Benedykt Gaylie from Vancouver, BC would like to make his own recordings. He writes “I am a singer and I would like to record my songs by myself, CD or DVD. Can you give me some advice? I am not a computer wise.”
Hi, Benedykt. Thanks for the great question!
This is a terrific time to be a creative person. We are no longer at the whim of agents, publishers, and labels to get our work out there. As a writer, for instance, I’m able to write and format my stories on my computer, sell the eBooks on Amazon and then record audio versions of them for sale on Audible. All without anyone taking 10% of my profits. And singers have similar paths open to them.
You didn’t mention if you want to make your recordings just for yourself and friends, or if you want to make professional recordings to sell, so I’ll cover all of the bases in these articles.
I’m going to assume that you don’t want to spend a lot of money on this, at least initially, so I’ll show you a great free recording program that’s featured in our Tech Tips a lot, Audacity. I would, however, recommend spending some money on a decent mic. If you have a bad mic, then no amount of processing and post editing will help you. You can download Audacity by clicking here: Once you download and unpack the program, you’ll see an interface that looks like this:
The basic recording controls are pretty self-explanatory… pause, play, skip back, skip forward and record. Directly below that, you have input and output volumes. Make sure that your input volume is set so that the levels rarely or never go into the red, or you’re going to have a distorted recording.
Now, you didn’t mention if you’re recording alone or with someone else or instruments. Of course, if you’re recording with others or instruments, one way to do that is to simply get everyone in the room with the mic, hit record and make music! But, if you want to have a more professional recording, or if you’re layering your own voice (a la Billy Joel in Glass Houses), then here’s how you do it.
First, record your basic track. Now, if you need to stop for some reason and want to pick up where you left off, you’d use SHIFT+R. Once the basic track is recorded, simply hit record, and it will lay the second track under the first one. You can do this as many times as you need to, with a separate track for each voice or one for the vocal and one for each instrument or whatever. When you listen to it, you’ll hear the tracks together. They might look like this:
You’ll notice that I have the MUTE button highlighted on track one. This is because as you’re recording track two, you’ll be able to hear the first track, which is fine if you want, but you can also mute it so that you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
In our next article, we’ll talk about post-editing.
I hope that this helps!