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Recording 101 – the basics -

Welcome and Introduction o Indent Youth Rock Workshopss

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Brief overview of what will be covered o What makes a good demo o Preparing for a recording session o Recording efficiently o Recording software o The Recording Process itself

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The Rules o Turn off your phones, and other electronic devices please o Ask the questions and to get answers, but try and keep it till question time o The person next to you might be really interested even if you’re not, be considerate and keep chatter to a minimum, it’s only 45mins of your life


Recording 101 – the basics -

What makes a good demo o Definition  A demo is a recording that demonstrates an artist’s or composer’s talents, created specifically for the purpose of convincing a potential employer (record company, club owner, publisher, whatever) that they should hire the artist or composer. It should do this “selling” job quickly, succinctly, and economically. o Who is the target audience / What is the demo to be used for?  Don’t spend $10,000 for a demo that you’ll use to get pub gigs  But also don’t spend only $500 on a demo for the A&R guy at EMI who wants to hear your music some more o Do it yourself or get someone else?  If you think you can do it yourself, you probably can but shouldn’t you be concentrating on YOUR product – the music, the performance – would you try and film yourself in your own video clip or do your own live sound at the Entertainment Centre?  get the right people to do the right jobs for you and your product will be much better o The right equipment for the right sound  In general a $200 piece of gear is not going to be as good as a $2000 piece, which will not be as good as a $20,000 piece. If you can hire/borrow better gear for your demo, do it.  If you are going to buy - buy once, buy right  do some research and ask someone who knows for advice.  Buy pieces of gear not shares of pieces of gear, it never ends well if someone leaves and wants their share of the microphone. o “We want a ‘Live’ recording”  Really? You want a stranger to set your levels with a quick soundcheck, only have one take for each song and have the mix done during your performance with no reviews or opportunities to correct errors in performance?  If you want the feel of a live performance, you need to maintain your energy level through each take, every take you do should be your one take. The engineer will then have the material needed to make your playing intensity and energy shine through in the mix. Not a live sound but a live energy to work with.  If you want a live demo, ask a local venue if you can use their space to put on a show, hire a good live sound guy and put on a free show for the venue and it’s punters … and don’t forget to organise the sound guy to record a desk mix that you can use.


Recording 101 – the basics -

How to prepare for a recording session o Bullet points of preparation  Rest well before the recording, no gigs, no rehearsals, no late nights before the record session, have a day of rest  Always bring spares - strings, straps, picks and sticks and even snare skin. If you’ve never broken one yet, you will by the 7th bar of the first take, it’s just how it is  Do not forget your tuner, and tune regularly – even the drums need a retune after a few takes so be diligent  Your instruments are only as good as the condition they are in, have them serviced and re-strung; put new skins on the drums. If your amp is noisy, you’ll have a noisy recording of your amp  Understand that the quality of the instrument will reflect in the sound it creates – you will not get the Fender sound out of an Ashton guitar or amp, or a Bonham sound from a Maxtone drum kit  Be honest in what you are capable of and in what you expect of yourselves. If you sing a little bit pitchy, then you’ll be recorded singing a little bit pitchy. Play to your ability and not beyond it.  Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse – know the tracks so well that you play them consistently each time, your nerves will get the better of you the first time you’re in a studio environment  Get a producer involved – someone you trust and whose opinion you respect, don’t take it personally that others may not be as passionate about your music as you are – but don’t mistake that for a lack of caring about the outcome.  Do not let good get in the way of better – for one, no one wants your recording to suck and for another you might be too emotionally attached to let better triumph over good. Listen to advice from producers / engineers / managers / A&R people – your family and friends will always be proud of what you achieve but may not be as objective as a someone who does it for a living  If you think it can be fixed in the mix ... you are probably wrong. Get things right going to tape and they won’t need to be fixed. It’ll save you time and money in the end  Have reference music for your engineer


Recording 101 – the basics -

How to record efficiently o There will never be enough studio time, you will run out of time  Be rehearsed – an amateur will practice until they get it right, a professional will practice until they can no longer get it wrong  Accept good enough for now / for a demo  Meet your engineer before the session and make sure they are the same vibe as you are … then trust them, they want to make you sound awesome  Have a producer and trust them as well.  Have a time budget and a session plan and have your producer make you stick to it as best you can, just as you would a cash budget  Understand that different tracks will take different timeframes to capture not every track will take 3 hours to record  Focus on the important parts – no one will notice a stick click at bar 93 but everyone will notice a weak bridge or chorus  Studio time is not rehearsal time or playback time – if you don’t know what to play the track isn’t ready to record, if it is ready do 3-5 takes one after the other, then review what you have  Avoid decision making discussions – arrangements, sounds, tempos and tambourine use should all be sorted out before the session  Minimise the people in the studio to band members, studio staff and your producer – invite everyone else to your demo launch, the finished product will impress them much more than you going over verse 3 seventeen times to get it right  Recognise the limitations of your performance and energy - make every take count and when you know you’ve peaked ... move on. It will only get worse, your best today is the best for today


Recording 101 – the basics -

Audio Software and DAW’s used o Pro Tool  industry recognised professional high end recording software for audio  virtual instruments  entry level LE limitations  costly to guarantee quality and performance  AVID have loosened the hold on proprietary outboard gear o Logic  professional level software  audio capable but more useful for virtual instruments to export/import into Pro Tools  great for composition and arrangements with awesome notation features o Cubase  High end home/project studio software  Freeware VST plugins  Lack of integrity in programming freeware VST and patches, etc o Propellerhead Record  Great for use to capture audio if you are a Reason user. o there are any number of freeware audio programs, my advice on those is the same as I have for the right instrument for the job  if it’s free, its probably not going to be good enough


Recording 101 – the basics -

A look at the recording process o Recording Studio  Placement of musicians – listen to your engineer, he will know where to put you.  Microphone selection and placements – again listen to your engineer, he will know what will work and where to put it.  Soundcheck / Rehearsal – the engineer will need the loudest parts to set levels for your recording, think of this as the first song of your set and give it some when you are asked to, and then stop when you are asked to stop.  Listen to and talk to your engineer, they are there to make you look good. They have the answers, they have the expertise and they have the gear. And if you upset them they can make you suck!  Get someone to take notes of each take for review; this may also help your engineer in the editing process.  Understand the communications – if something isn’t clear ask for clarification. No one knows everything and some may forget that they are using techy speak o What is the role of an engineer  in short, to push record and capture everything  responsibility for all sound and technical related setup and issues  advice on recording processes and strategies if necessary  listen to the compositions and performances and setup appropriate space / equipment, etc  offer better technical solutions or options while maintaining musical relevance – not to much techy speak  be honest with the artists and producers in order to get the best from them o What is involved in mixing  A mix is the organisation of your completed performances into a balanced and pleasing product  The mix engineer is responsible for making this happen at the direction of the Producer and Artist o Basic terms you need to understand  Dynamics – Volume and Loudness, it is an expression of the difference between the loud and soft in the track and is known as “dynamic range”  Spacial Position – putting your musical performance in its own space in the track using panning, or effects like delays and reverbs  Equalisation – EQ is used to control and correct the tone of an instrument or voice, or the characteristics of a microphone, console or room. o Basic Principles of Mixing  Making something louder will make it “come forward” in the mix  Making something softer will make it “sit back” in the mix  Placing similar sounds in individual special positions will give clarity to the mix  Placing similar sounds in the same space will reduce their clarity  Changing the sound with EQ will make the sound either more or less prominent in the mix o The Sound Cube  Volume = forward or back  EQ = up or down  Panning = left or right  Reverb/Delay = soft or hard


Recording 101 – the basics o Why you need to master records  Masterings aim is to achieve a flat response across the frequency band which allows for better translation of audio across any platform. Any speaker system will produce an acceptable representation of the audio  When your mix is finished and you think it is the very best it can be, give it to a mastering engineer and they will make it better  Your recording will sound more professional, more finished … more expensive with good mastering.  Imagine a sculptor working with marble, they spend hours and hours carving and chipping and shaping the marble into a beautiful sculpture that they are happy to display. As the piece is placed in the gallery for viewing, there is always someone who will come along and polish the sculpture just before doors open to reveal the new piece.  That’s what mastering is, the final polish on your musical sculpture

Are there any questions I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together and got some information that you find useful thank you

Recording 101  

Presentation material for Indent Youth Rock Workshops 18/04/2012 - 21/04/2012 held at Sutherland Entertainment Centre Presented by Andrew Ra...

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