First of all, there is no such thing as “perfect” and if there is, it’s boring. But as artists, of course we are searching for that perfect vibe, that perfect sound, that perfect performance. All we can do is try to get as close as we can.
That being said, there are a few things to consider when approaching a final lead vocal in the studio. It starts when you get up in the morning that day, or even the day before:
Try not to party too much the night before, sleep too little or too much, or overuse your voice unless you’re going for that raspy sound & don’t have any high notes or belting parts you have to do. Substances, lack of sleep, and overuse of your voice will dehydrate you and tire you out, which will limit your strength, control, range and endurance. On the other hand, sleeping too much might make you sound thin & stiff & make you lose your low notes, as if you’ve rested too much and your voice won’t wake up. I find that as long as I sing a lot of hours the day before an important session, I’m fine to sleep as much as I need to feel revitalized. I definitely recommend putting in a lot of singing hours the day before so that your voice is nice and warm and flexible the next day.
Don’t talk right away when you first wake up. Treat your voice like a baby. Be gentle with it. Coddle it. If someone asks you a question, write down your answer instead of taxing your voice before you’ve warmed it up. Start with light stretching or yoga then some gentle lip trills, slides & exercises that feel like a massage for your voice. (Long tones are especially great for strength, control, endurance, tone & pitch.) Warm up for at least 10 minutes before speaking to anyone and try not to use your voice too much before your recording session.
Warm-up your voice for at least 30 minutes to an hour before you go in the studio. You don’t want to wear yourself out before you’ve even started though, so listen to your body–it’ll feel differently on a day to day basis. Warm up until you feel nice & loose, like the notes are effortless to you. You don’t want technique or stiffness to distract you when you’re going for that nice vibe. But if your voice is tired already, for whatever reason, then you won’t have to warm up as much. And if you do, you might risk tiring out your voice before the session begins. So feel it out and just make sure you prepare in advance so you make the most of your studio time and get the best possible performance. Showing up worn out or without having warmed up your voice is a waste of everybody’s time and money!
Bring a goodie bag of water, throat coat tea, nasal spray, throat rinse, sugar-free lozenges & light snacks to keep your voice clear and hydrated, and your tummy not too full but not too empty. Nasal spray will keep your nasal passage clear, while throat lozenges and herbal tea with honey and/or lemon will keep a cough or dry throat at bay if it’s threatening you on your important day! Also, if you eat too much before you sing you’ll end up burping a lot because you’re engaging your diaphragm & pushing up the food. But if you don’t eat enough you’ll feel weak & dehydrated. So again, listen to your body and find that happy medium where you have energy and your voice is nourished without creating gassiness.
To be continued!