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The Bare Necessity

Beware of overdressing…your song –says Peter Bach of Basix.

You can sing all the high notes you want, you can cover the melody in fast melismas, you can moan, you can groan, you can huff and you can puff…

…if your only intention is to show us how much you can do with your voice, I (Peter Bach) promise you: we will get bored with you.

We need to feel your necessity.

We need to feel that the words coming from your mouth are real words coming from a real person that has something important to share with us—something that you just can’t keep quiet about.

The Critical Question

When you decorate your song with vocal effects, melismas, moans and groans and the like, for each piece of decoration ask yourself the critical question:

Why are you doing it?

If the answer is “because it sounds cool” or “because I can”, then you can do better.

Melismas are great tools for emotional build up, but overdress a song with them and we get bored to death and lose all connection to the story and the message of the song.

Moans and groans and “oh babys” juice up the sound but when used incorrectly they just sound silly.

The Path to Your Necessity

Try speaking lyrics instead of singing them – if at some point in the spoken version of the song you feel like moaning or screaming or crying – then you have found a good spot for vocal decoration of some sort.

Other questions that can help you get to the “core” include: what is the main thing the character of the song wants to tell me? AND Why do I want to sing this song?

Remember that ‘ugly’ sounds can touch us more than ‘pretty’ sounds.

But, whatever you do, always keep it necessary.

-Peter Bach of Basix

Our Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Andrew Merry – Stay or Go (original)

Dear Andrew It’s a great song and you have great control over your voice—I really enjoyed it. Here is an idea that you can experiment with to take it even further. Try to extract the “undressed” core of the song from the current version, sing it and listen to it – Then add a few pieces of ‘clothing’ (your vocal embellishments) where it is absolutely necessary and where it enhances the meaning of the lyrics. And stay with the necessity of the song throughout. Don’t hide behind your wonderful technique and funky hand gestures. Dare to show us the parts of your voice that aren’t safe ground. Show us your vocal scars, birth-marks and insecurities and see what happens.

Khady – Grenade (Bruno Mars Cover)

Dear Khady. I’m in love with your voice. It’s happening. I’m not going to tell you to change anything. If you like your sound now and if your voice stays healthy even after some hours of singing – then just keep on playing around and experiment: have different areas of focus when rehearsing. For instance sometimes only concentrating on getting every high note 100% in tune – other times only concentrating on the timing. See how far you can push the vocal effects and become a master of controlling them – and, after you do that, let go of the control and only use it when necessary. Stay real, and don’t let any vocal teacher turn you into a background vocalist!


See VoiceCouncil’s Exclusive Interview with Basix

With a grand total of 4 international CARA awards, including “Best European Album” and “Best Holiday Album” the Danish vocal pop group Basix has proven themselves to be among the very best of a cappella groups worldwide. Follow the group on www.basix.dk or www.facebook.com/basix

Basix will be giving feedback for the next 8 weeks on our Peer Review videos – sign up to get their latest words here.

  • Khady

    Awesome piece of advice all around. Thank you. This is very encouraging and looking forward to getting more of it.
    I shall try this out!

  • Perfect timing!

    Just yesterday I watched an episode from the current season of American Idol, and one of the contestants did exactly as you write: overdressing the vocals. Then I saw Andrew’s video on peer review, and thought the same thing: sometimes vocalists focus too much on embellishments that they put aside the soul of the song.

    Thanks for the confirmation, Peter – much appreciated!

    P.S: The contestant’s is Stefano Langone, and it turns out the judges think the same as I do! Here’s the video from the American Idol website: http://t.co/5HYQy9h