The Singer As Detective

Understand your music as if you wrote it yourself –says Mark De-Lisser

As singers we are communicators, one sent with a story to tell – a messenger.

These words might speak of life or death – or be about pleasure – but it is critical to get in touch with the meaning of the songs we sing.

The meaning of any song lies within the words primarily; these convey the sentiment and the story.

So it is important that we first understand the meaning of the song and find a way to make that a part of our story as if we have written the song ourselves.

What Was That Song About?

After hearing singers perform – often in audition settings – I ask, “What was that song about?”

Some singers have absolutely no idea, whilst others try to give a short synopsis of the song by repeating some of the songs words.

There are few, however, who are able to emote and tell ‘their’ story of the song and how it affects them.

So the point is simple: if you are communicating a story to someone and you don’t know what that story is all about, then you are not communicating effectively through song. You are not connecting!

Get Into The Meaning

A simple way of getting into the meaning of a song is to:

A. Read the lyrics to see what the song is about.
B. Do some research on what the writer was trying to convey.
C. Apply the meaning to your own life.

This way you can confidently sing a song that is ‘your’ song.

You may not have written it, but you can certainly live it whilst on stage or in the recording studio.

So it is important for us to remember that the meaning of the song is probably the first and foremost important aspect of your song performance.

So, be sure to expose the meaning of the song before the meaning exposes you!

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Kiahna Saneshige – Hurt (Cover)

Kiahna, a nice performance and good playing. I would love to see more of an emotional connection. I feel that you could let go more in this song
and really get ‘ugly’ with it physically. There is a lot of pain in
the song but you only displayed some – don’t be afraid to let go.

Chris H. – Little Lion Man (Cover)

Chris: nice work. Really enjoyed your performance. Be mindful of your posture as this will help you to maintain alignment and not prevent you from reaching for certain notes. You are putting strain on your larynx by lifting your chin so a more upright position generally will help you. This will also give you more support if you have to sit down. Good playing.

Bely – Every Time We Touch (Cover)

Bely, a really nice rendition and cool guitar playing. It is always tough to engage your support muscles when sitting, yet this is what is required here. Often we feel that we don’t need support on the lower notes in our range. However, the reason for this support is so that our sound will be maintained through to the end of our phrases. With limited breath capacity this is difficult. Try singing this while standing. Even though you were reading the words it still felt like you were beginning to develop an emotional connection with the song.

Check out Mark’s Feature Interview with VoiceCouncil

See Mark’s advice when it comes out each week by receiving our Peer Review Newsletter

Mark De-Lisser is a vocal coach, vocal arranger, choir leader and vocal producer who has worked with some of the top vocal talent in contemporary music today including Jessie J, Olly Murs, Jamie Woon and Beverly Knight. Mark has taught at many recognized music institutions and held several high profile TV roles including Vocal Coach on BBC’s The Voice UK. Mark actively leads the renowned ACM Gospel Choir and has published “Sing Out!”, two volumes of pop songs for contemporary choirs. Find out more on Mark’s website: www.markdelisser.com

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  • Kim Chandler

    Amen Mark – you da man! :-)

  • al-andrew

    Can’t believe that people have actually attended an audition and have no idea what they are singing about !
    To connect with the song is the only way to connect with the audience ! Even if you don’t like the song there will always be something that you can take ownership of and give to somebody else listening to you.
    That’s what we do as vocalist !