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"Bringing Out The Lyrics"

In Rock it doesnít seem to matter so much, 
but in Country we want to hear the words. 
I hear too many recordings where the lyrics are lost. 

If the words arenít audible 
there are several possible culprits. 
The singer may not be making them clear, 
or the producer and engineer arenít recording them right. 

Sometimes the singer tries too hard to sound Southern or Country, 
and it comes out slurred and run together. 

Hereís a trick to get rid of Singerís Lockjaw: 
Pretend youíre singing to a deaf person 
who is reading your lips. 

When Misty and I record vocalists 
(ourselves and other artists) 
we use a soft-knee compressor on the mike 
and maybe later in the mixdown. 
The compressor brings out the low notes, 
the soft words, 
and the nuances that give an artist identity. 

The compressor should be set conservatively at 2.5:1 or less. 
The compressor itself should be inaudible. 

Sometimes the voice needs presence, or edge. 
To add vocal presence 
we boost the frequency slightly at 2 kHz, 
and maybe a touch at 4 kHz. 
Too much presence can make the voice brassy and thin. 
A little can make it sound good, 
and bring out the lyrics. 

Enhancers like Aphex and BBE can help with general clarity, 
and instrument/vocal separation, 
but they can be overdone, if weíre not careful. 

We try to get backup lead instruments to play in the cracks 
between the singerís phrases, 
not during, 
and we try not to have too much going on 
in the singerís frequency range. 

Misty and I find it helpful to analyze the lyrics beforehand, 
marking on lyric sheets 
where we want to take breaths, 
and which words we want to punch. 

If a song is good enough to record 
the lyrics should be heard. 

Each of us has different methods and tastes. 
Iím sharing ours just in case it may help somebody. 

© August 19, 2003 Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.


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