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Achieving Your Best Studio Vocal - Part One - By Jeannie Deva
The sound of the lead singer's voice is the signature of a band. The songs will change, the musical style may even vary, but: They know the band by the singer's sound. That's not to say there aren't other instruments that can have their own signature sounds in a band. That will make the group even stronger. But the majority of listeners will not buy an album or go to a concert of a band that has a great guitar sound and yet terrible, lifeless vocals.

Many years ago I was ushered into the recording studio by several voice students who were running into trouble while recording their vocals. From both beginners and pros, I was hearing these complaints: singers were losing their voice during or by the end of the recording session; they did not have enough session time in the studio to get their vocals right; vocal sessions were often scheduled in such a way as to make singing difficult; they were straining to sing due to incorrect headset mixes; vocals were taking a ridiculous number of takes with the final result still one that compromised the professionalism of the product; the mike or mike angle was incorrect for the singer. Still to this day, clients come to me with the same complaints. As well, I find many singers do not know what preparation steps to take prior to going into the studio. These, as well as other reasons, can make it difficult or impossible to achieve a high quality vocal and in-budget project.

Producers, engineers and band-mates can find themselves justifying and settling for lower standards on the vocals because they don't know how to help the singer get anything better. As those of you who are singers know, the voice is a very different instrument from all the others, and each singer has their own particular needs.

There are 5 Major Factors to Your Best Studio Vocal Sound
1) General technique to expand range, develop vocal stamina and consistency, and improve tone, pitch, control and power, 2) Song interpretation to establish your own unique style, 3) Song delivery and performance skills, 4) The art of vocal recording, 5) Knowing how to evaluate your tracks. Ultimately, it is the culmination of all these talents into a superb recoding that achieves an identifiable vocal and broad recognition for you.

1) General Technique
When working on the vocal for a recording, concentrate first on the technical details, then on the overall performance. Establish the right key, learn the melody and lyrics, smooth out any pitch and range difficulties, lock onto the rhythm, learn all important melodic and rhythmic ques. Try singing the entire song using a naturally pronounced "Ah." Strive to keep your "Ah" pronunciation consistent and relaxed regardless of pitch changes. After repeating, sing the song with the lyrics. This approach can help relax your throat muscles, enhance resonance, reduce strain and improve accuracy of pitch and melodic phrasing.

Your studio preparation should include practicing the song standing stationary in front of a mike on a stand, and preferably hearing yourself through headphones. When in the studio, you will have to stand relatively still while you perform your song so might as well get used to it beforehand. Try recording yourself. Listen back and note anything that you like, as well as for any technical details needing correction. These aspects should be fully developed before you go into the studio to record your tracks. Once the technical details are covered, establish a clear concept of the message and emotion(s) of the song. Your phrasing decisions will come from your understanding of emotion and message.

See you next month as we continue this three part series. 'Til then!

Jeannie Deva, international vocalist, teacher and recording session vocal specialist, is the Founder of The Deva MethodŽ and The Jeannie DevaŽ Voice Studios with a network of teachers certified in her method. Clients include singers on labels such as MCA, Sony and CBS, Grammy Awardee Amee Mann, Magic Dick and J. Geils, members from the cast of Fame and Jesus Christ Superstar, Dar Williams, Patty Griffin, MoodCrush, backup singers for Elton John, Celine Dion, and many more. Jeannie has a private voice studio in LA. For information on services or voice enhancement products by Jeannie Deva:
Jeannie Deva Voice Studios

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