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Home Recording Diary
Saturday, September 18, 2004

Let's get one thing absolutely clear - there is no such thing as a perfect take.

Sorry, if you think I've misled you with the above heading, but it's true. Every song or recording you listen to today will have been compiled from dozens, and possibly hundreds of individual recordings, and cut and pasted together (or spliced if the studio is still using tape) to form the finished product. 

This is great news for every home recording artist. If the superstars of the music world can't get it right in one 'perfect' take, you don't need to either. All you have to do is have the patience and perseverance to keep recording until you too have enough good bits to compile a complete track. Here's how I do it...

Practise as much as possible before you sit down to start the recording process. Next, run through the song several times to get your levels right. Once you are happy with those, start the recording process proper like this... 

Always work to a click track. You can use a metronome to create your click track, or you may use some piece of software. Whatever you use, record a WAV file of the click track at the appropriate number of Beats Per Minute. Of course, the click track will be as long, if not longer, than the actual song you are recording. The purpose of the click track is to keep you 'on the beat' throughout the recording process. 

Working to your click track, record at least three tracks of the same instrument or vocal. Then listen to each track, cutting and pasting the best pieces from each of these until you have compiled the best final cut. Sometimes this technique is enough. Often it isn't. Sometimes it may be enough to give you a track that is 90% complete, leaving you with a few lines or bars to re-record and paste in separately. You have now recorded one track! You must now repeat this process until you have recorded all the tracks to your song.

It's a long, slow, time consuming process, but when you get to the end of it and sit back and listen to a finished song that sounds just the way you hear it in your head... well, nothing can beat that sense of satisfaction and achievement.

However, know this... It doesn't matter how perfect your practice sessions go, or how well you play your material, for some reason, pressing REC (record) causes your brain to go into meltdown, and your coordination to fly out the window. This in turn leads to miscues, fumbles, bum notes, and incoherent vocal performances!

I'm sure smarter people than me have examined this phenomena, and come up with all sorts of fancy explanations for why this happens. I bet they have even given it a fancy title like, Recording Anxiety Syndrome, or some such phrase. Whatever... Without fail, it happens, and you just have to stay calm and persevere until you get to the finished song.


JIM LESSES: Sometimes I Wake Up Naked

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JIM LESSES: American Dream

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