Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vocally Speaking - If you needed brain surgery, would you want an orthopaedic surgeon to perform it...?

Let's suppose that a patient needs brain surgery and then finds out that the actual surgery will be performed by a Doctor of Orthopaedics! "How could that be?," you might exclaim!!! It's true - it is highly unlikely that it will happen in real life. However, in the recording studio there is person who is usually called the "Producer" assigned to be a "jack of all trades" and, so to speak, "brain surgery is included".

What do I mean by brain surgery is the actual narrow field of vocals? Primarily the producers are instrumentalists and majority of them are very good at their craft. But, very rarely, they are also the vocalists, least of all vocal mentors.

Quite often, the clients come to our studio with their own recordings and reveal that the producer was excellent in everything else... until it came to vocals.

Some of the producers, apparently, did not even care about the vocal performance and some of them were trying to give some irrelevant (and sometimes even quite deadly) instructions. One of my clients was advised to push his voice out of his throat as hard as he could and another was suggested to sing a Rock'n Roll song very 'airy'. Go figure! But since the term Vocal Producer is quite unknown and foreign, the "brain surgery" will be performed (i.e., the voice pushed to the max, the Melodine and AutoTune overused while being used for every syllable of the lyrics). However, the "patient" (Recording artist) might "die" in the process and/or kill his voice for good, not to mention ever accomplishing what he came for and paid a lot of money for.

This is one side of the coin, but what is the other? While auditioning future talents I came across some singers whose production was somewhat decent, but their own vocal performance wasn't acceptable.

Once I dared to suggest that they might need some adequate vocal training, they got somewhat upset and replied,"They will be looking for another more prominent producer." In other words, I suggested that they first would have to "undergo brain surgery performed by the neurologist" (qualified Master vocal instructor/mentor) in order for them to survive and move forward. Their reply was along the lines of - No, I will be looking for a "better orthopedic surgeon for my brain surgery. Given the above, many would wonder if THEY MIGHT TRULY NEED BRAIN SURGERY?!!!

Go figure.

1 comment:

  1. I have found myself having to act as a vocal coach many times, and it is true that some people have a very good unique vocal tone, but they struggle with coming in on time. What I have found is that, if they start off time and off key at the begging of the song, they will be off key and off timing all the way through the song. If you take 50 takes it’s like winning the lottery if they start on the right timing and key. A vocal coach is a very valuable person to have working in the studio. They can save you a lot on wasted studio time. I have spent 8 hours trying to get another singer to pronounce her words correctly. Eventually I just gave up and put it down to a human condition that she is just not able to change. If they are even paying for the studio time the money is not enough incentive to go through that kind of mental torture.