The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Nailing pitch when recording yourself. Any tips? Turntables
Old 24th April 2014
  #1
Lives for gear
 

Nailing pitch when recording yourself. Any tips?

Hi all,

I've only VERY recently started to dabble in front of the vocal mic, having been the background drummer/guitarist/spoon player for people in the past.
I mostly record others, but lately I've been encouraged to start up a new band with some songs I had written.

Anyways, lately I've been recording down some rough demos of the songs to help my band mates learn the tracks.

One thing I've noticed, is that live, I tend to be a much better singer!
ok, I'm no Myles Kennedy/Jeff Buckley/Freddie Mercury, but my tone and more importantly (for the sake of this post), my pitch is much more in tune.

I've noticed that lately recording myself, 70% of the time I am stepping away from the mic thinking "that take was pretty good!" only to be shocked at how off pitch it is when I listen back!


A trusted friend of mine suggested that it was likely a headphone monitoring issue, and pointed me to read this:
Get On Pitch Vocals Without Software

I studied it and came away with this in a nutshell:
if track is flat, decrease volume of own vocals in HP mix. If sharp, increase the vocals in HP mix.


I tried this and with some trial and error I have gotten some success....but....

my issue is that the songs tend to vary in register and emotive delivery (read: volume! ) so in one section its ok in the HP mix, then the chorus kicks in and BAM - flat-track-city!

Same friend recommended having the overall song mix louder in my cans, but I've yet to test this.
I practice the tracks quite a bit beforehands, but I just cant seem to nail down a persistent headphone (HP) mix that would attribute to my issue.

Heh, I even tried a "hand trick" to keep pitch higher, but have had questionable success with it. Reminds me of this actually!
(go to 0:33)



Can/Does anyone out there recommend any tips and/or processes that could help me sustain a better headphone mix between quiet and loud parts?

Many thanks!
-DD
Old 24th April 2014
  #2
KEL
Lives for gear
 

welcome to the same struggle every singer goes through. I'm always sharp in the studio...well, and live too!

I like singing to the studio monitors, no headphones.

Take one ear off when using headphones sometimes helps.

take off effects can help...especially chorus on guitars or keys.

shut off the bass can help
Old 24th April 2014
  #3
Lives for gear
 
MusicJesus's Avatar
 

Practice. Solves 99% of problems.
Old 24th April 2014
  #4
Lives for gear
I am laughing not because I think of you as laughable, but as someone who when first time in front of a vocal recording mic thought "how hard can it be" ... and ended up exactly the same as you.

you take it with humour, what else could we do? :-))

so, practising is the only way to go. the one and only.

I ended up years ago telling others, that I wouldnt be a singer, I would sing. thats a big difference. :-)) maybe think of Bob Dylan or Captain Beefheart as your intonation heroes. :-)) I did so and that went well ...

btw: who wants a second Freddie Mercury? we want disversity! so go on with your singing. :-))
Old 24th April 2014
  #5
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drumdrum View Post
One thing I've noticed, is that live, I tend to be a much better singer! ... but my tone and more importantly (for the sake of this post), my pitch is much more in tune.
Quote:
I've noticed that lately recording myself, 70% of the time I am stepping away from the mic thinking "that take was pretty good!" only to be shocked at how off pitch it is when I listen back!
what links these two statements? heh

the fact that when you are not listening to yourself, you are "in tune" and when you are listening to yourself you are "out of tune"

I would not be so "certain" about your pitch live. You may just have a harder time noticing your intonation is off WHILE you are singing. Record yourself live. Not with a mic in the room but isolate your vocal mic. Still in tune?


As far as "tips", many singers have an easier time with their pitch if they take one ear off of the headphones, or back both ears slightly off. Something about hearing their actual voice through the air. That could contribute to why you sing better singing live.

Also IMO, most singers do not run enough scales. I mean really run them, drill them the way a guitarist runs scales or a drummer runs rudiments. Up and down boring repetitive scales. Chops!
Old 24th April 2014
  #6
Lives for gear
 
bcgood's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
As far as "tips", many singers have an easier time with their pitch if they take one ear off of the headphones, or back both ears slightly off. Something about hearing their actual voice through the air. That could contribute to why you sing better singing live.

Also IMO, most singers do not run enough scales. I mean really run them, drill them the way a guitarist runs scales or a drummer runs rudiments. Up and down boring repetitive scales. Chops!
This is great advice
Old 24th April 2014
  #7
Lives for gear
 
kennybro's Avatar
I've worked with many good live singers who have issues with hitting pitch in the studio. It nearly always helps to take one ear off the cans, as KEL and Joeq suggest.

There can be a lot of resistance in getting some singers to do that. They like the intimacy of the headphone experience. Even after they hear the vast improvement after dumping the cans, they try to go back. Too much verb and/or echo in there is also a bad idea because it even further removes the singer from reality and gives them false confidence, yet so many singers insist on it, even though it's killing them.
Old 24th April 2014
  #8
More cowbell!
 
natpub's Avatar
Formal ear training. Learning proper intervals and structured practice of them improves pitch accuracy. Our very own James Lugo here at GS has a fantastic vocal training series, I believe on DvD now. I have the older audio-only version, but it really Kicks Ass! Just running though it, maybe 15-30 mins a day, really improved every aspect of my control and accuracy within weeks. I keep it around now and give it to singers I am producing during pre-production and use it as warm-up before sessions. Really works well. I don't really know James or have anything to do with his business, so I'm totally genuine in saying it is worth whatever price they cost.
Old 25th April 2014
  #9
Gear Maniac
i have the same problem. my musical ear is quite good.. I have played guitar for 12 years and transcribed a lot.. also been through relative pitch course and can recognize any interval and sing it from memory etc. I still struggle with singing in pitch.. I usually think i'm doing okay but the recording tells me otherwise. So its not my sense of pitch but its getting my instrument (voice) to reproduce it that is abit out of shape (I equate the voice to learning a fretless guitar where you can go between the frets). I think it is a feel thing and just needs more practice. I like the exercise of playing a note on the keyboard then releasing it and then trying to sing it. I also like the voicetrainer app a lot which detects your pitch as you sing into the iphone!
Old 25th April 2014
  #10
Lives for gear
The human voice is an instrument, so it goes out of tune. It needs to be stretched and vibrated on a regular basis.

I recommend chanting the OM for 1 hour each day. Start in a low E and then sweep up thru all the octaves for each key, hold each one steady for 1 minute. At first you will hear your voice waiver in and out of tune, but after 1 hour it will be solid and almost effortless.

Now go on to singing your parts and you'll be amazed at how much improved your pitch accuracy is.
Old 25th April 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Great post Sage 691. Been a while ..where you been hiding.

I also think that if the song you are working on is your baby from lyrics to concept , creation then it is easier to grasp in the traditional sense of songwriting.

We sometimes nurture a set of lyrics or melody for years before we even commit to recording going through several versions.

Sometimes if you watch/ listen to a talent show and you go wow he /she sounds just like ( insert favourite artist here ) then this person has copied the artist style vocally as it is possible to pitch your have singer through intonation, palette, nasal qualities etc etc.

You can mimic someone else.

If you can hear it you can sing it is my approach.

I'm in my 50's but I can go from Frank Sinatra to Adam Levine .

I can even get the American accent down pretty good but not everyone can get the Aussie accent down well.

Hope what I have said makes sense but also should be able to apply several of these methods.

Cheers
Old 25th April 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 
brockorama's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drumdrum View Post

One thing I've noticed, is that live, I tend to be a much better singer!

Me too. It's because I am more committed to the performance I think.
Old 25th April 2014
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Headphones:

Peter Gabriel says headphones destroy your performance and sings all his vocals with speakers playing the backing tracks. For "So" he had a midsize 80s boom box about 2' from his face that he sang along with.

The Beatles didn't use headphones (or maybe they did a bit at the end?) and sang along with backing tracks playing thru giant monitors they called the "White Elephants".

Key/Range:

IMO the most important part of capturing a great vocal is pitching the song where it works best for your voice. Not too high, not too low - perfect. I've rerecorded songs before because I decided the key was off for my voice.

Good Trick:

With some vocalists I've had good luck recording a scratch vocal, which I autotune the **** out of. Then have them sing along with the autotuned vocal.
Old 25th April 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
If you're consistently flat or sharp, there's nothing wrong with your natural sense of pitch itself. It's like grouping when shooting: in order to measure real-life good shooting you turn the target over to measure the span of your grouping, you don't just count bullseyes.

If you're consistent, you're a good shot, and there's simply some technical aspect to work on. Stop raising shoulders, change the way you stand, etc.

Having someone stand behind you with their hands on your hips holding you firmly down as you sing can help you center your pitch grouping.

A great thing is to sing harmonies with a couple of people. I don't mean join a chorus where the director is pounding on the piano and screeching at everyone (the old-school version of Autotune), but just a couple of people who enjoy singing, and play with it.
"Okay you hold Do and I'll go do, re, mi, fa, sol, then I'll hold Do and we'll trade off", that kind of thing. Improvise parallel thirds. Hold a unison then one person slowly goes gradually more and more sharp so that it starts beating wogga-wogga-wogga then go back until it blends.

Some people don't sing consistently high or low but still there's nothing wrong with their sense of pitch, it's a matter of fitting what they're doing to functional harmony. It sounds right to sharp a B natural when it's leading to C, Ti going to Do, and flat the same B natural when its function is M3 above G with G Maj as a consonant resting point (i.e., when it's the Mi of Sol)

Most importantly, remember that the 12-tET piano is not the final authority, unless you're doing autotuned music. "Sounds good/appropriate" is the final authority. The Beatles were well off 12-tET and more in tune than any damn autotune crap. They had the functional element mentioned above nailed.

Well, those are my opinions, but I sing "microtonal" music accurately and can teach others to do the same, so I might not be right about everything but I'm not talking out my butt.

Specifically to your post: if you're consistently flat in the studio and not so live, there's nothing wrong with you *at all*. It's purely about the energy of live performance vs the studio. Get some kind audience going in the studio- it's perfectly normal for a stage singer to be looking at the encouraging face of the producer or whomever when in the studio, and the pitch goes up where it should.
Old 25th April 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
You should go on "The Voice".

They don't make you wear headphones, which is great cause then
you can't hear how off pitch you are. Neither can the audience or
judges.
Old 25th April 2014
  #16
Gear Addict
 
catawbawine's Avatar
 

One more vote for taking one headphone off! Or if you're like me and it makes you feel strangely off kilter, I like to slide both headphones back so that they're sort of half covering my ears.
Old 25th April 2014
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joecandy View Post
You should go on "The Voice".

They don't make you wear headphones, which is great cause then
you can't hear how off pitch you are. Neither can the audience or
judges.
This made me laugh.
Old 25th April 2014
  #18
Registered User
Yeah - headphones and IEM's just don't work for some people. I've been watching American Idol, and CJ has a great voice, but he always wanders off pitch when he gets loud. It is very probably not his fault - if he is forced to use IEM, and if the monitor mix is compressing his vocals, or has the bass too loud, or lacks something definate to pitch against, he is going to be screwed.

As much as the arm chair experts such as Harry tell him to practice pitch, that is useless advice that won't help if the sound engineering issues aren't solved. His pitch will be fine - if he can do it when he can hear himself, it's not his fault if he can't hear himself due to a sound engineering issue.

Harry says he never uses IEMs himself - he should be far more understanding. For his genre of music, IEMs look stupid anyway. Give the poor bastard a monitor wedge, and then he could probably win.

But I digress.
Old 25th April 2014
  #19
Agree with volume ideas in first post.

Also see this old post of mine

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
From the thread Sade? on 17th Jun 2006

I assisted Mike Pela recording her at Matrix Studio, London, UK.. not for a release, but some demos for a movie soundtrack (Absolute Beginners) circa the mid 80's

1) They rented in a valve U67
2) Instead of headphones - she used one speaker pointing up at her at an angle from the floor / wall
3) She sang sitting down - but upright (in perhaps an Alexander technique posture)
4) She oozed intelligence - (she seemed to be one very smart cookie)
5) She was very 'slinky' looking

In my opinion, her thing is to sing, very skillfully, slightly flat. Jazz saxophonists do this all the time and I think it it called 'blue' pitching.. It adds sorrowful weight or 'drag' to the material. Sade would not be the first to do this - Brian Wilson's vocal production drags flat quite often.. Both have the skill at evoking a feeling of rats eating at your heart!. heh
Old 25th April 2014
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Thanks for the replies. I had a big long spiel reply waiting, but my infernal laptop has "page back" and "page forward" buttons right beside the up arrow key. I accidentally hit the page back...anger ensued!!

So to repeat that post in a "TL;DR" format:

1 - I practice, though due to living conditions with thin walls, practice times are harder to come by than say practicing guitar via DI/emulation software.

2 - My initial live vs studio comparison was done using my Zoom H4n at my last 2 open mic nights I went to. Suffice to say, not perfect, but better than studio versions.

3 - One-ear-off the headphones.....funny, Ive done this for many clients, but it never even registered to try it myself! Go figure!

4 - Due to general later times noise issues, recording with a monitor is not practical. I'd need to have it loud to hear myself.

5 - Singing along to an "autotuned-to-death-scratch-track". Thanks for the tip, I'll try that.

6 - The "OM" method. Is that simply singing "oohhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" like a Tibetan monk on each note, or is "OM" an acronym for something else?

7 - @Jules - why is it that the most grabbed me from your post was your point:
"1) They rented in a valve U67"? :D
Heh, a contender for: "You know you're a Gearslut when..."


thanks everyone!
Old 25th April 2014
  #21
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
Headphones:

Peter Gabriel says headphones destroy your performance and sings all his vocals with speakers playing the backing tracks. For "So" he had a midsize 80s boom box about 2' from his face that he sang along with.

The Beatles didn't use headphones (or maybe they did a bit at the end?) and sang along with backing tracks playing thru giant monitors they called the "White Elephants".
I hate to mention this, as I'm a huge Beatles fan, but I dont think that the Beatles would have gotten away with that in this day and age of our "music must be perfect!" ethos of todays more popular musics. Obviously, we could debate this until the cows come home, but in todays pop music (and even rock and metal to some extent), "perfectionism" has meant that the standard bar for recorded music 30+ years go, would likely not hold up to the same level of todays scrutiny today.

Imagine if the Beatles were only starting out now? Autotuned Paul McCartney anyone? not for me!

In the more popular genres and subgenres within pop, rock, and metal (to some extent) perfectionist-level requirements often mean that things are digitally altered after the fact to make things sound "competitive". The amount of metal records I've seen done where extra kick triggers are added in after the drummers gone home, or beats have been aligned to be "tighter", is amazing. I understand the need to do what you need to do to get done, as I've done it myself if I'm honest...and I'd say that many who say otherwise are perhaps not being as honest as they think they are!

But still, it seems that you can practice until you can recite the song in your sleep, but everyone has off-days, or deal with pressure in different ways...and with the amount of tools we have nowadays, the standard of what is seen as "competitive" is rediculous-ly high! for my money, this is because as the engineering tools have gotten greater, the pressure for perfect takes is now not just only on the musicians, but also with the engineers nowadays too! A slight rhythmic event or slightly flat note 30 years ago (where you could not do much to fix) is now no longer "Acceptable" as the capability to fix the "issues" ("events" is a better word IMHO) are now there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
Key/Range:

IMO the most important part of capturing a great vocal is pitching the song where it works best for your voice. Not too high, not too low - perfect. I've rerecorded songs before because I decided the key was off for my voice.

Good Trick:

With some vocalists I've had good luck recording a scratch vocal, which I autotune the **** out of. Then have them sing along with the autotuned vocal.
I agree. I myself, often like to make things sound "dramatic", so the 5th is usually a note that'll end up getting used. As such, I tend to tune down my songs from "E standard". Usually around B, C, C#, D to start with. Depends on the song obviously. But while I've an ok, range, anything above a G (below "high C") starts to start sounding thinner. Not un-hittable technically speaker and on a good day, but there is a big difference between hitting a note, and making that hit note sound good!
Old 25th April 2014
  #22
Lives for gear
 
doncaparker's Avatar
 

Lots of good ideas. A few more:

If you cannot have a monitor playing the instrument recordings in the room while you sing, due to volume concerns, how about trying a pair of open air headphones?

Also, are you trying to get just one perfect take for the whole song? Most folks don't do that these days. Use multiple takes and use the best take for each section of the song.

Singing is my main thing, so I do have to emphasize a few points already mentioned:

1. People differ on what monitoring method works for them as singers. Just keep experimenting until you find the one that works best for you, then roll with it. There is no single best way for everyone.

2. Finding the right key is ESSENTIAL. A half step one direction or the other can make all the difference. Pick the key that fits your voice on that song. No compromises on that point.

3. To be good at anything, you have to do that thing frequently and with purpose. If you want to be a singer that sings on pitch, you have to sing more, and sing with a set of goals. I think your goals should be, at a minimum, to find out how wide your singing range really is, and how to reliably and repeatedly hit the notes in that range on pitch.

Good luck.
Old 25th April 2014
  #23
Gear Addict
 
John Reid's Avatar
 

Nice post… I used to sing all the time, but that was many years ago. I'm going to start getting back into it, so this thread is interesting to me.

But I'm confused by one method mentioned… if you're singing in the same room as the monitors playing back the music you're singing to (as opposed to using closed, cirumaural headphones for monitoring your performance), won't the music bleed through into the vocal track?

I thought that was a big no-no! In the anecdote about P. Gabriel, did he somehow remove that extraneous sound from his vocal track?
Old 25th April 2014
  #24
Quote:
Originally Posted by drumdrum View Post
Hi all,

I've only VERY recently started to dabble in front of the vocal mic, having been the background drummer/guitarist/spoon player for people in the past.
I mostly record others, but lately I've been encouraged to start up a new band with some songs I had written.

Anyways, lately I've been recording down some rough demos of the songs to help my band mates learn the tracks.

One thing I've noticed, is that live, I tend to be a much better singer!
ok, I'm no Myles Kennedy/Jeff Buckley/Freddie Mercury, but my tone and more importantly (for the sake of this post), my pitch is much more in tune.

I've noticed that lately recording myself, 70% of the time I am stepping away from the mic thinking "that take was pretty good!" only to be shocked at how off pitch it is when I listen back!


A trusted friend of mine suggested that it was likely a headphone monitoring issue, and pointed me to read this:
Get On Pitch Vocals Without Software

I studied it and came away with this in a nutshell:
if track is flat, decrease volume of own vocals in HP mix. If sharp, increase the vocals in HP mix.


I tried this and with some trial and error I have gotten some success....but....

my issue is that the songs tend to vary in register and emotive delivery (read: volume! ) so in one section its ok in the HP mix, then the chorus kicks in and BAM - flat-track-city!

Same friend recommended having the overall song mix louder in my cans, but I've yet to test this.
I practice the tracks quite a bit beforehands, but I just cant seem to nail down a persistent headphone (HP) mix that would attribute to my issue.

Heh, I even tried a "hand trick" to keep pitch higher, but have had questionable success with it. Reminds me of this actually!
(go to 0:33)



Can/Does anyone out there recommend any tips and/or processes that could help me sustain a better headphone mix between quiet and loud parts?

Many thanks!
-DD
Louder can make it harder to hear pitch correctly. Also the ear has more of a tendency to misinterpret bass tones and especially loud bass tones. (Which meant that my own brief experiments with turning the bass up loud for pitch cue was actually working against me.)

Perhaps you've noticed, as I started to at a certain point, that you may actually hear pitch differently some days. I have a handful of songs that some days sound reasonably well sun to me and other days, sound just off. Human pitch analysis doesn't just vary from individual to individual but even day to day or hour to hour.


Perhaps others have mentioned it but you might try a guide track, at least for drilling in the melody, if not for actually tracking.

If it's an original song this can have multiple benefits. For one thing, I've noticed that a lot of less formally trained songwriters tend to vary their melody on some songs at times. Sitting down and specifically defining the melody by tracking or programming it into a MIDI instrument not only provides a guide (that you can transpose, shift octaves, instruments, and the like) but forces one to settle on a specific, defined melody instead of winging it off the chords every time. (That latter is how I came up, how I write, and, unless I force myself, how I proceed; some songs settle into a very fixed melodic thing, some keep shifting around -- doesn't help that I frequently sub and change up chords, keys, arrangements. I'm like a compendium of what-not-to-do.l heh )


I'm afraid I really don't want to know what that 'hand trick' was heh -- but in recent years, trying to learn how to sing a bit more conventionally (heavy Dylan/Jagger/Bowie-damage here), I stumbled onto the realization that there are all sorts of things one might do to improve tone and control.

Of course, it's probably not much of a secret that changing the shape of head/throad/body resonance cavities to give better resonance support to given notes can be important for delivering both pitch and volume -- and breathing, of course, is critical; if you're trying to control pitch, being able to move a lot of air through your apparatus can help hold things steady (how, I don't know, I refused to even think about singing technique for decades trying to preserve my 'natural' voice's charm -- until I realized I was no longer so charmed).

Recently I've realized that some of the 'cornball moves' that old-fashioned stage singers traditionally used may actually have more to do with shaping and controlling the body for both pitch and volume but even stuff like vibrato and tremolo. Probably most folks have tried the uncomfortable but scarily controllable 'vibrato' one can effect with a wiggly finger on the throat (which actually creeps me out but is instructive) -- but one can affect much more subtle (and far more comfortable) control by doing things like moving one's arm(s) rhythmically -- I've found myself balling up one fist, holding it down at my side slightly away from my body and shaking it -- for a surprisingly natural sounding and easy to control tremolo and/or vibrato.
Old 25th April 2014
  #25
Lives for gear
 
JayTee4303's Avatar
I have a theory. Its WAY different, and I'm not 100% sure, but in a family of scientists and patent holders, certainty is a huge concept.

Consider the differences between what you hear and what others hear when you sing. The differences between what you hear when you sing, and what you hear when your recorded singing plays back.

Generally, these differences occur because you and others hear you driving the room, the sound waves you throat, mouth and lips produce, but only YOU can hear the additional vibrations and resonances of your bones, and the cavities in those bones.

Different cavity size and configurations, and different placement of sensors within mean that the skew between whats audible externally and internally are going to vary from person to person.

Think of a multiroom, resonant structure, a house, untreated and undamped beyond normal residential construction practices. Open a door, (mouth), run a speaker inside at high SPL, (vocal cords), and compare the recordings of different mics (eardrums) at different locations both inside (you) and outside (others)the building.

The depth and implications of this line of thinking are considerable.

At the beginning, its obvious that the exact placement of the speaker (vocal cords) in the building is critical. So are the mic placements. Building configuration itself. You can get lost in this pretty quick. But certain things are given.

You can't move your vocal cords, or your eardrums, within your skull.

You can't invite others inside the building.

You can't change the layout or nodes of the resonant cavities in your skull.

But you most certainly CAN mix the audio, for people outside the building, from INSIDE, if you recognize and make allowance for, the fundamental physics of the situation.

Some people have 'perfect pitch'. Maybe all of their cavities resonate at perfect intervals, no competition. Maybe some resonate flat, others sharp, and the summation balances out, quite a different aporoach, with possibly similar outcome.

I suspect those with imperfect pitch have odd resonances that vary with attempted pitch, to put some notes on, and others off. This simple situation doesn't begin toaddress cavities thst fill and empty with fluid over time, or tissues that swell, dry out, tense, relax, etc.

Ima shorten the novel here, get right to the applicable meat.

You put a mic outside the building and mix from that, if your goal is to make it sound good outside.

Two ways to do this in reality. Loud monitoring, cans or monitors, and recorded signals from the outside mic, played back to configure the mix. Know your SPLs and durations if monitoring loud.

LISTEN to your recorded vocal practices, make notes on the lyric sheet, trial and error different approaches, line by line, even syllable by syllable, till you get a 'mix' where every syllable sounds great, then hammer it into muscle memory with 1200 to 3500 repetitions, till you can warm up, walk to a mic and nail it, first time, every time.

Another approach...you can't redesign your skull, but you can use it differently. In effect, damping off rooms that skew perception, yours and others. This is where a good trainer can help.

Its probably not a coincidence that widely recognized proper vocal technique opens the throat, ( large direct path from the speaker to the outdoors), uses the tongue and mouth to throw resonance forward (aims the speaker outside), and emphasizes breathing technique ( fade up the direct outside SPL, minimizing the effects of odd interior resonance).

Its probably no coincidence that good vocalists seem mostly louder and more focused than untrained ones. They have those vibrations trained like laser beams towards the front of the mouth, where the relative motor skills of the lips and tongue, can exercize much more finesse and control than the throat muscles which are barely able to choose between swallowing and snoring.

Do you have to get this far down in the weeds?

Not if you have perfect pitch.

Not if you sing for your own enjoyment and are immune to people around you running away or committing suicide.

Not if you have a great coach.

Not if you practice solely by recording or on loud monitors.

You don't have to know why you suck to stop sucking, if you get lucky enough to unsuck, as opposed to sucking worse.

You don't have to know why you suck if you can afford an expert to fix the problems.

But if you're on your own, and the holes in your head aren't tuned, you have two choices, no more, no less.

Trial and error.

Calculated remediation.

My two cents
Old 25th April 2014
  #26
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Reid View Post
Nice post… I used to sing all the time, but that was many years ago. I'm going to start getting back into it, so this thread is interesting to me.

But I'm confused by one method mentioned… if you're singing in the same room as the monitors playing back the music you're singing to (as opposed to using closed, cirumaural headphones for monitoring your performance), won't the music bleed through into the vocal track?

I thought that was a big no-no! In the anecdote about P. Gabriel, did he somehow remove that extraneous sound from his vocal track?
there are two popular methods I know of. One is to place a pair of speakers exactly equidistant from the mic, feed them a mono cue signal, and put them out of phase with each other. At the microphone they will cancel out to a large extent. At the singer's ears, not so much.

The other is (at the end of tracking) to play the monitor signal out of the speakers and let it bleed into the mic ONE MORE TIME. But with no singing. The mic stays where it has always been, and the singer does not sing, but he must stand in front of the mic as before to provide the same acoustical reflections. (unless he is Peter Gabriel and he can pay an assistant to stand there!) The recording of this "canceling pass" is flipped in polarity and mixed back in with the original track. Since the singer is not actually singing on this pass, only the "bleed" is canceled!

Neither one provides 100% cancellation, but it can be surprisingly good. Besides most singers will gladly trade a little bleed for better pitch!
Old 25th April 2014
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by JayTee4303 View Post
I have a theory. Its WAY different, and I'm not 100% sure, but in a family of scientists and patent holders, certainty is a huge concept.

Consider [...]
That's a bit of a ramble (I should talk heh ) but there are some really interesting points covered.

And one thing that really made me stop and think for a moment.

JT (if I may) was referring to the various resonance cavities in the overall vocal apparatus -- and I suddenly flashed on my realization over the last few years (as I've been using more precise chromatic tuning than my trusty old Roland physical meter gave me) that the strange 'pitch ballistics' one sees reflected in the tuner after one strikes a string are only partly explained by the tendency of a struck (and therefore stretched) string to go sharp and sink back to its fundamental.

I'd kept noticing that different strings would sink from struck pitch to fundamental -- but then seemed to 'drift' up or down in seemingly 'unpredictable' ways.

But I finally realized it was the fact that, of course, the tuner has to 'decide' on a primary pitch, despite the existence of not just string overtones but also resonances from the complex resonance system represented by the different strings and different resonances of the guitar. (For years I've damped all but the string being tuned as on way of getting cutting down on the madness.)

In other words, the string is doing its thing but that's exciting other resonances in the system and that 'drags' the 'aggregate pitch' (no such thing, of course, except as the tuner needle sees it) up or down.



At any rate, the observations above made me realize that the PITCH I seem to hear in my head may not be entirely consistent with the pitch others hear outside it -- not just the relative loudnesses, spectral balances, but the actual pitch.

And THAT is a really interesting thing to consider.

I KNEW I could find an excuse for my crummy singing if I looked long and hard enough... heh
Old 25th April 2014
  #28
Lives for gear
 

I don't mind a little bleed. It can help the vocal sit in the mix.

Double tracking might be helpful too.
Old 26th April 2014
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeq View Post
there are two popular methods I know of. One is to place a pair of speakers exactly equidistant from the mic, feed them a mono cue signal, and put them out of phase with each other. At the microphone they will cancel out to a large extent. At the singer's ears, not so much.

The other is (at the end of tracking) to play the monitor signal out of the speakers and let it bleed into the mic ONE MORE TIME. But with no singing. The mic stays where it has always been, and the singer does not sing, but he must stand in front of the mic as before to provide the same acoustical reflections. (unless he is Peter Gabriel and he can pay an assistant to stand there!) The recording of this "canceling pass" is flipped in polarity and mixed back in with the original track. Since the singer is not actually singing on this pass, only the "bleed" is canceled!

Neither one provides 100% cancellation, but it can be surprisingly good. Besides most singers will gladly trade a little bleed for better pitch!
^^This. I've also used one or two monitor(s) on the side(s) when utilizing a ribbon (if it suits the voice) or condenser with a figure 8 pattern, which can bring down the bleed to an acceptable level even when the monitors are in phase and non-mono.
Old 26th April 2014
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aural Endeavors View Post
^^This. I've also used one or two monitor(s) on the side(s) when utilizing a ribbon (if it suits the voice) or condenser with a figure 8 pattern, which can bring down the bleed to an acceptable level even when the monitors are in phase and non-mono.
As I recall, this is what the Beatles did to combat bleed.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump