Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Recording Process for a Band


Before we get into the step by step process of recording a solo artist we need to understand the roles of each instrument.  As well as the different methods of recording a band.
Roles of the Instruments:
The drums are the rhythm foundation.  The Bass is like a connecting tissue between the rhythm and the melody, in holds it all together so to speak.  The “front instrument” usually the instrument played by the solo artist, and most often a guitar or piano, holds the melody.  All of the other instruments set the feel. 
Different Recording Methods:
There are two main methods to record a band.  The first is to have the whole band play the song and record them as they do.  This is the original way of recording, back before we had multi track recorders, and is still best for some situations.  It gives more of a live band sound; and is great for when you want that energetic real band sound, and have a good band that can play real tight with each other.
With the invention of multi track recorders and computer recording software we are now capable of recording each instrument separately.  This gives you a more modern and tight sound.  It gives you the ability to work on each instrument by itself.  You don’t have to get the drums, the bass, and the guitars perfect all at once; you can have each musician work on his part alone until he get it down perfect.  It is also possible to record a few instrument at a time and then add on to that as you want. You might for instance, record the drums, bass and one guitar, and then add another guitar, and keyboard and a tambourine one at a time.  It’s almost always best to record the vocals separately and after the main instruments are recorded.

Step by Step Process of Recording:
The first step to recording a band depends on the method of recording being used.  If you’re recording the whole band at once, than the first step is to have the band come in and start recording, quite simple really.  If you are recording each track individually it involves an extra step of recording a scratch track.  This is accomplished by the front man coming into the studio to record a rough take of each song.  This rough take “or scratch track”, with be used for the drummer and bass player to play alone with.  Because the drums and bass are the rhythm foundation of the song they need to be recorded first, then the other instruments will be recorded on top of them.  It’s crucial to record them in this order because recording a drummer playing along with already recorded instruments will never be as tight; and will never sound as good.  The front man will play and sing by his/her self and with a metronome, or drum loop.  The perfection of the performance is not important as this is just the scratch track and will not be used in the final song. What is important is that the timing is as tight as possible.  While the drummer will be playing with the metronome, any straying from it by the Artist will naturally pull the drummer off with it.  The drummer will then record the drums for each song, playing along with the scratch track and metronome.  The bass will follow, and each of the main instruments will follow after the bass.  The lead vocalist will then record the lead vocals.
The second step is to record any other desired instruments for the songs; percussion, more guitars, more keyboards, violin, cello, ect ect.  As well as the background vocals. 
The Third step is for the songs to be mixed and mastered.
 …and you have a finished album.