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With or Without You - reprise

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ronws
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Thanks, jonpall, for your support and suggestion that I go back to some baritone stuff, especially with the new mic. Well, this song is baritone into low tenor with the high parts in mid tenor. And I used to think that Bono was a full tenor but listening to his recording engineer, Bono is more of a baritone with some counter-tenor and his highest notes are usually with falsetto tone, though the emotion he captures is just wonderful.

Anyway. This song has some firsts in it. This is the first time I have played my electric guitar into the computer, thanks to the guitarface II USB interface that I use with the mic. I didn't spend much time adjusting the guitar, other than tuning it to 440 A on the first string at the 5th fret (standard tuning, with an electronic metronome I have that produces a 440 tone.) In Audacity, I gave it an acoustic mix with the vocal range notched. The guitar is a Hondo copy of a Flying V, jacked into a Roland GS-6 digital effects rack unit (both about 20 years old) and that is jacked into the second channel in the USB interface with about a medium input level, since I am jacked out of a stereo output from the digital rack unit.

On the vocal track, I left the eq flatlined except below 150, where I rolled off, and above 4k, where I rolled off again, as most of the vocal is in baritone, with some reaches into tenor. This was more about hearing my voice, as you were suggesting in another thread. Fancy guitar work can come later.

Now, I could certainly send this to Mike to mix, even with my barebones guitar work. I just wasn't having luck finding free karaoke mp3 downloads when I wanted to do this.

Anyway, here it goes.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/With%20or%20without%20you%20-%201.mp3

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Thanks, Quincy. And it's not just that. I mean, I can't quantify how much is what I would normally do and what is progress I have made since being here. It has melded and I can't tell the difference except to say that I can tell that I have improved since being here. But the other big consideration that must be mentioned is that I now have a real microphone. And I have learned a little about proper mixing of the recording. For that, I must, again, thank Mike. Less is more. This, and the other song I have posted recently, "Dust in the Wind," are my own mixes. Granted, I could have had Mike mix those and it would have been magical but this is my chance to be vocally "naked," so to speak. You are hearing my voice as close to what I sound like in person as is possible. For that, I have to thank my angel. And it has been so tempting to name that angel, a gentleman who is a member of this forum and who has a heart as big as I am tall. And I am very tall.

Not everything I do is going to turn out right but, at least, the critiques and suggestions will be more well-supported by actually being able to hear my voice. For example, jonpall pointed out that I need more work on "Highway to Hell." And he is right. He spotted one thing, and I spotted another. But, at least, I have clear and concise goals and suggestions to work on.

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I liked it! I had only heard your covers of highway to hell and rainbow in the dark, so it was nice to hear you in a lower range. While I was listening, I was scratching my head trying to figure out who your vocals were reminding me of and then it dawned on me "Ah, the singer of Killswitch Engage". Which might seem like an odd conclusion to come to, but when I hear his voice I think of opera, not sure why but I do and while I was listening to you the same thing popped into my head. It's something with the delivery of the notes and how you hold them that reminds me of that. Anywho, well done on the song! :D

(In case you are curious about the singer you reminded of here is a link for you to check out.)

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I like Killswitch Engage. And they've done a number of covers. I, like the juxtaposition of operatic singing mixed with screamo. Which reminds me also of Linkin Park, where the singer would alternate between choir boy and screaming.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry for the lateness of my reply. I liked that track and think you're always getting better. I know you can improve even more, but you're definitely going in the right direction. Great site this is, eh? :) You sang the song with emotion and quite often, your vibrato was pretty good I must say. What you might want to work on is achieving a slightly better breath management (to sound more confident, relaxed and get a more evenly sustained sound) and see if you can let Steven Fraser listen to this as he will be able to point out things you can do to improve.

What I can point out to you, and I've done so before, is to check out something that I think could really help you with basic breath management. For more advanced stuff, check out other vocal programs, but you gotta master the basics for most things you want to get good at in life so here it is: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=seth+riggs+speech+level+singing+part&aq=f. It seems that most of the parts are right there on youtube! . But you gotta find all the parts yourself by investigation work, which isn't all that hard. I don't think that any other program has helped me more with getting a clear, evenly sustained pitch. And we should never stop working on these basics or at the very least make sure we don't forget them. In any case - good job and I think singing lots of baritone stuff AND tenor stuff AND using the link I gave you will help a lot.

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Anyway. This song has some firsts in it. This is the first time I have played my electric guitar into the computer, thanks to the guitarface II USB interface that I use with the mic. I didn't spend much time adjusting the guitar, other than tuning it to 440 A on the first string at the 5th fret (standard tuning, with an electronic metronome I have that produces a 440 tone.) In Audacity, I gave it an acoustic mix with the vocal range notched. The guitar is a Hondo copy of a Flying V, jacked into a Roland GS-6 digital effects rack unit (both about 20 years old) and that is jacked into the second channel in the USB interface with about a medium input level, since I am jacked out of a stereo output from the digital rack unit.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/With%20or%20without%20you%20-%201.mp3

Ronws: I listened through this several times, and I agree with other commenters who noted the strides you have made with your vocals. You definitely have the connection beween your voice and the emotion of the song going... that part comes through.

As to comments, I think there are multiple things you can do to take this to the next level, not only the vocalism but the recording technique and accompanying as well. I am not sure of your priorities here, so I'll just put the ideas out there of what I think you should work on... what I would like to hear happen, and let you sort them as appropriate. I am listing them in the order they occur to me. I apologize in advance if some of this is too picky, or not what you are looking for by way of comments.

- The guitar tuning was out, especially the D-position chord. The A, Bm and G-position chords did not sound too bad, but could be improved. On earphones, the guitar mix sounded like it needed more mid and treble. I think it would be worth your while to redo the accompanyment with a few different kinds of settings, until you get something that sounds well on laptop speakers, and on earphones/buds.

- The style of the accompanyment, when you used the lightly-syncopated strumming, was IMO just fine. But, sustained through the course of the song, especially with the low-freq distortion effect... was too much of the same thing. Consider in certain places, for example when singing down low, picking fewer of the strings, and perhaps using slightly less distortion effect for contrast that will create interest.

When you go up top, I'd like to hear the accompanyment fill out so that the earnest stridency of the vocal is matched with stronger harmonic contribution from your axe.

- Vocally, there was a fairly consistent tuning disagreement between the guitar part and the vocal in the lower voice range... to my ear, voice on the low side of the pitch. I'd like to hear what would happen if you re-recorded the voice part while listening to the guitar track pre-recorded, so you could devote your attention entirely to the expression of the vocal.

- Dynamically, a couple comments...

- on the soft end there are consonants that are just a wee bit too soft to be heard unless the room is perfectly quiet. It would not work 'live' that way. I suggest that you cozy up to the mic on the soft sections, and then lean back a bit when you jump up the octave, so that you do not overwhelm the mic.

- I'd like to hear some dynamic shading of the phrases through out the song, so that there are gradations between the soft of the lower and loud of the higher sections. You can do this by starting a phrase at slightly less than the most important syllable.... build to it, then relax a bit after. As you approach the octave jumps, you can add intensity to build the anticipation of the upper-range sections.

I hope these were the sorts of comments and suggestions that you are looking for. I'm looking forward to your next recording.

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Thanks, Steven. I did lean in for the soft parts and backed away for the louder parts. I probably mixed it wrong. As for the guitar part, I knew it wasn't pretty but I couldn't find a backing track without paying for it. Any number of sites you go to for free karaoke are free after you pay a fee. Believe it or not, I recorded the guitar part first and sang over the playback, but I realise now that my earlier post was confusing. I use port 1 for the mike because I have level set for that. I chose port 2 for the guitar so that I wouldn't mess up or change port 1. But I did not play and sing at the same time on this one. Again, I wasn't all that concerned with how the guitar sounded and I was trying to concentrate on the singing, rather than being as good as the Edge. So, I guess it's back to square one, on all counts.

What's funny, when I listen to it some more, I hear breathiness (like a sigh) here and there at the end of a word but it didn't seem breathy when I sang it. Then again, I've always thought that Bono sounded a little ragged and breathy when he sang, though I was not trying to sound like him.

I've noticed a buzzy spot on the guitar, which means the truss rod needs adjusting. I haven't played this guitar in a while and the last adjustment was back in the 90's. The distortion was because I didn't quite have a level match between output of the GS-6 and the interface. But I wasn't spending much attention on the guitar and I guess I should. My priority was to show my voice. So, I will have to work on both.

As for overwhelming the mic, I guess 2 feet away wasn't enough. I should move back farther.

And thanks for the link, jonpall. Learning never stops. At least for me. I learn something new, every day.

Certainly this recording could have been improved by better accompaniment. So, perhaps, I should wait until I get a karaoke track for some stuff. I have been concentrating more on voice than on guitar for a long time. And given a choice, I would rather use a backing track because of fuller arrangement, better timing, etc.

And I usually do better live than in recording. I have absolutely no problem admitting that I stink at recording and especially, at mixing the recording. Usually, lately, I have Mike mix it for me and perhaps I should have done so, with this one.

Anyway, I appreciate the advice and have plenty to work on. Onward and upward ....

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Hi Ron. I really suggest you simply work on the vocal ideas that Steven mentioned and also the exercises in the link I gave you. I'm sure you'll see good improvements pretty soon. The most important thing though, is that you're already connected with the idea/story behind the song so you've already come far with being able to master this song. Cheers!

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Hi Ron. I really suggest you simply work on the vocal ideas that Steven mentioned and also the exercises in the link I gave you. I'm sure you'll see good improvements pretty soon. The most important thing though, is that you're already connected with the idea/story behind the song so you've already come far with being able to master this song. Cheers!

Thanks, jonpall. The exercises linked in the video are quite similar to the exercises I have in the pdf of Vendera's "Raise Your Voice." So certainly, I do practice them, even if it doesn't seem like it to others. Maybe I just have an "off" voice. But I always appreciate your concern and effort to help me.

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i agree with Steven

id record the guitar seperate,then sing along afterwards. (or just find a karaoke track if your lazy like me haha)

Your voice really fits this song man, good job :)

Thanks, Chavie. Irish is part of my heritage and maybe that played a part in this. And, again, as I stated before, I recorded the guitar separate and then recorded the voice separately, against the playback of guitar track. What I should next is record a "live" version. Since a number of people thought I was singing and playing at the same time, I should do it just so they know what that actually sounds like.

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Ronw, the different between the exercises in my link and the ones from Vendera are significant enough that I still really recommend you give that version of these exercises a try and in the order they're taught (first ex. 1, then ex. 2, etc.).

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And, more to the point of your last post, jonpall, I have watched the links you posted and Seth has some good exercises. I differ with him on perspective and I have Steven to blame for that. Seth Riggs uses the old visualization that I used to use. Namely that high pitches were a shortening of the vocal "cords", much like fretting on a guitar. Steven corrected my understanding by pointing out that actually, the folds thin out, as if one tightened the tuning peg or imagine a rubber band stretched farther and farther, which may actually be the most accurate visual, now that I think about it. And they do not "zip up" or fret up. What happens is a smaller portion of these now stretched out folds is vibrating but also at a higher frequency, since we are not actually trying to vibrate the entire mass of the folds, as is more likely to happen at lower pitches, including those that involve normal speaking.

To me, the value of SLS, namely lip bubbles, which I do use, with scales and without, is to help the metering of the air and, evidently, for me, placing the note in the soft palate.

I also know that as good as lip bubbles and scales are, one cannot hit the highest notes possible with such a closed mouth. But learning to meter air and where to feel resonance is nothing but goodness all around.

I don't have any special "loyalty" to Vendera but I do like the way he explains things.

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Thanks, Nik. Here's the difference. On the first recording, I recorded the guitar on one track. And then, sang over the play back to create the second track.

On this second version, I sang and played at the same time. Since this song has a wide range of volume and pitch, I used a low threshhold and low ratio on the compressor. And leaned way back for the high volume parts and did my best not to sing too loud, to boot. I overloaded the mic a smidge but not as bad as before, maybe, I think.

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