Author Topic: Recording a Great Vocal Performance  (Read 253 times)

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Offline batwoman

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Recording a Great Vocal Performance
« on: October 20, 2020, 12:18:38 am »
Not sure where to post this. This is part of a newsletter sent out by on online recording guy.  He's promoting a new course. I cut that bit out. I found this very useful. Many of these principles could apply to any instrument.

Recording a great vocal performance can be what sets apart your music from the rest. But if it were that easy, everyone would be having killer vocals on their tracks. Which is why today I’d like to share with you 3 uncomfortable facts on vocal recording. If you're not aware of these facts, it's likely your vocal performances won't be as good as they could be, and might even turn your listener away from your music.

#1: You’ve got to hook them in right from the start

In today’s world of 7-second skip rates on Spotify, and everything fighting for your attention, your vocals need to grab the listener’s attention within the first line of the song. Whether it’s through a powerful note, or simply an authentic, honest tone, this is something that you can only capture when you’re singing into your microphone.

You can’t add in excitement and feel once something’s recorded - and this is what makes getting a great vocal performance so hard. How can you achieve that?

There’s an exercise I learned from vocal coach xxxx that really helps this, and you don’t even need to sing to do it.

Simply have your lyrics in front of you, and play the instrumental track while reading them out a few times. What’s the story of the lyrics? What’s the intention behind the words? Start feeling the core of the song’s message, and think about how you want to bring your listener into the song. How will you start that story with the first vocal line? What’s the reaction and emotions you want the listener to feel from the get-go? Use that as a guide for how you're going to start your vocal performance.

#2: Phrasing, dynamics, and tone set aside the pros from amateurs

Just like any instrument, there are things that separate the pros from beginners. And often, it’s from the subtle things that you don’t necessarily pay attention to when listening to a vocal. This can be hard to understand, so let's use an instrument as an example of this.

Think of guitar players like BB King and Eric Clapton. Were they fast shredders that knew every type of scale and lick out there? Nope. But do they take you on a musical journey from start to finish, making their guitar tone shift from phrase to phrase, and speak like a voice of its own?

Take that same perspective when recording a vocal performance.

It’s not about oversinging - it’s about singing the song as the song demands. Do you need to sing all the verses in the same tone? Can they be instead different based on the lyrics in each verse? Or even if there’s a melodic hook being repeated, how does it change depending on where it is in the song?

A great example of this is Ray Charles’ version of "Georgia On My Mind".

Give that track a listen, and pay attention to the changes in Ray’s vocal tone, and delivery, each time he sings “Georgia, oh, Georgia”. That’s exactly how a timeless vocal performance is done.

#3: If you don’t believe it, nobody will

Believability is what makes a vocal performance from one that just hits the notes and phrases, to one that moves people and creates a timeless record. That the vocalist delivering the song is feeling every single word they're singing, and they're immersed in the emotion of the track from start to finish. It doesn’t matter whether there are vocal cracks in the recording, or if one note isn’t as on pitch as the rest.

What matters is that the vocal feels authentic. That there’s genuine emotion in it, and a story is being told through the performance. This is why I advise my students to record their vocals as full performances before going into punching in sections to produce an ideal vocal comp in their mix. The last thing you want when recording a vocal performance is for it to feel like just another run-through of the same melody and lyrics - that will always come through the recording.

So before you sing the song from start to finish, warm your voice up, get in the right headspace... And don't give yourself the chance of endless takes. Aim to nail it with just 2-3 full takes, and after that then punch in sections that you don't think make the cut.

By keeping the performances to a limited number, you're forced to give your all in each take, and your mind stays fresh, and you won't be tired of the song by the time you're done recording your vocals.

Plus, your vocal recordings will probably sound a whole lot better :)

« Last Edit: October 20, 2020, 02:08:08 am by batwoman »
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Offline phx1973

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Re: Recording a Great Vocal Performance
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2020, 03:03:50 am »
Such great tips here. Thanks for sharing BW.

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