Jump to content

a little bit ahead or behind

Rate this topic


WebAndNet.com
 Share

Recommended Posts

Some songs, being a little ahead of the music produces a better lead singer song.

Some songs, it's better to blend in directly with the music. This is works particularly well if the singer's tone isn't optimal.

Some songs, being a little behind seems to work.

What criteria are useful when you choose, and how and why?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're talking about singing a little ahead of the "beat" or a little "behind" the beat: I do not like at all when singers, or instrumentalists are playing ahead. This produces "rushing" and it tends to produce anxiety or nervousness for the listener. For me, right on the beat or a little behind is fine - never ahead. Singing behind the beat was made popular by Sinatra and is used by a lot of jazz players.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's more of what I recall.

Barry White-- ahead of the instruments, by far.

Sinatra-- ahead of the instruments coming in-- a leading voice.

Many karaoke singers-- behind the instruments.

What I read from a book-- rock singers should always be in front of or behind the instruments, because a singer's voice can't compete against a guitar turned up. Don't know if really correct.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Depends on the style of the vocal line really.

In Black Sabbath, Ozzy sang almost always in perfect time with the riff. Along came Dio and mixed things up quite dramatically. So if Ozzy could do it, it's possible even in rock to sing with the instrumental. But it's no coincidence that the instrumental in rock usually switches to a much more calm sort of melody when the vocalist sings and the blasting guitars are mostly in between.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you're talking about singing a little ahead of the "beat" or a little "behind" the beat: I do not like at all when singers, or instrumentalists are playing ahead. This produces "rushing" and it tends to produce anxiety or nervousness for the listener.

This is an interesting thread and I'm learning something here. But I'm a little confused. :)

I am picturing being ahead of the beat to mean this: The beat may be 1-2-3-4. On the beat would be to start singing right on 1. Ahead, to me, would mean to start singing just before the one count. Maybe 1/2 a beat or more or less whatever. In which case I would assume that being behind the beat means you would start singing "after the 1 count.

But in any case, if I am correct about being ahead then how does that cause a rushed feeling? I imagine a rushed feeling to mean that you now have to rush to catch up to the beat before the turnaround. I would tend to think that that would happen if you started "after" the beat, like in what I assume is singing behind. If you are ahead of the beat wouldn't it give you more time to play around or not rush?

Interesting. But confused:)

Thanks

Tommy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm only quoting what Geno said and questioning that. I too would like to consider the feel of the song by being ahead or behind but I can't if I'm confused about the terms. . Geno's statement confused me, so I'm trying to clarify.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rushed? Tommy, I don't understand what's said.

I'm concerned about the feel of the song. Ahead, with, or behind each produces a different feel.

That's right. A slight "behind" is used in rock, blues and jazz and produces - to me - a great feel. This is just my opinion, but slightly ahead of the rhythm (unless intentionally changing the phrase) produces a "rushed" feel. I just don't hear this on commercial recordings or from professional singers. This is from my experience in playing in rock bands - where if the band isn't cohesive rhythmically, the band sounds sloppy. Band members that would "rush" would be "talked to" by the rest of the band. Slightly behind the beat is acceptable and stylistic (if not overdone). A drummer friend of mine was really into this sort of thing and we would discuss this subject in detail.

Again - these are just my opinions - I may have totally misinterpreted what you were asking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True that, Geno. I would have responded earlier but I didn't know what was meant by the question.

If it's a matter of timing, the singer must lead by half a breath because if you wait for the note and then start, you will be late, too late. Singing, especially with a karaoke track, you have to anticipate the melody movement. But that's logistics, to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True that, Geno. I would have responded earlier but I didn't know what was meant by the question.

If it's a matter of timing, the singer must lead by half a breath because if you wait for the note and then start, you will be late, too late. Singing, especially with a karaoke track, you have to anticipate the melody movement. But that's logistics, to me.

Ok....I'm still confused. (sorry). See my first post where I explain my interpretation. Geno seems to be saying that being "ahead" of the beat makes the song rushed. And you seem to be saying that "waiting" would make you rushed...yet you agree with him. To me "waiting" means "behind." NOT ahead. And I would agree with that as I said in my first post. If you are behind the beat (in other words, wait for it) thus letting it pass, then you are rushed because now you have to catch up to it. Then you would have to rush the phrasing to finish up before turning around.

Wouldn't being ahead of the beat mean you start singing before the first beat? If you do that I would think you would have more time to stretch out your phrasing and the lyrics, feel and whatever. Not feel rushed.

Tommy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you guys familiar with "the pocket"? There are different names for it, but for us rhythm guys it basically means playing in and around the beat. A real band is very rarely ever 100% truly in time with eachother because music is more of a shared human experience than some sort of computerised metronomic pattern. One of the primary concerns with modern music is that there is the temptation to "quantise" all the instruments together into a time-locked grid so the recording is "perfect." The reality is that this strips away the feeling. The Beach Boys are a great example of how the instruments can be so loose in the pocket that they almost fall out of time, but they don't because that's the feel.

Say you have 1 2 3 4. What happens when one player plays 10ms before the beat? Another plays 10ms after the beat. The backup vocals are maybe 6 ms behind the beat and the lead vocalist is 4 ms ahead of the beat. "Technically" it is wrong; the band can't play in time! But actually this is the next level of band practise, that many bands never get because they don't have the chemistry. They are all in the pocket, that magical space around the beat which you can play with but should not break. This is why rhythm sections are the heart of any band (in my opinion)

But I digress... :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yea, Mr bounce. That sounds good to me :) I'm used to singing blues and that means a 12 bar progression. (a 1,4,5 chord progression). Within that 12 bars I am usually free to do whatever I want as long as I stick to the chord changes. For me that gives me great freedom to add feeling because I can alter the phrasing however I want. Because of that I tend to add the same sort of thing to all my vocals non blues. I try to conserve time. Starting early, or speeding up a word or two to buy time to lengthen a more important word, or whatever.

I think that is why even in karaoke, I start ahead of the vocals shown on screen. It gives me space and time to play and manipulate the lyrics. Yea, in the pocket, that's good. But again, to me that is being "ahead" of the beat. Being behind wouldn't give me the time and I'd have to rush the lyrics which in turn ruins the feel.

Tommy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mr Bounce - "in the pocket" is the right term. and 10ms ahead (or even 40 or 50ms) ahead is not too much to become "out of the pocket" in my opinion. I'm talking about 250ms ahead verses 250ms behind. As a soloist or lead singer, the 250ms behind is what Sinatra made popular and sounds great to me if not overdone. If you're in the rhythm section and responsible for "the beat" then that would be too much. On the other hand 250ms ahead - to me - makes it sound like the musician doesn't have the right feel for the song yet, or is not skilled enough.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting thoughts guys. Definitely, the range is extended for a vocalist or any lead instrumentalist; they can and should take bigger liberties with the timing. However, there is no excuse for simply not singing in time. Let's take care to not confuse the issue: if you can't sing in time, then you need to work on that before trying more advanced phrasing techniques!

Sort of like with pitch. In many genres our favourite singers will play with the intonation and actually not always be "in tune"... But you can bet your ass that there is a fine line between style and inflections and just simply sounding sucky :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My teacher had a really good philosophy that I use for my vocal stylings now. Basically it was to be precise on the main downbeats and then stylize the rest of the notes early/late as much as you want in between. So you don't just sing a song early or late, that will just make you sound rushed or slow. It's being dead on on the key downbeats and then adding the stylization in little pockets in between. You can get away with pretty crazy time shifts as long as you start and land right on the button for each phrase or phrase segment.

This is what I've always understood as meant by "in the pocket", at least for the vocalist (obviously a drummer isn't stylizing his timing in between). I think the "pocket" is a fairly different and much more dynamic thing for singers because the vocal line, in most commercial music, is the only thing adding the human element in a pretty quantized soundscape. If the key notes are right on and there is stylization in between, then you are "in the pocket". If every note is on time, that's 'quantization', which is not desirable for vocalists.

You can go super deep in those spaces between the pockets once you've got the basic pocket down. If you think of a sentence, you can move individual words around in time, or you can shift the whole phrase. You can crunch parts or the whole line together or draw it out, add pauses, etc. Words are two dimensional, not one, so where you end the note also changes the whole early/late/slow/rushed feel almost as much as the beginnings; do you end the note/word early or run it right smack into the beginning of the next word. So it's really impossible to answer whether you should be a little ahead or a little behind, because this can be implemented so many different ways just in the scope of one line. I was initially overwhelmed with all these possibilities, but once my teacher showed how much he could mess with a line so long as he stayed in the pockets on the downbeat it became really fun because you will always have a solid scaffold to try these things off of. Try picking one stylization and really overdo it just for the practice (sing ridiculously far behind the beat for the whole song, or really crunch little groups of words together). When in doubt, just speak the line meaningfully, even over-dramatically, and see where your words fall, then sing it like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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...