RecordingTechniques-3


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From Taranaa Tarang

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By Azam Khan

Recording Kajra Re has been an enlightening, full of joy, and satisfying experience. There are really no hard and fast rules to do a group recording. I am only explaining one of the approaches out of many, based on my own experience. This may not be the best and definitely, is not the last way of doing such a task.


Click here to listen to Kajra Re


Post-Recording Prep

As usual, here are some of the preps that would be helpful in completing a group recording:


1. Print out complete lyrics, line by line. Sometimes, repeated lines are listed as Kajra re Kajra re tere kare kare naina - 2. Rewrite lyrics so that there are two lines as follows:

Kajra re Kajra re tere kare kare naina

Kajra re Kajra re tere kare kare naina

This is better because one person may sing one line and the other sing the second.


2. Assign each singer his/her lines to sing. Each singer should highlight, italicized or whatever other way to isolate and identify his part from the rest of the song. Remember not to print out lyrics for only your assigned part. Print lyrics for the full song but visually distinguish parts assigned to you.


3. Identify chorus parts (this should be part of #2). Special attention should be paid on chorus part to sing those parts, as close to the original as possible, so that after the mixing, all voices are in sync.


4. Now listen to the original and practice your part with it.


5. It is also a good idea to divide the complete song into sections, introduction, stanza 1, stanza 2, etc, and then the ending. This will help later during mixing.


Mixing

So, finally, you have all the parts that you need to mix for the final song.


1. Start with a common piece, that is, a piece that is sung entirely by males, females, or may be both. It was easier in Kajra Re since common pieces were noticeably divided between males and females.


2. I first finished the male part of the song. Cleaned up my voice-only track first. Then, cleaned up Dr. Siva's voice-only track. This clean up involves balancing volumes so both voices are at the same level. It may include noise removal, adjusting timing, and/or editing the track so that each male can sing simultaneously. Make sure you do not add any effects to the individual tracks yet unless something is drastically different amongst the tracks.


3. Aligned both voices with the music track. Listen to it several times to make sure it is what you want.


4. Now mix only voice-only tracks for the first common piece. In our case, I mixed my and Dr. Siva's voice-only tracks - without music track. Save this file, such as Kajra Re.Males.V1.mp3. Or whatever is your preferred way of identifying this specific tracks is, is fine.


5. Now repeat step 2-4 for the next common piece, that is, female voices in case of recording Kajra Re. Our song was decorated by the beautiful voices of Deblina, Leena, Bhavana, and Ameeta.


6. Female voices were more challenging to mix since there is only one female in the original song and we had four. But this needs to be taken care of in the beginning while assigning parts of the song to individual singer.


7. Now listen to the whole song over and over and pay attention to timing, volume level, and assigned part for each singer.


8. Now mix Males' voice-only track with that of females' voice-only track. This is your final voice-only track - the main body of the song.


9. Add effects to different portions of the final voice-only track as needed.


10. Now, fine-tune the song by adding alaaps, whistles, claps, etc on separate tracks. Each track should also be saved separately and then effects should be applied to it as needed.


End Result

The most useful, satisfactory output was obviously the mp3 file of the group song. Yet, I ended up with a trail of other files. I had been saving all those files for two reasons. First reason was that if I made a mistake then I have all originals to get back to and would not have to redo all the work. Second reason was that if I had to give parts of the song to someone else then I have it in a reusable form - again, to save time and avoid rework.


Following is a list of files that I ended up with at the end of the whole process:


1. Raw Files: All files sent by each and every member was preserved as is to secure it in the original form. For example, our group had 6 raw files: KajraRe.Siva.Raw.mp3, KajraRe.Leena.Raw.mp3, et al.


2. Clean Files: All raw files were cleaned up, if required. Again, that involved noise removal, volume adjustment, time alignment, editing for unneeded parts, etc. These files were saved separately as KajraRe.Siva.V1.mp3, KajraRe.Leena.V1.mp3, et al.


3. Sub-Group Files (Raw): Males' voices are mixed together and saved as Kajra Re.Males.V1.mp3. Females’ voices are saved as Kajra Re.Females.V1.mp3.


4. Sub-Group Files (with Effects): If necessary, each sub-group file can be applied with specific effects. Hence, this would result in a V2 (version 2) of sub-group files.


5. Group File (Raw): Combine sub-group files as final raw file, Kajra Re.V1.mp3


6. Group File (with Effects): This is optional since effects may already have been applied to sub-group files.


7. Final Audio File: Finally, save the last version with alaaps, claps, whistles, etc added.


From this point onward, if someone asks for only the male voice track, I can send Kajra Re.Males.V2.mp3 without spending any more time on it.


At the end, I want to thank all of my group members again for working really hard on this group song. It was a lot of fun and great learning experience doing this.

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