One of the hardest things in making a record is trying to record a vocalist who is uncomfortable.
Even a seasoned pro sometimes can’t do his best unless the conditions are just right.
Consider some of these suggestions before and during a vocal session.
• Make sure the lighting is correct. Most vocalists prefer the lights lower in the studio and control room when singing.
• A touch of reverb or delay in the headphones can help the singer’s comfort level with the headphones mix.
• If you need to have the singer sing harder, louder or more aggressively, turn down the vocal track in the phones or turn the backing tracks up.
• If you need to have the singer sing softer or more intimately, turn the singer’s track up in the phones or turn down the backing tracks.
• Keep talking with the artist between takes. Leave the talkback on if possible. Long periods of silence from the control room are a mood killer.
• Try lowering the lights in the control room so they can’t see you. Some people think that you’re in there judging them when you might be talking about something completely different.
• If the take wasn’t good for whatever reason, explain what was wrong in a kind and gentle way. Something like “That was really good, but I think you can do it even better.
The pitch was a little sharp at the end of the phrase,” lets the singer know what needs to be improved and makes her feel that you’re on her side.
• Keep smiling.
While some or all of these suggestions may seem basic, you may be surprised just how far they go towards creating a quality vocal performance.
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog.