(I had this awful realization yesterday; given that my publishing schedule is weekly ("one post within each week"), in a way, if I only wrote yesterday's obituary, I would be using Vinnie's death as "material". So, to avoid such a horrible perspective, here's one more post this week. Let it also serve as a gesture of trying to overcome bad circumstances, just like he did to overcome his brother's death.)
In its latest iterations, my process of voice tracking has "grown" an additional element that is turning out to be, not only very useful quality-wise, but also perhaps the most amusing part of the whole cycle. I call it the "vocal prototype".
Its need became evident when, after some tracking sessions, I noticed something missing. Everything was well configured technique-wise, the parts of the process rolled one into the next smoothly; gear ready, check, vocals completely composed, check, lyrics completed and in an easy to handle format, check. Well rehearsed, check. And yet, there was something still lacking at the moment of pressing Record.
Each song is its own beast, and I've mentioned more than once that I see a strong similarity between singing and acting (at least the kind of music I do). In each song you impersonate a certain "mood" and "character" that can reach very nuanced extents, and sometimes getting those details right will make or break the performance. And that was the missing piece in the puzzle; my very standardized process allowed me to start recording quickly, but there was a personal factor to each song that I was missing.
Enter the vocal prototype. This part of the process is located right after the vocals are fully composed, and before the burdensome gear and parameters movements that prepare to start recording are executed.
In a similar way to what I do in the composition phase, in this part I just explore the song, taking out of the picture things like clipping, room echoes, pop filters, etc, and focusing instead on which "character" the song demands from me, how much chest, how much mouth and how much throat, how much proximity effect...
I take an excerpt of the song that I consider representative, loop it and sing over it with the microphone trying all kind of stuff, even stupid stuff, especially stupid stuff. The "prototype" is considered complete when I have those 10-20 seconds of music recorded where the voice sounds in the way I want it to sound in the complete recording, plus I have a series of ancillary notes to remember do this here, etc...
It's a playful, spaghetti-on-the walls stage, where I try all kind of stuff disorderly, and I'm constantly coming and going, standing, sitting, checking on the Internet how this or that can be done, or listening to other songs I want to mimic ("That one hit wonder of the 90's... How did they do that growl...?")
It sometimes takes a lot of work until you nail what you want (again, it depends on the song; sometimes the mood you aim for is precisely "I don't care a shit about this technical stuff", and those are quicker :) ), but like I say, it's fun work, and "externalizing" this part is a great idea that I'm happy of having had; the alternative, what I was doing before instead, was putting all the experimentation during the full-fledged recording mode, which has a lot of things to remember, and therefore benefits from getting there with everything as decided as possible: in, out, boom, your done...
My processes are constantly changing, but I thought I'd share this one because maybe it can be useful for someone else out there, and also, it's great fun...
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it