For many years I found it difficult to define exactly the role of the producer in music making. I thought perhaps they were like an arranger, deciding which instruments do what and when. I realised that this was part of their role however they are more concerned with the overall concept for a song. For example a producer may think that a particular song could use a horn section in a motown style. An arranger’s role would be to actually arrange the horns for the song. It was just the producer’s idea to head in that direction.
When working on students songs we tend to use our sonic direction tracks that we choose for the direction we want to go in in terms of the overall sound and style of the song that we are working on and take guidance from its production for our own production. Being from a number of tracks and using our own personal input and ideas this can still end up being a highly original piece of work. I believe this approach to be the common path of action amongst many contemporary producers. We are all learning from each other and this is how current styles gradually change.