Getting the artist to be comfortable

Tech talk about audio recording and live stage production.
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Getting the artist to be comfortable

Postby dylanger » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:50 pm

I'm having some trouble tracking my own vocals. Every time I get a set of headphones on and set down the guitar my singing ability goes down the drane. I'm sure you've noticed this Matt while we tracked this side of the snow and my project. I tried recording a song a few weeks ago with no headphones and I tracked the guitar and vocals at the same time and it was 10 times better than the vocal comp I worked on for an hour. I just feel no emotion when I'm singing without a guitar . I feel like I'm only trying to sing words and a required pitched, very mechanical. Obviously I can't track like this on an actual project. The long term fix is to just sing on my own as much as possible, but is there anything you guys would tell an artist that would have this problem the day of tracking to try and get them to loosen up?
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Re: Getting the artist to be comfortable

Postby Malcolm Boyce » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:56 am

For starters, the day of tracking is a less desirable time to deal with performance issues than combating problems in advance.

With some singers, the way they split their concentration while performing is something that has to be focused but loose. When you're not playing while singing, you are focusing on your voice without the distraction of the guitar. You need to learn how to emulate the feel you like, that you have naturally while playing, while only singing to other accompaniment. As much as some might say, "why don't you just record vocals playing guitar?" you really need to pony up the time to learn how to sing with the vibe you're looking for, without the crutch of the instrument in your hands.

If I were producing a singer on a tracking date suffering from what you describe, I would have little choice but to coach the performer through the session just to get something we would be happy with, and hopefully working toward better technique over the long term.
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Re: Getting the artist to be comfortable

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:11 am

I think Malcolm is bang on. I don't typically indulge artists' crutches, unless I'm backed into a corner.

It would be akin to a drummer in a pop band saying that the click is distracting and he would rather play without it. Why not just get good at that skill? Performing for a recording and performing live are really two different skills for most. It's something that has to be learned like anything. Really great artists/performers can perform regardless of the circumstances or conditions. Be that good before you put the mic in front of your face. I've heard you that good, you are that good. You just need to be able to be that, consistently under any circumstances.

If I don't the luxury of working with the performer leading up to the session there is no hard and fast rule as to what I need to do to make it work, but the idea is to make them as comfortable as possible and keep them positive. As soon as the artist feels that he/she is failing then it's all downhill from there...

P.S. If I were a betting man I'd say you came into the Marissa session underprepared and that led to the issues, not the headphones or the lack of guitar or the lack of a particular planetary alignment. The melody was VERY specific and had no room for improv. You still got it in the end but it took a bit longer but the melody wasn't fully committed to memory.
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