Alan Parson’s 10 Things Everyone Recording Music Should Know

Red Cover The MusicThing blog posted this very good article where Alan Parson lists 10 things everyone that records music should know. This should be framed and placed in the studio in case it is not obvious. Most of us learn this the hard way, after years of contradicting these simple statements.

I like short cables, especially live as tangling cables are nasty, but there’s always a practical limit. However, in my studio all cables are short as well as isolated from each other. I’m a big believer that the sound comes from the fingers and brain, give Steve Vai a $100 China-made guitar and it still will sound good and wild.

I do have some ancient recordings where I went wild with compression, to a point where one could feel distracted listening to the track with headphones. All the pumping and so on will not make people happy, you could get snappiness using other tools, too. I do predict that the huge usage of compression will slowly fade away as another trend that was overused the last ten years or so.

As for perfection, one could tweak takes to the extreme, but the beauty with musicians unlike computer algorithms is that a musician puts in a personal flavor concerning tempo and timbre, something that computer programs still have a hard time emulating. So why wipe that out? Even sloppy guitar playing sometimes has a place in a recording.

I must confess that I don’t log a lot of info into my productions. At the same time I try to keep them self-contained. I have opened up old recordings from 2001 or so and everything is in place for a retake or remix. So just keep everything self-contained. If you are worried about software synths no longer operating, flatten them out to audio or free the tracks in Logic. I do name tracks as having 30+ tracks everywhere with default names is just a pain for my little brain. I even colorize the tracks based on drums, bass lines, guitars, synth sections, voices and so on, for a quick visual overview of a project. Logic’s folders is also a good idea, stuff all drums into a folder and keep that around so you don’t need to have lots of tracks always visible.

It is true that a really good producer is introducing ideas to the artist or band that they in turn accepts. Sadly, the role of an external producer has been de-emphasized in this age of self-produced albums. In case collaboration again takes a bigger role, the job of a producer gluing things together will become something valuable. Hey, I’m available for production work!

And yes, Louie Louie  by Kingsmen was maybe the lousiest recording done ever in the history of pop  music, but the rest is history as the song carried it all. You could read about it on wikipedia, I like that they paid $36 for the recording session, and that the mike was placed close to the roof as the mike owner/producer was worried about the singer spitting on the mike as he was wearing braces, hence that ambient voice take. If the song is good and catchy, any arrangement, recording and production will carry it. It’s also a good test, could this song be played on stage with just a piano, or a guitar?

I don’t know of the rule of not trusting anyone in the music business with a vowel in their name. That’s a funny one.  Maybe using silly names might scare someone off. I prefer my own name through all my meager career in music, it works just fine, and sorry if there are others with my name and are confused with me, but that’s how it goes.

As for money, yes never expect anything, just do music and see what happens. Anyway, subscribe to MusicThing, it’s a very good blog.

One Comment:

  1. Great article Kent. I can totally relate to your tips given. I used to go a little crazy with compression for lack of not knowing how to get a better sound. The more i learned, the more I revisited older sessions and tuned them up.

    Great tip to color up the tracks and keep your groupings similar. Once I realized I had 16 tracks open, I needed to help my organization.

    As a musician and producer, I look forward to reading more of your articles.

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