Letting unpredictable things happen

Singing is one of those things that seems to work best if you don’t try to control it too hard.

I’ve been using recording quite a lot as a tool lately – it’s really helpful to be able to make instant recordings of a particular phrase, then keep trying different takes until I get a sound that I’m happier with. Sometimes I get demoralised by the sounds I’m producing… but it’s great to be able just to rerecord and find that OK, maybe I didn’t get my best sound first time, but I can try to fix the problem, and make a real difference.

Often getting the sound I want, counterintuitively, seems to involve forgetting what I want it to sound like! Some things – like for example trying to enunciate clearly, do require concentration and focus. (I’m often shocked to realise I just can’t hear some consonants at all on the recording… when I was sure I was pronouncing them first time round!)

But the actual sound quality… that seems to require a very different attitude. To give you an example, here’s a clip of me trying to make a nice sound and here’s a clip of me letting the sound come out without trying to shape it. The first is plummier, wobblier and duller – the second has a slightly unvarnished quality but it’s a much more alive sound.

The trick is to know the few things that I need to do to set up the right conditions – and trust my voice to do the rest without my interference. A challenge, but an enjoyable one.

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