I think a major part of a successful tracking session is how efficiently the recording is done. It took me a while to really get the hang of how to best track multiple instruments at one time, even the best way on how to track just one vocalist. Everyone works just a bit differently. Some people would much rather fly through the whole song several times in order to get the best performance. Others prefer to do section by section or line by line in order to make sure each aspect of the song is well executed. I have found that there is a happy medium for these two types, and I found it in my many attempts to bring about the best performance in a musician or vocalist. For those who rather sing all the way through several times, I am sure to listen carefully for mistakes, words that are not well enunciated, and stylistic inconsistencies that will need to be addressed. I then ask them to punch in at these certain areas and make suggestions on their style or delivery in order to give more life to the vocal. This often works because the vocalist wants the best recording possible as well, and I have found it interesting that they enjoy my suggestions when all I am doing is making the performance more musical by suggesting a word here and there have more emphasis, or is shortened while another word needs to be drawn out more. They see how this enhances the song and are usually all for it. For those who rather punch in and out section by section or line by line, they are already doing that in order to avoid mistakes and to make sure the style in which they are singing stays consistent. With this type of vocalist, I have to still suggest doing the full song all the way through because now the vocalist can be more expressive rather than technical. While both are needed, the expression is what makes a listener want to hear a song over and over again. It is difficult to be expressive when you are concentrating on making sure every note and word is executed correctly. The toughest challenge with tracking multiple instruments I am still trying to get a handle on is making sure I listen to each and every element while it is being tracked in order to correct any mistakes. Usually, professional studio musicians have an understanding to listen to each other and have lightened up their egos to admit any mistakes that need to be corrected, making it easier for the engineer and/or producer. I cannot afford such professionalism, so I must listen even more carefully. That’s not to say these musicians lack talent, just to say they do not have true-blue studio experience. I see this as an opportunity to better my listening skills so when I am working with professional musicians, I can quickly pick up on mistakes or inconsistencies in the recording.
Desiree Holiday — Nashville Recording Connection
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