Jump to content

old habits in a band situation

Rate this topic


toneguy86
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hidden

Hi Everyone,

I have been working hard on my singing for some time and have increased my range, power, etc. significantly. Most of the time everything is good--low tension, good chord closure, good support, etc. Every once in awhile (usually in practice situations where monitors aren't great) though I find myself falling back into old habits. The problem always comes when I start to push more air because (without thinking about it) I feel the need for more volume, so instead of using resonance (in the way I usually do) to get more volume, I force more which causes tension, etc. Essentially everything I know and practice falls apart. Things are compounded because I am a guitar player and need to focus with another part of my brain on holding a solid rhythm as well.

So any suggestions appreciated. I think a better or different monitoring system might help. I have heard of people using one of the good ear plugs in one ear. I have used in ear monitors before and didn't like them. Right now I have a dedicated (and very nice) floor slab monitor. I tend to run vocals pretty dry in the monitor since too much delay tends to screw with pitch.

Thanks in advance,

Mark

Link to comment
Hidden

Two things come to mind: 1. How did you use the IEMs? What kind were they? How did you mix them? 2. Can you identify where the tension is in your body? Are you bearing down anywhere? Perhaps concentrate on relaxing your abdomin by pushing out slightly in order to be sure not to create tension or too much attack in your chest or throat.

Good luck.

Andrew

Link to comment
Hidden

The IEMs we used were shure. Not sure what model. I didn't like the way my guitar and harp sounded in particular and not being able to hear the crowd or anyone talk that wasn't on a mic, so I started playing with one in (the side facing the rest of the band) and one out (the side where my guitar and harp amps were). This worked to some extent. They seemed to cut out occasionally as well (probably because 5 band members were using the same hub).

As far as tension, I did notice that I was really pushing in my abs and that was creating tension in my shoulders and neck. I was able to relax things once I noticed that, but as soon as I focused back on my guitar work, I would notice I was tensing again and really pushing air again. Eventually this just causes all my technique, tone and everything to collapse. I think there is still a lot of old muscle memory and unless I concentrate on technique it can come back.

Honestly monitoring have always been an issue. All the bands I play in do play with a relatively low stage volume, but even still there are times that harmony work is tough and I just never feel like I hear myself the way I want to. I was going to try one of those vocal acoustic monitors (even though they look sort of odd), but they are not available any more it seems.

Thanks,

Markway

Link to comment
Hidden

I play drums and have the same problem. I use a Shure IEM setup with special molded sleeves. Sometimes one ear and a plain molded ear plug in the other, sometimes two IEMs. So I can hear the vocals, but I still feel like I have to push a lot harder because of all the noise on stage.

I am supposed to bridge to middle voice around F4 but my voice just doesn't seem strong enough there. Last night I tried a run coming down from C5 in head voice but by the time I was down to A it really felt wimpy, no twang no support.

Practicing at home without the ambient noise of the band doesn't seem to cut it. It seems like I have to figure out a way to practice that is more realistic - ?

Link to comment
Hidden

Thanks Carol M. That situation sounds similar to mine. It might be tougher also for those of us that play another instrument. If I concentrate on relaxing, supporting, resonance, etc. things are fine. The problem is that if my attention goes to other things, I go back to one specific old habit which is to really push air--almost subconsciously trying to push over the top of the band.

Mark

Link to comment
Hidden

Ah... What I am hearing is that you couldn't hear the stage and ambient sound inside the IEMs. Google "mixing IEM" and read some articles about how to use the IEMs. I had to learn a lot before I could sing onstage and in rehearsal without feeling very isolated and muffled.

The makers of IEMs will sell you really nice units, but they don't tell you how to get a good result. Here are some tips:

1. get custom molding. you can either send in a mold and get custom IEMs from a manufacturer (that's what I did), but it's expensive. OR you can get temporary molds made for your high quality, universal fit IEMs. You can do this at most Audiology places or even Sam's Club now(??? this world is crazy). You'll have to replace these occasionally, but they work well. Your Universal Fit IEMs (w/ donut seal) will NOT isolate enough stage / rehearsal noise to stop you from turning up the IEMs so high that you will damage your hearing (yikes!). Yet they will muffle everything enough that you will be tempted to pull one out or half way out! Custom fit IEMs will isolate So MUCH noise, you will only hear yourself with a very BASSY inclusion effect inside your head. You have to fix that!

2. To fix the inclusion effect due to isolation, you need to mix in 2 things: reverb of your own voice channel, and stage/ambient noise. To mix in stage/ambient noise, you will need to have an open mic placed onstage or in the rehearsal room somewhere. I use a large diaphragm, condenser mic placed about 2 ft from the snare and facing the drum kit. This brings in enough stage sound that I can hear the drums, bass, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, keyboards, and even people talking onstage! In fact, when someone wants to speak to me onstage, I point to the open mic (we don't have a talk system that cuts sound to the PA, so that band / sound man can communicate.) You will need the ambient mic whether you mix in the other instruments to your IEMs or not. Depending on the size of the gig, we bring different equipment, so I might have aux sends from the instruments, or I might take a feed from each mic and instrument and run them through my personal monitor mixer (shure ps400?).

3. Use compressor/gates/limiters to filter out low volume noise (gate), compress high volume noise (compressor), and limit output to you through the mixer (limiter). This way, when your guitarist turns up, it won't get louder in your head. We singers experience that after the first set, gain starts to creep up because of natural compression in the ears. Or the lead guitarist just gets more hard of hearing! I set the compression VERY high for all the instruments and lower for myself (hey, if I sing louder, I wanna hear it!). I set the limit threshold very LOW for the instruments, so that compression starts early and stays active. I set the gates low enough that only a little noise is eliminated.

Look in the Technology / equipment section in the forum for my post on IEMs and my rig.

The reverb and ambient mic give you "headroom" and "presence" in your sound. When you get it right, you can listen to yourself and the stage at a fraction of the volume of the stage, and you won't push your vocals! It takes a little work to get it right and get comfortable, but after a while, you won't even want to step onstage without your IEMs close by. I use them for even the smallest / quietest gigs because they are so clear and offer great protection. Experiment with the reverb settings to get the right type and amount. Once you get it, your voice will suddenly ring through loud and clear above everything! It'll be awesome!

Good Luck,

Andrew

Link to comment
Hidden

I think guitarists should be forced to use nothing bigger than my Fender 85 amp. It puts out 200 W rms and that is more than loud enough for a small club and anything bigger is bi-amped through the p.a. system. Live sound is mixed normally to the loudest instrument, the drums. Anything else is someone being a prima donna and they need a reality check.

Link to comment
Hidden

Thanks for the info rocketagp. The issue was general communication and ambient sound and it sounds like this can be fixed. At time we also had no seperate eq cabability for the monitors also and I just never really liked the way any instrument sounded

:) ronws...yup. I use a mesa lonestar for guitar set on the lowest settings (essentially about 40 watts) turned down relatively low with a tilt back stand pointed up towards my chest. I use an old Fender Vibralux for harp...volume on about 2.5 (Ya get the tone without blowing out ears). All instruments stay on low volume and are all mic'd and I can run a whole band mix into my monitor. Our volume is typically low enough that I need the other guitar player in my monitor to hear him. I won't have it any other way. I like to feel bass so my wife's Mesa bass rig either has an extension speaker right behind me pointed towards my feet or (and sometimes also) bass run into my monitor.

The big change is that, in addition to everything else, I am the primary lead singer with a lot more challenging materials to cover (Beatles, Badfinger, Al Green, James Brown...). I need to not just have a great instrument mix, I need great vocal monitoring and, since there are lots of harmonies typically, to hear the other singers well. It sounds like an investment in a new IEM system may be in order at some point soon. We have some other band investments and projects happening right now that may put that on hold though in the short run. Any other suggestions appreciated as well.

Mark

Link to comment
Hidden

Ah... What I am hearing is that you couldn't hear the stage and ambient sound inside the IEMs.

Andrew

If that's directed to me, no, what I'm saying is I'm hearing too much of it, not just through the IEM but directly. The IEM does not block out all ambient sound, even with the custom Westone sleeves I got for them.

Saturday the guitarists and fiddle were running mics on their amps, so that didn't help. How to get a monitor mix with just my vocals and the harmonies? A personal mixer could only work with the mix sent from the board, right?

It's much better with a trio, due just to lower noise volume. Two guitars and boomy bass changes everything.

Link to comment
Hidden

Saturday the guitarists and fiddle were running mics on their amps, so that didn't help. How to get a monitor mix with just my vocals and the harmonies? A personal mixer could only work with the mix sent from the board, right?

It's much better with a trio, due just to lower noise volume. Two guitars and boomy bass changes everything.

Hi Carole,

Perhaps try some custom IEMs. I don't know how the custom Westone sleeves are made, but the mold must go to the second bend of the ear canal to really isolate sound. Once you get a tight fit, you wont be able to hear someone talking unless that person is right in front of you in a very quiet room. However, since you are the drummer (right?), perhaps you could wear a high quality set of cans (over-the-ear headphones).

You could take an Aux output from each channel you want to hear from the main mixer board. Take those Aux sends and put them through your own personal monitor mixer to create the mix you want. That is what I do. If there are no aux sends from the board, I take a direct line out from each instrument I want to hear. Don't forget your compressor/limiters! Any increase in gain from the instrument will increase the volume in your ears, even though you have the volume set on your mixer! Someone unplugging a live instrument, feedback, or just a wild solo on guitar will have your ears cringing in pain!

Getting a good mix in many situations is difficult due to changing configurations. My band doesn't always put all instruments through the PA. In fact, our lead guitarist often doesn't go through the PA. That makes for MUCH more stage noise. It stinks, but he's the expert! Also, everyone else uses wedge monitors, that makes for more stage noise too. I can often "feel" the sound on stage, but my head is quiet due to the IEMs.

Link to comment
Hidden

Carol...thanks for your comments. I was always frustrated as hell with IEMs when we used them. Everything just sounded so strange and "in a can." Hard to describe. What I heard was totally based on how the board was set and the board was set and EQ'ed to the room...not for monitors. The only thing I liked was I had a "band in a box" on my belt. I could turn everyone up or down as I felt like it.

As to your question, my home practice has typically not been with a mic or with any kind of additional sound just because of the situation. I can't usually practice much during the day with my amp on and maybe a backing track coming at me hard to simulate the band. I tend to practice with an acoustic and at a pretty low volume (our house is small and I don't really have a studio to practice in exactly...soon though). When I do get the band around me it depends on the situation. At times I have no problem with good technique. Even at fairly loud gigs (like the past New Years actually), all of my volume, power, etc. was coming totally from resonance and as a result I was not pushing hard at all and felt very relaxed and confident. When this happens I have effortless range and I can just feel everything working. Other times though (and hence the post) this doesn't happen. I just feel old habits creeping in as I push and reach for things as I used to and everything just falls apart.

Has anyone tried using one of the hearos or other higher tech ear plugs in just one ear. I have heard it helps you hear yourself a bit and is pretty simple. I may try it as it's a relatively easy and cheap solution.

Ron...I had a friend who had one of those Fender 85s. They were monsters. Good amps though.

Mark

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...