The moment the recording starts, the soul of your song is born. So before you enter the studio, it is beneficial to have a clear vision of what your song/recording will be in its final form. This can help inform your tracking sessions, in terms of musicians and instrumentation, and make planning for a song go much more smoothly.
You may discover new creative ideas throughout the recording process, but the DNA of a song starts with those first recordings.. Heavy guitars and drums will most likely elicit an aggressive and energetic vocal performance. Conversely, your vocal take will be more delicate and subdued if singing along with an intimate piano accompaniment. Think about the “bed” on which the song should lay, and set it in place first.
At the heart of every song is its melody. The melody is the “subject” of a song. A strong melody, delivered with passion and sincerity will propel a work from mediocrity into the stratosphere. Focus your efforts on defining and refining your melodic structure, and the nuances in the performance. When it comes time to record, track as many takes of the melody as you have time for, and don’t stop until you feel you have nailed it at least 3 times.
Once the rhythm and melody are in place, a song will begin to take on a life of its own. This is when creativity in the studio can take the song to new heights. Mandolins and big wooden drums, or fuzzy synth leads and hand claps may start to materialize in your imagination. Some songs, however, dictate a simpler approach. A more complex production isn’t necessarily the best approach, and it’s up to the artist and producer to determine how to bring out the best of a musical piece. Set your imagination free, but don’t lose sight of the heart and soul of the song. Adding the right amount of “spice” elevates a recording. But, as in cooking, adding too much spice can ruin a dish.