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Found 179 results

  1. I received a very interesting comment about over-trained singers at my page here on The Modern Vocalist.com: "What I strive for: no two voices are the same. It's that unique strong signature characteristic that separates people who can sing from people who become icons in music. Take Sting for example, not the greatest vocalist, but there's no mistaking that aged husky whimper of his. Technique is important for power and control, but I find that there are too many people sounding too trained. I believe that one should incorporate one's personality into one's sound as much as possible in order to go about creating that strong iconic signature sound that no one else can recreate. Take Chino from Deftones-that guy can't sing a note- but the Deftones wouldn't be anything without him. Same goes for Trent Reznor from Nine inch Nails. I think it's a fine balance between a trained and untrained voice that needs to be found." - Timothy Ian David Lester This is, in fact, why some people think you can know too much about music or voice. They feel that too much musical knowledge can cause a musician or singer to over-think and turn their art... artificial. Actually, sometimes they are right, but only because they are not being taught well, in my humble opinion. The first thing we vocal coaches should do is to interview our new student and find out what his or her vocal and musical goals really are. Do they need to sing classical songs to get into (or through) college with a major in voice? Do they want to sing what they are writing: R&B, country, pop, jazz, hip-hop, alternative? We must know so we don't guide them into a style that is not where their heart is. Yes, people can learn to sing both classical and popular genres, but sometimes the jump can be hard. It's like learning to speak different languages very fluently. Yes, you can do it but it takes time, careful and accurate coaching and exposure to the masters of the musical genres you want to sing to perform multiple genres well. If you want to sing in more than two or three genres (like pro session singers must), this is what I call "stunt singing". Does your student really want to be jack-of-all trades, or do they want to be a master of one? I believe we need to do exactly what Timothy is suggesting: help our clients find their uniqueness. This is what really sets the heart free, and sometimes gives a vocalist a career as a recording and performing artist. It really takes experimentation, a feeling of safety to try new ways of using the voice and feedback from someone with great intuition about how an audience would react to what they are hearing. We want an audience's immediate reaction to be: "Wow what a song, what a delivery of that song!" Not, "Wow, I wonder who this artist's vocal coach is and what method they use?" My favorite artists actually play with their voices, sometimes "de-supporting" for a weak, sensual or sad sound. But when it's time for business, they ramp up all the vocal wisdom they ever learned and deliver such controlled power that we are mesmerized with their song. They scream, use breathy or husky sounds on purpose, but -- and here's the rub -- they NEVER hurt either the listener's ear or their voice. It's like an aural (instead of an optical) illusion. And it comes from being -- you guessed it -- very well trained. A good example is the masterful performance of a great actor. If they are doing what they should, you never even detect the slightest whiff of "acting", do you? But you can bet your bottom dollar that they used top dollar acting teachers to get to the level they are at in their craft. According to her biography, Janis Joplin planned every "impromptu" scream she did. A singer who is serious should be trained by an insightful and wise vocal coach who will train them so well you don't hear "vocal training" when they sing. You hear a song that elicits from you an emotional response. Period. This essay first published August 4, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  2. I received a very interesting comment about over-trained singers at my page here on The Modern Vocalist.com: "What I strive for: no two voices are the same. It's that unique strong signature characteristic that separates people who can sing from people who become icons in music. Take Sting for example, not the greatest vocalist, but there's no mistaking that aged husky whimper of his. Technique is important for power and control, but I find that there are too many people sounding too trained. I believe that one should incorporate one's personality into one's sound as much as possible in order to go about creating that strong iconic signature sound that no one else can recreate. Take Chino from Deftones-that guy can't sing a note- but the Deftones wouldn't be anything without him. Same goes for Trent Reznor from Nine inch Nails. I think it's a fine balance between a trained and untrained voice that needs to be found." - Timothy Ian David Lester This is, in fact, why some people think you can know too much about music or voice. They feel that too much musical knowledge can cause a musician or singer to over-think and turn their art... artificial. Actually, sometimes they are right, but only because they are not being taught well, in my humble opinion. The first thing we vocal coaches should do is to interview our new student and find out what his or her vocal and musical goals really are. Do they need to sing classical songs to get into (or through) college with a major in voice? Do they want to sing what they are writing: R&B, country, pop, jazz, hip-hop, alternative? We must know so we don't guide them into a style that is not where their heart is. Yes, people can learn to sing both classical and popular genres, but sometimes the jump can be hard. It's like learning to speak different languages very fluently. Yes, you can do it but it takes time, careful and accurate coaching and exposure to the masters of the musical genres you want to sing to perform multiple genres well. If you want to sing in more than two or three genres (like pro session singers must), this is what I call "stunt singing". Does your student really want to be jack-of-all trades, or do they want to be a master of one? I believe we need to do exactly what Timothy is suggesting: help our clients find their uniqueness. This is what really sets the heart free, and sometimes gives a vocalist a career as a recording and performing artist. It really takes experimentation, a feeling of safety to try new ways of using the voice and feedback from someone with great intuition about how an audience would react to what they are hearing. We want an audience's immediate reaction to be: "Wow what a song, what a delivery of that song!" Not, "Wow, I wonder who this artist's vocal coach is and what method they use?" My favorite artists actually play with their voices, sometimes "de-supporting" for a weak, sensual or sad sound. But when it's time for business, they ramp up all the vocal wisdom they ever learned and deliver such controlled power that we are mesmerized with their song. They scream, use breathy or husky sounds on purpose, but -- and here's the rub -- they NEVER hurt either the listener's ear or their voice. It's like an aural (instead of an optical) illusion. And it comes from being -- you guessed it -- very well trained. A good example is the masterful performance of a great actor. If they are doing what they should, you never even detect the slightest whiff of "acting", do you? But you can bet your bottom dollar that they used top dollar acting teachers to get to the level they are at in their craft. According to her biography, Janis Joplin planned every "impromptu" scream she did. A singer who is serious should be trained by an insightful and wise vocal coach who will train them so well you don't hear "vocal training" when they sing. You hear a song that elicits from you an emotional response. Period. This essay first published August 4, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles
  3. TMV World Team

    Vocal Control for Recording Studio Singing

    A large part of vocal training involves learning vocal control. Without vocal control, any vocal recording will suffer dreadfully. With it, you can do things you can only dream about without it. Another problem with lack of control is that if you are singing with any degree of power, you are going to experience a lot more vocal fatigue and risk damage to your instrument if you sing too long. With it, you can sing all day and not experience vocal strain. Yes, it's true! And a lack of control will cause you and your recording team frustration, or you'll just give up and settle for the best you and they think you can do. Usually, it's a huge waste of time and resources. Live performances are more forgiving of slight control issues, but studio singing requires surgically accurate control. So what am I talking about? For a great recording, you need vocal technique skills that will enable you to: Control volume. (Without it, your engineer will have to use excessive compression to even out volume, control distortion and bring soft sounds up so they can be heard. Some degree of "riding the faders" and compression is normal and usual, but the less the better. The less your vocals need to be compressed, the richer the resulting sound.) Control vocal lics and embellishments. (Without it, you will not be able to sing some vocal lics you attempt; "scats" or phrasing nuances will not "turn" well or flow evenly.) Control vibrato. (Without it, your vibrato will be too much, too little, uneven or inappropriately applied.) Control tone color. (Without it, the tone color of your voice will be too "covered", "hooty", "edgy", harsh, numb and boring or just plain wrong for the message. Your choices of tone of voice will be seriously limited, and your voice will sound small and/or unpleasant.) Control articulation. (Without it, you will over-, or more usually, under- pronounce the lyrics. There are differing degrees of articulation appropriate for different genres and tempos and types of lyrics. Singers must be able to know and apply the proper way to form words for their songs. For instance, blues music is pronounced more slurry. Hip- hop generally has sharper attacks. Pop is usually articulated clearer. Musical theater diction usually needs to be very crisp, but if you try to use this kind of diction in a pop song you will sound fake. But all songs should be understood, or the connection to the audience is not going to be made well.) Control sibilance. (Without this, recording your vocal can be a nightmare because too much sibilance hurts the listener's ears! And fixing excessive "s" sounds with de-"ss'ers always limits the quality of sound. A related problem is the popping of "p"s and other consonants. You must be able to control your consonants even while you clearly form them.) Control dynamic expression. (Without it, you will over-express and sound fake, under-express and bore the listener out of their minds, or bring too many changing emotional levels to the song to sound authentic and really move the heart of your listener. You have to know how to express the emotion of the lyric like a great actor delivering lines that invite an emotional response to the message.) Control the beginnings and ends of each phrase. (Without it, you will have trouble getting the beginning of the line right. You will drop off the ends of your sentences, robbing the listener of the complete thought. You will also find yourself with a lack of other kinds of control of initiating and ending lines, because you didn't set yourself up properly before entering the phrase or you've dropped your controlling support too early.) Control rhythm. (Without it, you will not be singing with the groove. You will be too early, too late or have inappropriate placement of lyrics via the beat. Again, different genres ask for different places the lyric should fit with the beat, but you have to know what your genre norms are and have the ability to sing with the beat that way. For instance, hip-hop usually has the lyric slightly behind the beat, pop usually right on top of it, gospel and big band "Sinatra" types are flexibly in and around the beat, but you really have to sing with a lot of the masters to get this authentically right.) Control pitch. (Without it, your engineer will have to tune the vocal too much, resulting in a mechanistic, artificial sound. You may be so inconsistent and inaccurate that tuning becomes almost impossible, because the tuner "grabs" the wrong pitch or can't draw the lic well enough to sound natural. Your bended notes may be so far off there is no way to make them sound in tune. Fact: The less you have to tune a vocal, the better. Don't get complacent here and think you can just have your engineer fix it in the mix. You'll be unpleasantly surprised.) Can you think of other types of control issues you've found in the studio? Which of these would you like to know more about? This essay first published September 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008.
  4. A large part of vocal training involves learning vocal control. Without vocal control, any vocal recording will suffer dreadfully. With it, you can do things you can only dream about without it. Another problem with lack of control is that if you are singing with any degree of power, you are going to experience a lot more vocal fatigue and risk damage to your instrument if you sing too long. With it, you can sing all day and not experience vocal strain. Yes, it's true! And a lack of control will cause you and your recording team frustration, or you'll just give up and settle for the best you and they think you can do. Usually, it's a huge waste of time and resources. Live performances are more forgiving of slight control issues, but studio singing requires surgically accurate control. So what am I talking about? For a great recording, you need vocal technique skills that will enable you to: Control volume. (Without it, your engineer will have to use excessive compression to even out volume, control distortion and bring soft sounds up so they can be heard. Some degree of "riding the faders" and compression is normal and usual, but the less the better. The less your vocals need to be compressed, the richer the resulting sound.) Control vocal lics and embellishments. (Without it, you will not be able to sing some vocal lics you attempt; "scats" or phrasing nuances will not "turn" well or flow evenly.) Control vibrato. (Without it, your vibrato will be too much, too little, uneven or inappropriately applied.) Control tone color. (Without it, the tone color of your voice will be too "covered", "hooty", "edgy", harsh, numb and boring or just plain wrong for the message. Your choices of tone of voice will be seriously limited, and your voice will sound small and/or unpleasant.) Control articulation. (Without it, you will over-, or more usually, under- pronounce the lyrics. There are differing degrees of articulation appropriate for different genres and tempos and types of lyrics. Singers must be able to know and apply the proper way to form words for their songs. For instance, blues music is pronounced more slurry. Hip- hop generally has sharper attacks. Pop is usually articulated clearer. Musical theater diction usually needs to be very crisp, but if you try to use this kind of diction in a pop song you will sound fake. But all songs should be understood, or the connection to the audience is not going to be made well.) Control sibilance. (Without this, recording your vocal can be a nightmare because too much sibilance hurts the listener's ears! And fixing excessive "s" sounds with de-"ss'ers always limits the quality of sound. A related problem is the popping of "p"s and other consonants. You must be able to control your consonants even while you clearly form them.) Control dynamic expression. (Without it, you will over-express and sound fake, under-express and bore the listener out of their minds, or bring too many changing emotional levels to the song to sound authentic and really move the heart of your listener. You have to know how to express the emotion of the lyric like a great actor delivering lines that invite an emotional response to the message.) Control the beginnings and ends of each phrase. (Without it, you will have trouble getting the beginning of the line right. You will drop off the ends of your sentences, robbing the listener of the complete thought. You will also find yourself with a lack of other kinds of control of initiating and ending lines, because you didn't set yourself up properly before entering the phrase or you've dropped your controlling support too early.) Control rhythm. (Without it, you will not be singing with the groove. You will be too early, too late or have inappropriate placement of lyrics via the beat. Again, different genres ask for different places the lyric should fit with the beat, but you have to know what your genre norms are and have the ability to sing with the beat that way. For instance, hip-hop usually has the lyric slightly behind the beat, pop usually right on top of it, gospel and big band "Sinatra" types are flexibly in and around the beat, but you really have to sing with a lot of the masters to get this authentically right.) Control pitch. (Without it, your engineer will have to tune the vocal too much, resulting in a mechanistic, artificial sound. You may be so inconsistent and inaccurate that tuning becomes almost impossible, because the tuner "grabs" the wrong pitch or can't draw the lic well enough to sound natural. Your bended notes may be so far off there is no way to make them sound in tune. Fact: The less you have to tune a vocal, the better. Don't get complacent here and think you can just have your engineer fix it in the mix. You'll be unpleasantly surprised.) Can you think of other types of control issues you've found in the studio? Which of these would you like to know more about? This essay first published September 21, 2009 on The Modern Vocalist.com the Internet's #1 community for vocal professionals, voice health practitioners and pro-audio companies worldwide since November 2008. View full articles