Well… as of 3.12am this morning, this is what the ‘state of play’ was: two tracks with vocals done – bar some end chorus ad-libs, a severe case of vocal booth fever, squashed ears from the cans (headphones), crazy headphone hair, and a desire for tea and cake 🙂
Recording vocals can be hard work, and there is really no getting around the fact that it generally takes up a considerable amount of time. Yet, it is very rewarding when you hear what you have done. There is an art to studio work which some singers can find easier to master than others, and the same is true of singing live.
Of course you have to able to sing in both situations but that’s where the similarity can end. If you make a mistake in a live performance, often nobody, but the most musical of people will notice. In a good live performance, those performing and the audience can see and hear each other and feed off of the energy in the room. This dynamic is often great for adding to the real emotion that one gets in a live performance, and can be hard to create in the rather more sterile setting of a studio.
In the studio you can hear every sound you make, every missed pitch, every slide to a note, every breath you take. – I proved this point in a big way as we listened back to a vocal I had just done and found ourselves hearing an unmistakable loud gulp I had taken in between two notes.
There can also be a sense of pressure in the studio. Generally it is just you and the engineer and possibly a producer, and when you as the singer stand in the vocal booth, you can feel as if you are under a microscope. Whenever I have done studio work I have felt so conscious of wanting to get it right as quickly as possibly. This can lead to not feeling relaxed, and probably making more mistakes than is necessary. One of the ways in which to try to combat this is to really know your songs well, put in the time to practice before you get there, and don’t bank on getting those golden ‘one-take wonders’. Even seasoned singers will often have to do more than 2 takes.
It should also be said that it isn’t a great idea to be recording vocals at 3am in the morning! But when needs must – we still have 3 tracks to do and as I type it is after 7 in the evening and we haven’t begun to vocal the 3rd track yet as drums and guitar are being recorded on the tracks from yesterday. Well, at least I have manged to write the 2nd verse for the 3rd track, and even come up with an outro which I tried to record on two phones in order to capture all the harmonies – can you picture it?! 🙂