Last time, we talked about setting up your studio and “Pre-Production” – getting things dialed in so you can record your song. Today let’s dive into recording!
Today, I want you to think about laying down the first tracks on your song.I generally start with a click track or drum loop, because I do a lot of looping. Sometimes I’ll start with a basic groove and build a drum part. If you’re in a position to record a live drummer, hold off on that until we get a little further along. Sometimes I’ll start with just a simple guitar or piano accompaniment that defines the song structure. Main thing is to flesh out the meat of the song and get the arrangement dialed in.
The “Bed Track”
Let’s say I’m going to record, oh I don’t know, let’s say, “Fields of Gold” by Sting. We’ve already set the levels (you did that yesterday, right?) and we know the guitar or piano will sound OK as a basic “bed track” or road map. With or without a click track or drum loop, what I like to do is just hit the record button, take a deep breath, and then play the whole tune, from start to finish, using the most simple, unobtrusive, so-simple-you-can’t-stand-it, backing track. Just map out the chords from start to finish. This is your “bed track”.
The reason to keep it simple right now is so you can add things later and not have your initial take get in the way of sounds you want to lay down later. Resist the urge to be awesome or show off. Just play the chords simply and cleanly.
The Vocal or Lead Instrument
Next i’ll record the vocal or main melody instrument as a “scratch take.” A scratch take is sort of a place holder. You’ll probably want to redo it later but, for now, we need to have that information on the recording so that we know where we are in the song and can add other instruments in the right spots and so they fit in with the vocal.
Bass, Keys & Drums
With your bed track in place, and a scratch vocal laid down, now you can start to add the rest of the instrument to really make the song come alive. I’ll talk later about specific techniques and tricks to record those puppies. Personallhy I like to add the bass part next. again, the bassisit (and everybody) needs to keep it simple and not over play their parts. Unless, of course, you have a bitchin, slappin bass funk-dude who blows everybody away. that’s a little different in that he could be considered a “soloist” for some parts off the song. But that’s another story.
With the bed track in place, the scratch vocal laid down, and the bass, keys & (maybe) drums too, things are starting to sound pretty damn good! Tomorrow we’ll get into tweaking and fiddling with what you’ve recorded so far and get into Editing.
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