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Over the years we have worked with some amazing producers. Sometimes when you are getting to know your producers you find out that they have a professional distance with new recording artists. You really want your producer to be part of the band “so to speak”. You want the creative flow to be open and honest. Sometimes this professional distance stems from artists having a greater expectation about themselves than what the reality really is. If you have ever walked into a studio to record and if feels like the producer isn’t getting you the quality you expected, or the experience you expected you’ll find one of the problems in this equation in one of the rooms located in every studio. The bathroom – where you’ll find a mirror. Now don’t get us wrong the issue is fixable but you can’t expect it to be fixed at 150 an hour trying to cut your songs. There is a lot you need to learn before walking into a studio. On this episode we are going to provide a few helpful hints that might help make your next recording session a bit more productive and successful.
If you are not under a recording contract that the record company is paying for chances are you are paying for your record. That is 99% of how most albums are done now. One of the biggest mistakes a person or group makes going into the studio is showing up not fully prepared. Now, this one is very easy to overlook because one of the things I learned early when first doing studio work is you don’t know what you don’t know. If you spend 10 hours a day 7 days a week rehearsing your material and you are learning your parts wrong – that’s one habit that will be the hardest to break once you step behind the studio mic. Another way people lack preparedness is that they are used to singing with live monitors and not headphones. This will mess up your pitch if you are not used to what you are hearing. If you are an artists that doesn’t like to hear yourself on a recording – then you might want to re-think whether a studio recording is the best choice for you. Normally, what is live and the techniques of studio recording have just enough differences to throw you off while you are working on getting the best out of your recording. The best practice is to record yourself with your phone or digital audio workstation through your computer and see what it sounds like on less than studio quality gear. Then, you work on the areas that stand out the most and once you get into the studio – that part won’t give you as many problems.
Now, there are some things that you can practice on that will help you not only in the studio but live. For solo vocalist, the biggest obstacle is breathing. A lot of vocalist don’t know how to breathe through their phrasings. Breathing is a very important part to your singing. Pronouncing your words correctly and in pitch is another obstacle. If you notice that vowels sounds at the end of words are causing you pitch problems then that is a great place to concentrate. You should learn to hold your E and AH sounds and you should work on how to cut those off when necessary on endings.
For vocal groups, phrasing seems to be a huge problem in the studio. We know that with modern equipment it tends to make us lazy but even modern computers can’t fix 4 different humans pronouncing their S’s. One thing we work on is allowing the lead vocalist to say the S at the end of a word and everyone else not. For example – the lead vocalist might sing the word “place” but everyone else in the group would say – play but end with the lead vocalist. That will make your phrasing so much better in the studio and live. It is so subtle that the audience doesn’t catch it – but when you have 4 people holding their S’s differently it stands out. What is overwhelming is that is ONE vocal sound and there are many others. We work a lot on words that have T’s in them. If you can get them together then that is fantastic. The object is that you are creating an instrumentation with your voice that sounds consistent.
Working with producers over the years we have also heard them complain about people being original. Originality is your greatest asset as an artist. Originality sets you a part from being a parody or imitation of an original. Now, a lot of Elvis impersonators have made a mint doing that type of entertaining but that’s it – they can never explore any other options than the life of Elvis. If you sing or play music to express your belief and your love for music – be original. It is okay to phrase your words like your heroes or try to mimic their vocal impressions but that’s should only be .05% of it. The other 99.95% should all you and who God made you to be. We hope this discussion helps and if you have any questions about any of our podcasts – feel free to drop us a line on facebook or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Leave us a comment on the youtube video and we’ll answer it. Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and subscribe to our channel! Also, if you know someone working in the studio – send them a link to our video or podcast. We would like to give a shout-out to some of our friends that are producers! Tommy Swindle, Jonathan Goodwin, Scott Godsey, Dale Maxwell, Darren Morton, Anthony Bollinger, David Hollaway and the late and very dear friend of ours Dave Wilcox. Thank you for teaching us and helping all the singers be their best.
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