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Make bad singers sound good w/o autotune
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Gear Maniac
 

Make bad singers sound good w/o autotune

What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Gear Head
 

Lots of rehearsals before recording. Record 5 takes of each phrase and then picking the best one of each (or the less worst).

Don’t tell him he did a bad take, tell him that he can do it better. Psychology is a very important tool to make a singer feel confortable and give his best.

Last but not least! Make him perform songs that are in his vocal register, don’t force him to sing something he physically can’t!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
soundebler's Avatar
Send them to church to sing with choir

Why do people sing wrong when you have a headphone?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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avare's Avatar
 

Send them to a singing coach.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Mix the vocal really loud!
Old 4 weeks ago
  #6
Gear Guru
 
Karloff70's Avatar
 

Some just need more focus, more practise, more time on the driving range before going out on the course. Once out on the course (in the studio in front of a mic) there is only so much you can do.

And some just need leaving alone.

But my favourite thing when recording vocals that ALWAYS works is the 'get on the surfboard' trick. Basically make them do the first vowel/syllable of the first line of the first verse a few times in a row over the intro. To shape their throat to that tone, so when they drop the first line of the verse it's BANG right on the money. Then they are on the board and have to surf from there to stay dry. Because, if they don't get on the board in the beginning, they are doomed to stay splashing around in the water trying to scrabble onto the board for the entire take.

Also: Autotune does not make bad singers good. It just corrects cool singers when they were sloppy but still vibed. It can't make gold, it just shifts off kilter gold into line. No gold = autotune completely useless. Unless you make a robot vocal tune a la modern pop of course. Any fecker can 'sing' for that.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #7
Lives for gear
Long before Autotune was a thing you could minimise pitch problems by pulling the mids down in the eq like a smily face. Our sense of pitch is strongest in the midrange.

Think about how it effects the sound of a guitar. Mid heavy guitar vs mid scooped guitar.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #8
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
That is a slippery slope my friend,

A slide slick with B.S that doesn't wash out easy.

Learning and mastering the finer points of vox surgery led to my services being in demand for it, of all the crappy things I've done in my music career, the time where I was on call as "The talent bringer" (Fix your vocals and drums, replay your guitars and synths, sing BG's) was absolutely THE WORST.

...I remember...sitting at the concentration camp (studio) at 4 AM staring down layer after layer of color-coded TURDS, thinking...."I used to roll around on stage in eyeliner and dog-collar and occasionally my own blood...I used to walk into studios, sing like crap and tell the producer "Well...looks like you've got your work cut out for you".....How did I end up doing THIS!!!!???"

...Look man, there are certain things that ARE in music these days, that should simply not BE.....certain places that technology has "Jumped the shark" if you don't mind me dating myself (Though I certainly have a lot of practice at it.....bud dum crash!)

My advice? Instead of wasting time learning how to do vocal surgery, invest the time in becoming a better singer than your clients.

You can then humiliate them by singing their crap better then they can.

Then charge $150 an hour for vocal lessons.....make THEM work for it, because whatever it is you are being paid to provide "tolerability" ....it's not enough.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Using speakers to monitor instead of headphones can often help with pitch problems.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #10
Quote:
Why do people sing wrong when you have a headphone?
Just use one side of the headphones and leave the other ear free so it's easier to hear ones own voice.
Apply a small amount of compression to the vocal that is being sent to the headphones.

Don't put every instrument in the mix going to the vocalists headphones.
Try to strip back the mix so that they can hear their own voice easier but yet have something to find their pitch with.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #11
Lives for gear
 

I was filling in running sound at a local music hall several years ago when a smart ass leader of a very mediocre Bluegrass band ask me over the sound system if I could still deliver the world class S R work I did for the "New South" in 1975. I answered him through the system talk back mic that it is true that I have the reputation for being a pretty good hand at mixing live sound, however performing miracles is well beyond my pay grade.
Hugh
Old 4 weeks ago
  #12
Lives for gear
 
Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

The two tricks I use are to record a scratch vocal, then autotune it to death. Then have the singer record another take singing along with the autotuned voice.

The other thing is slow way down and record no more than one vocal line at a time, and rerecord each line until it's acceptable before moving on to the next.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Breaking the lyric into the smallest chunks possible has helped some of the less gifted vocalists I’ve had in. If they’ve only got to hit a couple of notes over a few syllables, they often end up getting a lot closer pitch wise than they might if singing multiple lines. Just my 2c
Old 4 weeks ago
  #14
Lots of good suggestions above; I've learned to pay extra attention to monitoring issues (not too much bass, which is sometimes thought to 'confuse' the ear's pitch sense, not too loud), more often removing one earpiece when cutting vocals.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
The two tricks I use are to record a scratch vocal, then autotune it to death. Then have the singer record another take singing along with the autotuned voice.

The other thing is slow way down and record no more than one vocal line at a time, and rerecord each line until it's acceptable before moving on to the next.
A lot of less confident or less experienced singers do better singing along... obviously, the ideal would be to sing along with a guide track by a solid, competent singer, but I've used a hard-tuned 'amateur' vocal (me) as a guide experimentally and it can offer one some insights into what is and is not going wrong with one's approach. I've also used instrumental guide tracks to 'teach' myself melodies... Odd as it may seem, I've found nice, 'pure' instrumental tones to be almost more problematic (at least for me -- as drawing pitch from such a sound actually seems harder for me when singing than getting pitch from even a far from perfect but in-tune vocal).


If a singer is having problems getting the feel of the song or his/her performance is wavering from take to take, it can be helpful to give him a lyric sheet with musical downbeats or other accents clearly marked on specific syllables. (Some people use underlines and arrows, some colors, etc.)
Old 4 weeks ago
  #15
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
Put lots of reverb on their voice! That's what I used to do. The further back into the decay of the reverb, the more things spread out - not just in time but also in frequency.

also - double the melody line with a synth or organ and put the same reverb on that so that it 'pulls' the listener's ear toward the correct note.

A number of people have mentioned comping. If someone sings it enough times, he may be able to hit all the pitches - if only by chance!

If there is a producer on the session, they can have a lyric sheet and mark it up to make sure you have at least "one good one" of every phrase in the song. It may sound 'choppy' all Frankensteined together, but that may still be preferable to being badly out of tune.

When a singer is not cutting it, and they know it, you can explain the options and get out the cattle prods. Sometimes I will send them home to practice some more, or even recommend a vocal coach. Some of them bring the coach to the session, this can actually be a help. Why people expect good singing to just "happen" naturally is a puzzlement to me, but so many people do. Few people expect to pick up a guitar and just "know" how to play it well without any lessons.

When the singers are blissfully unaware of their failings, just mix it. Maybe one of their friends will tell them. Maybe no one will tell them and they can enjoy their recording for the rest of their lives thinking they are great.

As for the whole "without using autotune", IMO, it's important to have some clarity there as well. Are you not using autotune because you don't want to hear the artifacts? Is a perfectly transparent tuning job too much work? Is it not too much work but you have a "moral" objection to it? Is it more moral to do 1000 edits than tune 20 flat notes? etc etc I am not taking a position myself, but I think understanding your own position very clearly can help guide your actions.

Where is it going? What's the genre? Is this a vanity project by a part-time punter? Are you working for a label that plans to release the music?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
Autotune makes bad singers sound good...?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #17
It is my time-honed perception that a lot of people who apparently think that they can tune a vocal without leaving noticeable artifacts are falling prey to the fallacy that others will similarly be unable to hear those artifacts.

I'm not saying it's not, with considerable care and patience, possible.

And I have no quarrel with studio magic -- as long as it is an actual improvement.

But there are scores, hundreds of pop, rock and country songs from the early part of the century (the first decade after the 1998 release of the AT software) with vocals that show grotesque wrench marks of clumsy tuning. And they ALL made it through the label process. I didn't really NEED the extra proof that there are a lot of tin-ears in the music biz. =/
Old 4 weeks ago
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
Clip of the bad singer please.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #19
Lives for gear
 

There is so much more to 'good' singing than just staying in tune.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #20
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
There is so much more to 'good' singing than just staying in tune.
Yes, but it’s the first (and quite important) hurdle most of the time for bad singers.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #21
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ultraburner View Post
Yes, but it’s the first (and quite important) hurdle most of the time for bad singers.
Exactly. Also, weak vocalists who can still get on pitch can often be charming in the right setting.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #22
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
It is my time-honed perception that a lot of people who apparently think that they can tune a vocal without leaving noticeable artifacts are falling prey to the fallacy that others will similarly be unable to hear those artifacts.

I'm not saying it's not, with considerable care and patience, possible.

I saw Greg Wells do it at a demonstration at AES last year. I consider myself to be particularly snobby about the artifacts and I was very impressed.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #23
Lives for gear
 
cjogo's Avatar
We don't have any Auto Tune --- Sometimes it's just how they sound -- Not everyone has that perfect voice . I generally play a keyboard patch >>right under their voices.

They can take a rough mix home and practice .. Might increase them 20 % >> hitting their notes .
Old 4 weeks ago
  #24
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ultraburner
Yes, but it’s the first (and quite important) hurdle most of the time for bad singers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
Exactly. Also, weak vocalists who can still get on pitch can often be charming in the right setting.
I agree wholeheartedly with this. So many people can get by if only they can just hit the damn notes.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
I saw Greg Wells do it at a demonstration at AES last year. I consider myself to be particularly snobby about the artifacts and I was very impressed.
People are doing it all the time and you're not aware that they're doing it because, well, that's how well they're doing it.

On the one hand that, on the other hand there's Country Radio.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #26
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ty45 View Post
What would you guys do to help bad singers sound as best they could without using autotune?
Discuss problem areas with the singer and punch in were needed until the trouble spots are fixed.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
There is so much more to 'good' singing than just staying in tune.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultraburner View Post
Yes, but it’s the first (and quite important) hurdle most of the time for bad singers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
Exactly. Also, weak vocalists who can still get on pitch can often be charming in the right setting.
The point is that "bad" singers will still sound "bad" even when they're on key.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #28
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
People are doing it all the time and you're not aware that they're doing it because, well, that's how well they're doing it.
This depends on how much they need to tune...it does not matter how good they are, after a certain point they can't hide it.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #29
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Samc View Post
This depends on how much they need to tune...it does not matter how good they are, after a certain point they can't hide it.

Some have just incredible voices -- natural talent prevails ... We still have to record them = right.,,, no matter what their level of their expertise >>>> I turn no one away ....
Old 4 weeks ago
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Earcatcher's Avatar
- Make sure they are fit and well rested before the session;
- Have them warm up their voice for a long time;
- Put reverb WITHOUT modulation on their voice in their headphone mix, so they have a constant reference of where they are coming from.
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