So you’ve written a great tune, you’ve put the final touches on the lyrics, and you’re pretty sure you’ve got that vocal thing nailed. You’re ready to record, but just how prepared are you? Studio time isn’t cheap. Preparedness will not only make your life easier, it could also wind up saving you a few bucks. Here are five things to address before you enter the recording studio.
Throw a quick demo together
You don’t need much. A guitar or keyboard, a microphone, and a way to record it quickly. It doesn’t have to be high-tech. As a matter of fact, the more low-tech the better, for a bare-bones demo is like a blank canvas with only a hint of an outline. It’s up to you to add color and texture to the piece. Listen to the song in your car. Listen to it alone with the lights turned off. let the song dictate to you where it should go. The most incredible bursts of inspiration can happen in those moments when you least expect them. Make a list of the ideas that come to you.
Have an arrangement plan
They say the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson was able to envision an entire complex arrangement for a song, and was therefore able to book a complete roster of musicians for the gig. That kind of gift is rare. Besides, there is great freedom in having an entire orchestra at your fingertips, thanks to modern technology. And there is great pleasure to be had in coming up with fresh ideas on the spot and trying them out. Nevertheless, recording studio time is most certainly money. Having an idea of what you want before you go in can save you a ton of both. An arrangement plan is a bit like an ingredients list for a recipe. Try sketching out a grid of your song with columns for song sections and rows for instruments used throughout the song, and X’s marking where those instruments will appear.
Practice your parts, and use a click track
It happens to the best of us. Take 67 and you still can’t get the lick down. It’s OK. If you practice your parts over and over again beforehand, and play along with a click track or a metronome, you’ll greatly reduce the possibility of having everyone stare at you while you try to nail that ascending pentatonic scale just one more time.
Know what kind of sound you’re going for
This isn’t exactly the same thing as an arrangement plan, but it’s similar. You have an X factor that you’re driving toward. Only the magic of the studio can transport your song across this dimension and take it from good to great. This is where a good engineer comes in. More than just a guy twisting knobs and pushing buttons, a recording engineer knows how to work with the producer to translate artistic ideas into reality. It helps immensely to bring along actual recorded examples of bands or songs you want to sound like as a reference for your producer and engineer.
Take care of little things
Restring that bass. Tighten those skins. Have some backup sticks and strings and whatever else you may need. For all its control of the environment, the recording studio can have all the unpredictability of a live show. Here’s where it helps to be a boy scout, i.e. be prepared.
To discover how you can bring out your sound in a professional studio environment, feel free to contact Clear Lake Recording Studios.
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