danielzapatav

How to pick the right session musicians for a song

The first step is to do a little research on who is who, a good way to do this is to check the credits for an album that has the sound in a particular instrument that you like, so lets say you like the drums on song X and you want that to be your sound, check the credits of the album and see who recorded that specific instrument in that song and then look for that person online or check to see if they have a website which in most cases they do.

In a documentary that came out recently called “the wrecking crew” several of the early session musicians are brought to public eye, musicians that did the recordings for many famous songs out there.

When we see a band or listen to a song on the radio we often create a picture,imagine or believe that it is the band members that are playing the songs we listen to, but -and not to disapoint anyone- this is not the case for most of the recorded songs out there. One thing is being a live performance musician and another is being a studio session musician, both require a diferent set of skills and in many cases, professional musicians poses one of the two talents but not both.

To be a live performance Musician it may be more important to be able to improvise, to comunicate well with a band and to have a good mamory of a set of songs and to be able to put on a show, to be a session musician you have to have a good internal Metronome and be able to play on point and to keep your tunning always in the right place amongst many other things.

Sometimes when a band and its members go to a Studio to play a song, they can lack the ability to perform to what the standard of music at the time requires for a recording that can sound on point, so a producer has a pool of drummers, guitarists, bass players percussionists, that have the expertise in recording specifically for albums, and in most cases these studio musicians will be the ones that play the final version of a specific instrument in your song.

So once you already know what your rythm and sound is going to go towards, and you are ready to record, the first step is to call the right studio Musician that can deliver the product that you are looking for.

In my case for example, once I know the rythm I want in a song and i have it structured like I want it, I like to start the official production with the drums. There are many great drummers out there but it is important to find one that has a place to record and the variety of drum sets to give you the sound you want.

I first create what is called stem tracks of the “DEMO” keyboards, drums, guitars, background vocals, brass, chords, percussion and lead vocals. (8 tracks total)

For example, Once I have the stems for my song I call one of the best drummers I know and that recorded the songs of my album “In My Dreams” called Lee Levin, working with Lee is working with a pro that you can be sure will deliver a quality recording, he has worked with artists like Kelly Clarkson to Juan Luis Guerra, amongst many,many others and I know I can get a great result when I work with him, so I send Lee the stems and tell him what I want with the song and he always sends back amazing sounding and performed tracks.

Lee is just an example of a studio Session drummer ( and live drummer, he is astonishing on stage also) that I like to work with and I am sure you will find the right one for your material, the message is that once you have your “Demo” ready and knowing how you want it to sound, unless you are planning to record all the instruments yourself you will have to find the right musicians to do the job. I will just Mention a few I would recommend:

For Drums: Lee Levin
For Bass: Julio Hernandez
For Guitars: Dan Warner and Alejandro Garcia
For Keyboards: Peter Wallace and Iker Gastaminza
Brass: Teddy Mullet
Percussion: Richard Bravo
background Vocals: Claudio Corsi

I am just giving a few examples, I am sure that there are many great studio musicians out there but I can vouch and say these guys are the real deal and they are behind many songs you hear on the radio for the Latin or American Market.

Most of them have facebook pages and are easy to find and will work with you pretty openly if you are professional and have the budget.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, please don’t hesitate to leave me your comments and if you want to listen to some of these guys you can stream or download my album here.

All the best !!!

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