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Author Topic: Confidence is a preference  (Read 1092 times)

mr_glide

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Confidence is a preference
« on: August 01, 2005, 06:12:49 am »

Hi all,
First post here-I've been seraching for a decent forum for engineering folks like yourself since the TapeOp boards disappeared, and this seems like a good 'un, so...hi!

Might as well start off with a conundrum I'm having. I'm busy recording a track which includes a female backing vocalist, who seems chronically shy of singing into a mic, almost scared of her own voice. Not too useful, you might say, but i'm recording at home, so there's no pressure on time. It's become apparent that she's never recorded a part for a track before, and not sung in public, except as part of an ensemble. So, not much confidence, then.

I'm therefore hoping that some of you grizzled professionals can offer up some tricks of trade or techniques to try and put her at ease in a recording situation, and coax an (at least)moderately assured performance out of her. I know her very well, so gaining her trust shouldn't be an issue.

I'm a kind of bull-in-a-china-shop sort of vocalist, so I need some tutoring in understanding a less confident one  Very Happy

Thanks guys,

Nick P aka Mr Glide
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CCC

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Re: Confidence is a preference
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2005, 06:53:44 am »

mr_glide wrote on Mon, 01 August 2005 11:12

Might ask well start off with a conundrum I'm having. I'm busy recording a track which includes a female backing vocalist, who seems chronically shy of singing into a mic, almost cared of her own voice. Not too useful, you might say, but i'm recording at home, so there's no pressure on time. It's become apparent that she's never recorded a part for a track before, and not sung in public, except as part of an ensemble. So, not much confidence, then.



In this situation I have found that setting up the singer in the control room with me has really helped. I don't use headphones, but rather let the singer hear the mains or nearfields or whatever. I don't flip the phase on the speakers to cancel at the mic (sounds too weird to the singer) nor do I use an extra mic in inverse polarity to cancel the leakage. Just blast the speakers at her and let the chips fall where they may. Surprisingly, you can get away with this (of course, the idea of trying to cancel the leakage is a viable and popular idea so I'm not saying that you shouldn't - but I don't do it). Also giving the singer a handheld mic is productive in this situation.

I think there's a couple of reasons why this regime works. It breaks down some of the negative studio vibes that freak out people who haven't sung in studios much (you know, that feeling of isolation that they get in an ISOLATION booth). Instead of feeling as though they are in a contrived and artificial situation the singer hopefully feels more like they are just hanging out with you. Also they don't need to get used to hearing themselves in headphones with this approach. Basically the setup is like a gig - handheld mic and loudspeakers. This sounds like a hack way to record - but you know I just the other day listened to an album that I did using this technique and it sounds fine. It certainly sounds better than it would have with tentative sounding vocals.

Now if she's afraid of the sound of her own voice then bury her in the mix a little. That will make her push. I think it's a mistake to presume that everyone wants to hear themself as loud as God in their monitor mix. Additionally I think it helps to do playbacks in the initial stages to reassure them that they sound good and to give them a clear idea what they sound like in context. Of course the better you make someone like this sound the more confident they will be.

Hope this helps.
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Joel Hamilton

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Re: Confidence is a preference
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2005, 07:35:39 am »

Every situation is different... of course....

I have set people up with handheld mics in the control room, on the couch, under the console, in the live room with a standard setup, but like 27 candles and tea and scarves and a teddy bear... whatever it takes. One thing though that I have found works quite well (usually) is to just double and triple and quadruple the vocal during tracking only, then comp from those "double's" and "triples."

Basically, take the weight off of any one performance, so the singer can relax. Force them to relax with a disorienting flurry of multiple takes, then settle back into a more comfortable pace, but still letting them hear a little of what they have already done. Nothing like having 4 of yourself to lean on, so you are not "out there alone."

This can work wonders. Sometimes the third "overdub" becomes the main vocal because it is just so relaxed, but with the right kind of energy,.... These are general terms... Hope that helps for some reason...

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mr_glide

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Re: Confidence is a preference
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2005, 09:27:35 am »

Thanks guys, that's just the sort of advice I was looking for.

I'll definitely try and introduce a more informal setting for this particular lass. One thing I have observed is that many people who are inexperienced in studio recording tend to look very uncomfortable without some to do with their hands (mostly bacuse they're a bit overused to doing kareoke, I guess, haha), and as I don't have a mic good enough to stand being handled directly without produced some nasty bumps, perhaps some sort of 'dummy'(unplugged) mic would useful, as long as the live mic is placed properly?

Also, pushing them slightly back in the mix while monitoring is a great idea - should hopefully coax a more forceful/assured performance out of her. The multiple performances in a short time will hopefully help her get over the fear of singing into a mic in the first place.

That's great stuff - thanks guys. Wish me luck...

Nick P
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bloodstone

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Re: Confidence is a preference
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2005, 12:52:56 pm »

Another oldest trick in the book is to tell the artist you'll just "run through it one time" before recording it so they can sing along and get comfortable.  But then make sure you hit the Record button.  A lot of people freak out when they know what they're trying to do is getting printed to disk or tape.
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