You don’t need to record in order

This is going to be an extremely random first post in my blog’s new era, and, yes, I know that has nothing to do with the actual definition of the word “random.”

There’s a lot to be said for recording a song in the actual order of the song. It’s probably the best way to capture a valid emotional performance. If a song structure is intro + verse + chorus + verse + chorus + bridge + chorus + chorus + outro, then recording it in that order gives the best chances that verse/chorus 2 will differ a little from verse/chorus 1 in some meaningful way. I wouldn’t normally recommend deviating from that linear recording process.

But you don’t have to record that way. There are times when it’s better to record all the verses, then all the choruses, then the bridge, etc. This has worked out well for me in the following situations:

  • The song is hard to play, so the performers prefer to focus first on playing the verses, then, having successfully recorded the verses, move on to the choruses, etc.
  • The song arrangement is being developed while recording, so you literally don’t know how the choruses should sound until you’ve heard the verses.
  • Some sort of logistical problem. For example, the chorus is a duet with another singer who’s not currently available, in which case you can go ahead and record the verses without that singer.
  • The verse and chorus instrumentation are different, requiring different mic setups.

This is probably a really obvious observation, but it was something that kind of snuck up on me. I guess I’m just used to living in a world where Tuesday always follows Monday, and Wednesday always follows Tuesday. Of course, this idea of recording out of order is probably second nature to filmmakers.

Now if could only schedule all my weekends for the next year back-to-back over the next 52 days…

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