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4 Tips To Conquer Red Light Syndrome


Your first question may be what is Red Light Syndrome? Red Light Syndrome is when an artist is rhythmically talented, but under pressure in a recording studio easily cracks. MusicThinkTank compiled a list of ways you can conquer your fear of RLS!

“It’s that little red flashing light that goes on when you’re in the studio and the producer hits record. You’ve practiced your whole life for this moment, you’ve got this, you shred your instrument, but then, all of a sudden, when the red light goes on, you’ve suddenly forgotten what a drumstick is. It happens to us all at some point. Something about the idea that whatever you play is under the microscope, every screw up, every imperfection, all there to haunt you for the rest of eternity. The biggest bummer of all is, there’s absolutely no way to practice for this situation other than actually being recorded! That is to say, the only way to practice not sucking while being recorded, is to actually suck while being recorded – inevitably pissing off your band mates, and producer, and manager, not to mention your parents who spent all that cash on drum lessons… It can be a painful rite of passage as a musician.

Bury The Click
Turn the click on and play directly with the beats of the click. So 1to1 tapping with each note of the metronome. Then, with the click still on, play it back and listen for notes that are offset from the click. You’ll probably hear a few that are ahead or behind the click. Start noting how long you can go without any offset notes. See if you can build up to a few minutes of perfectly dead-on notes with the click. This is gonna be harder than you might think, so don’t get bummed if you practice this for a week straight and still hear all kinds of notes rushing or dragging. Good things take time.

Make Friends With The Click
A lot of people fight the click while recording. Violently stomping your foot ‘in time’ as if that will somehow connect you with the time better is the opposite of what you wanna do. This just creates friction between you and the click. The best thing to do (and what I mean by “making friends with the click”) is to just listen to it. Use your ears while you’re recording. Did you know that it’s impossible to listen while you’re talking? Think about that for a second… Stomping your foot is kinda like talking over the click so when you allow yourself to actually just relax and listen you’ll be on your way to a very fruitful, almost sensual relationship with that little robotic chirp sound.

Multi-track with the Click
Throw on the click and record a kick drum pattern (or just pound on a table if you’re not next to a kit). Only focus on the kick sound for track 1. Then on track 2, record a snare pattern (or snap, clap, tap, you get it). Next up on track 3, put down another layer of some kind. Get creative. You might make something worth keeping! At first really try to lock with the sound of the click instead of the other sounds you’ve recorded. If you want, you can even go to the mixer and drop the volume of the previously recorded sounds so you can really only hear the click. Then when you’re finished with all 8 tracks, turn the volumes of each voice back up and listen to what you’ve created… If it hurts your ears, which it probably will at first, you’ve probably got some notes in there that aren’t completely locked in with the click. Keep trying this with all 8 tracks until you get something that is undeniably danceable. Rinse and repeat at a bunch of different tempos.

Take your Time
These concepts are gonna be harder to get down than you might imagine. It’s stuff that the pros will spend lifetimes practicing, so be patient, cut yourself some slack, but stay at it! That said, if you still don’t sound good after 10,000 hours, it might be time find a new hobby 😉

A cool thing happens when you use Trackd to practice like this. Most musicians practice with a metronome, but with Trackd, you’re actually recording yourself while practicing! This subconsciously is building up a strong resistance to our old friend RLS and ensuring that when it comes time to throw down in a real studio you’re gonna feel right at home.”

Don’t that little red light ruin you. Take these tips and conquer that recording studio!

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