What is tracking when recording music and what does it mean?
When it comes to producing music, there are certain terms that many recording artists just do not understand. Both sound engineers and producers alike use specific terminology amongst each other within the studio. One widely misunderstood term is “tracking” or “vocal tracking”. So what exactly does tracking mean in the world of music recording, and why is recording more often than not referred to as tracking? This purpose of this article is to clarify what the term “tracking” really means in the music production process. It’s about understanding.
Understanding tracking in the music production process:
In the context of recording music, tracking is the process of recording individual parts or “tracks” of a song individually. These tracks can include anything from vocals to various musical instruments such as guitars, drums, or bass. Each track is recorded separately and layered on top of each other during the mixing stage to create a complete, cohesive song.
The reason music professionals work like this? The sound engineer will have more control over every element of your song. For example, if a guitarist makes a mistake while recording you don’t have to re-record the whole band, you can just re-record that particular guitar track. Say you want to adjust the volume of the drums compared to other instruments during the post-production process, having individually recorded tracks makes this possible.
Why exactly is vocal recording called vocal tracking?
Now that we understand what tracking generally means, let’s take a look at why recording vocals is often referred to as vocal tracking. The term “vocal tracking” specifically refers to the process of recording vocals in isolation from other elements within a song, like background vocals or instruments. Recording vocals such as leads, doubles, and improvisations (ad-libs) on individual tracks has several important benefits:
1- You will have more control over your vocal performance. Both rappers and singers can perform at their best by focusing solely on their vocals without any distractions from any other elements that were previously recorded.
2- It provides for more flexibility during the mixing process. By recording the vocals on separate tracks, sound engineers have more freedom to adjust volume levels or apply effects without affecting other elements within the song.
3- It increases the flexibly of the mixing process. By recording vocals on separate tracks, engineers have more freedom to adjust volume levels and apply effects without affecting other elements in the song. It also helps to avoid audio bleed from other instruments which can compromise vocal clarity.
The importance of tracking in music production:
Tracking plays an important role in modern music production because it provides great control and flexibility over every element of a song. By splitting each part into a separate track, producers and sound engineers can adjust everything from volume levels and panning positions (where the sound is placed in the stereo field) to equalization (adjusting frequencies for balance) and compression (controlling dynamics). You can fine-tune every aspect of your mix, and add effects such as reverb and/or delay.
Additionally, tracking also allows collaborations between musicians who aren’t physically present together at the same studio location at the same time. With today’s advancements in digital audio workstations (DAWs), artists can record their parts individually at different locations and times and then combine them later on into one cohesive song.
Tracking is a crucial part of modern music production that provides unparalleled control over each element within a song. Whether it’s adjusting volume levels, applying effects during post-production, or facilitating remote collaborations between musicians, all of these options are made possible thanks to tracking.
When it comes down to specifically why recording is called tracking, it’s all about providing an environment where rappers, singers, and band members can focus solely on delivering their best performance, while also offering sound engineers more flexibility during the mixing stage to achieve optimal sound quality.
So the next time you listen to your favorite song just remember, behind that harmonious sound lies a very careful process called “tracking” which played a key role in bringing that piece of music to life!
Please be sure to check out our next educational blog… What is the difference between editing and mixing?
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