The most overlooked and underestimated step of recording anything is time management and planning. Just like desk and studio space, keeping your time organised is paramount to any quality recording. Planning out a demo recording can also be incredibly beneficial to overcoming any kind of writer’s block, here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for a recording session.
Time management and planning is severely underestimated in the world of songwriting and production. Both can be a huge help in stemming writer’s block at home and in the studio.
Brainstorming before any kind of planning and recording will help tenfold in the healthy flow of ideas. Keep a notebook handy too: jotting down any/every point of inspiration will become useful later down the track when you’re faced with potential writer’s block.
Planning out a track visually has helped my own production countless times. Drawing a timeline of the general geography of a track can help when you’re faced with writer’s block.
My process of visual planning involves pen and paper, I begin by drawing a line straight across the page with small indents that represent hit points in the song. I then start to label these hit points with small ideas I plan to utilise further down in the production process, these usually include instrumentation, lyrical content and harmonic changes.
Even if you don’t plan to use this visual mock-up throughout the whole process of recording, planning out a song before commencing recording helps a great deal in getting your head around a general idea and/or feel of the track.
In relation to demos you’re recording yourself, having a checklist should be a necessity. This checklist can be divided into two parts, the first including less technical and more creative points such as instrumental/lyrical ideas you may have gathered from brainstorming, and the second including more technical/recording techniques you wish to implement later on. These can be literally anything between microphone placement (in terms of capturing room sounds) and instrumental/vocal plugins.
If you decide to take your track to record in a studio, having a functional schedule is one of the most important tools in keeping organised especially when you are paying for your studio time.
Start by setting dates to have certain things completed by, these can include; songwriting (lyrics/chords), demo recordings (vocals/live instruments) and completing demos. Keep in mind you will need to allow extra time for potential contingencies.
With a wider scale project like an EP/LP scheduling is a necessity.
With any recording project always expect contingencies. When working on a larger body of work contingencies will often include aspects relating to musical performance. This can be avoided by allowing time to rehearse to nail all of your repertoire before settling into the studio.
Mikaela Grob is an intern sound engineer at Enmore Audio. Have a read of another piece she wrote on taking laptops to the stage.