How to conduct a recording session
December 16th, 2014
As a music producer conduction recording sessions are part of what we do. Whether it is recording vocals or musicians. In this article I share with you some tips on how to conduct a recording session.
To start make the following checks before you start recording anything:
- Check to see if your daw is receiving audio
- Check your levels. Not too loud not too soft
- Ensure you save your session before you record
- Check to see that the beat is in the session
- Check headphone mix for vocalist.
Now that you know what to check before you start your session lets begin from scratch.
- Open your daw and create a new session.
- Save your session in a folder with the name of the artist and song title
Add the Beat that the singer will be using
- Set the tempo of session to the tempo of the beat you’re using
- Add At least 5 – 6 mono audio tracks for the recording of your vocals
- For each audio track select the input where your mic is coming from
- Arm the first track
- Run a test recording
You have just completed your pre preparation for your recording session. Now we’ll move onto some common things you’ll face when conducting recording sessions and producing songs.
When recording vocals all you will need is one(1) microphone. The type of mic you will use will depend on what you have access to. You will more than likely have one(1) condenser mic. There are a few things to consider when working with vocalist:
- Breathing technique: Ensure the vocalist is breathing properly so that they can sing better and more comfortably.
- Posture: How they stand to sing will affect how the recording sound. You don’t want to vocalist sound lazy which makes the performance boring. Ensure the singer stands up straight and upright. Head up looking straight ahead.
- Proper mic technique: To get a natural sounding vocals, ensure the singer stands at least 6 – 8 inches away from the microphone. Thats about two(2) closed fist or an open hand. You can set the pop filter about four(4) inches away from the mic and let the singer stand four(4) inches away from the pop filter.
- Listen for Clarity: You want to ensure that you hear every word the vocalist sings. As well as all words are pronounced properly.
These are the basic things you will need to know to record vocals. Another thing is to ensure you get the best performance possible. It usually takes a little time for a vocalist to get warmed up to record so let them run through the main parts a few time before you hit the record button.
What do you record first? That depends. Normally i would record the chorus first. Complete it with harmony parts(I’ll tell you about that later)and copy those throughout the song and record the verses afterwards.
I mentioned harmony in the last paragraph and you maybe wondering what that is? A harmony is a note that the vocalist sings to compliment the song. It can be a higher or a lower note than the main key of the song. To better understand harmonies you need to know the musical scales. All songs made match a particular key from a particular musical scale. Once you know the scale and key the song is in, it will be easy for you to find harmony parts for your song.
Where do you add harmonies? Harmony parts are normally add to the section of the song that needs more emphasis. You can do this throughout the song. Don’t over do it because it can lose its effect.
When recording harmony parts record each at least two times for that stereo effect and to fatten up the part. Fatten meaning that section will sound thick when you add more than one harmony part on top the main section.
So once you’re ready to start have the vocalist sing the song all the way through so you have a reference when you’re recording section by section. So to break it down:
- Record a reference
- Record chorus
- Record chorus harmonies
- Record verses
- Record verse harmonies
- Record intro
- Record outro.
Thats it for recording vocals. How long you spend recording each section depends on how well the vocalist knows the song.
Working with musicians are easier because all you’re doing is recording their part. But they are a few things to keep in mind when working with musicians:
- Ensure that they are playing in the right key
- Ensure that they are playing on beat.
- Ensure they are playing the part how you want it to sound.
To wrap once you have all your equipment connected properly recording will be pretty straight forward. You as the producer needs to ensure that you get the best out of whoever you’re recording and get the performance you want for the project you’re working on.
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