Make Recording Work for You

One of my favourite things to do when I was young was to make tape recordings of my friends and pretend to present radio shows.  When I began learning to sing, I would tape myself on a very low-quality tape player, listen back and re-record until I liked what I heard.  In that way I was able to learn how to produce a sound I wanted to hear.  When I needed to get my first gigs, I went to a recording studio and made a demo tape of three songs, recorded on four inch analogue tape.  It was something I had to save up for at the time and it meant a lot to me.  Later in my career, there were more recording studios, this time with a live band set up and digital recording by an engineer who knew how to use the studio and the computer program.

Recording myself singing in the Live Band for hire Melbourne or playing piano has always been a big part of my development as a musician and has helped me to:

  • have fun and be creative;
  • truly assess myself and refine my technique;
  • make demos in order to get gigs and earn money from music.

Having fun and being creative

Recording can be enjoyable on many levels.  The computer programs offered these days are readily accessible and come with many samples and good quality instrumental sounds, so writing your own music and even producing your own album has never been easier, more instantaneous and affordable.

Making a true assessment of your music and improving your technique

Recording can help dispel the judgement of your Inner Critic because it gives you the capacity to hear your music objectively.  We have discussed how the Inner Critic can get in the way when you are playing music and the main problem with our Critic is that it is sharing its opinions while we are in the act of creating.  This does not work because we can’t do both jobs at once.  If you wish to make valid criticisms of your music, it is necessary to do it when you can truly sit comfortably in the ‘judgement’ seat.  The only way you can do this is to record yourself, listen back, identify the points of playing which are acceptable or not acceptable to you and work on them as you wish.  In this case, recording yourself is a useful learning technique because you can hear what needs further work.

Making a demo(nstration) recording in order to get work or sell your music

There may come a time when you have done enough jam sessions and one-off performances, a time when you want to have a whole gig for yourself simply for the challenge and experience of it as well as for financial reward.  In this situation, you will need to identify a venue you will be comfortable performing in, understand its needs and what you can offer, then present yourself and your music to the person responsible for booking and let them see that you can provide what they need.   This may also be the case if you wish to approach a record label, manager or producer.  In all the above cases, you will need a good quality demo recording and you may need to do this in a professional recording studio.

Professional recording studios provide you with quality equipment such as microphones, mixing desks and effect units that give you the best possible sound.  Trained engineers set all equipment up for you and make sure your sound levels are at optimum intensity.  Sometimes they will even offer suggestions to help you with your performance, especially if you don’t have much experience in the studio.

I suggest recording three songs that are contrasting and illustrate the full scope of your capability, without compromising your authenticity and once you have them recorded, the engineer will help you to create a mix.  This means making sure the instruments blend together at volumes that compliment the song and give the greatest effect, then recording that mix onto a single stereo track.  When you have mixed the songs you may then wish to master the recording.

When you master a song, compression and equalization are added to make it loud enough to be broadcast quality as well as making the music more pleasing to the ear.  When compression and EQ have been taken care of silence is also added to the intro and outro if not already included in the original recording.  Mastering a recording is a process that usually takes place with professionals dedicated to this process at another location and should be done in conjunction with the recording artist.  Again, it will cost money, so if you have a good mix, that should be enough for a demo recording but if you plan on releasing a full album of songs, you will need to have the recording mastered.

Recording is like taking photographs, reminding you of past moments.  Advancing technology has meant recording music has become a lot easier and more accessible.  Why not take advantage of it and add this dimension of joy and experience to your learning? There is a great sense of achievement in being able to hold your recording in your hand and let others listen to it, or invite your family and friends to watch you perform, or jam with other musicians.  When you are able to share your music, you will feel rewarded and proud.

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