How to Make a Recording From Home
by Oliver Pashley
The recent lockdown has seen a rise in videos from confinement, with musicians reaching out and putting things out to entertain, soothe, comfort and connect with their audiences during this period of isolation and uncertainty. Thinking of making your own contribution to the crisis? Follow these easy steps below on how to make an effective quarantine home recording, based on recent personal experience.
Step One: Clear the Space
Some people have a home studio or a cavernous living room: good for them! For the rest of us, make sure you spend at least half an hour grunting as you shunt the sofa out of shot, only to knock over a potted plant and spend the next 20 minutes sweeping up soil you inadvertently trod into the rug. Balance potted plant precariously on hidden sofa. Place camera on stand. Notice face covered by glare from sun. Close all curtains. Switch on lamp. Lamp too dim. Move lamp closer – discover cord is too short. Hunt for extension cord. Realise instrument is still in its case.
Step Two: Test Your Microphone
We’ve all been in recording studios before, how hard can it be? Easy peasy – until you realise that no matter where you put your recording device it sounds like you’re either in a bathroom or some sort of chamber where all the walls are made of tin. Be sure to find the sweet spot just as the batteries run flat. No problem, just run to the shop. Oh, right, all the shops are closed.
Step Three: Record!
Or at least try to. Now, having created the illusion of a clear, calm space in which to record, you forget to shut your cat in the bedroom leading to a well-timed yowl interrupting your efforts. Cat secured in bedroom, it’s time to continue, just as the construction works opposite your flat start up. Try to snatch takes in-between angle grinders.
Top tip: spice up your takes with interruptions from unexpected home deliveries or distant car horns. For seasoned musicians, save the best take for last, where a motorbike roars past outside your window for that added panache. Perhaps you should just keep it in – people always say classical music isn’t cool enough, right?
After all this, finally get a take of something you like. By now the cat has almost scratched the door down and the potted plant is threatening to topple again. Release cat and replace plant. Now just the simple task of editing…
Step Four: Edit
Be sure to spend at least a whole afternoon on YouTube learning what compression and EQ actually are, along with learning all the other words you need to comprehend to understand the definition of the words you’re actually trying to learn. Finish the editing, feeling like the 100-word increase in your vocabulary is more than enough of a price to pay for hours and hours of bewilderment and confusion.
And there you have it – a simple step-by-step guide to making a recording from home. Feel free to adapt/omit steps as necessary – and take a moment when consuming all the wonderful content that musicians have produced over the last few months to reflect on their generosity of spirit and determination to continue to share their craft with us during one of the most challenging and bizarre times of recent history.