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Posts Tagged ‘recording tips’

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Songwriter’s Challenge: Write a Standard Form Song

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Beginners Guide To Song Form Part 2

After receiving such great feedback from you guys, we’ve decided to continue the songwriting form series. Last time we touched on the AABA format using Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” as an example, and today I want to focus on the most popular song structure-ABABCB.

Understanding Song Structure Basics: ABABCB Song Form

The ABABCB Song Form:

The most common song form is the ABABCB form, which is a verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus song. The “A” section is the verse, where the story is told. The “B” section is the chorus, which is the hook and the highlight of the song. A standard verse chorus can often become tiresome, so adding a “C” section, also known as the bridge, adds variation. The bridge is a musical departure from the expected-often summing up the song-thus supplying new momentum to the final chorus. Some popular examples for ABABCB songs are “What’s Love Got To Do With it” by Tina Turner, “Girl” by The Beatles, and “Hot N Cold” by Katy Perry. (more…)

Recording Tips: Keep it Simple

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

When I record a song, I have a tendency to layer many instruments on top of one another. Like, millions of instruments. OK, so maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I do tend to get carried away. Sometimes I’ll program a drum part that I think sounds pretty cool, but to beef it up I’ll double it on another kit. And then another. And maybe even a fourth.

Then I’ll play a guitar part. And maybe I’ll add a lead guitar line. I might even want to add a third guitar to harmonize. And of course, guitars always sound better doubled, right? So I’ll double the parts, lay down a bass, and think “hey, this song would sound great with a keyboard!” So off I go, recording a Rhodes and then laying down an organ bed to fill out the holes.

Finally it’ll be ready for my vocals. Maybe I’ll double the lead vocal because my voice isn’t super powerful. Then I’ll add a harmony part or two, and some four-part background “oohs” to take it all up one more notch.

Before I know it, I have 21 tracks of audio adding up to one huge wall of sound.

It sort of sounds cool sometimes, but mostly it just sounds a little confusing. With all these sounds, which is the one I’m supposed to be listening to at any given time? With the whole frequency spectrum being filled up by instruments, how can any guitar tone, kick drum, or vocal melody stand out amongst the blurry mess of sound that is my mix? (more…)

Recording Tips: How to Record Vocals

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Unless you play instrumental music, the vocal track is the most important part of your demo. It’s the part of the music that most fans and listeners connect with the most, and that makes your vocal tracks the heart and soul of your recording. But recording vocals can be a tricky thing. How do you capture the spirit of a great vocal take without losing any of the raw energy of the performance? Here are a few recording tips for vocalists.

Finding a Place to Record

Where will your vocal recording take place? The opportunities are endless, really… Besides professional recording studios, vocals can be easily recorded at home with the proper setup. If you don’t have a home recording setup (or know someone who does), you might want to take a look at our guide to finding the right vocal recording studio to help you find the right location. If you do decide to head to a recording studio, you can skip the next section on recording software and hardware.

Recording Software & Hardware

When you take recording matters into your own hands, it is imperative that you choose the right recording gear for the job. The sheer number of options available may seem intimidating at first, but here are a few tips.

You’ll need a digital audio workstation (DAW) to start. Some of the most common DAWs include Protools, Cubase and Logic. If you don’t want to invest in expensive software, many companies offer scaled down, cheaper versions of their titles. There are also free options available as well, though if you’re planning on getting serious about recording you’ll probably want to spend a few dollars on decent recording software.

You’re also going to need an audio interface of some sort. This is the hardware that you will be plugging your microphone into (which then plugs into your computer, usually via USB or Firewire). Again, there are tons of options out there for interfaces, but there are plenty of basic affordable products such as the Mbox. Just be aware that the more expensive interfaces often boast better sound quality when recording. Music recording gear tends to be pretty straightforward with pricing; more expensive will get you better recordings and more options, while less expensive tends to deliver lower quality and fewer choices.

Choosing the Right Microphone

More than anything else, the microphone is probably the most crucial piece of recording gear you can buy when it comes to recording vocals. The best DAW in the world won’t make a difference if you’re singing into a $15 Radio Shack microphone. There are several different types of microphones, the most common being dynamic and condenser. Dynamic mics like the Shure SM-57 are typically more affordable, but tend to be better suited for live performance than for recording. Condenser mics can be pricier, but they’ll give you a much crisper, more nuanced vocal track. That’s why most engineers prefer to use higher end microphones for recording.
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Studio Pros Starter Kit

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

There can be a lot to think about when you start your first Studio Pros production.  Here are some links that you should browse through before you begin to ensure you get the most out of your experience—and to be sure you make an awesome song with us!

Before You Record:

Preparing the Perfect Pre-Production Files
Using Reference Tracks to Get The Sound You Want
Choosing the Right Instrumentation

After You Start the Recording Process:

How to Get The Most Out of Our Session Musicians
Understanding the Song Sketch

If You Record Your Own Tracks:

Finding the Right Vocal Recording Studio
Preparing Your Files for Mixing & Mastering

Happy recording with Studio Pros!

5 things you MUST know before you enter a local recording studio with your own band

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

1. Decide whether you want to record live (with the whole band playing together) or record one instrument track at a time. Even though recording live seems more fun, it’s actually much harder and requires renting a bigger, more expensive studio.

2. If you plan to record live, you should first try recording one of your rehearsals with an mp3 recorder. Even though the audio won’t be high quality, you’ll get a good idea of how “together” your band sounds and whether or not you’re ready to hit the studio.

3. If you decide to record one instrument at a time, you must prepare a sketch of your song before you enter the studio. This allows you to find the right tempo, work out the song structure, and think about hooks, breaks and other details that would otherwise take up a lot of your studio time. The sketch doesn’t have to be high audio quality. It will simply serve as a guide, so you can just record it at home before you get in the studio.

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Guitar Solos: How to Record a Great One

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Sometimes an awesome guitar solo can add a new level of energy and fun to a song. In some cases, particularly in songs from guitar-focused bands like The Black Crowes and Van Halen, the guitar solo can be the defining moment of a song. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a bad solo can really bring a song down with it. Imagine that just when you are really getting into a song, suddenly a lame solo completely takes you out of it–and once you’re gone, the song may never recover.

It’s important, then, to be sure you’re laying down a sweet solo whenever you record your song–a solo that will enhance it and not hinder it. Here are some tips for recording the ultimate guitar solo!

To improvise or not to improvise?

Even before you go to record your guitar solo, you have some decisions to make. Do you want to sit down and write a solo beforehand or are you planning on improvising one on the spot? Unless you’re a seasoned improviser and you’re playing music that typically involves heavy ad-libbing (like jam band music or jazz), I would recommend at least outlining a sketch of your solo beforehand. You don’t have to plan it lick-for-lick, but it’s a good idea to come up with some basic guidelines: how long you’ll play in one position before shifting up an octave, what bar you want to play a cool arpeggio over, where you’re going to fit in that really catchy lick you came up with, etc.

When I was recording the solo to a song that had a particularly complicated chord progression, I knew I needed to work out what I would play ahead of time, because I probably wouldn’t improvise anything memorable on the spot. I was really glad that I did–the solo that I ended up writing was much more thoughtful and interesting than what I would have made up, and it became a signature musical moment for my band.

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Hit Songs Need Clean Music Production to Be Heard

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

So many talented songwriters and composers love melodies and harmonies so much that they layer as many into their song as they possibly can. They want the best music productions for their songs, but think that adding more and more instruments and parts will make their production sound great.

Unfortunately, it won’t!

Less is more

Have you ever noticed that some of the biggest hits of all time only have three or four instruments on them? Lots of classic Beatles songs just have a couple simple guitar parts, bass, drums and vocals. Nirvana and Green Day have had monumental hit songs, and neither group is more than a power trio. Even “Billie Jean,” one of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, is a simple production with few instruments.

If you have too many parts, melodies and counter-melodies, it can prevent your song from being catchy and memorable. If you try singing two melodies that are played together in a song, it’s pretty much impossible… And if you can’t do it, neither can your potential fans.

Don’t let too many parts get in the way of your song’s catchy melody

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