Knowing what to expect when you visit a recording studio can take away a lot of nerves and ensure you have a great session.
Even if you don’t write your own songs you can record onto backing tracks. A lot of rappers will buy beats online and then visit a studio to record their rap over the top and some studios provide or produce beats themselves.
If you’re a singer who doesn’t play any instruments, ask your local studios if they have any writers on the team who can help you come up with an original song.
A good place to start if you are completely new to recording in a studio is going there and simply recording a cover song. You will learn what it’s like to record and when you are more comfortable you can come back and do original songs.
First time in recording studio tips
When you visit a studio, you will meet the engineer -the person who controls the recording equipment. They will talk to you through headphones on something called TalkBack and they will explain to you what you need to do, when you need to start singing etc.
The producer is somebody who directs what should happen to get the best performance from you. So they might say:
“let’s do that again”.
“A Little Bit Stronger”.
“Let’s put more emotion into that”.
“How about you try singing it like this”
Often in small recording studios, the engineer and producer are the same person.
You have a choice as to whether you want to be produced.
Most really appreciate the help of an experienced producer to tell them what they need to do to get the best performance, but some don’t.
A great producer can put you at ease and get a great performance!
There is usually separate room that you go in to record your vocals. You stand in front of the microphone (which will be height adjusted) and they will ask you about whether the volume levels are right for you.
You can say “turn my vocal up, but keep the music as it is”
“turn the music up, but keep my vocal as it is”
or “turn them both up (or both down)”.
It’s really important to get the right levels so that you aren’t straining or under-singing because of wrong volume levels.
I’ve seen some people sing with one side of the headphones off and the other on. Should I do that?
There is no right or wrong. Having both on there will be less chance of the microphone recording what is coming out of the headphones while you do your take and some artists love to be fully immersed in the music, but others find that by having one ear off they can hear themselves more naturally and therefore put a better performance in. So it’s just personal choice.
You may be wondering “what do I need to bring to a recording session?”
Usually this will just be you, lyrics that you need and links to backing tracks or actual files you want to be used. It’s a good idea to talk to the studio beforehand and agree what you need to bring because there’s nothing worse than turning up with your iPad which has your track on, only to find that they don’t have a cable that plugs into that in order to get your song off of it!
Remember, recording is not a live performance
‘Doing takes’ means recording the same thing over and over and this can be edited perfectly later on. If you make a mistake, just carry on because the next take can be chopped in later. By the end of the recording session you might have done five, six different takes and the producer or the engineer can cut up all of those into one perfect take.
Some physical considerations for singers
It’s important to look after your voice. Don’t go having just eaten, avoid dairy products, bananas, alcohol and caffeine (tea/coffee. Consume lots of water so that you sound the best you possibly can.
Your voice will be compressed after its recorded, which basically means that the loud parts will get quieter and the quiet parts will get louder. This ensures that your voice sits properly over the music.
This can cause a problem if you’re relying on ‘quiet’ to be your basis of what sounds emotional. Work on real emotion in singing lessons before you go and then give it your all!
Final points in how to prepare for a recording.
Never give the engineer or the producer the lyrics to the song that you’re going to sing.
Ask them to tell you what they think you’re singing. There are a lot of songs out there where misheard lyrics happen and the reason is all around poor mouth shapes. If this happens to you in a recording session, it can only be spotted by somebody who doesn’t know what the lyrics are because as soon as you know, you will naturally hear those words!
Go and visit your local Studios, get a relationship with the. Ask to come down and have a look at the place or book a session in. You don’t lose anything and you might gain so much.
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