Improved Singing Ability
Photo by: Cieleke
There are millions of tutorials out there to help you develop your vocals. In fact you can easily get information overload so I am going to keep this article very specific. I'd like to look at one area that is very often overlooked by singers, an area that (in my mind) is vital for any aspiring vocalist. I am talking about timing.
Timing Is Important
I am sure many singers out there are thinking .. "boring, I want to practice my high notes and my vocal licks, not timing"!
I know, it is a boring subject but let me bring some clarity here. I am a music producer and have produced literally hundreds, no thousands of songs. I know what makes a good singer and what makes a poor one. There are two traits common in good singers, 1) They stay in tune, and 2) they have great timing.
Timing is important for "tracking" or "layering" vocals. Most songs require the singer to sing the harmony lines repeatedly so that they can be stacked on top of each other, thus giving a nice full sound. If your timing is off, even very slightly, the producer will have to cut individual syllables up and align. This is tedious work and never sounds as good as when the singer nails it live.
Aside from this, having good vocal timing will make your vocal takes sounf more confident. Did you know that some singers practice to sing "behind the beat" to achive a laid back soulful feel. This does come naturally to some artists but you can learn it too.
In fact drummers face similar challenges. In some songs a drummer will place the snare drum slightly late in the bar (I am talking milliseconds) so that the rhythm "softens". Or, a drummer make decide that the snare needs to be "on top" of the beat to add tension and drive.
Rappers vs Singers
As you can imagine, rappers have even greater need for mastering rhythm and timing. Let's look at a quick example of vocal "layering" in a hip hop song by Nelly, Hot In Herre.
How Can I Improve?
By far the best way to improve is to use a metronome Set the metronome to 60 bpm (beats per minute) and either hum a note or tap on something on each click. These clicks will feel very slow and you will find it hard to tap exactly on the click.
When you have settled into the 60 bpm tempo, try doubling up and tap twice within each click and then double up again so you are tapping four times within each click. The idea is to master these intervals to the point where you can no longer hear the click because you are locked in so tight.
Doing this for 20 minutes a day for a month will dramatically improve your timing. You vocals placement will become more effortless and confident which will raise your overall ability, especially within the recording studio.
Watch the video below to learn how to improve your vocal timing.