(. . . and how to leave with something worth
or later youíll have to go in there, and sooner or later youíll
have to come out.
some, the studio is a haven for creation. The controlled environment
provides a cocoon for exploring a song. People who love to record,
though, are usually reluctant to release their creations into
the hostile acoustics of the real world. Instead, their songs
remain a work-in-progress as they claim a quest for perfection.
This is not the greatest way to move a career forward. For the
rest of us, the studio is a vacuum. Not only does it suck the
cash from our wallets, it drains our music of its energy. Itís
frustrating when that beer-soaked, sweaty stage vibe youíve
become known for never makes it on tape. Obviously, we canít
hold the studio responsible (although many do); a studio is
just a room full of equipment. The problem lies within. As soon
as the red light comes on we try too hard or become self-conscious.
Overcoming this anxiety, can be as simple as adjusting your
prospective going in.
on stage is different than singing in a studio, just like acting
on Broadway is not the same as acting in a movie. However, singers
have to work in both forums while actors normally focus on one.
Treating the studio like a live gig is a typical error in approach.
No one cares if a vocal was recorded in one pass, yet lots of
singers feel embarrassed when they require multiple takes. What
matters is the end result. Like a movie, the singing you hear
on CDís is really a quilt of the best phrases seamlessly sewn
together. Itís not cheating; it takes stamina and a mental focus
to maintain vocal continuity for several hours. In other words,
chops. This doesnít have to result in a sterile recording. Even
after many rehearsals, actors often screw up their lines when
shooting a film. Sometimes the mistakes work better than the
original idea. It takes a good director to know when to wrap
a producer plays the role of movie director. Itís his or her
job to organize the project before approaching the studio and
then to inspire better performances once recording begins. Unfortunately,
many bands choose to save money by producing themselves and
wind up paying in the end by wasting time on a demo which falls
short of their potential. There is a physical connection when
you perform and itís hard to separate the effort from the outcome.
A producer provides an invaluable overview. Incidentally, itís
a dependence on the physical side of performing which tends
to make people say that your band "sounds" better live. During
a gig, your fans witness your effort and that plays heavily
in their experience of a song. Recording, though, is like playing
a concert for the blind. Without the visual aspect, your music
may not have as much impact as you think. It usually takes an
outside observer to suggest some changes. If you canít afford
a producer, spread your recording session out over many weeks.
Let some time pass by before listening to rough mixes in order
to gain a fresh perspective on what youíve done.
also requires an adjustment in the way you rehearse. Itís amazing
how many people enter the studio over-anxious and under prepared.
Thereís no excuse for a band to engage in momentum killing arguments
over a song theyíve been playing for a year. Get it right before
the clock starts ticking. Rehearse the recording process, not
just the song. Use a four track cassette deck and run through
the steps just as you will in the studio. Everyone should know
what everyone else is playing. To relieve "red light fever,"
get into the habit of recording rehearsals. Experience will
show that the best performances come once everyone forgets that
tape is rolling -- a simple but important point to remember,
every time you approach the studio.
Baxter is a vocal therapist
who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call:
(800)659-6002. Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com
with the kind permission of Mark