What is the quickest way to a quality recording? – So many people will answer this question focusing on equipment, studios, and producers/engineers… they’ll suggest it’s all about the ‘best’ studio, the ‘best’ microphones, the ‘best’ preamps, the ‘best’ instruments, or the ‘best’ producer. It is true that all these things help greatly in contributing to amazing sounding recordings, but the single most important factor is… wait for it… your performance.
Have you ever noticed when recording rehearsals and performances in adverse situations using less than awesome recording devices that many musicians sound fine (all the way down to crappy), given the circumstances, yet maybe one or two will always stand out as sounding amazing no matter how low tech the recording device or how horrible the acoustic environment? That is because their performances are so good they transcend technology. In the early days of recording when everyone had to record into one or two microphones (1920s-1940s), it was only amazing performances that made the music happen — think of the precision and excitement of a group like the Andrew Sisters. Musicians had to be a certain distances from the microphones to get a blend, and only had their own skills to help them attain a good recording, and there was still plenty of magic in those captures, low as the fidelity may have been.
In this day and age, we can fix so many issues with bad or mediocre performances that musicians expect it, defer to it, and often approach their own art with laziness and an unforgivable lack of skill development. Even though we are able to polish turds, it will never sound as good as an inspired, well executed performance. So how do you get a great performance? I bet you already know — lot’s of practice and a constant desire to improve your skills. No secrets, no quick fixes — simply dedicated hard work. Some, like me, love practicing and love striving for new heights, and if you do this, it will help you in so many ways. Your live performances will be better, and audiences will notice this, leading to more accolades and more fans. You will save lots of money in the recording studio by taking the responsibility that should be yours anyway. You may even get called to do other people’s gigs and recordings, leading to another source of income. Most of all, you will learn about discipline, you will learn of the satisfaction that comes from focusing on a worthy endeavor, and you will have the pride of seeing what amazing results your hard work will yield–this is the kind of passion that makes for a life well lived.
A few tips for practicing: I tell students this all the time, and almost none of them ever do it — practice with a metronome! You can get apps for smartphones that are great, so don’t whine about expense or another piece of gear to deal with — my app was FREE!! Timing is about the most important aspect of music — it’s what makes people tap their feet, dance, shake their asses, etc. Also, when doing studio work, you will often encounter the dreaded click track — it is really just a metronome, and if you can play to a click(providing the songs you are working on need one), you will get better tracks and save lots of money in the studio. You will just have a better sense of time and feel in general, so do it!
Practice with a tuner or around an instrument you can reference your pitch to. Being in tune is important live and in the studio — it separates the pros from the amateurs just like good time does. Again, better live performances, and less money spent paying for an engineer to have to apply the dreaded auto-tune to your vocals. Record yourself! on your smartphone, on your computer, on an old cassette player if you have to. This is the truth teller — sometimes it’s hard to tell what your performances are like while you are involved with the technical aspects, so listening back without your mind being involved in anything else is very telling. It’s also a great way to prepare for working in the recording studio — there will be no surprises when listening back to your tracks (except the quality will be great, so you’ll sound even better to yourself). And lastly, always study your instrument of choice and try to become the best you can be at it — listen to the best and use them as your target, not the people in your immediate circles (unless your circles consist of the very best musicians/singers/songwriters there are). You are the most important factor when it comes to getting good recordings, so let that empower you.
Our website – Basement 3 Productions – we are a recording studio, we do recording and specialize in singer songwriters, we also orchestrate and add instrumentation to your songs, we also do photography and graphic design.