Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved reader experience across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.


Recording Your Own Record Like the Pros: Basic Tracks

Charlie B. Dahan By

Sign in to view read count
The next stage after you have prepared your band and music for the studio and worked on a game-plan with your producer in the pre-production phase is to get into the studio and start recording your masterpiece.

The first thing you’ll do when you get there is start on the basic tracks. If it is a band situation, that means miking up the instruments to get the best sound onto tape (or hard disk for that matter) that truly represents the band’s and the ‘genre’s’ sound. For example, you won’t want to ‘slick up’ or over –EQ the instruments if this is a punk recording and you’ll want to get the cleanest sound possible if this is a pop recording. If it is a recording with a lot of MIDI and drum machines, then this will be the time you start to decide on particular sounds, beats and basically build the song from the ground up.

What is essential no matter the genre, no matter the recording style of the initial tracks is to capture a groove. Again, this is not genre specific, but if a song doesn’t groove, have a natural rhythmic feel then you are likely to lose you listener even before they have a chance to get to you lyrics, hook or solo.

Also, a lesson hard-learned but one to pass on nonetheless in this phase is that, especially with recording mediums like Pro- tools with unlimited tracks, it is always best to over-mike the recording of the basics. Put mikes on each drum on the drum set, two over heads to capture the cymbals and one on the hi-hat, then maybe a few around the room for different room sounds and effects. You can always subtract from a particular take, but it is hard to add. You may think you want an old-timey sound and that if they did it with two mikes, you can too. In most cases you will be sorely disappointed in the outcome: two- mike recording is an art, as is multi-track recording. And while you may have recorded a great rhythm track, when you listen it might sound thin, hollow, out of proportion, or any other bad adjective you can think of.

But the key piece of advice I have about this stage of your recording is that you, the producer, or leader of the band, need to create as much of a comfortable environment as possible. You do not want your artist or your group to feel under pressure or under the microscope where they are inadvertently holding back on their playing. You want to encourage some risk taking, to encourage a full-steam ahead performance. When artists are on edge, uncomfortable, tired, nervous or feel undue pressure, they will never give you what you are looking for. Some may rise above their fear or trepidation, most do not. This is where your work in pre-production will start to pay-off, because you will understand each individual's psychological make-up even in the most rudimentary sense, and know when they need a pat on the back, a break, a cup of coffee or a kick in the pants. You’ll know that they perform best in the late afternoon, or after a good meal, or with the lights turned down low. There is nothing more exciting than hearing an artist reach their potential and even move ahead of it and to have captured that on tape, or in most cases now, on a hard drive.

Remember what you are doing here is laying the very important foundation to a recording that you want both yourself and others to listen to, think you are really talented, and want to listen to that recording for the next 50 years and beyond!

Next – The Overdubbing Stage or How to Convince Your Guitarist That 40 Takes of Their Solo is More Than Enough.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Matthew Shell: Making Art with Substance In The Biz Matthew Shell: Making Art with Substance
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: April 2, 2017
Read Roberta Piket: Focusing on the Music In The Biz Roberta Piket: Focusing on the Music
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: January 6, 2017
Read Artist Roundtable: Where's the Money? In The Biz Artist Roundtable: Where's the Money?
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: December 7, 2016
Read David Longoria: Embracing Innovation In The Biz David Longoria: Embracing Innovation
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: November 9, 2016
Read Cheryl Hodge: Chasing the Muse In The Biz Cheryl Hodge: Chasing the Muse
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: October 15, 2016
Read Carol Albert: Going for the Finish Line In The Biz Carol Albert: Going for the Finish Line
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: September 11, 2016
Read "Matthew Shell: Making Art with Substance" In The Biz Matthew Shell: Making Art with Substance
by Kathy Sanborn
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "Keith Oxman Quartet at Nocturne" Live Reviews Keith Oxman Quartet at Nocturne
by Douglas Groothuis
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Mark F. Turner's Best Releases Of 2017" Best of / Year End Mark F. Turner's Best Releases Of 2017
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 3, 2018
Read "Meet John Reilly" Out and About: The Super Fans Meet John Reilly
by Tessa Souter and Andrea Wolper
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Todd Neufeld: Transcending the Limits of Sound" Interview Todd Neufeld: Transcending the Limits of Sound
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Take Five with Jose Negroni" Take Five With... Take Five with Jose Negroni
by Jose Negroni
Published: November 16, 2017