Organization is the key word when to comes to recording your
home demos. The object of the game is to get everything accomplished
smoothly and efficiently. These following recommendations
will work whether you're a 'one man band,' completing all
of the programming and performance yourself, or if you're
a songwriter hiring outside vocalists and musicians.
First and foremost, make sure all your vocal and instrumental
material is well rehearsed and that the performance is polished.
This creates the foundation to get the best performances in
your first three recording takes. After those initial takes,
the energy level starts to go downhill and eventually you
will lose the original feel of your performance.
Obviously, if you are depending on others to perform for
you, make sure they have their parts well rehearsed. In fact,
you should sit down with each musician individually and go
over all of the parts in detail. This is your 'baby', and
the final result should be exactly what you envision the song
to sound like.
Any solos should be planned out as well. Try to incorporate
melodic hooks in solos that will stick in the listener's head.
Also, have all your lyric sheets neatly laid out and a separate
page for the chord charts.
One very important item: make sure the key of the song fits
the vocal range of the singer. As a single programmer and
performer, you can adjust the pitch of your sequencer and
transpose the keyboard accordingly. On the other hand, when
you're depending on outside musicians, the new material must
be ready and rehearsed before they hit the studio.
Pre-plan all your vocal and instrumental melodies and arrangements
before you record these overdubs. Know what layers you will
record first so you can build your sub mixes. Definitely take
advantage of composite recording techniques and create your
master comp tracks.
Lets talk about the practice of digital sampling, or copying
sounds from one recording to another through use of digital
technology. This has been going on for well over a decade,
and is becoming more and more widespread among mainstream
Sampling itself can take many forms; sometimes a few bars
of an original recording are sampled, other times the whole
bass or drum line from the original recording is sampled.
The technology allows the separation of sounds in some cases,
meaning the sample itself may be almost impossible to isolate
in the finished 'hybrid' recording. Sometimes, the original
sound recording is not sampled at all, but instead an extract
from the original composition is re-recorded and then the
recording is used for sampling purposes.
A 'loop' is a section of musical material that is recorded
and then cycled repeatedly and selectively on some form of
sampling tool. That 'loop' can then be stretched, reversed,
or otherwise edited to create new and unusual sounds. When
combined with other instruments, a loop provides an innovative
backbone for songwriting and studio production. Samplers are
available through companies such as Roland, Ensoniq, Akai,
It's a widely known fact that the music industry at the brink
of the millennium has a serious fascination with drum samples
and loops. We are hearing them in all genres of music, from
Hip Hop to Rock. Drum machines are not hitting the mark, and
neither are most drummers, even the technical ones. What drum
machines and many technical drummers lack is FEEL. Your rhythm
section is the backbone of your music. If that backbone is
weak, you have no chance of competing with the thousands of
artists who have the groove.
By the way, always make a back up copy of all your data and
tapes. In fact I usually run two back ups, that way you're
totally covered in the event of any defective tapes or disks.
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