Your Vocal recording at home

n4eem

New member
Guys.. do you have problems with recording your own vocal I.e the technique .. retakes etc etc ... do you get frustrated?? Do you quit ????

I’m not a trained singer .. I have problems with the above NOT all the time but especially trying to make demos and covers

I just had a brainstorm I am actually a keyboard player and when I sing live I always feel comfortable singing WITH my keyboard ...

Do you think I should try singing recording my vocals with the keyboard at low volume perhaps


Open discussion ... I want to know your ideas and techniques ..... thanks
 

Mickster

Well-known member
Well then........try it. Then you'll know if that will work for you. It's not uncommon for any vocalist to do any number of retakes. Many times singers sing another track of the same vocal and in production you can mix and match the best of all the takes. Cut and paste....etc.

The more experience you get in recording your own vocals......the better you'll get and you'll know what method works for you.

You can record your vocal with your keyboard if you want to. You don't have to keep your keyboard track.
 

VomitHatSteve

Hat STYLE. Not contents.
I believe that it was a very common technique in the 90s to have the vocalist play their guitar while they tracked. It wasn't recorded, but they felt more comfortable playing and singing simultaneously.
No reason you can't do the same with the keys.
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
The biggest issue I run into is not "belting it out" when someone sings to a recording, especially if the norm is singing on stage. There's a certain energy that you get when playing live that seems to be absent when you're at home in the basement. The result is a restrained vocal.

I can see where holding a guitar or banging on a keyboard would at least give a bit the feel of a live performance.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Recording vocals at home has just always been a state of mind for me. I've been doing it for so long now that I know what I need to do. But I feel I have a distinct advantage in that I know I'm never going to sing these songs live. So I won't sing to the entirety of the instrumentation. I'll sing to the guitar and drums or bass and drums or guitar and percussion or bass and percussion and sometimes just the guitar or main supporting instrument that enables me to work in the melody. The other thing is that I'm not under any illusions about some general {yet obscure} standard of what constitutes "feeling." A vocal is an important part of the song but it's also an instrument so I approach it that way. Also, I have friends that sing for me and we don't have time to spend learning the ins and outs. If someone is going to sing 3 songs in 2 hours, then I have the melody worked out and the singer sings. My head is not in that "we must do 20 takes" kind of thing. I'm in a 50s/60s mode where the vocalist did their stuff in a take or two. I often laugh at the fact that 4 songs would be recorded in 3 hours ~ 4 complete songs ! So I take each vocal verse by verse, chorus by chorus and we run through them until we get it as I want it. I'm not fussy. I'm nearly always happy with the vocal. It takes a bit of work but not much.
I can totally understand the need to be playing an instrument while singing as one records in order to feel comfortable, but........at the end of the day recording is a different discipline. It really is. It's a bit like being able to play to a click/metronome. For me it's no good saying "I just can't do it." Yes you can. It's a different discipline, like cutting wood with an electric saw as opposed to a hand saw. Recording introduces a whole range of disciplines that make it different to singing live. It is no coincidence that as soon as the technology was developed to facilitate recording in stages, that became the norm. If multitracking had existed from the get-go, the idea of everyone being in the studio together and doing everything together in one go would have been the novelty.
 

musicturtle

New member
Well then........try it. Then you'll know if that will work for you. It's not uncommon for any vocalist to do any number of retakes. Many times singers sing another track of the same vocal and in production you can mix and match the best of all the takes. Cut and paste....etc.

The more experience you get in recording your own vocals......the better you'll get and you'll know what method works for you.

You can record your vocal with your keyboard if you want to. You don't have to keep your keyboard track.

Some things I would suggest...

Most importantly....DO NOT GIVE UP! It will come with practice and like mentioned above it is a different skill than singing live.

Warm up your voice, sing a few times without headphones and the tracks coming through the speakers before you start recording.

Always have a copy of your lyrics in front of you when recording.

Take the headphones partially or entirely off of one of your ears. Many people have trouble hearing their voice correctly through headphones until they get used to it.

I would recommend continuing to record without playing piano. If you focus entirely on the vocal, with practice, the result will be better.

Just my thoughts. YMMV
 

CoolCat

Well-known member
It is no coincidence that as soon as the technology was developed to facilitate recording in stages, that became the norm. If multitracking had existed from the get-go, the idea of everyone being in the studio together and doing everything together in one go would have been the novelty.
Glyn Johns book he mentions the missing band and bleed sounds make the recording more "energy" or whatever. A dude talking about recording Dylan was like that too, to get the vibe of the musicians playing off each other as bands do.
The tracking one note at a time, being sarcastic, is what the home solo thing offers with unlimited tracks which is great compared to wearing out tapes on the old portastudio 4 track..

what'd george harrison say on his last protools album, you dont even have to know how to sing anymore, correct it all in the computer. I dont think its come that far..... but Ive gotten lazier and will edit instead of redoing the whole track.

There is something funny about the old stories of mixing albums in days and mastered then out.....and now I know HR mixes going on for 2 yrs ....weird?
 
With practice you will build up a workflow that works for you. It's difficult at first trying to do it all by yourself... I used to think that even having someone just to press the "Record" button would work wonders for the process... but now that I've got my workflow down, it's not a big deal. As others have said, practice a couple times singing the song before recording... try with headphones on and with one ear out... It helps to set things up prior to "hitting record". I like to go section by section make a set of regions or loops of sections that feel good and will help your timing when they come back around... so you can sing the first part over and over a few times, this will give you multiple takes and give you better familiarity with the melody/timing of that particular section. Repeat this for all the sections of the song... it'll be easier the more you do it... and you'll almost "know" when it's time to move onto the next section, because you'll feel like you've nailed that part. Which is difficult when you're singing a 3-4 minute song all the way through, and you keep missing a part here or there or not hitting a note in certain spots... then you'll have to wait another 3 minutes to get back to that spot... and... miss it again... do it section by section and you'll know when you've got it. Best of luck! It gets easier with time.

Edit: Just wanted to mention, that while "section by section" is how the "pro's" get a "pro" sounding track, many people still feel like "if you didn't sing the entire song, all the way through... it's cheating!" which is another topic all together, but we're all here trying to make the best "recording" possible. If you want, and it makes you feel better, after going through "section by section" to nail each part... setup another track and sing the song through multiple times with your "good" vocal performance in the background to sing along with... it just might help you with your timing and melody and you'll have some "complete" performances to choose from now.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
Glyn Johns book he mentions the missing band and bleed sounds make the recording more "energy" or whatever. A dude talking about recording Dylan was like that too, to get the vibe of the musicians playing off each other as bands do.
The tracking one note at a time, being sarcastic, is what the home solo thing offers with unlimited tracks which is great compared to wearing out tapes on the old portastudio 4 track..

what'd george harrison say on his last protools album, you dont even have to know how to sing anymore, correct it all in the computer. I dont think its come that far..... but Ive gotten lazier and will edit instead of redoing the whole track.

There is something funny about the old stories of mixing albums in days and mastered then out.....and now I know HR mixes going on for 2 yrs ....weird?
When I spoke of doing things in stages I wasn't referring to one component at a time. Some home recorders have to do it that way just by the very nature of the variety that exists within the plethora of folk that record at home, but I don't think it's preferable. Having said that, if the end goal is something a person listens to, it really doesn't matter how it came about. I don't care if a movie has lots of CGI as long as I can't tell.

Much of what I said was in the context of a vocalist that feels they have to record their vocal while playing a keyboard or guitar. My point is that they do not and there is a discipline to recording a vocal without something to prop one up like an instrument. And that over half a century back, the means existed for things to be done that way. George Harrison didn't do live vocals when he was a Beatle after 1963 and loads of instrumentalist vocalists didn't either.

If I had a regular band that had all day and all night to rehearse my songs and play them in studio bookings, I'd do some things differently to the way I've developed over the years. Sometimes, sheer lack of time for the home recorder means that they have to be both an adept player and an adept editor ! And both become part of the process.
 

grimtraveller

If only for a moment.....
do it section by section and you'll know when you've got it
When I first began recording back in '92, my whole thing was to capture a song in one go. That's what I had done in the previous 10 years when jamming. But when you're doing some pieces that were 22 mins long, the jamming mind has to die, especially if there are certain parts you want to be a particular way and they don't get done that way. It took me a number of years to finally realize that sections was the way to go. There had been a number of songs I'd been recording with friends in which a mistake would occur or it wouldn't feel right and we'd punch in and it eventually became common sense for me to approach a longer piece in sections. Not every song is recorded that way but a number have been. In the last session I did with a friend who plays drums, we recorded 7 songs, 2 of which was him re~doing drums but of the other 5, 2 were done in sections, the other 3 were done in one go.
The great thing about sectioning is that you are rehearsing as you record. If you happen to catch the section well, move on. If not, do it again. I think of it as a win~win.
 

Felipe Carvalho

New member
Sup, my 50 cents as a singer and voice teacher.

Recording in multiple takes can be a very powerful tool to study, or a crutch, it depends really on how it´s used.

It´s one thing to do multiple takes, all perfectly usable, or 90% usable, and then choose the ones you think that fit best.

Another thing is to keep doing takes until something good happens by luck.

While I do not think there is something wrong with doing the later, that can be seen as cheating (as you probably will never replicate that again), and most likely won´t make you sing better as a consequence of doing it...


But as a study tool, it´s awesome. Since the option is studying the song without recording what you are doing and comparing what is an actually better choice and making the call listening to what happened. Later, you can just do a final take and sing it on one go or, two or three takes for a long song.

Cheers!
 
There is no cheating. This isn't a sport. Are you trying to capture a live rehearsal/concert, warts and all, or are you trying to record the best possible song? A recording is "forever", so make sure it's the best it can possibly be.
 

Snowman999

Member
I'm just throwing this out there. Sorry if someone already mentioned it. Record your keyboard on one track. Then turn the keyboard off, and play along with a turned off keyboard. The only thing you'd have to look out for is your fingers hitting dead keys. But, if you position the mic properly it should work with very little noise.
 

spantini

COO of me, inc.
I write all of my songs on guitar, then sing along with that. When recording, I do the guitar alone then add the vocal later. Singing without playing the guitar is an extremely detached experience but I'm getting used to it. So far, I haven't played the actual guitar while tracking my vocal but I have gone to air guitar at times. When I'm laying down the guitar first, I sing along (no mic) with closed headphones (both ears) as it helps with the feel. I can hear enough in my head to stay with it.

I recorded a series of acoustic and vocal tunes that way and there were several spots where the vocal was off just a smidge. Not offensive, but noticeable when less FX were involved.
 
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