What You Need to Record in a Studio
Posted 05 March 2007 - 02:16 PM
What you need is a plan
Simply stated, what you need in order to record music in a studio is to ask yourself 'why do I want do this'? Secondly, have an understanding of the process.
There are plenty of good articles 'out there' that tell you some ins and outs of 'how'. Let's stick with the 'why' and some of the background stuff so you know what you're getting yourself, and possibly your mates, into. After these questions are answered you can get more into the 'how'.
What are your goals?
Why do you want to record you or your band? What are the goals for doing this? Answers to these questions will help you decide how to proceed. For example, if you are a solo guitarist and your goal is to just have some CDs of a couple of songs to pass out to friends, why not ask around at the local guitar shop or ask friends of someone who has a decent recording set-up that would be willing to make a few extra bucks?
Ok, let me back up one step. If you want to record, this means reproduce and duplicate, then be totally aware of copyright law. If you record a song that someone else wrote with the intention of distribution, then you are breaking the law. There are plenty of other articles 'out there' that talk about how to become legal. If you don't find those articles, look for them in my lesson forum, or start a thread in the lesson discussion area to find out more. I'll be glad to write an article outlining obtaining copyright registrations. If nothing else, simply do a Google search on 'copyright law' and 'how to secure recording rights'. The answer on how to secure recording rights, in a nutshell, is this: pay for the mechanical reproductions you are making by contacting the owner of the rights of those songs. The cost is usually very reasonable. See harryfox.com for more information.
If your songs are original compositions, protect yourself by getting the songs copyrighted before you record. It takes sometimes up to 9 months to receive a copyright registration, but proof of your submittal is good enough for government recognition of your work.
Ok, back to the topic at hand. Why do you want to record? Are you a solo artist that is recording a project for demo purposes? Then maybe you don't need to spend huge bucks on a top-of-the-line studio, maybe you need to find a smaller studio or a recording geek to help you out. Are you part of a full band that wants to record for the purposes of getting a demo for distribution to bars? Then seek good quality, but don't break the bank. Make a list of the studios in your area. Call or surf and find out recording rates.
Have a plan before getting into the studio.
Do you want really great quality? Then be prepared to spend some money. But fear not, you will save a ton if you have session times planned far in advance. Just a little background: I have recorded two solo CDs and have been the producer on 4 other projects as of 2006.
Before even getting into the studio, contact and prepare the musicians. This means send them charts, mp3s, CDs tapes, whatever. Get them prepared for the parts they'll be playing. Even if you want them to come up with some ideas, prepare them with whatever you have. Even if it's only a description of the song.
Plan the sessions with the studio manager. After setting up the blocks of time, tell him or her what you'll be doing that day. "Today we're bringing in the drummer and he's (she's) gonna play these particular songs". The session on that day will be all about certain players and certain parts of certain songs. Build the house from the foundation upward.
If you're planning on recording your band all at once, no problem. Most places can do that. Just be prepared that there's a goodly amount of set-up time.
Speaking of set-up time, this is all studio time as well. Be prepared because you will have plenty. Especially when it comes to drums.
Even if you're a solo performer, make session plans. No matter whether your solo or in a band situation, you will need to be flexible and re-structure your plans. Things happen or things take longer than you expected. Learn when a part is good enough and move on. If you've got the time to wait for the 'perfect' take, then wait. Just remember that time is money.
Build the house. Start with the foundation and build upward. Begin by recording the drums, then get the bass track down. Then the rhythm parts, then any highlight or lead parts. Finally, get the vocals tracked (you may want to record a 'scratch' vocal track during the drum session for reference). There's no hard and fast rules about producing this way, but this is what works well. If you don't have tight tracks from the drums and a tight bass guitar track to them, nothing else will groove. These ARE the grooves! You might decide to record the band all at once, and this is ok. This also works well. Do what you think would be best for you. If you're playing and recording as one unit and you think it will take multiple takes to get it right, think about recording each instrument separately. You'll have more control over the mix and less frustrations overall.
Next check out the article here on What You Need to Get Your CD Project Duplicated.
Solid Walnut Music/ASCAP
Becoming a great guitarist has less to do with fancy moves than it does becoming a master of the basics and learning musicianship.
It's not what you can't do. It's how you play what you already know.
"Rhythm guitar is a trip that alot of people miss" -- Tom Petty
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