is really just a time saving measure in itself – a fast way to get the idea plugged into the arrangement while it’s fresh in my mind. And really, that’s the whole point for me. I want to play Live as an instrument whether I’m on a gig or in my studio.
The only reason that I’m dedicating a day to this is because I’ve encountered a lot of folks who think they are doing something wrong if their not elbow deep in MIDI controllers all the time, or hold back on digging into automation because they are still getting their controller setup figured out. I attribute this to a certain amount of hype from the hardware manufacturers, and some unavoidable groupthink that happens when we struggle to figure out new technology.
I think the moral of the story here is to take everyone’s workflow recommendations with a grain of salt, including mine.