Recording a singer is very difficult, because the human voice has such a tremendous range. Many home studio owners find it very difficult or next to impossible to perfectly capture the energy of a song, and it’s similarly difficult to make a recording in which every lyric can be properly understood.
This is why home studios can often benefit from preparing a lyric sheet. Lyric sheets are exactly what they sound like–they’re paper with the lyrics of the song listed, and the home producer can use them to effectively get the most from every vocal performance. Here’s a quick guide to creating and using lead sheets.
Get all of the lyrics from the performer. Try to get them a few days before the recording session, as this will give you more time to prepare.
Break the lyrics into phrases and create a grid from the phrases. You’ll use the horizontal area of the grid to mark the performance of each take, and the vertical side to list the different phrases. For example, let’s say that I’m recording a two phrase vocal take with the lyrics, “Oooh baby I love you/Because you’re such a great music recording writer.” I’m going to record two full takes of both phrases, so I’d set it up like this:
Oooh Baby I love you (space for notes on take one) (space for notes on take two)
Because you’re such a great music recording writer (space for notes on take one) (space for notes on take two)
Record and take notes. Now, you can write how you feel about each phrase from each take as the vocalist is recording. Always have your singer do multiple takes–it’ll give you much more freedom in the mixing process. Mark a phrase as bad if it doesn’t have the right energy, it doesn’t sound good, or if the lyrics are incomprehensible.
Experiment. Come up with your own method for using your lyric sheet as you record vocals in your home studio. Find out what works. Essentially, you’re doing record keeping here, so the more accurately you’re able to use a lyric sheet and read your own notes, the better your vocal recordings will get.
I always rate each phrase on a scale of 1 to 10, for example, and I’ll have shorthand ready. I might scribble “UNINT” for unintelligble lyrics, which would automatically bring the phrase down below 5. I keep the vocalist recording until I have a 7-10 take for each phrase throughout the song, and I can be sure that I’ll be able to go back and mix a great sounding vocal later.
What are your tips for recording vocals in a home studio? Post below.