Important Notes for Voice Reel Sessions

A short, helpful guide: choosing songs and preparing for your voice reel session.

!!! First a wee update to this blog post !!!

Before all the fun stuff I should have included some other pieces of useful info...

Nearest train stations are Cobham Stoke D'abernon or Effingham Junction.

We are a bit of a walk from the station, but if you call me the stop before you arrive I can pick you up and I'm happy to drop you back.

If you are driving we have plenty of good parking.

We start recording vocals at 10am.

To secure a studio date you need to put down a non-refundable 20% deposit or £32.00 I will provide bank details for this.

Now, on with the original post..!

If you have just decided to book your reel with us then first, thank you so much!

I am sure you will enjoy your experience and the results will be first class.

Because I find myself repeating the same key points in respect of preparing for the session, I thought it would make sense to do that here, plus include a few useful links.

These suggestions are specifically for the 3 track voice reel session package, but are applicable to all the others and cover the important fundamentals that will ensure a smooth running, satisfying session.

Song Choices

Choose songs that suit your voice, your range and bring out your most flattering tones. Don’t choose songs just because they are fashionable, or songs that stretch your voice way beyond a comfortable threshold. A good song for you is one where you can command the lower ranges and hit the highs confidently, well before unpleasant artefacts or vocal fatigue creep in. Consult your voice coach if you have one, and ask them which songs they would most like to hear you sing.

Ideally, you will choose 3 songs that demonstrate different dimensions and aspects of your vocal talent; however this is much less important than having 3 great sounding songs – if you excel at ballads and suck at pop – just don’t do pop – or at least don’t settle for doing one just cause you think you should.

The Belt

Arguably the holy grail, particularly of musical theatre clients is to capture the voice in full belt.

Honestly, a painful sounding belt or one that is not quite there or conjures up the image of a performer tearing their throat to pieces, is never going to be impressive and is a sure fire way for the casting director to turn off your reel. If at the end of a belt, you sound like you just gargled with a bucket of sand, then trust me, this was not pleasant to listen to and you won’t want this captured for all time in digital.

While your singing lessons are a great place to challenge your vocal range and you should stretch your abilities, the recording session is the place to record what you are on top of, not what is currently on top of you. You should record what you find easy, not what you find taxing.

Backing Tracks

It will be up to you to source your own backing tracks, there are now plenty of websites that provide superb tracks of great quality, some even offer the song in different keys or with alternative arrangements, so don’t just settle for the first example of a song you want to use unless you are completely satisfied. Obviously sing along with it and make sure it is a version that has the right feel and an arrangement that will work with your performance.

Do be especially careful about choosing songs that do not have clear rhythmic cues and lots of space, these are very difficult to sing to and the end result may feel very un-natural and mechanical.

Here are a few sites we particularly like... - specialises in musicals - another MT specialist site.

All of these sites will offer high quality audio downloads, ideally you should download a 44K 16bit WAV file but if you can only get MP3 do try to get a high resolution version which would be 320kbs. Less than this and the audio tends to sound degraded and it is far from ideal.

If you can get the BPM or beats per minute, this can be extremely helpful in certain situations where we need to create musical cues, ideally make sure you send the tracks to us before the session is due to start. That way if there are any technical issues – such as tracks not importing into our system we can deal with them outside of a live session.

Song Editing

When it comes to producing the reel, you have to keep in mind that you are probably looking at each song playing for no more than 40 – 50 seconds, with the entire reel being completed after 3 minutes. This means of course that all three songs will need edits, you should give some thought to what aspect of your voice you would want any particular song to showcase. You’ll need an edit that gets to the important bit in the short time available. We will of course do the edit here in the studio, but you should probably time it takes to get to the section of the song you want to focus on, you’ll be surprised how short 50 seconds is!

On the Day

The studio day starts at 10am and the vocal recording side of the day and should be completed by 1pm although we can extend this time if this is required.

Mixing generally starts once the client leaves, however it can take a couple of days to turn it around and present fully mixed and mastered.

Further reading...

A great companion piece to this one – preparing your voice, the other side of getting ready for your studio visit!

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