Why are some singers just not famous
"There are musicians and there are singers" - how one can break through the clichés of singers
6 typical singer faux pas
(Image: © ALDECAstudio)
Many singers have already experienced it many times: You are ridiculed by your bandmates or instrumentalists and you even get to hear one or two jokes. Like any group of instrumentalists, the vocalists also have to struggle with situations that are at their expense.
But why actually? Just like the cliché guitarist who supposedly turns his amp louder and louder, there are also typical singer moments that happen quite often. And which you can easily avoid if you are a little more serious about the music. In this post I have compiled a few such standard situations that instrumentalists gossip about and explain to you why they put you in a bad light as a singer.
1. "The place where I sing 'yeah, yeah, yeah'"
The following situation: You are rehearsing with the band, there is a point that is perhaps unclear or not yet completely clear. Two possible, embarrassing scenarios:
- For example, one of the instrumentalists suggests "let's go back two bars before the chorus" - and you don't know where to start.
- You will be asked where you want to get in and answer with "the part where I sing xy" (it's best to do it before). By now your band will know: Ok, our singer has no idea what we're doing here.
Singers (mostly) have the privilege to use their voice to sit on the musical framework of the band. Of course it's very convenient and the better the instrumentalists are, the more the playing runs by itself and you can practically just start singing. And this is exactly where the big misunderstanding lies: A song consists of chords, melody runs, a fixed form. A framework that only works if everyone plays their part in the right molded part. The chorus is often played and arranged differently than the verse, sometimes the arrangement within the verse changes, and so on. Therefore it is mostly irrelevant for bands which text or what YOU sing about a passage, the instrumentalist has to know exactly what ER should play at this particular passage. And for this your band needs clear statements about the respective position in the process.
Think like an instrumentalist!
The first way to be taken more seriously by your bandmates is to take their job more seriously. Ask yourself what is relevant for your bandmates in the respective piece. What does your band need to know so that they can accompany you as a singer on stage particularly well? A singer is only a musician if he / she is concerned with how a song is structured. Even if you are not or do not want to become an over-instrumentalist - it is worthwhile to familiarize yourself a bit with playing the piano or guitar. It will help you with your songwriting in and of itself, but it will also help your band members understand what information is relevant to them. You automatically deal more with processes, chord progressions, arrangements and thus speak more and more the same language as your bandmates.
2. "Hihi, so I've already finished setting up"
If you definitely want to make yourself unpopular with your band, during the sound check you emphasize with amusement and repeatedly how quickly you have set up your equipment - and if in doubt, the sound technician even placed a tripod and microphone for you.
Of course, nobody expects you to carry the equipment for your band, but it is a stupid fate that a talented drummer always goes hand in hand with carrying a lot of heavy stuff with him all his life, that a bass box can be a bit unwieldy or a guitarist like to have several guitars with you. Just because singers have their instruments hidden in their throats and otherwise require little technical equipment, you don't have to rest on it. Be collegial, grab a few cases at the next gig and help your people.
3. "No, I have no idea about technology"
Sound engineering is an absolutely separate topic and many singers have little or no desire to deal with it extensively. But at the latest when your band is playing gigs, you should know a little about various things.
If you are also the mouthpiece of the band, the sound engineer will contact you if you have any questions about your Tec Rider. It is best to create a technical rider together with the band and also ask them which information is mandatory and which can be talked about. If there are not enough monitor paths, could two band colleagues share one monitor path, for example, and if so, which one? You play on a small stage and stand close together - can you assess whether your microphone is perhaps too sensitive to feedback for this stage and could you ask the mixer for another microphone? Or, if in doubt, do you even have another one yourself?
The subject of sound engineering is of course a broad field and can only be touched upon in this article. Go through your music world with open eyes and ask if you don't understand something. Then you will steadily expand your knowledge that you need in everyday music use. But be careful: picking up knowledge does not mean parroting! Pseudo-competent and self-important half-knowledge requests à la "I need a slight increase in the frequency range xy" without knowing what you are talking about trigger at least as much frown as complete ignorance.
Further tips for a successful sound check:
4. "Microphone technology? Always keep your mouth close, I thought ..."
Experienced singers deal extensively with the topic of microphone technology and anyone who looks at singers like Christina Aguilera will find that some singers have pretty much checked out playing with the microphone: a changing distance from soft to loud sounds, knowledge of the close-up effect, caution with Explosive sounds, the knowledge that different microphones react differently All this is microtechnology that you can and must work out. Working with the microphone requires just as much practice and time as a guitarist spends dealing with new pedals or a keyboardist who wants to program new sounds. A singer who is not aware of these things and does not work on them is easily ridiculed. In doing so, you are essentially providing a template for comments such as: "The only piece of equipment and you don't even have that under control?" Because at the latest at the sound check you should be able to access a live situation best.
A sound check has the word "Check" in its name, because the band should test the real live sound of the concert as best they can and the sound engineer can then adjust and reproduce it as best as possible. For this, the band needs to briefly allude to different facets, a guitarist tests his lead sound, the keyboard player offers his sounds so that they can be adjusted in volume, the drummer plays softly to loudly - the same will be done by you expected as a singer. The rehearsal room is therefore the best place to familiarize yourself with it. Try out how your voice sounds with different microphone positions, play with the proximity and soft tones. In short: experiment!
5. "Oh, I could definitely sing a few Adlibs over the guitar solo"
During the majority of a concert, the focus is on the front person. The front man leads through the evening and gives the songs a face with the sung melody and text. As long as we're not talking about classic blues rock, in which one solo chases the next, an instrumental solo within a song is always a consciously created place to put an instrumentalist in the spotlight. Here he has a moment to show what he can do, to improvise and to distance himself a little from his song-serving accompaniment. It goes without saying that your guitarist, keyboardist or bassist is on the one hand highly concentrated at this moment and on the other hand frees himself from the role of sideman. If the singer comes up with the idea of singing in a solo, it is doubly unfortunate:
For one thing, you steal the show from your bandmate and bring the focus back to you. On the other hand, you could irritate the soloist: Should you now solo against your Adlips or switch back to the accompaniment mode?
Give your colleagues their place in a solo! Should you have agreed on a longer solo with the band, you could consider leaving the stage at this moment or, instead of staying in front of the microphone, just groove along the edge of the stage (that way you don't have the feeling of being somehow stupid) standing around).
6. "I don't know what key I'm singing the song in"
Some people who play a lot of cover music and maybe also work with different instrumentalists may be familiar with the question: "In which key would you like to play the song?" You should always have an answer to this question.
Many songs do not sing as relaxed in the original key and it is more pleasant to play them a little higher or lower. A lot of singers I know like to sing Jessie J songs a little deeper so that they can perform them without any problems.
How do I find out which key is right for me?
Experienced singers know their range and can localize and estimate the highest / lowest note of a song or check on an instrument how much lower / higher they would have to sing a song. If you are not so sure about it yet, ask your bandmates (preferably keyboardist or guitarist) to play the song with you in the respective key and to try out which key fits.
Do yourself with harmony!
Again, it's not important that you're a crack, but it really makes sense to study the basics of harmony, the circle of fifths, etc. so that you can determine a key. As long as that is not your hobbyhorse, it will help your bandmates immensely if you can state that you play the piece "x semitones / whole tones higher / lower" than the respective recording. If you can't name a key yet, but you know which chord the piece begins with, that is also a good starting point for your instrumentalist.
We have already published a workshop on harmony theory:
Admittedly, this article is sure to put its finger in one or the other singer's wound, but as uncomfortable as it is, we do just as well to face our weaknesses and work on ourselves. So that we can deal confidently with typical stumbling blocks and are not clichéd singers that our instrumentalist friends joke about.
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