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Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

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Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:04 am

I normally record music for other people, but there's a song I've wanted to cover for some time, which none of my vocalist contacts will touch.

Therefore, I've bitten the bullet, and decided to record the vocals myself. I'm not a singer. I don't pretend to be, but I can pitch a note.

Are there any tips you can give me (other than Melodyne) for self-recording? There must be others out there doing this. I'm not expecting great results, tolerable at best.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The Elf » Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:45 am

Record one vocal and tune it to death (I use Cubase's VariAudio, but Melodyne will do). Now sing to that horribly tuned vocal as a guide.

It's not always going to work, but with some vocalists I work with this has improved their performances beyond all recognition.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:38 am

I would have never thought of that. Good tip, Mr Elf!!!!
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby Dave Rowles » Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:48 am

Be prepared to take quite a few takes. I always find that when I'm recording my own vocal it takes ages for me to sing it right. If someone else is recording it I can get it done quite quickly.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby planetnine » Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:51 am

The Elf wrote:Record one vocal and tune it to death (I use Cubase's VariAudio, but Melodyne will do). Now sing to that horribly tuned vocal as a guide.

It's not always going to work, but with some vocalists I work with this has improved their performances beyond all recognition.

That's good advice. If Melodyne shows pitch discrepancy live, like old versions of Autotune do, you can also use that as a guide, too.


>
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby ConcertinaChap » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:50 pm

The_Big_Piano_Player wrote:I would have never thought of that.


Neither would I, but it's a good thought to tuck away in the back of the mind. Thank you (even if the Elf does look like Elric of Melniboné).

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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby Madman_Greg » Thu Feb 21, 2013 5:22 pm

My advice as follows

Sing the song a numbers of times straight, i.e. no emotion / vocal theatrics, just to learn the notes / timing.

From time to time record against the basic chord structure to check your timing, tuning, pitching etc…. – use melodyne if needed.

Repeat until you have learnt the basic tune properly.

So now you know the notes…..

Move on the adding you to the song, delivery, expression, emotion etc…..

Record, assess and improve, repeat as required.

No comment as to how many times you need to do this, depends on your experience as a vocalist I guess.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby Dynamic Mike » Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:34 am

The Elf wrote:Record one vocal and tune it to death (I use Cubase's VariAudio, but Melodyne will do). Now sing to that horribly tuned vocal as a guide.

It's not always going to work, but with some vocalists I work with this has improved their performances beyond all recognition.

I do this a lot. Especially with harmonies. Sometimes I use it as a guide vocal, but lately I find just singing along to it in the car prepares me for a (half) decent take. I also find taking a break between tracking & appraising what I've done helps to keep me objective.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby alexis » Sat Feb 23, 2013 1:47 am

Dynamic Mike wrote:
The Elf wrote:Record one vocal and tune it to death (I use Cubase's VariAudio, but Melodyne will do). Now sing to that horribly tuned vocal as a guide.

It's not always going to work, but with some vocalists I work with this has improved their performances beyond all recognition.

I do this a lot. Especially with harmonies. Sometimes I use it as a guide vocal, but lately I find just singing along to it in the car prepares me for a (half) decent take. I also find taking a break between tracking & appraising what I've done helps to keep me objective.

Me too, all the time. If my car became sentient, and developed a grasp capability, the first thing it would do is shoot me.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:57 am

Oh well, I've now recorded my singing, and I have to say, there's mixed results. The tuning was okay, but the overall tone wasn't too pleasant.

It does make me respect decent vocalists a lot more.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:52 pm

The_Big_Piano_Player wrote:Oh well, I've now recorded my singing, and I have to say, there's mixed results. The tuning was okay, but the overall tone wasn't too pleasant.

That's EVERYONE'S opinion of their own voice. What do other people say? Don't fall into the usual trap of swamping your voice with too much reverb and effects will you? :-)
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby A. AuCr » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:57 pm

Tip: Send it to someone else to mix. Have them document the EQ and processing used for your future reference, because none of us are objective when it comes to our own voices.

Well, unless you're confident enough to be able to quickly dial in exactly the sound you want, which doesn't seem to be the case quite yet...

I should have sent one out,(actually I did, but then the gent wouldn't tell me what he did) I've been eight months going through vocal technique, placement, mic choice and processing to get to where I think the results are trending towards "acceptable" and I'm able to dial in something close to the warm baritone I've been chasing.

Heh. My car is sick of my voice too!
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby CS70 » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:34 pm

My first post here - hello everybody! - and my $.10 (all pretty simple stuff, but there you go).

First, what makes a song to me is the level of emotion that it carries and inspires; so think ahead of the feel you want: it's drama? Joy? Excitement? And so forth. Doing so, you can put yourself in the "right" state of mind for the song.

Second, comping is your friend. However, I find it hard to keep feelings flowing for more than a couple takes at a time. So do your couple takes, wait a few minutes, then go back at it and repeat until you have 6-8. Keep everything, especially the first ones can contain pretty inspired moments. You can also play with accents, attack, timing and so forth - everything to make it fun. Don't stress - make sure you have a comfortable space and time aplenty. Keep gain, volume etc at the same level between takes (since you record others that goes without saying I guess) but also take care of recording the takes using approx. the same distance from the mic. If you are good and notice your takes tend to be quite similar to each other (and correct ;-) you may also go down to 3 or 4, but never less - there's *always* something in a take that gets noticed only when all the recoding kit has been stored away.

If you can, memorize the lyrics instead of reading them - so you can focus on the feel of the song instead of the "where the heck was I reading"?

Then split and comp.

Once you've found the best bits, then if you can pass them to another pair of ears for a bit of EQing, telling them how you would like it sound. This will get you an idea on how your voice can sound on the final track. If you do it yourself, have frequent 3 minute breaks to reset your hearing.

I wouldn't be over focused on pitch - I mean, if you *are* a singer the whole point is that you can sing somewhere near pitch (or you may just look very hot, actually, but that's another matter) and whatever isn't is part of your character - often that "near" is what gives some soul to a vocal line. If something is terminally wrong in what turns out to be your most inspired splice, then of course it's worth trying to fix it.

Have water available between takes.

And just stop worrying and go at it. :-)
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby shufflebeat » Mon Feb 25, 2013 6:48 pm

I wish I'd seen this before you'd done the recording but, for future reference:

If at all possible get somebody else to hit the record/go back/recon buttons. Do not underestimate the psychological difference this will make even for experienced recordists. Not everyone will feel this way but I've found it very useful and I've discussed it with quite a few folks.

Let your voice decide the key of the song, not your piano playing skills. Even a semitone either way can make a huge difference physically and psychologically (this is a word I find myself using frequently when talking about singing).

It often takes a long time to 'find' your voice - to figure out exactly what you're capable of, what direction you're heading in your development and to get to like the end result.

Get a second opinion from someone who will tell you straight if you're capable of better.

Good luck.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:22 am

Thanks for your advice. I did use comping to create two tracks (one main track, and one for doubling)... and I did ask one-or-two singers what they thought. The general consensus was an "Okay, but..." or "Alright, if..." kinda thing, and pointers were given from a performance, point-of-view.

If one of them had agreed to do the song prior to this, I wouldn't of recorded my singing in the first place - angry emoticon!
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby GlynB » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:50 pm

Maybe it's not the right song for your voice tone. Just because you like a song and wish to cover it, doesn't mean it'll suit you.
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:22 am

Thanks for all your advice. I have finally bitten the bullet, and recorded my own vocals.

The results are here...

https://soundcloud.com/the_pianoman/no-regrets

Please advise if there's anything else I haven't thought of, for tweaking the vocals.

Once again, thank you for your input.

Andy
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:15 pm

The singing's fine. In the first section the instrumental sound isn't "listening" to the vocal, it fights rather than supports. Put it in the gaps, or leave it out.
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Sat Apr 13, 2013 1:24 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:The singing's fine. In the first section the instrumental sound isn't "listening" to the vocal, it fights rather than supports. Put it in the gaps, or leave it out.

i guess the piano is a little busy
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Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:59 am

The_Big_Piano_Player wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:The singing's fine. In the first section the instrumental sound isn't "listening" to the vocal, it fights rather than supports. Put it in the gaps, or leave it out.

i guess the piano is a little busy

I like the piano! I meant the sound that comes in with the voice on "too long...".
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.


Re: Producer, recording his own vocals. Advice please!

Postby The_BPP » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:46 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:
The_Big_Piano_Player wrote:
Exalted Wombat wrote:The singing's fine. In the first section the instrumental sound isn't "listening" to the vocal, it fights rather than supports. Put it in the gaps, or leave it out.

i guess the piano is a little busy

I like the piano! I meant the sound that comes in with the voice on "too long...".
Ah, the guitar. I getcha, now. That's all I needed - another pair of ears. Thanks!
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