Covering a song that has moved or touched you in some way can be a challenging endeavor. For starters, recording a cover or remake entails much more than just copying or repeating what you’ve heard. As with any musical performance, a song cover should be uniquely yours. Whether you want to cover a popular Beatles song or something that’s more obscure, doing your own version entails creativity, originality, and a certain level of boldness. In this article, guest blogger Klaire Martin gives us the lowdown on the basic techniques and other important concerns that musicians need to keep in mind in order to make someone else’s song truly their own.

How to Record Better Covers

You Don’t Need to Sing it in the Same Key or Scale

Covering a song starts with the challenge of making it your own without resulting in something that’s unrecognisable. And one of the easiest ways to overcome this challenge is to remember that you don’t necessarily have to do the song in the same key or scale in which it was originally recorded or performed. Simply switching keys can do a lot to create a truly different feel with a cover without losing the essence of the song in question. In the above example, YouTuber Chase Holfelder switches to the minor key to remake The Police’s Every Breath You Take, which is written and performed in the major key. In this cover, Holfelder shows how the simple decision to tackle a prominent song in a different key can make all the stylistic difference in the world.

Play to Your Strengths

“It was a good straight forward rendition and sounded somehow very honest. It would have been nice to have worked with him, but just talking with him would have been real cool.” This was David Bowie’s reaction when he heard Kurt Cobain’s version of his song, The Man Who Sold the World. And I couldn’t agree more. The simple reason that Nirvana’s version of the song has become quite iconic is that Cobain and his band stayed true to their own musical style. Instead of trying to replicate Bowie’s mysterious vibes, up tempo arrangement, and use of electronic elements, Nirvana played to their strengths to develop a sombre acoustic grunge version of the song, including rendering certain parts of the original using elements that the band is more familiar with. Today, many still consider Nirvana’s remake as the definitive version of the iconic song.

Home Studio Essentials

Apart from having the right creative mindset, creating better covers also entails basic home studio equipment and an enclosed space with good acoustics. If you’re in the process of decking out your home or bedroom studio, you might be surprised to learn that this is much more affordable than it has ever been. For instance, while the brand name is known for expensive audio equipment, the Sennheiser E835 is surprisingly affordable. It’s also designed to reduce noise and feedback, which allows for crisp and clean recording. If you can’t afford to get a top-of-the-line mic, we previously covered the best ways to use a USB mic or even the TRRS mini jack plug that can be found on some smartphones. While having the ideal equipment can certainly help, you don’t really need anything fancy to start making better covers. What’s important is that you know your equipment well enough to get the best possible results.

These are just some of the most fundamental elements necessary to start recording better cover songs. As long as you stay true to your own musical style, and have at least a basic understanding of what your own equipment is capable of, you can honour your favorite song with a cover that will stand the test of style and time. Do you agree? What’s your favourite song remake or cover version? Let us know by leaving a comment!

See Also

» USB Microphones
» Studio Microphones
» Live Microphones
» All Microphones and Accessories
» Audio Interfaces
» Mixing Desks

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Guest Blogger Klaire Martin
Blogger, music hobbyist, and vinyl record collector Klaire Martin knows a thing or two about what it takes to record cover songs. When she’s not chasing writing deadlines or rummaging through vintage shops for unique records on her list, you can find her listening to new playlists on Soundcloud and Spotify, looking for the next big names in music.
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