Why you should record yourself all the time.

As performers and writers of music there is an important question that we need to constantly ask ourselves – “Is what I am doing really any good?”

Is the song that you have just written a good song?

Is that groove really as funky as you think?

And now I’ve got this great riff, when I play it, does it sound as good as it could?…

How can you tell what you’re doing is any good?

A great solution is to record yourself.
Record everything. Record all your rehearsals, all your gigs, all your demos, all your song ideas, everything.

Something happens when you put things on tape. We can all listen to the radio and say “That’s crap” or “That’s great”. We’ve had lots of practise listening to and judging music we hear. But when we play our own music, our eyes (and ears) glaze over with dreams of rock superstardom (or whatever) and our brain can’t hear what we’re really playing. Putting it on tape allows you to listen with that critical part of the brain that you’ve used all your life to choose music you really like.

Once you’ve recorded your song or idea, you can listen back and hear that the instrumental section takes away the impact of the chorus, the guitar part is fun but destroys the mood of the song, the busy bass part is distracting or that ‘lose’ and ‘obtuse’ really don’t rhyme. (Listen for good ideas that you may have missed too – musical accidents have made hit songs).

Then listen to your actual playing.
You’ll hear where the drummer is slowing down, how the bass and drums are out, how the riffs lack impact because they’re sloppy or how the singer can’t reach that note…

This requires a lot of honesty with your band mates and with yourself. If you’re convinced that your material and playing can’t be improved, compare it to a recording by an established artist. Don’t make excuses or settle for near enough.

And every time you play on tape (which should be every time you play) imagine that you’re keeping it forever and make it good.

You have a lot of choices for gear to record with. Make it simple to use, portable and quick to set up.

Simple to use because you don’t want to have to think about it – you’re busy being creative, portable because it has to go where you go and quick to set up because when inspiration strikes you have to be ready.

I use ProTools LE (with an Mbox) and a very cheap laptop. The laptop won’t even run the ProTools demo but it meets all my other needs (and I’ve used it for tracking commercial recordings).

There are lots of options available like hard disc recorders and even hand held mP3 recorders. Even a cassette 4-track is something!

Take the plunge and then use it all the time – it will be one of the best career
investments you make.

As always, if you have any questions, email us on help@independentmusic.com.au or head over to our contact page to organise a free, no obligation introductory lesson.

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