Recording technique is a skill that improves with practice. But there's some things you can do, even if it's your first song, that will help you get a better recording. Any engineer will tell you, a high quality performance up front means there's less that needs to be done in the mix. So to help you track vocals better, here's 5 quick things you can implement immediately.
Warm Up Your Voice
It blows my mind how many artists, especially rappers, don't warm up their voice before hitting the booth. Your larynx aka voicebox is a collection of muscle, ligaments, and mucous membrane. If a pro athlete warms up their most used muscles before a game, why shouldn't you? In addition to preventing injury, warmups can have a great psychological effect. You'll walk into your session more prepared and confident after a warmup. You'll also discover inflictions and voices that you'll be able to use in the future.
Perform Your Actual Verse While Checking Levels
When an engineer says they want to check your levels, give this process your utmost attention. This is the time where the engineer is trying to set the volume around what your song will require. One quick way to make this a more accurate process is to actually rap or sing your verse during mic checks. Usually artists will simply say "mic check 1, 2" or will perform their verse half-heartedly. It's pointless to whisper during the level check only to then scream a verse while recording. Your engineer will have to adjust volumes and you'll likely clip, potentially ruining a recording. Treat the level check like a real recording so you or your engineer can set volumes right from the jump.
The Tape On The Floor Trick
Most recordings aren't done in one take from start to end. You'll likely step away from the mic in between vocal takes. Because of this, you might record each verse from a different distance to the mic. This makes the volume different each time, and can change the overall timbre of your voice. To fix this, once you find a distance you like, put a piece of tape on the ground by both of your toes. This is now your recording spot. Every recording take you do should be from this spot. This will keep your distance and angle to the mic as consistent as possible.
Perfect Your Monitor Mix Early
Direct monitoring refers to being able to hear your voice in the headphones as you record. You should take the time to get a comfortable mix of your vocal and the beat early in your recording process. Make sure you can hear your voice front and center. Also make sure you can hear the music, especially the rhythm section, clearly. If you start recording and have to adjust the balance between beat/vocal later, there's a strong chance you'll sing at a different volume to compensate for the change. You end up with vocals that are vastly different levels of loudness, and now your engineer has to use more of that session time to fix the issue. Get a good monitor mix early and leave it alone.
Stabilize Your Line of Sight
Whether you write on paper or a phone, stabilizing the surface that your lyrics are on while you record will keep you from moving your head left and right too much. Some of us can hold a pad or phone with no problems. Congrats if that's you. But if you find yourself moving your line of sight a lot, ask if there is a music stand or surface you can place your lyrics on. In addition to keeping your head movements minimized, freeing your hands can often help with posture and breath control. Mobile phone writers, invest in a $15 gooseneck Phone holder that you can clamp to a mic stand. It's worth it.
None of these tips require a big studio, but they all can go a long way in making your music sound more professional. The next time you have some recording to do, pull these tips up and start to internalize the process. And if you need beats for your next session, visit my beat page.
Remember when we first started hearing the term "mumble rap"? Initially it referred to rappers that had lyrics we couldn't easily understand. But lately it's an umbrella term used to often inaccurately describe a majority of the new artists. This "one size fits all" narrative has unfortunately ushered in a divide between some of the older participants in hiphop, and the youth trying to forge their path in the game. I personally think lumping everyone into this tag is dismissive, and ironically it reminds me of when my generation and peers got lumped into being strictly "backpack" rap fans, and underground MCs.
Sean Price "The 3 Lyrical Ps" feat. Prodigy & Styles P (Prod. Harry Fraud)
Rest in Power to the God's. Peace to OG Styles P who continues to carry the torch for The LOX. Share this post for the culture.
With Moog's recent Black Friday sale, I've been receiving a lot of inquiries about my previously uploaded Model 15 x Ableton Rack. A few users reported installation issues, so I figured it'd be a good time to update the rack. Version 2.0 utilizes "Control Change 8" from Robert Henke, replacing "8ccs" from the previous version for anyone who had errors with that file. It should load directly from the Ableton project but is included just in case. (Thanks Robert!). I've also corrected defaults on certain parameters and added info text for each bank that explains what's being controlled.
Once you download and unzip the file above, in order to make everything work, you'll need to install the included CC Map into the App. The quickest way is to Airdrop or Message the file labeled "MODEL15 CCMAP.m15c" to your iOS device. Opening this on your iOS device will load Model 15 and apply the CC Mapping to the app. To verify the Mapping loaded correctly, go to Settings > MIDI> scroll down and select Save/Load CC Map. Click save and name your mapping whatever you choose.
Next, open the file labeled "SentZ Moog Model 15 Rack 2.0.alp" on your computer. This will prompt you to choose an install location, so Install anywhere you'll remember and open the session that's created once everything unpacks. The session will open up Ableton with the Rack loaded. You can then click the disk on the rack to save it automatically to your "MIDI Effects Racks" or you can drag and drop it to the location of your choice. Configure the settings on the included External Instrument track and your off
The Rack is divided and labeled into a few banks to better group functions together:
Bank1: 921 A/B Oscs: Controls the Driver Oscillator (921A) and the 921B Oscillators
Bank 2: 921 VCO OSC: Controls the 921 VCO Oscillator, Rectangular Width, Auxiliary Output Waveforms and Clamping Point Sections
Bank 3: FILTER/HP/LP: Controls the Main 904A VCO LP Filter. Aux HP and LP refer to the independent filters to the right of the 921B Oscillators. FixFilLP and FixFilLP control the Low Pass and High Pass knobs of the Fixed Filter Bank 907A
Bank4: FixFltr: Controls each frequency band of the Fixed Filter Bank 907A. (Again, the Low and High pass knobs are located in Bank 3
Bank 5: ADSR Envelopes: Controls the 2 ADSR Envelope Generators 911. Note, the layout has been "corrected" to the standard ADSR instead of the Model 15's native ADRS envelope layout.
Bank 6: MIX/ATTEN 995: Controls the Mixer levels and levels of the Attenuator 995, located to the right of the Fixed Filter Bank 907A
Bank 7: Del/R Att/ Amp: Controls the delay parameters, Amplifiers, and Reversible Attenuators. RevAttn1 refers to the module located to the right of the Mixer. 2 and 3 refer to the Reversible Attenuators next to the Delay (2 on top, 3 on the bottom)
For your convenience, an External Instrument device is also nested at the end of the rack.
Be sure to comment if you'd like to see additional mappings for other iOS synths. Odds are, I own it already :)
If you aren't already, check out my music production, engineering, and dj podcast, Lab Science.
Peace and happy Mooging!
If you've ever played a first person shooter like Call of Duty you're probably familiar with a "Free for All". In one of these types of battles, everyone on the map is an enemy. Your radar is literally filled with little blips you need to strategically avoid while still being on the attack. Negative experiences can be looked at in the same way, little dots on your radar that try to pull you from your goal. The difference with life verses a game though is you don't have any way of seeing all of the dots of negativity. Sometimes you can see them from a distance, but often they often just pop up out of nowhere. What's worse is they tend to cloudy up the rest of our radar so we can't even see other problems around or respond well to the moment. It's important for your happiness and your progress as an artist to learn how to armor up and deal with that. Fortunately there's some easy and actionable steps you can take without buying anything new or reinventing the wheel.
Lab Scientists we are reporting live from #909Day and the thirst for new gear is real. Captain Lean Automatic is currently vacationing in Puerto Rico’s finest beaches and trap spots, so Professor SentZ is here dolo to give you the low low, on all this new Roland goodness. We’re also answer a chunk of questions from our Lab Scientist submissions. If you’d like to submit a question, reach out at LabSciencePodcast@gmail.com.
This week we’re also proud to announce Lab Science University, our online curriculum dedicated to Digital DJing and Production. Our first 4 courses are already up, including a 3 part Digital DJing with Traktor Basics course and a primer on Sampling in Ableton Live.
Visit http://bit.ly/LabScienceU to enroll.
Salute to our Patreon supporters, we hope y’all are enjoying the Uptown Drumssample kit you got as a thank you for the contribution. We’ve got a new sample pack for supporters going up this week, Ableton users get excited :) Support us for $10 and get access to our bi-weekly sample / inspiration kits.
Visit http://bit.ly/HelpTheLab to support.
One of our Lab Scientist questions came from Aderra and we promised to post a link to an article that will help with phasing! You’ll find it below! Shout to the guys at Omega Recording Studios for the tip
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Peace all, Professor SentZ here. I'd like to Introduce the Lab Brief, a short segment in between episodes where we discuss quick, actionable tips and scene announcements that we think you'll enjoy. Today Professor SentZ discusses some ways to maximize your practice routines whether you're a DJ, performer, or play an instrument. We'll also discuss how to manage the expectations of other creatives in the crowd during your sets.
If you'd like to support the podcast consider contributing as little as $1 to our Patreon Page to help with hosting and advertising fees. We've secured a pretty dope venue for our 1st NYC Meet & Greet, help us fund some big tings.
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Booking your first DJ gig is a huge accomplishment. You're leaving that bedroom setup and taking your mildly awkward Milly Rock skills to the public. In the excitement, there's a good chance that you'll forget some things, so I've compiled 8 questions to ask yourself before your debut that will give you a comfier first ride than a married couple that saved themsel.... never mind.
Do I have all of my required equipment?
It's essential to do a walk through of a space, or have a conversation with the venue about what equipment is available, so you can bring whatever they don't have. Some places have mixers, some don't. Some places have mixers that somehow predate disco. The point is, find out before you get there and write a checklist of the items that you need to pack, down to the cables and power strip. You should also use your walkthrough to scout general logistics like booth and speaker layout. If possible, ask if you can come in before operating hours a few days before the event to do an actual sound check, and make sure everything works. Take photos during the walkthrough too so you can reference the layout and booth setup. You can use these photos for promotion leading into the event too.
DJs can sometimes be the biggest dickheads in the world when they notice another DJ using something they don't. I started on vinyl, but always considered myself a producer first, so as controllers hit the market, I gravitated to them pretty quickly. In 2008, I grabbed a Hercules RMX and a much uglier version of Traktor, and started spinning out in Brooklyn, New York. Unlike my techno DJ counterparts who could get away with embracing technology, I was bringing this nerdy shit into underground rap and funk rooms with some of the best vinyl selectors in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy. The clowning was real.
One thing I noticed quickly though was that the criticism only came from current, and aspiring DJs. The dancing crowd itself couldn't care less what I was using to play, they just appreciated the selection, and the execution. The biggest thing I began to hear was, "I'm so glad you don't play the same thing every week like DJ XYZ" and that made me put my energy into prepping great crates and practicing instead of worrying about haters. You have to take the same approach. Understand that discouraging figures are going to try to steal your energy and enthusiasm. Don't let them. Ever.
The largest Traktor Remix Set in the world has arrived, and it's full of punchy drums and sub bass for live remixing. Introducing The Rap Pack: Rhythm, a collection of 192 Hip-Hop Drum and Bass loops of varying styles that can be mixed and matched for an infinite amount of combinations. We had to stretch everything across 3 Remix Decks just to fit it all!
Most Remix Decks are merely stripped down versions of pre-existing songs, and as such offer less oppurtunity to make something new and fresh. That's where we come in. Our Remix Decks are laid out with live remixing and experimentation in mind. The Rap Pack is sorted and labeled chromatically, so you can easily scroll to a page containing the exact key you want, and kick's sub-bass will be tuned correctly, keeping your remix from sounding like a mess. Each note contains four rows of sounds, with columns organized by instrument type (Kick, Snare, Hats, Percussion)
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SentZ is a Brooklyn raised writer and producer who hasn't been the same since his 1st Helio phone