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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Apr 17 > FROM STUDIO TO RELEASE Recording A Band


In this latest instalment of our Studio To Release series, we’re going to be looking at the final piece of the recording stage of the project – capturing vocals. Mike Hillier holds the mic…

Recording Vocals

Part 3

As with the previous two features – and don’t worry, you needn’t have read those to understand this one – we’re focusing on the recording of two songs. The first is Fade Out, an electro-rock track by Lock, which features two female vocalists, Edie and Gita Langley, sharing lead and backing vocal duties equally. The second track is called Shore, by Reptile, which has a single male lead vocalist, Luke Cloherty, who is joined by additional backing vocals from Bill Gough and guest female vocalists Nat Mortimer (The Buffalo Cartel) and Morgan Sas.

Mike Hillier is our engineer – does he need to massage the band’s egos to get the best from them?


Vocals are usually the final part of the recording process, as it is important for the vocalist to have both a steady timing to sing along to, provided by the drums, as well as a well-structured harmonic progression provided by the rest of the instrumentation. It would, of course, be possible to record the vocals once the primary rhythm section (in the case of these two songs, that would be the drums, bass and guitar) is recorded; especially if the other instrumentation has to find space around the vocal. But even in these cases, the vocal is usually left to the end for psychological reasons – to help get the best performance from the vocalist – while a guide vocal is used to help build the arrangement.

You should record the vocals once the drums and guitar are recorded

Psychology and mood play an important role throughout recording, with some musicians needing the producer/engineer to tease out their best performance by massaging their egos, while others will require a completely different treatment. Some musicians take criticism well, taking everything on board and responding with better performances, while others need to be gently nudged in the direction of a better performance. The art of production lies in knowing how to deal with each musician individually. This applies doubly so to vocalists, and having a great-sounding backing track to sing along to can be the difference between a dull and lifeless take and the performance of a lifetime. Consequently, some producers try to set the mood by dimming the lights and bringing in props such as candles and incense to try and create a comfortable place for the vocalist to perform in.

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About MusicTech

In issue 169 of MusicTech we present the best dance, acoustic, band and soundtrack setups for all budgets in our massive cover feature, also this issue we speak to the guru of game music, the third part of our huge From Studio to Release feature: this time looking at recording vocals, we feature 6 of the best modular effects and review the latest hardware and software from the likes of Spitfire, Melda, Cableguys, TC Electronic, Apogee, Audified, UVI and more. PLUS free with this issue you get the complete guide to mastering, an exclusive supplement featuring all the best mastering content we’ve run last year
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