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help: microphone technique?

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KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 04:56 AM
SeanM 10 Jan 01 - 05:27 AM
Extra Stout 10 Jan 01 - 06:20 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 06:22 AM
John P 10 Jan 01 - 06:30 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 06:31 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 06:42 AM
Hollowfox 10 Jan 01 - 09:12 AM
sophocleese 10 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Russ 10 Jan 01 - 09:43 AM
paddymac 10 Jan 01 - 10:03 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 10:17 AM
Noreen 10 Jan 01 - 10:33 AM
Steve Parkes 10 Jan 01 - 11:05 AM
KingBrilliant 10 Jan 01 - 11:35 AM
Bert 10 Jan 01 - 11:49 AM
mousethief 10 Jan 01 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Justa Picker 10 Jan 01 - 12:05 PM
MMario 10 Jan 01 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,LEJ 10 Jan 01 - 12:42 PM
RichM 10 Jan 01 - 01:08 PM
Co' 10 Jan 01 - 05:13 PM
Branwen23 10 Jan 01 - 05:42 PM
Extra Stout 11 Jan 01 - 12:54 AM
blt 11 Jan 01 - 01:19 AM
Seamus Kennedy 11 Jan 01 - 02:20 AM
KingBrilliant 11 Jan 01 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,JohnB 11 Jan 01 - 12:32 PM
Noreen 12 Jan 01 - 11:10 AM
paddymac 12 Jan 01 - 02:39 PM
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Subject: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 04:56 AM

Hi all.
I am going with a friend to an 'open mic' thingy tonight, and am panicking because I've never sung amplified before. Does anyone have any advice for me (please). I have a loud voice and am worried that it will go all distorted & horrible. How far should I be from the mic? And should I sing quietly rather than loudly? I've convinced Mark to come along so that he can give me some feedback afterwards (not the electronic kind :) ), but some advice in advance would be extremely welcome.
We'll be singing 'Clear Day' (Rab Noakes?) which is one of those boy-sings then girl-sings duet things [my friend's voice is not as loud as mine so I'm also worried that we'll sound unbalanced), and then I'll be singing 'Will You' (Hazel O'connor). We'll have plugged in guitars as well. Its a pub venue, where there might be a fair amount of noise in the room.
Any advice gratefully received..
Kris


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: SeanM
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 05:27 AM

Well, if you have a sound tech there, they should be able to handle most of any volume concerns. If you're doing your own mix, then you may want to spend the time to do a really thorough sound check before hand.

General advice is to not "pop your p's" - in other words, try to not make any harsh pops or clicks (hard k or p sounds, strong sibilant s sounds, etc.)

In my experience, if you're mixed correctly, you shouldn't have to worry about how loudly you sing. You just have to worry about how well.

Hope this helps some...

M


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Extra Stout
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:20 AM

Hi, Kris. go to the pub early, and play with the mic. There are a million variables. The best luck will get you a sound man at the gig. then you can sing and he'll make it sound OK out front, and you don't worry about it at all. If there are stage monitors, you can hear what you sound like.I didn't think they made much difference in smallish places, but I was wrong. Don't wait untill showtime to try out the mic. Some pick up from quite a distance, and some from only a couple of inches. Both good, but real different. Talk a little. Tell a joke and see if they laugh in the back of the room. That would probably mean that they heard you. When you find a good distance from the microphone, measure it. One hand span? A hand and three fingers? This way, you won't get lost. If you mislay your spot, you'll know right where to find it again. Maybe Mark could coach you during the performance from out front. A hand cupped to an ear to call for more volume, fingers in ears if you're too loud. Fresh feedback is the best. Maintain the dynamics you've practiced with your friend, the PA will do the rest. If you practiced loud, perform loud. Once you've got the system where you want it, try to forget it and play as if you were at home. Ignore noisy people. In fact, if they make you nervous, ignore everybody. When I wish everybody would disappear, I take my glasses off and they do! Break a leg(bad luck to say "good luck" before a performance, y'know}.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:22 AM

Thanks M, I think it'll be a very basic sort of setup, and very informal so there'll be no sound check or anything (there's probably just a geezer there with a volume knob). Thanks for the info on the harsh sounds & p-popping. I'll certainly bear that in mind. Worrying about how well I'll sing, however, opens a whole new can of worms...... :)

Cheers

Kris


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: John P
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:30 AM

Many stage mics have a proximity effect, where the voice sounds more warm and full if you are up close. The general rule is to stay within a couple of inches of the microphone. You should sing at whatever volume is best for you to put the songs across. Some songs are better for quiet voice, some are better for bellowing it out, and there are songs everywhere in between. If there is someone running the PA, they should be balancing the voices and the instruments. If they are not doing their job, or if they are bad at it, there's nothing you can do to save the sound anyway. Here's a hint: make friends with the sound person before you start playing. Introduce yourself and shake her hand. Compliment him on what you are hearing. Ask for her advice. Generally let him know that he is an important part of what is happening, and is a valued part of your show.

Just out of curiosity, why are you plugging in your guitars? I assume the venue has enough mics on the stage, and I have rarely heard a plugged-in guitar that sounds even half as nice as an acoustic guitar through a microphone. And for a two song set, plugging in takes longer and is more hassle. Electronics in acoustic instruments are nice to have when you need them, but that doesn't mean you have to use them every time. Perhaps you should seek the sound person's advice about this as well.

John


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:31 AM

Thanks also ES. Finding & measuring the distance sounds like an essential plan - I'll just need to pluck up the courage to talk (much harder than singing!). If I get really nervous I'll pluck out my contact lenses!!!

Kris


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 06:42 AM

John, I also much prefer accoustic to plugged in, but I think its is a very limited setup with only one or two mics - so just enough for the voices. I hadn't even thought about not plugging in, because I'm completely a novice and thought we just had to (d'oh). Also I'm fitting in with what my friend wants to do really, so I'll just be testing the waters this time. I'll certainly check out whether we could take along some extra mics next time & stick with playing accoustic-like (I'd definitely feel more comfortable with that).

Kris (PS. if we're crap is it OK to blame the soundman? (joke!))


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Hollowfox
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:12 AM

Consistancy in your distance from the mike is A Very Good Thing. Not that you need to keep stock still with your neck glued in one place, but suddenly leaning back, turning 90 degrees away from the mike while singing, etc. will mean that your voice will no longer be heard; not what you want, I think.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: sophocleese
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:19 AM

I get nervous and close my eyes when singing. I also sway a little so my distance from the mic tends to shift. If I don't have to play an instrument I hold the microphone with one hand as that gives me a body sense of where I am. If I have to play an instrument I try to keep my eyes only half closed.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:28 AM

Seems like that distance thing is going to be the crucial thing. I won't be able to close my eyes because I'm too cowardly to do away with my bit of paper (and that's a whole other issue, and I've been following the other thread that touch on it). I've decided to be brazen about having the words in front of me - one hurdle at a time is enough.....
Thanks for great advice so far.

Kris


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 09:43 AM

The first time my wife and I ever performed with electronic amplification we had no idea what was going on. There was a knowledgeable tech at a fancy soundboard and people on stage to properly set up the equipment. We did a quick sound check as part of the setting up. At the end of the first number I asked the audience and the soundman, "Is it normal for me not to be able to hear my wife while we are performing this way?" The soundman immediately adjusted the monitors.

The point is, it took a while to get used to being plugged. I literally did not know what we should be worrying about (other than knowing the material). The first few times we performed using a sound system, I was so rattled that my brain would shut down and I would forget to do all the really obvious things. I once started playing and noticed that my dulcimer had a strange rattle I'd never heard before. I soldiered on and discovered at the end of the song that I had wedged a pick under the strings near the bridge and forgotten it. I now have a mental checklist that I walk through slowly and faithfully. Is my chair stable and am I comfortable (I usually perform sitting down)? Is everything I will need stable and within easy reach? Can I hear both my voice and my instrument? Can I hear both my wife's voice and her instrument? Is she still in tune? Am I still in tune? Etc. My advice: slow down, take deep breaths, don't forget to do the obvious, listen carefully, as soon as you notice a problem stop and fix it.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: paddymac
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 10:03 AM

IF creative visualizations work for you, imagine an ice cream cone with its pointy end stuck in the mic, and then imagine you are trying to lick the ice cream out of it. That will help you keep a proper position viv-a-vis the mic. The key thing, IMHO, is to just relax and let the mic work for you.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 10:17 AM

This is sounding less like hassle now. I'm going to sit down (I hadn't thought of that til Russ's post). The ice-cream cone thing is a godsend - I reckon that'll make ie easier to maintain a consistent reasonable distance. I just hope it doesn't melt (sometimes visualisations take on a life of their own don't they?). Thanks again for all responses - I feel a happier and calmer person now. And much more in control.

Kris


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Noreen
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 10:33 AM

Enjoy yourself, Kris- and let us know how it went!!

Noreen


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 11:05 AM

On a slightly (thread-)creepy note ...
Am I aloe in deploring the modern trend (though not among Folkies!) of holding a very large readio mic in front of one's face when singing? Next to eye contact, line-of-sight on lips is very important in commication (especially if you're a bit hard of hearing). Hiding one's mouth is body language for telling fibs, and the message I get from today's bright young pop-things is that they have no confidence in what they're singing. Coming from a generation (barely!) that enjoyed lyrics like "Hut-sut rawlson on the rillera and a brawla brawl suit" and (less barely) "Obladi-obladah, life goes on, bra!", I don't expect to be missing much, but I do like to think that the singer is a willing participant!

Steve (acoustic, with one "C")


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 11:35 AM

What is that Hut-sut thing? I remember it was in a film (years ago) about someone trapped down a mineshaft, with a bloke outside pretending to help but keeping him there for the publicity. They sang that song & it really stuck in my mind - what is it about??

Cheers for all the advice - I'm off home for emergency practice now. Will let you know how it went......

Kris


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Bert
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 11:49 AM

Well it depends on your sound man. What kind of mike he has, and believe it or not how old he is. In the 'good old days' microphone technique was a skill, and if your sound guy is an old fart he might have some really good microphones and expect you to be able to use them.

Sadly though that is very unlikely to be the case. Most performing mics nowadays have hefty blast screens built in so you just go right up to them as close as you can. This leaves you with very little room to vary your mic technique. Just get in close and stay there.

Should you be lucky enough to get a good sound engineer with a good mic, then you will find that he positions the mic just below your mouth pointing slightly upwards. This allows you to sing across the mic instead of directly into it, which will cut down blasting and popping. You will also be able to vary your mouth-mic distance to control expression. Get in close for quiet passages and move away two to four inches for loud passages, or to match your output to that of your quieter partner.

So watch the previous performer. Chances are, he'll have the mic stuck almost down his throat, and you'll have no choice other than get right up close.

So what I'm trying to say is '"There is such a thing as mic technique but it doesn't get used much nowadays".

Break a leg Kris.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: mousethief
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 11:58 AM

My problem at first was being afraid to sing right into the mic. I wanted to back away and as a consequence was hardly audible. Don't be afraid of the mic. Get right up to it and sing into it.

If you can do a mic check before you start, say a lot of words with p's and b's and listen for popping. Ask your sound man what to do to fix it if there's too much. I'd never heard of the singing across the mic thing but it sounds like good advice -- if it's the right mic and it's set right.

Anyway, break a leg, Kris!

Alex


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: GUEST,Justa Picker
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 12:05 PM

To avoid or at least minimize popping on "B's" and "P's", get into the habit of singing to the side of the microphone on words starting with those letters. Makes a huge difference especially in a recording studio. There isn't much a sound man can do in those instances, without affecting the entire quality and clarity of the vocal. Easier to do it yourself.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: MMario
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 12:07 PM

gee - they usually stick me three or four feet on the audience side of the mike when I sing. ('struth!)

But then again, I don't like mikes. When possible, I prefer not being able to see them.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: GUEST,LEJ
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 12:42 PM

Simple advice...if you have a loud and hearty voice,that's your style and don't change because you're miked.Get back and let it blast.I like to sing with lots of dynamic (quiet to loud), and I find that it's nearly impossible to adjust the PA properly for that range.I sing teeth-against-mic for the soft stuff,two feet back for the loud,and everywhere in-between.Good monitors are very helpful in mastering this.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: RichM
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 01:08 PM

Lots of good advice here for newbie mic-users...

Your first time, you'll make mistakes. Try not to worry about it.
Remember to stay in position, a little change in distance from the mic makes a big difference in sound level.

Relax before you step up to the mic. Take a breath , hold it and let it out slowly. Then turn to the mic, and you are ready to go.

Good luck, and enjoy!


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Co'
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 05:13 PM

Ton of good advice so far.... yeah watch your hard constanents (p's & d's). Might try these tips I've learn over the years:

1. I will control volume & tone through proxiemity (distance) if you need to sound more bassy and thick- get closer

2. higher notes push more air and you'll be louder pull back from the mic to maintain the same volume level.

3. substitute p's for b's- example- sing "beople" instead of people, in other words use a softer constanant. Can the audience tell the difference? No (especially after the first beer!)

4. Here's a major mic secret, I use this in recording when there is no compressor to be seen:

sing right beneath the mic, instead of directly into it, it will virually will be pop free... course I'm not the first one to spit this secret out... it really works!

Good Luck!


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Branwen23
Date: 10 Jan 01 - 05:42 PM

Good advice, Co'...

Kris, you might try the singing below the mike thing before the set if you're going to try it at all... Different people's voices resonate differently, and your position in relation to the mike can sometimes bring out things in your voice that you don't normally hear... For example, when I sing slightly below the mike, I find that my voice sounds a lot more nasal, because if my mouth is just below the mike, then my nose is just above it, and that nasal, "heady" resonance comes out more through the mike...

Just a thought.


-Branwen-


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Extra Stout
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:54 AM

Plugged in guitars are a godsend as far as I'm concerned. Take a look at all the tips and advice above regarding vocal mic technique. You have to apply it all to a mic'ed guitar, while you remember to apply it to your vocals. But if you must, aim the mike at the bridge, thats where the vibes come from. How did it go, Kris?


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: blt
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 01:19 AM

I'm all confused about the time, so my two cents probably comes too late (it's 10:20pm on Jan. 10th where I am). I would say, don't be afraid to just ask the audience. I have gotten to appreciate sound checks done on the spot, as I can sing a little then ask, how did it sound? The audience, at least those who are paying attention, seem to like this bit of technical inclusion and sharing of the power. It also relaxes me, which is probably as important as anything else. The kind of mike you're singing through is important, both the pick-up pattern and the brand, but less important than just simply relaxing and singing. I've had better luck with the B and P and S problem when I've sung straight on into a mike; it seems to work better if the mike is below me somewhat, and angled up. I feel free to adjust mikes if I need to, although I've also been known to knock the whole stand over. Good luck, and bravo!!! Encore! Encore!

blt


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 02:20 AM

First time out is a bit nerve-wracking, so just get up and sing and play as you normally do, and let the sound tech take care of it. If you sound good, remember what you did, and if you sound bad, remember what you did there too. I'ts a learning experience - learn from it and don't worry. You'll be better next time.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 11:55 AM

I was bursting to let you know how it went, but couldn't access the 'cat all day - so I wrote it all down anyway & here it is cut'n'pasted :

************

Thanks for all your help - it really made the difference to have a bit of background knowledge. The setup was very basic, but the sound was quite acceptable. There were 2 mics & 1 borrowable plugin guitar (which I used) and leads for people to plug in their own guitars. The guy running it was really approachable and welcoming, so that helped. Everything plugged into an amp thing with volume controls per plug-hole etc, and there were two large speakers either side of the 'stage' area. He advised singing about 1 inch from the mic, as he could then adjust the volume down if necessary.
It was an open-mic for music & poetry & stand-up comedy - so it was a pretty mixed night. I thought the format worked really well though, as the variety kept the interest going, and it meant that mostly everyone was following a spot in one of the other genres. We opted to go on first, which I think was a good choice as there is a lot less pressure that way (nobody is listening much at that point, and we didn't have to endure that stomach-churning fear of the approaching moment) The duet we sang was pretty naff really, and we both started off-key - but we corrected OK & got through it. My song went well-ish - there were some bits I was really happy with, and other bits were not so good, overall it was alright but not stunning. My friend's solo went OK - he said he was really nervous and that his leg was twitching uncontrollably so that he had difficulty playing guitar at the same time as trying to hold his leg down, but it came across alright & the leg wasn't noticeable!. The verdict from Mark was that the sound was fine, but the songs were totally wrong for the venue (and he was quite right - it was 'bohemian night' and we were singing middle-of-the-road [oops]). I completely agree with that (and its not my favourite music) , so the criticism didn't exactly sting.
My main object was to find out what it was like to sing amplified - to which Mark's verdict was that it was neither better nor worse than unamplified, and that amplification doesn't bring any magic additional ingredient. The only real difference being that when you are amplified people can chat if they want, whereas unamplified they are usually obliged to keep quiet & listen. I'm happy either way - so I'm really pleased I tried it and that I can do both.
The one thing I did find really different was the 'onstage' feeling. And I must admit that I completely loved it, especially when I was singing on my own - shameless!!!! So of course now I can't wait for next time (I'll give some thought to approprate material though). Next on the agenda is to learn the songs enough to do without the words in front of me.……

Cheers

Kris

*************



Anyways - some of the postings were too late for me to read beforehand, but they'll all come in useful for experimenting in the future. I think I probably sang slightly to the side of the mic just because I needed to keep my bit of paper in view.

Cheers'm'dears

Kris (KingNotTooTerrible)


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: GUEST,JohnB
Date: 11 Jan 01 - 12:32 PM

Glad that it went well for you. Now that you have had a taste and you are hooked on performing there is only one thing to do. KEEP DOING IT. It gets better, apart from the odd times but we won't go there. Good luck. JohnB.


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: Noreen
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 11:10 AM

Good stuff, Kris! Knowing the words helps with confidence too, but you have that 'stage presence' already. You'll do great!

Noreen


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Subject: RE: help: microphone technique?
From: paddymac
Date: 12 Jan 01 - 02:39 PM

Kris- Glad to hear you 'survived' your trial by fire. That "paper trained" problem is common enough. The problem with it seems to be (well, at least to me) that "classicly trained" people, or people who study with rigid teachers, become brain-washed into believing that they are obligated to play every piece exactly the way it is written. In an orchestral setting, or a large band, I can appreciate the need for everybody to be playing the same thing in the same way, but outside that context, the usual approach is to make the piece your own. That gives you the libertyu to interpret it in whatever way seems appropriate to you. Perhaps more impoprtantly, it gives you the freedom of nat having to worry about every fly-speck on the paper. Mostly a matter of idiom, I suppose, and there are clearly appropriate venues for either or both "habits". With sadness, I have know a number of brilliant "paper trained" musicians who were completely incompetant without the paper.


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