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Voice Not Cutting Through The Mix?

Rachel Bennett probes the lack of vocal presence in an aspiring singer

The Case: Her Voice Wasn’t Cutting Through The Mix

The Singer: Marianne, 21 years old, a gifted singer-songwriter.

Case Summary: Marianne was seeing a very good teacher and was very confident with a strong technical approach. However her diction was lost when the band came in, even when she turned up the mic and they turned down!

A Hidden Voice

Marianne was using the appropriate facial and laryngeal positions for free movement through her whole range.

She had developed safe and effective technique under expert tutelage.

However, she sang everything with a slightly operatic tone and tended to send the sound into the back of her head – the result was very unclear diction on the mic and a seeming battle with all of the band’s mid to high frequencies – guitar, saxophones etc.

Saying ‘Hello’ to Gravity

The band were “in” and Marianne was ready to work things out!

I began by asking Marianne to sit in a chair and speak out the lyric of her song, just to check that her diction and her sense of the songs’ drama was in evidence.

She did very well in this work – a clear, sensitive and detailed delivery into the microphone convinced me that she was in touch with her own material.

I asked her to lean forward and place her head forward to sing over the mic – I instructed her to feel the weight of the sound in her face mask (nose bridge, eye sockets, teeth, lips and jaw).

She felt odd at first but her delivery was notably more clear and somehow seemed to be set in her lower tones, even though she was singing the same notes – she simply resonated into her whole head.

The rhythm section commented on hearing the lyrics for the first time ever!

Singing is Physical!

Marianne is feeling much more confident about upcoming showcases and her band have developed new respect for her excellent lyrics and newfound management of the band’s ‘on stage’ frequencies!

Singing with a band presents issues that are not always in evidence when we practice with a teacher in a room with just piano.

Using a microphone and working with various frequencies demands extra skills that do not arrive intact with every voice.