Organizing recordings into sets

For a long time, the only set of recordings I considered was the final one, the polished and produced one. I've been thinking of other sets to organize recordings, and I've come up with a few more that could exist for a single album.

  1. Drafts
  2. Structures
  3. Stems
  4. Album
  5. B-Sides


This one is really interesting to me. It includes the initial recordings of all tracks associated with the album, the genesis of each track and the album as a whole. It also includes recordings of new sections, alternate endings, run-throughs of the structure, tutorials of how to play. Random noises, talking, mistakes are expected here.

These recordings are not polished or produced. Usually they are raw recordings, which can bring intimacy. They the documentation of how a track started and developed. Practically, they are there to help me remember what all the ideas are and how to play them.

These recordings are part of the generative part of the album. They represent the multitude of ideas before those ideas are considered as a whole, and some are chosen and some are not. This is what the album looks like as a sprawling forest of ideas, before editing comes in.

I like the idea of keeping all of these together in one set, rather than only grouping by track, as I have done in the past. All of these are the same type of track, coming out of the same main ideas that unify whatever album they are a part of. This set includes all tracks, even those that do not make it to the final album.


These could maybe fit in the drafts set as well, but I think it makes sense to break them out. This is a run-through of the plan for the track, with talking.

The quality is the same as that of drafts. It doesn't have to be polished. It can have things in the background. It's purpose is to lay down the plan, and from this I will have a better idea of which stem recordings need to done, and how I will arrange and layer them.

This may also include tutorials or other information about how to play certain sections. This could also include a corresponding visual representation of the structure for the track.


These represent the recordings that make up the final album recordings. Usually there are multiple recordings that are combined to make a single recording on the album. Even if there is only one, there is still an interesting difference between the produced version on the album and the raw recording that I consider a stem.

Stems represent the time in the album where generation is done, or at least mostly done. Many ideas have been documented, and now it is time to consider which to use and combine.

This can be thought of as the album recording session. It's more about getting a good recording of an idea that I already have a rough recording of. Thus they need to be recorded in more of a studio like atmosphere, without mistakes or distracting background noises.

These are raw recordings done with the intention of being used somehow in the final recording. These are the recordings that are cropped, spliced, processed, combined etc. to create the final recordings. 

Perhaps these do not have as much intimacy as the draft recordings, yet there are still interesting because they document what the final recordings are composed of. These stems could be combined in a different way to produce a different polished recording.

This set also contains all tracks, even those that do not end up on the final album. It includes the stems used to make the b-sides, and even stems that have not yet been used to make a polished recording.


The first one is the one I normally think of. These are polished and produced recordings. A good amount of work goes into developing tracks to their full potential, cleaning them up, and the order in which they arranged is considered. These are the final recordings. This is the expected and default set.


This is also a somewhat standard set. These recordings are of the same quality as the album tracks. These tracks were written as a part of the same project, and developed to the same extent, but they were not part of the final set. Perhaps they are not as good as the others, or perhaps they did not fit into the album as a whole.

Whereas the album as a whole has a sense of unity, or at least they have been arranged in some purposeful order, B-sides may or may not have that. There could only be one B-side track, or there could be many. They could be arranged carefully, or not, because they may just be the extra clippings from what did not make it into the album. 

Depending on the unity of this set, it could warrant it's own name, or it could just be [Album] b-sides. Perhaps there could be multiple b-side sets that belong with each other. 


Perhaps there are more sets of recordings that I have not yet thought of, but I am happy with these, and moving forward I plan to organize my recordings this way. 

I had considered revisited recordings perhaps as a set, meaning new interpretations of older tracks, but I think those new ideas could fit in the drafts set, and the new stems could fit in stems, and the new polished recordings could fit into b-sides.