I generally see myself as an optimistic person. There isn’t too much that makes me want to pull my hair out. However, there are a few things that get under my skin. Since music plays a pivotal part in my everyday life, I found it fitting to want to talk about a few of my music “peeves”.
Reverb – an effect whereby the sound produced by an amplifier or an amplified musical instrument is made to reverberate slightly.
I’ve been a part of the online music scene since 2005 (12 years). I was a member of a karaoke site called Singer’s Showcase. We kind of had a motto on that site – ‘the more reverb on your vocals, the better you sound’. I kid you not; I have some recordings where it sounds as if I was singing inside of a cave. Nothing better than recording your vocals, then saturating them with a ton of reverb. But, that was what everyone was doing, so I followed suit. I was an active member there for around 2 years, give or take.
In 2006/2007, I stumbled upon a site called icompositions. Since the site focused more on original music, I jumped right in and wrote my first song. It was a collaboration with two other musicians, so I was super excited. I was the one who did the mix, and believe me, I am NOT a mixer – but back then, since the track was already done, you just mixed in your part. I know, I know – but this was like 11 years ago when we collaborated via email. It turned out really great; at least that’s what a lot of the other members said. But it wasn’t until the next collaboration that the wool was pulled from my eyes, or should I say ears?
My second original song wasn’t mixed by me. As a matter of fact, the musician that I worked with convinced me to send him my raw dry vocals so that he could mix the song. I was a bit hesitant, I mean, geez my dry vocals with no reverb??? Oh man! But eventually I did send them, and when he sent back the final mix, I was blown away. Wow, was that what my voice sounded like!?!? What did he do to my vocals to make me sound so good? Turns out – all he did was add a touch of reverb instead of drowning my vocals. It was seriously one of those ‘holy shit’ moments – I have a lot of those! I was just so amazed that my voice didn’t need all of that reverb.
For years I was hiding behind saturation. Needless to say, I became very turned off to reverb. No, really – my dislike towards it has become quite strong. And for anyone who has worked with me or mixed my vocals knows that. Don’t get me wrong, there are songs that require a heavier reverb to get the ‘ethereal’ message across – and for those types of songs, I am cool. But otherwise, I prefer very light verbage – and I’m not afraid to let audio engineers know it.
Yep, reverb is my first music peeve.
Melodyne – a tool which is used by a large number of professional record producers worldwide to tune and manipulate audio signals, typically a singer’s vocals.
I could probably write a short novel about my feelings towards Melodyne, but I’ll spare you the sarcastic details. Listen, I’m not against it, nor do I think it’s sinful that some vocalists’ depend on it, or even like or prefer it. However, for me, I would rather redo my vocals if I sing something “off pitch”. Much like reverb, I can appreciate Melodyne at times, when used as a cool effect or to add some depth to my background vocals.
If used properly, Melodyne can be an awesome tool to enhance a performance. If used sloppily, it can turn out horrific! And believe me; I have experienced the horror first hand. Since then, I am pretty adamant about not using it – unless the audio engineer uses it tastefully & informs me about it. I guess it’s a trust thing, if the AE knows how to accurately use it, then I have faith that he will use it in good taste.
Yep, Melodyne is my second music peeve.
All in all, there should be a trust that vocalists have with the audio engineers who are handling their vocals.
I feel it is always best to be upfront about your preferences. Most AE’s will appreciate your honesty. Because really, there is nothing worse than spending hours or even days mixing a song, only to be told that the vocalist doesn’t like this or doesn’t like that. So speak up or forever hold your peeve!
Can you relate? What are your feelings towards Reverb & Melodyne?