Planning a recording session or sessions can be quite a challenge. We all have our own ways of doing things, so it’s no wonder you might be asking yourself, “Where do I even start?”
From organizing your pre-production phase to optimizing your recording techniques, we’ve got tips and tricks that will make your sessions run more smoothly and keep you in the creative flow.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, get ready to kickstart your recording sessions with confidence and make magic happen in the studio!
Table of Contents
The initial melody is the first thing that pops up whenever you make a song.
This can be anything, from a guitar riff, a piano riff, or a melodic hook. Whatever it is, keep it on record. It doesn’t have to be on your digital audio workstation (DAW) yet, having it on your phone is enough. This is so you don’t forget it in the long run.
Once you have this down, the rest of the song will follow.
Structuring Your Song
Once you record the initial melody, next to follow is the rest of the song. Now it’s time to start thinking of your song’s structure. So your verses, pre-chorus, chorus, and bridge.
Once you’ve figured it out, again keep a record of it. This will come in handy when you actually start with the main recording process.
It doesn’t have to be complete, you might end up adding more instruments and melodies down the line. But at least it’s enough for you to remember how it goes.
A benefit of doing this is that you can create what is called a reference track. Reference tracks are used when recording the whole thing. They help remind you of certain cues and melodies that might’ve slipped your mind while recording.
Once you get the initial idea of your song down, we can now focus on the production itself.
This usually comes in tandem with the pre-production, but doing the song structuring first makes the production process much smoother.
The beat is usually what you can come up with last. It’s more likely to think of a melody than a beat first. But when it comes to recording, this is what most people start with.
When you are recording with a band, the drummers start first since they lay out the foundation of the song.
This is where the reference track comes in handy. This will allow you to remember how the song goes and to also stay in beat, though don’t forget to turn on the metronome.
Next in line is the bass.
Like the beat, a bassline serves as the foundation of the song. Doing it this way allows for the bass to be locked in with the beat to make the whole thing go well.
Once the groove is finished, the next thing to record is the melody.
Whether it’s guitar, piano, strings, or any instruments that provide the main melody, now is the time to put it on the DAW.
If your track has singing in it, then vocals are the next thing to record.
There’s no order when it comes to which vocal section to record first (main melody, background vocals, harmonies, etc). It depends on what you can record easily.
If you need the main melody to sing the other parts better, then start with the main vocal melody. Otherwise, you can sing the background vocals first before heading into the main melody.
The next few things to record are the new melodies you haven’t added yet after the melody and vocals.
This could be added harmonies, different synth sections, or maybe you want to add in a guitar solo. This is when you can record them if you haven’t done it already.
Once you’ve recorded most, if not all your tracks, next comes the post-production.
This includes editing, mixing, and mastering.
Editing includes adding effects or augmenting any of the tracks you recorded.
One such editing tool is cutting out any space in audio tracks. Let’s say you recorded an audio track. There are some parts that don’t have sound. It’s best to cut those parts out. This is to ensure that any chance of unnecessary noise is part of the mix.
Another editing trick is comping. This is when you take the best parts of different takes and put them into one.
Sometimes when you record a take, everything goes well except for one section. Instead of recording the whole thing all over again, you can find a vocal take wherein that section was done well and use that to replace the original take.
Other parts of editing are adding effects like compression, chorus, auto-tune, or distortion.
Now comes the heaviest part of the process, mixing.
Mixing is what makes the tracks blend well with one another in order for the song to sound audibly well.
This includes adjusting the volumes of the tracks, boosting and cutting frequencies of certain tracks, and adding delay and reverb.
The goal is to make the parts not compete with one another for attention. There needs to be a cohesive harmony, which is what mixing your track does.
Now mixing isn’t the last step in producing a song. That title goes to mastering.
Mastering is what allows a song to be played by any speaker. From Bluetooth speakers to car speakers, to sound bars. Mastering makes a track sound consistent regardless of where the song is being played.
Mastering in it itself is a field different from mixing. So it might take a while for beginners to learn this step. I suggest focusing on being good at mixing first before mastering a track.
Getting someone else to master a track for you is also beneficial. Getting someone with experience will ensure that your song will sound great.
Another is that the person mastering hasn’t heard the song as many times as you have. They are a fresh pair of ears and that might help in some regards to the mix.
This is the most common workflow when it comes to creating a song. From the simple melody all the way to the technical edits.
Hope this helped clear some things and gave you a workable frame for you to use in making your tracks. Good luck and happy music-making.