Monday, August 23, 2010

To Complete An Emotional Space

The past two months have been intense. The editing of 4 de Diciembre's music has, and continues to be, one of the most demanding challenges - on a par with setting up Verdant, and the completion of my postgrad thesis.

It's not that the recorded performances have been poor, in fact, it's been the converse. Most of the time's been taken up with the pain of deciding what to leave out - the Sonic Archaeology of revealing the essence of each piece.

But the most personally enlightening experience has been having to audition my own vocals listening to every positive and negative, over and over again, as they were chronicled three years ago. Many people I know are uncomfortable with the actual sound of their own voices. With the recordings, this is magnified and relentless. It's harsh medicine.

What were considered good takes then, many performances and tough experiences later, I can better. And with the audio having been aligned, cleaned up, and arranged, the four songs done so far deserve a stronger vocal. As top music producer Richard James Burgess says in his book "The Art of Music Production", a great vocal is the next biggest asset after the quality of the song itself. Mr.Burgess goes on to describe what is meant by a great vocal; and it's not about the technique, although that helps the chances of recording one. Bob Dylan's grammy-winning one wasn't technically perfect - the producer tried for a correction with a 'punch in', but eventually had to abandon the attempt because the emotion couldn't be re-created.

To let the cat out of the bag, I'd been delving into this aspect of performance for months and there are several book reviews to follow. They all offer valuable advice and insight, but the reality of willingly placing oneself in a position of emotional vulnerability can only be done by one person. It's anathema to what we're used to socially. At least it is to me, coming from an East Asian society where cards are played close to the chest.

So it's baby-steps to overcome a giant hurdle (in the Soft Arts, one learns very early on that the hardest thing to overcome is one's self) beginning at band practice, where my vocal's being positioned to 'complete' an emotional space. I've chosen not to mention what I'm doing to my band-mates, so that I might gauge their natural responses; which has been subconsciously positive. The sessions have, in the main, been musically easier and convivial - possessed of a substantial anchoring point.

There's yet a long way to go, but I forsee the vocal re-recordings to take place first quarter of 2011 at the earliest. My voice should be stripped of its defenses by then.