Why are singers needing voice surgery?

Another voice coach shared this (older) article this week (embedded below), and a paragraph in the middle jumped out at me:

“Soul singer John Legend, 33, said he has grown mindful of the importance of looking after his voice.
“I’ve certainly been no stranger to having issues with my voice,” he said. “My first year performing was the worst year because I didn’t know how to pace myself, and once I started to understand how it worked, I started to pace myself better.”
Continue reading “Why are singers needing voice surgery?”

Musical Diet – What are you consuming?

A Youtube creator I follow called Rick Beato put this great video out last week on ‘Has every song been written?’ commenting on the fleet of lawsuits that artists are firing at each other over copying songs.

Now while he sets out to discuss the nature of this, it’s the last few minutes of the video (I’ve timestamped the video to start from this point) that I wanted to share with you. And that is in relation to musical diet

Those of you who have worked with me know I’m a big believer in expanding your musical diet to incorporate a greater range of nuances, subtleties and flavours. The more you experience, the more you have to draw on that you like, the more mature and sophisticated (yet accessible) your sound will become, and (conversely) the greater your understanding of what it is you DON’T like and what you avoid will start to inform your musical style.

In this video, Rick talks about kids not eating vegetables. No one wants to eat broccoli if chips and fries are on offer. But if you taste them enough, your preferences change and you start to appreciate the subtleties that at first were too complex or just not in your preference at all to begin with. Whatever you consume musically, WILL define what comes out of you musically. This means if you’re searching for a new sound, a unique sound, a more mature sound, you need to consume music in line with that, not just more of the same. It’s this that I feel Rick and his guest Rhett touch on wonderfully.

Do have a watch of the last 3-5 mins of this video, and if you feel so inclined, the full 30 minute video is well worth a watch whilst having a tea/coffee/beverage.

Doobie Brothers / Michael McDonald – Minute by Minute

This week I’ve been enjoying some old classics by Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers.

Michael has been churning out hits for years, and is a singer that I wish more modern singers would emulate. What is particularly impressive is how well he delivers so many of his songs whilst simultaneously nailing quite tricky piano parts. While I find him a bit gruff from time to time, his vocals really are something special.

Have a listen and enjoy!

Live vs Recorded – Our own double standards

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the recording realm. I have pretty good pitch, but even I notice how unforgiving it is to hear your own recorded vocal back. We might only be talking about just one or two notes in a 3 minute difficult performance that are off, but they can completely change the perception of a vocal take being good vs bad.

Here’s a basic test for you to see what I mean. Here is a clip of an incredibly consistent and incredible live singer – Peabo Bryson. I go on about him because he is excellent. He is often held up by recording engineers and producers as being a “one take wonder”, where he can just record a single take and it’s basically perfect. Continue reading “Live vs Recorded – Our own double standards”

Recording tricks – Comping to get the best take

I’ve been doing a lot of recording the last few weeks, getting back into that world of getting good takes, mixing the voice with tracks etc. I’m by no means a fully fledged expert, but it’s something that is good to have some competency at as a voice coach and working with singers and voice users.

Many of you may be familiar with the idea of “comping”. This is about compiling the best snippets of multiple attempts at a song, and piecing them together to get a single “best” master take. This has been standard practice for some years now. I came across this excellent article on it by a journalist over at Motherboard, and I thought I’d share it here for you to enjoy. Continue reading “Recording tricks – Comping to get the best take”

Ordering your song list

In the last article we talked about how to start creating a song list to help build your voice. This week – assuming you’ve got your list finalised and to hand – I want to give some further advice on how to shape and continually work with ordering your song list to improve your voice.

Firstly, consider how we use voice exercises

1) When we work on someone’s voice, we start with a warmup.
2) We then proceed to lower impact exercises designed to co-ordinate and connect the voice.
3) We then proceed to higher impact calibration and voice building exercises.
4) We may then proceed to a few voice checks that are designed to check where the voice has ended up after all that warmup/co-ordination/development work. Continue reading “Ordering your song list”