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Probably the simplest question ever asked

I've been searching for an answer to this question for quite some time and I guess it's never mentioned because it's common knowledge.

Anyway, my question is: Is it always best to have the musician play the entire song all the way through and record that? Or should they play the song a section at a time?

Also, if (for example) the verses of the song are just 8 bars repeated over again, could I just get the musician to play those 8 bars and then loop it?

Thanks in advance =)


J-MADD Tue, 03/06/2007 - 19:48

I think its best to have them play the song all at once, then only if needed do alternate takes. In cubase, and other programs I'm sure, you can punch in then roll the new audio back over the areas that were flawed on the original take. Having them play all the way through will at least give you a good guide track if nothing else.


anonymous Wed, 03/07/2007 - 11:44

to be honest, I've just been trying to record myself playing all the instruments in the songs. So I've had to do each instrument one at a time.

If I did put another track over the original take, wouldn't that make that section of the song louder or sound different from the rest? (I'm using cubase sx 3)

Is it actually possible to record the song a section at a time or is it just not prefered? and why?

RemyRAD Wed, 03/07/2007 - 18:47

syphon, I hope your "handle" has nothing to do with your neighbor's missing gasoline from their cars?? Oh? Not that? Have you considered a sump pump for the basement studio floods??

As far as your question goes, when in the studio, I always think it best for a solo performer and/or an entire band to track through a song completely, whenever possible. I particularly like to let them know that they should run through their song before I record, so they can warmup. I'm really lying! I always roll record when I tell them that, because it's usually one of the best takes. The usual response is, "I did that really well, too bad we didn't record that". "Well, ha ha! I did record that!" Unfortunately, when you're charging by the hour, you really don't want them to get it right on the first take! That's why I like working live broadcast/recording. Everything happens the right way, on the first take! Usually, hopefully. Please stand by.......

We now return to our program, already in progress.

However, in your case and thanks to modern technologies, assembling a song in sections has become rather commonplace. This is nothing new but it certainly is easier with these computer thingies. I mean, movies are never shot the way they appear in the end. Everything is shot out of sequence and yet it ends up being a cohesive product. The same can and does hold true for music production. Sometimes I'll have operatic soloists sing the most difficult passage first, while they are still fresh. I tell them it's usually for level setting, etc.. Then there is no pressure. Nothing intimidating.

Yes, to loop or not to loop, that is the question?
Here is the answer: Human musical phrasing (not phasing) sounds, well, sounds more human. More organic.

Taking a good phrase and looping that certainly makes for greater consistency and a more robotic/roboto consistent and sampled like contemporary sound, that may also make it imperative for "beet" mapping, especially if you like borscht?

So, do the math. Human? Or, Inhuman?

Terribly human and a lover of beef borscht.
Ms. Remy Ann David

natural Wed, 03/07/2007 - 20:52

Remy- Time to cut down on the coffee me thinks. (or maybe the wine and beef borscht?)
Syphon- yeah, what everyone else said. plus, it always depends on the recordee.
Some can only feel comfortable playing all the way through, and get very stale punching in section by section.
Others can't keep their concentration together long enough to even get through the intro.
Some play best when in a group. Some only think they play best when in a group but play much better when there's only 1 or 2 others playing at the same time.
So record in a way that's fun and comfortable for you, and gets the best results.

pr0gr4m Wed, 03/07/2007 - 23:38

syphon wrote: was extremely obvious that something was looped.

And there it is. The #1 argument against recording a part and looping it.

I recently worked with a band that had loopitis. They were always saying just take the good verse, and copy it to all the other verses. I kept telling them NO and made them record the whole song, over and over. Eventually, they fell into the groove and were able to put together some great takes. No looping necessary, and it's cohesive from one part to the next.

I like the little differences in each part. If there are 3 choruses in a song, with basically the same bass line, one can just take the recording of the first chorus and use it in the others. But by having the performer play each part, there can be some subtle differences in each that can really add to the character of a song and give it a less manufactured feel.

When I do work with recording loops, I have the musician play along with themselves leading into the part to be recorded. For example, you're recording the first chorus. Play with the preceding verse and punch in the chorus. That way the chorus and verse parts will sound like they are connected.

Also, it may help to work with one instrument at a time and do all the parts at one time. This way you ensure that the settings used for recording each part are the same.

anonymous Thu, 03/08/2007 - 09:44

Here's what works for me recording singer songwriters who haven't had much studio time:

1. talk through the tune with them and make a simple chord chart with the letter name of each chord for each measure (ie: 4 beats, 3 beats etc)...

ie: C F C F C F D- etc...

2. have them play the song without singing and match your click to their tempo

3. Have them play a simple rythm guitar part along with the click folowing the chart you made. Stop each time they make a mistake and go through it till they have a good take.

4. Now have them do a few takes (each on a different track) of their vocal or 'for real' guitar part(s) playing along with the click and rythm guitar

5. This usually will yield enough material to be able to cut paste and patch together something that will sound decent...