Part 2: Prep Work
Make sure your musicians have everything they need to successfully record for your project. You’ll want to create the following materials:
- Stereo Mockup – let them hear your mockup so they know what you’re going after.
- Mix minus – create a mockup that excludes the instrument being recorded. If you’re recording multiple instruments you’ll have multiple mix-minuses. Make sure they are clearly labeled. If you’re recording a choir it can be very helpful to provide a choir piano guide.
- Click track – provide a recorded audio click track.
- MIDI file – provide a MIDI file of your mockup, that way your musicians can import it into their DAW when recording
- PDFs of the music – again, this is obvious, but make sure you remember to have clear PDFs of the part(s) you need recorded.
- Instructions – if you have any particular instructions make sure they’re either included as a PDF or in an email. Even if you discuss them, make sure they’re in writing. People can forget things that were discussed, having it in writing helps.
Notation needs to be more detailed than it might be otherwise. Remember, unlike a normal in-person session where you can give immediate feedback during the recording in real time, the musician is on his/her own when recording remotely. You may want more dynamic markings than you might otherwise use. Make sure phrasing is clearly indicated. If you want specific bowing from the strings, make sure you notate it clearly. For choirs if you want staggered breathing on long notes, you may want to indicate breathing points and assign them to different individuals to make sure you get staggered breathing rather than a lot of people breathing simultaneously. It’s OK to add written directions in plain English to describe what you’re after.
When working with a limited amount of singers, you can have phone or skype conversations with each singer. But if you’re recording many singers for a virtual choir it might be better to record a short video or audio clip of yourself demonstrating what you’re after. Consider that even something as simple as indicating “ooh” can be interpreted in different ways. But if you can provide a brief demo of what you’re after that can be super helpful. You don’t have to record the entire thing just “pp ooh means this, [sing an ooh]” or “In bars 40-56 I’m looking for this kind of tone or attitude [sing a snippet]”