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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok, in an effort to archive some of the really good personal and real folk songs written over the course of 30+ years and in an effort to get better at recording, mixing and mastering I am spending my Wed evenings recording my friend in my little studio.

He has a real authentic gravel voice that I think works beutifully with his material, but he has no singing technique, and a limited range, and a lack of control for pitch and dynamics.

I'm trying to get him to breath less noisily and to sing from his diaphragm through his chest voice (he's really nasally) and he's trying, but now I fear he's too self conscious about it.

Long and the short of it- what singing tips should I give him, should I not? What recording techniques and effects techniques can I use to massage a better sound out of him?

Thanks,

Matt
 

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singing to a certain level is a learn-able talent...
This requires practice like all other forms of music...

The best advice your singer can get is to learn how to sing the song properly and in key....
Thats just the basics and not too much to ask...
If that cant be done, maybe its time to pick up a guitar....

G.

ps
remember the thread about the guy who did a jazz album playing piano and never learned how to play the piano.
Seems to me you are trying to do the same thing with the hopes that you can fix it in the mix...
 

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The best thing you can give him is encouragment, especially seeing he is now quite self-conscious about it. Building a person's self-confidence usually inspired them.
 

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I'd suggest that since he is a friend, and since this is an "an effort to archive some of the really good personal and real folk songs",
just go with things as they are. He may simple not be able to change, and any efforts in that direction may just be add an abrasive (between friends)
to what should just be a smooth, natural process.

Capture the songs' character and intent type of thing.
 

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Make sure he has a good headphone mix. Perhaps a little reverb, but not too much or he will likely go off pitch.
 

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i would start by using a pop filter to help control some of the breath noises......i like to use an parametric eq with a notch in the 1k-1.5k range to smooth out a vocal track.
as others have mentioned it seems you are trying to catch some history.......don't worry about creating a product. have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'll try the notch filter idea. I never had reason before to run effects while recording so they would be audible in the headphones. Looks like i need to learn a new trick.
 

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Here's my advice for what it's worth. What works for me is pretty high volume in my headphones, so I can hear every detail even when singing quietly, and semi-open headphones so I can still hear a little of my own voice 'live' through the air. Alternatively, but I don't like this as much, use closed back headphones but keep one can off or away from an ear. I know it may bleed through a little, but it sounds like you should record his voice and guitar simultaneously and not worry about tracking separately anyway.

I like what others have said about taking what you get, not pushing ways to improve technique (it will take too long to learn and use naturally) and just capture the history that drew you to the project. Like I said, just give him some volume so he can really hear what he's doing, and let the tape run. Or for that matter, it it makes him more comfortable, just forget the headphones entirely and record live. You may already be doing this.

Lastly, and most importantly, a little beer or whiskey beforehand can really settle nerves and make for a much better session. I got that trick from my friend Dave who always poured a shot of tequila out for us before tracking anything.
 

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It seem that some inexperienced singers don't feel comfortable using headphones. If you find that is the case try reversing the polar pattern on one of your studio monitors and place the microphone at the exact same distance from each monitor, this way the music cancels in the mono mic and the voice stays unaltered.
 

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I have a terrible time singing and really dont like it, but when i write a song, and do all the music i feel to make the song my own, i need to also sing it.

So for me , i have days were i dont feel i can sing at all, so i wait for a time i think i can put the energy into it....Like any instrument, the more you practise the better you should get.. i dont like singing so i dont practise...

When the day comes, i will sing 1 track with a bit of reverb, if there are any parts that do not sound as good as i can do, i do that area of the recording over..I do not record the whole track over unless its all bad. I then record a second track and sometimes a 3rd track and blend them all together , it usually turns out exceptable , but getting there is not easy for me, the last time i did a song,i spent over 4 hrs on vocals trying to get it as good as i could. The end result was still not as good as i wanted it to be, so i may try again..if i could enjoy singing, i would practise everyday and it would become easier.
 

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I had a similar situation not long ago. The best thing we figured out was to for him to nail one section on guitar then cut and paste it through the song. Without having to concentrate on getting the guitar and vocal correct the vocal was much improved. You could see it in the wave file. Much more even.
 

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I am taking note of everything being said! Our singer can be really good or really bad! Consistency is lacking! Last rehearsal she sang Back in Black and it was really screechy! We decided to make this song our "own"! She did a rap version of it, yes a rap version and it was a success. Angus would be mortified! It really sounded good! I think because she did the rap version just for fun she was more relaxed but we're sticking with it!
 
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