Last time, we talked about recording and we laid down our bed tracks, recorded the vocal and other instruments. Today we’re going to talk briefly about editing, the crucial step that comes after recording, but before mixing.
If you’re like me, you’ll quickly discover that no matter how much time you spend recording, there always seems to be something that isn’t quite right. “Guitar solo, take 11…” Some little tweak here, or a missed note or beat there that could use a little polish.
That’s where editing comes in. With digital audio and a decent DAW, it’s possible to fix a lot of minor mistakes or unwanted sounds.
Get It Right at the Source
Just so we’re clear, editing does not mean we’re trying to “Fix it in the Mix” ~ that’s generally a bad idea. We’re talking about minor corrections here & there, not trying to make a crappy take into a good one. If there’s any doubt about a particular take, do it over and “get it right at the source.”
If the guitar is out of tune or the singer (or anybody else) screwed up a part, just bite the bullet and record it again.
Remove Unwanted Noises
Solo each track, one at a time, and listen carefully all the way through. You’ll be able to hear things that are hard to detect with all the tracks playing at once. Find that little pop or click at the beginning or ending; listen for too much fret noise in the guitar, a squeaky drum throne, and anything else that doesn’t belong and get rid of it. Maybe someone coughed or started to talk at the end. Unless you want it in the final mix, fix it now.
Pocket the Groove
The next editing step is called “pocketing the groove.” This is primarily for the bass and drums but other rhythm instruments can benefit from a little tweaking too. Notice any spots where the drum or bass is a little off the beat and gently nudge it into place in the the audio editor of your DAW..This needs to be subtle and not overdone. We don’t want perfection here, as that can sound unnatural. But we do want the groove to feel right.
Beats and Drum Programs
If you’re using beat making software or a pre-programmed drum pattern, then do just the opposite. Grooves that are too perfect don’t sound natural and can benefit from a little bit of randomness. Even techno, house and dub tunes sound better when the pattern is not strictly constant. There are midi groove templates that are designed to “humanize” a mechanical pattern. What they do is move beats around just a little.
Tomorrow we’ll get into mixing, which is where we’ll take everything we’ve recorded and turn it into something awesome. Stay tuned!
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