Tracking is the first step in what will eventually become your finished song.
The name is derived from the fact that each recording that you make (whether it is guitar, vocals, bass, etc.) is saved to an individual and unique file within your recording software.
Having each instrument, musician, or take on its own dedicated track is powerful because it allows you to have a tremendous amount of flexibility in your project during the Mixing phase.
You'll be able to trim the level, add effects, and adjust the EQ of each one, giving you total control of your song.
In the past the recording process would happen with a magnetic tape, but today we can take advantage of recording straight to your computers hard drive.
As a result it's easier than ever to record and keep as many takes as you need.
Storage space is so cheap and abundant that there's no need to throw away anything away.
It may feel like a lot to worry about at first, but I know that after getting a few recordings under your belt you'll be on your way toward creating your masterpiece.
Now let's break down this process and talk a bit more in detail.
There are 3 main ingredients of a great track.
First, you want to have a great performance. Without this the rest won't make a difference.
Second, you want to have a clean, strong signal.
This can be done be having a close eye on Gain Staging throughout your recording system.
Finally, you want to minimize the stray noise and other ambient sounds around you.
This one can be tough since we are not in a dedicated studio space, but rather a dedicated living space that is being used as a studio space.
You may be surprised at how much is picked up that you can't hear with your ears alone, especially when using a Condenser Microphone.
If you can do these 3 things then you'll have a great collection of raw material to use as your tools to convey your musical message.
One option for handling MIDI data is to print it to a digital audio file.
What do I mean by this?!?
Remember that MIDI data simply contains instructions on how to replay music, in much the same way as piano sheet music allows you to perform the song on the piano.
The sheet music itself isn't music, and neither is the MIDI data contained on the MIDI recording.
However, you can use the MIDI data to play the MIDI enabled instrument and have the output of that instrument recorded onto a separate track... and this process is known as "Printing".
You can think of this as converting the MIDI data into a digital audio data that can then be used later during Mixing.
Keep in mind that once MIDI data is printed you lose the ability to alter and edit it as MIDI.
Of course you can still edit the audio data, but it becomes much trickier to deal with in that format.
So if you decided to print keep the raw MIDI file around just in case. MIDI files are very small and take up a minimum amount of space.