What are your tricks and tips for getting a great vocal performance out of a singer? It's so crucial and there are many variables: how the singer is feeling, how they hear or perceive their performance, distance from mic, gear...the list goes on.
This is of special interest to me; I strive to catch whole, live, vocal takes. Moments.
Any tips? How about dealing with singers that are nervous, or having a bad day? What about monitoring and gear?
Tip and tricks for vocals ...
Headphone mix is everything to start with ... I like to give the singer my mix so I know exactly what they are hearing
try not to give them too much reverb because this affects pitch
make sure they have something good to pitch from like the bass .. plenty of bass in the phones is good
if they are out of tune
and pushing sharp its usually because they are sing too hard so make sure you arent over compressing or have some wack limiter on the mix buss
if they are flat its usually because they are not moving enough air and might hear too much of themselves
make sure things like extra overdubs arent crowding them
simplify the mix .. keep it simple for the singer so they can focus on whats important
again, dont over compress them, it will cause a strange vocal dynamic
for nerves, lighting is important, the whole feng shui of where they are singing
a table for tea and liquid
a nice table lamp if your lighting sucks
put your phone away
have all people in the room put their phones away
I use an open talk back on my sessions
I have a 57 wide open all the time so musicians out in the room can hear everything thats being said unless I dont want them to and turn it off
this way they are included in all conversations
if the chorus is really high or there is a part of the song thats really hard to sing I will warm the singer up to this
I might have the singer sing just one or 2 passes tops before focusing on section before I go back to the whole song
I dont want to burn the singer out and not get the whole song if the outro or the bridge is high and hard
sometimes it really helps the singer to focus on the meaning of the lyrics if they sing a few verses and move on to the next verse
before hitting the chorus' and then maybe a couple more full passes for continuity
If it is a song that the singer has written NO LYRIC SHEET
make the singer learn his or her song
I mean WTF ??!! are you telling me that they are in the studio about to give the performance of their life and they don't know the lyrics ?
thats insane to me
humor is really helpful with nerves
also make sure you give them just enough rest between takes if it is a tough song but don't let them lose momentum
make sure your singer is singing on an empty stomach if possible
they sing better that way
this business about singing with you head angled up is bogus
that actually puts a strain on your vocal cords
try it now, crane your neck upward ... it will strain you
now crook your neck slightly downward
its much more natural
one last tip
if they are still flat on certain notes
have them try raising their eyebrows on those notes
the eyebrow up body language actually raises pitch ..