Finding My Voice

Dave Cracked Up (Blog), Creating, Engineering, Music/Audio, Personal, Ramblings 1 Comment

If you’ve been reading my blog the past couple of weeks, then you’re probably aware that I’m attempting to motivate myself to re-record, remix, re-do some of my songs with the intent of releasing an EP.

I have to say that it’s going better than I originally anticipated – mostly thanks to writing about it here.  I’m thinking that actually “talking” about it and making it official (in a sense) kind of kicked me in the pants a bit.  I posted one of my recent remixes for comments here and got a lot of fantastic feedback!

I’ve talked about how I feel that I’ve learned quite a bit in all aspects of music creation, recording and mixing over the past few years.  Just going through the process multiple times and learning from mistakes, trying new things out and getting feedback has resulted in progressively better products … well, they seem better to me.

I’m coming up against some personal resistance – I tackled some of the easier projects first – the ones that I considered to be more polished already.  The one I tackled this week requires a bit of “re-work” in the vocal as well as mix departments.  It’s been a bit frustrating at times.

Say It Loud, Say it Proud

I wouldn’t say that I’m a stellar singer, but I wouldn’t say that I’m a COMPLETE hack either.  I did take a couple of courses in vocal training at Western and sang in various faculty choirs while there – got some solos too!  I’ve also sung in bands – mostly as a backing / harmony vocalist while playing keys or guitar.

Singing as the lead vocalist is definitely a huge ball of wax.

Hitting the pitches and getting your timing right is just a small part of the challenges involved in getting a good performance.  Even though a good chunk of that can be “fixed” with digital audio tools these days, it’s usually good practice to try and get it right at the source so you don’t have to resort to tuning and waveform editing (in terms of stretching, compressing and slicing).

It’s the ATTITUDE in the performance that’s key to making a song “pop”.

Find My ‘tude

I think every musician who has been around the block a few times with their instrument become intimately aware of how they can eek certain subtle nuances out of their axe to infuse more into a performance.

There’s subtle (and not so subtle) things that a musician can affect with respect to timing, dynamics, pitch and timbre that can bring interest to a performance.

Where most home recordists have problems (myself included) is when their main axe is not their voice and they’re attempting to eek a stellar performance out of their vocal chords.

I’m not saying that I’ve found any secret, but, at least to my ears, I think I’m settling in on a vocal sound that seems to be working for me in my songs.  This is probably written down on some vocal technique site, but it seems to me that popular music vocalists very seldom sing in a voice or character that reflects their speaking voice or non-singing persona.

Once I kind of figured that out, in order for me to get a good performance that I felt was convincing, I had to essentially get into a different character head space and then go “over the top” with it.  At least, that’s what I felt I was doing in the moment – over-acting, over-enunciating, over-emoting.  Only after really pushing my comfort levels, did I feel that I recorded vocals that actually had some credible, convincing attitude.

I still have to do multiple takes and construct composite vocals, but at least I think it sounds as though I’m half-way convincing.

I’m sure that this would be much easier for me if I practiced singing and vocal technique … well at least more than I do when in the car and shower.  I’ll get to that once my EP sells it’s first 1,000 units… or so.

Comments 1

  1. Heya man. Love your post. I finally went and got some vocal lessons (25 years to late) and I’m finding it a lot of fun! It is NOT easy to do it right. I had no idea even vibrato was supposed to come from the diaphragm (in order to preserve projection and not drop into the throat in mid and high range). I was surprised at how LOUD Head voice is supposed to be. My big challenge now is singing and playing at the same time dammit!

    I’m also amazed at how many people sing wrong now (throat singing ) that I can actually tell, and could be so much better with a little proper technique.


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