Join Scott Hirsch for an in-depth discussion in this video Dealing with dynamics: Microphone technique, part of Vocal Production Techniques.
- So Jade, let's talk about mic technique. I'd love for you to tell me how you approach your physical distance with the mic between your takes and how you technically move to sort of make your delivery and your dynamics a lot smoother. - Right, well I think one of the most important things that a singer can be aware of in a recording session is the distance between themselves and the microphone especially as it relates to how loudly or softly they're singing. I personally like to imagine that there's a pulley system between me and the mic that's constantly adjusting depending on my volume.
For example, like the first line of the chorus in "Over My Head" I start off pretty softly, get bigger and then I come back which looks something like this. ♫ The storm is right over my head ♫ You know, then by adjusting that distance you can get a nice consistent volume level without losing the strength of your voice. - And from an engineering point of view, it makes your job even easier too because you can really dial in that mic pre level.
- Yeah, totally. - So what about your diction, like the way that you form words with your mouth physically. How do you deal with that in terms of a vocal take? - Right. Well, it's important to be aware of your diction when you're singing. We've all heard the stories of fans who've sung along to their favorite band's records for years only to find out down the line that they've been singing the completely wrong thing because they can't really interpret what's clearly being said. Like there's a line in the bridge of "Over My Head" ♫ You must have thought I didn't need you anymore ♫ If you don't hit all those consonants it sounds very different.
♫ You must've thought I didn't need ya anymore ♫ Like, you must have thought I didn't knee you anymore. - Knee me in the chest. - Kinda violent, right? - I get it, I get it, that makes sense. You gotta really just form the words, make it happen even overexaggerate, right? Just to get the point across. - Precisely. - Cool. So the last thing I want to ask you about is emotional content. So how do you convey a sense of emotion whether it's happy, sad or melancholy or whatever it is. Is there a way to do that with your vocal delivery to make it work? - Right, well your physical expression can affect your emotional expression.
Remember that your audience can't see you. I know that seems sort of obviously but you really need to exaggerate what it is that you're feeling through your voice for them to connect with you. Doing something as simple as smiling through a phrase. Like the first line of the song ♫ Gimme a kiss before you say goodbye ♫ You know, there's a brightness that happens and on the other hand, just by furrowing your brows really sort of darkens the mood a bit ♫ Gimme a kiss before you say goodbye ♫ It's being aware of what you're doing physically and how that is interpreted.
- It's really amazing how just seeing your physical expression change, how the delivery just totally is motivated by that and it really comes through in the sound. - Cool. I'm glad you dig it. - Cool. Well, those are awesome tips. Thanks for sharing those. Those are really gonna help us sort of navigate as a singer and hopefully as a producer, to you know, kind of guide a singer through these motions to get a better vocal recording. - Right. Awesome.
First, learn how to get the singer comfortable in the recording studio and select the right microphone and preamp for the session. Scott discusses how to set up a good headphone mix and configure your DAW, and interviews the recording artist featured in the course, Jade Hendrix, about warm-ups and vocal health. Next, Scott moves directly into recording: positioning the mic, setting levels, and using compression. Then he delves into the psychological aspects of vocal production, like coaching the singer and giving feedback over the talkback mic. In the final chapter, Scott demonstrates some creative production techniques, including doubling vocals, stacking multiple vocal tracks, using Auto-Tune while recording, and methods for harmonizing.
- Warming up
- Selecting a microphone, preamp, and headphone mix
- Setting levels
- Dealing with dynamics
- Recording vocal takes
- Creative production techniques: doubling vocals, using Auto-Tune, and more