Welcome to another edition of the Maseed Productions blog series for artists.  In this article, we will discuss vocal recording techniques for artists.

Headphone mix:

  1. The key to a good headphone mix is to have the music so that you can hear it comfortably in your ears but not blaring.
  2. The volume of your voice should be loud enough to where you can still hear your vocals at the same level as the instrumental.
  3. Always put the headphone set over both ears making sure that the cans properly cuff them as this will prevent the sound from the headphones from bleeding into what is being recorded into the microphone.
  4. Make sure that the left side of the headphone set is on your left ear and the right side is on your right ear.

Body position:

  1. Your mouth should typically be between 6 to 12 inches away from the microphone pop screen. Depending on the characteristic and natural volume of the voice being recorded, the distance may be more or less.
  2. It is important that you focus your voice directly into the center or the microphone and avoid moving your head excessively up and down, or side to side. Doing so will affect the vocal projection and introduce inconsistent volume levels of the recorded material.
  3. Stand with your feet facing the microphone stand. Your body posture should be loose and relaxed.
  4. Avoid excessive and unnecessary hand, arm and body movements while recording as you will increase the chances of mic rumble being recorded as a result of accidentally bumping the mic stand with your hands or a swinging headphone cable.

Dynamics:

  1. Keep the volume of your voice consistent throughout the entire phrase or passage that you are recording. People tend to start strong, loud and full at the beginning of a bar, phrase or passage and lose steam towards the end of it.  Take time to practice the song so that you don’t run out of steam or have your engineer punch you in right at the point where your volume starts to decrease.
  2. Understand the difference between volume and intensity when recording. In other words, you can be performing a very high energy or aggressive song without necessarily changing the volume of your voice.  In cases where the dynamics of the song calls for a softer voice in some areas and a more intense voice in others, focus on adjusting only the intensity without drastically changing the volume of your voice.  If necessary, get closer to the mic during the soft sections of the song and take a step back from it when you need to be more intense.  The key is not to over exaggerate this technique by being too close or too far away from the mic while you are recording.

Articulation:

  1. If you are rapping, doing spoken word, voice over dialog or any other type of vocal recording, it is important to articulate your words so that they are understandable and can be heard clearly on the recording. Even though you may speak with a lisp, drawl, or have some type of local accent to your voice, you can still maintain that while recording if you make sure that your lyrics are well articulated.  If at all possible, avoid mumbling unless that is what you are going for in the composition of the song.

Recording techniques for singers:

  1. Apply the same principles as previously mentioned in the first four steps.
  2. Sing in the correct key of the instrumental.
  3. Your vocals should be big and full bodied. Sing loudly and deliberately into the microphone.
  4. Sing your notes evenly, avoiding any sharp, flat or pitchy tones in your voice.
  5. Sing from your diaphragm and out through your mouth, AVOID SINGING THROUGH YOUR NOSE, as this will produce a nasal sounding recording.
  6. Keep your tone and vocal range
  7. Be sure to properly sustain any long notes in your song.
  8. DO NOT LET YOUR VOICE CRACK WHILE RECORDING.
  9. If you are not a highly skilled vocalist, avoid doing any complex runs, doubles or harmonies that call for an extreme vocal range. In this case, less is more.
  10. If your song has multi-part harmonies, make sure that the upper, middle, and lower octaves are in the key of the instrumental and that they blend with each other.
  11. Be sure that the timing of the harmonies or background vocals is tight and line up with each other.

Breath control:

  1. Before you record, it is important that you know exactly where in the song you can take breaths. Usually you should take a breath at the points in the song where there are natural pauses before the start of the next line.
  2. If you find yourself running out of breath prior to you getting to the pause before the next line, that usually means that you have too many words/syllables in that line. Simple create an opportunity to take a breath by removing a few unnecessary 1 syllable words from the line and if that is not possible, then re-write the line.
  3. When you take a breath, try to make it short and don’t exhale excessively because this can affect the attack of the next line. If you’ve ever seen live footage of The Notorious B.I.G rapping or talking, you’ll know just what I mean when you hear an artist with very little breath control.

Timing:

  1. Timing aka tempo is crucial when you are recording. When you are not rapping or singing at the same tempo as the instrumental, the vocals will never sit in the “pocket” of the track how they should.  Try not to rush or fall behind the tempo of the instrumental unless the content calls for an exaggerated lazy or rushed feel, then it is acceptable.

Thanks for reading and we hope that you found these tips beneficial.  If you or someone you know is an artist and could benefit from this article, please like, comment, follow, and share.


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