14 Tips to Recording Better Songs
by Renee Asher, Astron Music
If you are getting ready to step into a studio to record, make sure that you are well-prepared before you ever come close to the
microphone. While recording always brings new creative opportunities and insight to your music, there is still the need to do work in
advance to make sure that your completed songs are fresh and inspiring to the listener and you are prepared for recording. Following
are some tips that you can use before you begin recording.
1, Balance. Is your instrumentation balanced? You should have an even amount of ranges, from low to high. If you have too much of
one frequency such as high end or bass and not enough of another, your recording quality will suffer. Doing basic tracks in advance at
home if possible will give you an idea if this needs to be corrected. Adding harmonies can fill this space and balance the recording as
well as enhance its listening appeal.
2. Harmonies. Even subtle harmonies can add a lot to a song. Without the right harmonies, or alternative sounds to the melody, it will
sound like your song is missing something. Vocal harmonies and the right instrumentation can add a lot of emotional appeal to a song.
Be extremely careful that you do not record backing vocals that are flat or out of tune on a recording that is otherwise good. This is a
common mistake in the studio when time may be rushed due to budget or when an unprepared friend is invited to sing background
vocals. Make sure that everyone is well rehearsed before the session.
3. Musical arrangement. This is based on your ability to structure the various instruments in the song. Not only should it be balanced,
but it should also include contrasts and similarities in how the music follows what you are trying to say. Great arrangements sell songs.
Sometimes using unexpected instrumentation can be the signature piece of a song. If you are stuck with creating instrumentation that
fits, use some basic music theory principles to assist you.
4. Spacing. It is also important that there is adequate spacing in your song so that all of the melodies and harmonies flow well and do
not lose focus. A song's basic structural elements need enough room so that it does not lose its focus. What this means is that too
many instruments and vocals fighting for attention can overwhelm the listener and distract from the song's meaning and listenability.
This also means that you don't want to rush through your song and you don't want to take too much time. Make sure that you put some
breaks in with the melody and change up the harmonies enough to keep it interesting and moving correctly.
5. Tempo. Often it is assumed that there is a specific tempo and that is it. However, you want to make sure that your tempos are
well-defined and everyone follows them without missing a beat. Once you get into the studio, you don't want anything to be off, as it will
cause the recording to become difficult to track. Use your metronome in rehearsals and get everyone accustomed to it before going into
6. Form. The easiest way for a listener to relate to your song from the beginning is to have the right form. Most of the time this will be
the hook which is in the chorus. If you are experimenting with form, make sure there is always a place in the music that comes back to
your hook and keeps the attention of the listener so that they can focus on the song and enjoy the music. Keep in mind that music is
formed by repeating patterns and that this is an easy way to get past writer's block.
7. Consistency. A song need to have a consistency that helps the song fit together. This has to do with the composition of the song and
also relates to things such as tying the song together with the right musical concepts and ideas that make it work overall. In each of
these areas, you can have some variation, but make sure that the basic structure allows the listener to follow the song. .
8. Variation. One of the overlooked parts of arranging is the variety that is in the song. This means that, even though you are repeating
choruses or verses, make sure that you have some different movement or instrumentation in your recording. You can also vary your
music by changing the tempo of the chorus. These changes can help to keep the attention of the listener throughout the song.
9. Colorization. - The songs unique flavor can be set by using various types of instrumentation which is similar to setting up a scene in a
movie a mood in a song and creating an aural backdrop for song which can consist of various sound effects and other aural nuances
that help to set up the listener for a specific feeling or event.
10. Movement. The movement of the song goes beyond the tempo and into the extra small things that are parts of a recording. This is
what will make or break a song. Dynamics such as louds and softs, ornamentation and other small add ons that are unexpected parts
of the arrangement will help to focus the listeners attention on the song.
11. Creativity. Be creative in your ideas and don't be afraid to be different, Don't be bland. Unique and original ideas and instrumentation
are always good. The first rule to a good song is always to let yourself go, follow your creative instincts and let the rest fall into place.
12. Collaborators. Collaborators can bring a new dimension to your songs by adding new ideas and fresh perspective to your songs. A
collaborator can also help with arrangements. Don't be afraid to talk to your producer if you have one about collaboration on your songs.
This is what they are there for. Make sure that everyone that works on a songs is credited correctly.
13. Trust your engineer and producer. Your engineer and producer if you have one will guide you to get a good recording. It is their job to
help you in the studio. It is never a good idea to have the band in the control room fighting over what instrument they each want heard.
This is a recipe for disaster. Again, trust your engineer and producer - let them do the job that you hired them for.
14. Don't rush. Also keep in mind, that it is always better to do less songs in the studio than trying to rush through a session. It is often
better to come back on another day. Being well-prepared by rehearsing and writing ahead of time is the best way to be focused and
organized so that you can do your best job in the studio.
With these tips are ways that you can improve your song and get it ready for recording. From this, you will be able to make sure that your
songs and music are polished, stand out from the crowd and get your voice heard.
Copyright 2012, Astron Music. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.
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