Saturday, February 18, 2012


SEMPER PARATUS - or as the Boy Scouts would say, "BE PREPARED"

I am often emailed or asked about what a person should do before going into a studio to record. Outside of hiring a competent producer (who would probably advise most of these items anyway), I have put together this small list of things I feel are important to optimizing your recording experience.

With some of these very basic ideas you will be able to save yourself considerable amounts of money, time and stress.

Clearly know what it is that are you trying to achieve - radio, sales, pop, art, niche market, family memory, etc.? This will help you focus on your goal and what is important for the project.


Is there a DEMO already made? If so, are you happy with it? Are there things that you would change?

1. SONG SELECTION - variety is good - is there a theme? As has been said before, "THE SONG IS KING" and it can and does define entire careers.

2. TEMPO - 1 or 2 BPM either way can make all the difference in the feel or the "groove" of the song. Go to the effort to record a rough demo at various tempos and study the differences.

3. TIME SIGNATURE - some variation is good and yes, there is a difference in feel between 3/4 and 6/8.

4. KEY or KEY CHANGE? - The key of a song is paramount in delivering the song for its best emotional effect. A 1/2 step either way can make a HUGE difference in how a song resonates with the listener. Are there key changes and if so, do they work, and are they in the right place? Again, here is where a demo trying various options will stand you in good stead.

5. LYRICS - if applicable having a lyric sheet to write and make notes on is imperative.

6. CHORD CHART / MAP / ARRANGEMENT- are there existing charts, sheet music, etc.? If so, is it the Nashville number system? The more work you can do on the arrangements before you get to the studio, the more money and time you will save and the smoother things will go.

7. TUNING - is the piano/guitar in tune? - if not, that will throw everything else out!

8. SCRATCH TRACK - does the project need a scratch track? If so, make sure it is in time and in tune or you will build on a shaky foundation.

9. GENERAL DIRECTION - Style, Notes, Production ideas, etc., all help to focus the project.

10. LEARN FROM OTHERS - examples of pieces that you like the feel or arrangement of, players, etc., are always helpful in letting the engineer or producer know what it is you like. Not that you are setting out to be a copycat, but it helps define a direction for the project.

BONUS TIP: For all of you singers - being well rested and well hydrated are two of the keys to you taking your game to another level.

The better prepared you are, the smoother your project will be and the end result will be worth the extra time and effort. ~ SEMPER PARATUS !

© 2012 Stephen J. Rendall - All rights reserved.

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