My Ableton Live workflow for recording vocals.

It’s 90F/30° in Berlin today (hot!) so instead of my normal routine of office work in the morning and then afternoon in the studio I had to reverse things. The only cool time on days like this is early so as soon as I got up I walked over. I’m recording vocals for an artist group from Milan, Italy called Biokip (www.biokip.com). They are a fashion label, a group of visual artists with a gallery and an electrohouse team.

I was wondering if other people who use Ableton Live record vocals in a similar way as I do. See the screenshot above? You can click it to view it full size. What I have here is a very basic drum beat and two simple melodies for the verse and chorus. I set up a scene for each and leave a bunch of empty clip slots in between them (vertically) so I can record a bunch of takes. I usually record 2-4 takes per verse. The blue arrows are pointing to the takes, white arrows are on the scenes. If I’m feeling crazy I will label them Verse 1-1, Verse 1-2, Verse 2-1, etc… More importantly I leave a blank clip slot between each verse.

After I have my takes I then switch over to Arrangement View, duplicate the Vocal channel three times, comp the vocals (take the best bits from each take) and then consolidate all the perfect bits by hitting Command-J.

So what else can I note here? Well, I usually record vocals right after I get the basic melody and drums. First off, your CPU is happy there isn’t much going on so you can knock down the CPU latency to 96ms while you monitor yourself singing. I also find it best to work out the melody and voice in a pure or simple state. If you get too far into a song and then try and add vocals there’s a chance they may just not work. Lastly, in case your wondering 90% of what I keep comes from the first verses I record. I guess I’m best when I’m not thinking too much.

I remember Cubase had some nice comping methods. I also know in Live you can record multiple takes in one shot and then slide the start flag in Clip View around but I still like seeing my takes separate.

What’s your method?