What is required to get started on recording?
Do you have a computer that is fairly recent?
Do you own any recording software?
If you are planning on recording vocals and instruments, you’ll need a microphone. (or two)
A simple interface and recording software and the computer you already have more than likely will work. You don’t need some Frankenstein super beast of a machine. A laptop will do just fine it that’s what you have. iPads even allow for interfaces to be hooked up for recording. You can even plug a guitar direct into it and D.I. your source and use plug-ins to get your tones from your computer or iPad. Garage band, Studio One Free, Audcacity, any of these will work to get you acquainted with recording in a computer based format.
If you are like me you’ve been recording on whatever you could for as long s you could. I’ve recorded on four track cassette machines, stand alone recorders, windows free programs straight into a sound card, not the way to do it, but I wanted to record.
You can get started relatively easily. This will give you the opportunity to see if you want to dive deeper into the recording endeavor, before spending hundreds of dollars on some basic software and an interface. You can also jump into the Pro Tools Mbox 3 Mini with Pro Tools Express for $150. This is a great entry USB interface with a single XLR and 2 1/4 inputs. Getting started doesn’t have to break the bank. Evaluate your rig and you may already have enough to get going without much investment.
There are quite a few ways to approach the recording process. I recently asked a friend about his style compared to the way I approach my own recordings. These are coming from two different writing / recording perspectives.
My approach: I most often come up with material while jamming and stumble upon something that catches my ear and build from there, adding parts until I have a few sections for my initial idea.
At that point I sketch out the structure and listen back to get a feel for what I’ve come up with. I like to see how the sections feel when I’m not actually playing. And can listen not as a performer.
One benefit this provides me is if I make a “happy accident” that sets up a section or accents a part just right, I can then incorporate that into the other sections or decide if a part doesn’t work once I’ve heard it in context with the other parts of the song. Taking a few passes to see what I can come up with that I didn’t already have in mind. Sometimes the happy accident will dictate a whole new section I hadn’t previously written.
My friends approach is to get his initial idea and capture it as soon as he can. He jams it out, but works off the initial feel and lets the song take him to where it’s going to take him without the structured analyzing of it.
He feels that if he captures it after that point it won’t have the initial spark and feel of the idea he first had. He doesn’t want to go back and change what his gut reaction is to his music. Altering it because he reacted to it as an after thought. He feels like working off the raw emotion and letting the live element take it to another level.
Once he starts messing with it, he feels like it’s never the same and altered from the original inspirational moment. “Once you’ve got that moment captured, I think the crafting of your song or your piece now becomes a race against time and against yourself. You want to make your piece as polished as possible and perfect ( or imperfect) sounding as you can. But the more you put on your thinking cap and analyze it, the more the passion of the original idea tends to disappear. At least that’s how it is for me.”
We have different styles for sure but both of us have the same goal: To create and record our music. The end goal is the same, the technique isn’t.
I tend to get a song started and finish it because I’m working on the track until I feel I’ve gone as far as I can take it. If the track doesn’t move smoothly to the finish line, I won’t necessarily keep working on it if the idea requires being worked into submission.
My friend on the other hand, gets an idea, captures it, and may not see it through. If it grabs him, and it works out to where he finishes it, it gets completed. If the track doesn’t hit him the right way after the initial recording, he may never go back to touch it again. He also knows the value of listening back, and even getting inspired by a change in the track as well but certainly has a valid point to building the song in it’s raw state.
I more often than not finish the track I’m working on since it’s typically the only personal material I’d be working on at the moment. He may have several ideas going at once, and whichever one strikes him best, that’s the one that wins.
I think both styles have their own pros and cons. I like fast recording and reacting to the spark of an idea, but I also like to structure the material, arrange it and mess with the feeling I get from the adding or removing sections. Being experimental in that regard. Writing from a raw place certainly yields exceptional results. You can’t replicate that style of writing in a structured approach very easily.
Next time your in a writing block or feel like trying another way to capture your ideas see if one on the ways above, or another way sparks ideas you didn’t think you had.
Today’s post is about Less is more as it applies to Microphones.
You don’t truly need a ton of microphones to get the job done:
If your starting out and only have 1 or maybe 2 microphones then you may feel like your behind or won’t be able to get a sound your after due to “lack” of microphones. To some respects this is true, like drums. You cannot replicate the sound of a multi mic’ed drum set with 2 mics. But you’d be very surprised at just how great it can sound. Depending on the style a single overhead and kick could be all you need for a complimentary drum sound. If your recording guitars you don’t need a bunch of mics on that source. And for most other big sources, like piano, or choir a nice stereo pair will do the trick.
Drums maybe the only thing you’ll ever need a large set of mics for. If you have a condenser pair and a dynamic mic, you can get just about all the sounds you will need. Graham at The Recording Revolution.com did a single mic video and got some excellent sounds. that’s right, a single mic on drums, and guitars acoustic and electric. The song rocked, and the sounds were great. Proving you don’t need a big set up or a bunch of mics. If you have em, use em, if not don’t hold back. Getting the sound you want doesn’t required an arsenal of microphones. Just a good source, and at least 1 good mic.