Previous: 6. Record three vocal tracks.

7. Action: Comp your lead vocal.

Ingredients: The three vocal takes you just recorded.

Explanation: Continuing our exploration of how to record vocals, we arrive at the point of putting it together. To comp is to combine different tracks into one track.

Take a piece of paper and write out a chart with the song layout above. On the left side, write " safe track," " take two," " take three." Listen to each takes and give a score for each section of the song. You will see where your performance is strongest.

Choose the track that is most consistently excellent to be your main track. Then, examine any sections where it gets a lower score than the other tracks. Before copying another track to this main track, make sure that the mix will be smooth. Don't cut any of the words, and, even more importantly, make sure that the vocal tone will fit in. I recommend copying the best track to a new track, and doing all your editing there. Cut and paste on to that track, so you don't lose the original version if something should go wrong.

You want this to be as seamless as possible. On Sonar, which I use, you "split" the source track at the beginning and end of the section you wish to use, and drag it to the final vocal track. Check the Help function on your music software to see how your multitrack program does it.

If you are using a multitrack hardware recorder, cutting and pasting are done differently. You'll be simply dubbing the source track onto the final vocal track with punch in and out. For example, you enable recording on the track you wish to be your final take, and solo the track you're copying from. Rewind to a little bit before, and punch in and out at the appropriaite time. Use the recorder's practice function, and auto-punch for maximum safety.

It may happen that you want to rerecord a phrase or section. This is allowed, but be sure that you know -- not just hope you'll figure out -- exactly what you have to do to get it right. Otherwise, you are inviting frustration and waste of time.

Result: Your lead vocal is ready.

Next 8. Record your backing vocals (if any).



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