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How do professional songwriters translate their written vocals to the clients?

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by steffeeh, Mar 26, 2014.

  1. steffeeh

    steffeeh Active Member

    This is what I've done so far:
    - I've written lyrics that I'm happy with (text + notes for each word + characteristics for the lines).
    - I've layed out the melody as a fake piano ontop of the instrumental track.
    - I've analyzed what's the most practically useful method of recording, to minimize the amount of vocal tracks to be working with.

    However, I'm still very unsure how to make the singer understand my vision of the vocals, or translate my idea to her.
    Of course the singer will have her own personal touch to the vocals, but I want to make clear what my vision is so she understands how I more or less hear the characteristics of the vocals in my head.

    And one thing I started to think of recently, is that professional songwriters who write songs for artists must be experts on this task.
    So how do they do it?

    Note that the singer lives far away from me, I can probably only have contact with her through Skype (perhaps it's possible to make a trip to her, if we plan it right, but unlikely).

  2. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    They use bad-ass vocalists. ;)

    Most professional studio vocalists are pretty quick at getting you what you hear. Not so much with the guy or girl down the street who sings in the church choir on Sundays, or who consider themselves to be the local karaoke king.

    Professional songwriters who write in the big leagues for the big artists; people like Desmond Child, or Diane Warren, may target a particular artist to write for, so they get session singers who are comfortable in that particular style, and who know the artist's nuances, and can translate how the songwriter hears the ideas in their heads.

    Don't limit yourself to one session vocalist, unless you've found the perfect vocalist who is a perfect fit for everything you do (like Elton John was for Bernie Taupin, or Dionne Warwick was for Burt Bacharach) Try several. Have a couple different vocalists do a performance, so that you have several versions to pick and choose from.

    And, just because one vocalist was able to nail one song for you doesn't necessarily mean that they will be able to do that again on another song. So, try to have several in your stable, don't just have one go-to. :)
  3. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    I sing on my demos. My voice is "adequate" for the job. I'm not a badass vocalist, but I'm 'good enough' to get the points across. If you'll start training your voice now then in a few months you, yes you, can be as adequate as I am! LMBO!

    I've never had any complaints about my vocals on my demos. I've done demos for others, too. It works. I even go as far as singing falsetto on high notes I can't really hit, and it still works. The whole point of it is to get a real singer to do it right. They can often do it closer to your vision if they can hear your vision coming from you, the source.
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I'm a pretty decent vocalist, so most of the time, I sing most of my own stuff, (as well as on other songwriter's material), although there are times I'll call a favor in from one of my pro session cat friends to do an alternate take for me, if I decide my own voice isn't right for how I want it to sound. Sometimes, I'll call in a few session player buddies to come in and do backing vox for me if I don't want it to sound like it's "all Donny all the time". LOL

    It's nice to be able to track your own vox, but it's also nice to get the texture of other singers doing the backing vox.

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