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"Loud Mouths Don't Shout" 
(Don't you wish your voice had a volume knob?)

by Mark Baxter
Voicelesson.com 
Sooner or later youíll have to go in there, and sooner or later youíll have to come out.

For some, the studio is a haven for creation. The controlled environment provides a cocoon for exploring a song. People who love to record, though, are usually reluctant to release their creations into the hostile acoustics of the real world. Instead, their songs remain a work-in-progress as they claim a quest for perfection. This is not the greatest way to move a career forward. For the rest of us, the studio is a vacuum. Not only does it suck the cash from our wallets, it drains our music of its energy. Itís frustrating when that beer-soaked, sweaty stage vibe youíve become known for never makes it on tape. Obviously, we canít hold the studio responsible (although many do); a studio is just a room full of equipment. The problem lies within. As soon as the red light comes on we try too hard or become self-conscious. Overcoming this anxiety, can be as simple as adjusting your prospective going in.

Singing on stage is different than singing in a studio, just like acting on Broadway is not the same as acting in a movie. However, singers have to work in both forums while actors normally focus on one. Treating the studio like a live gig is a typical error in approach. No one cares if a vocal was recorded in one pass, yet lots of singers feel embarrassed when they require multiple takes. What matters is the end result. Like a movie, the singing you hear on CDís is really a quilt of the best phrases seamlessly sewn together. Itís not cheating; it takes stamina and a mental focus to maintain vocal continuity for several hours. In other words, chops. This doesnít have to result in a sterile recording. Even after many rehearsals, actors often screw up their lines when shooting a film. Sometimes the mistakes work better than the original idea. It takes a good director to know when to wrap a scene.

When recording, a producer plays the role of movie director. Itís his or her job to organize the project before approaching the studio and then to inspire better performances once recording begins. Unfortunately, many bands choose to save money by producing themselves and wind up paying in the end by wasting time on a demo which falls short of their potential. There is a physical connection when you perform and itís hard to separate the effort from the outcome. A producer provides an invaluable overview. Incidentally, itís a dependence on the physical side of performing which tends to make people say that your band "sounds" better live. During a gig, your fans witness your effort and that plays heavily in their experience of a song. Recording, though, is like playing a concert for the blind. Without the visual aspect, your music may not have as much impact as you think. It usually takes an outside observer to suggest some changes. If you canít afford a producer, spread your recording session out over many weeks. Let some time pass by before listening to rough mixes in order to gain a fresh perspective on what youíve done.

Recording also requires an adjustment in the way you rehearse. Itís amazing how many people enter the studio over-anxious and under prepared. Thereís no excuse for a band to engage in momentum killing arguments over a song theyíve been playing for a year. Get it right before the clock starts ticking. Rehearse the recording process, not just the song. Use a four track cassette deck and run through the steps just as you will in the studio. Everyone should know what everyone else is playing. To relieve "red light fever," get into the habit of recording rehearsals. Experience will show that the best performances come once everyone forgets that tape is rolling -- a simple but important point to remember, every time you approach the studio.

Mark Baxter is a vocal therapist who offers private and video lessons. To contact him, call: (800)659-6002. Visit his website at: www.voicelesson.com

(reprinted with the kind permission of Mark Baxter)

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