How can we make our voice recording more attractive? Many independent singer-songwriters always ask themselves this question, but finding a unique answer is very difficult.
In this article, I will try replying to this 1 million dollar query combining my music knowledge and production experience (Read My Vocal Recording Guide) with a more holistic approach of an aspiring Sound Healing Practitioner.
Before going deeper into this topic, let me explain a few concepts first.
Energy Field (or Magnetic Field)
Imagine you are in a crowded room. Suddenly, an unknown person comes and all people stop to talk, turning their heads back. What’s just happened?
They have felt a sort of energy, perhaps hard to explain, but in some way that perception was real.
If you ever have experienced something like that, it’s highly probable that you have met a very “magnetic” woman or man.
Actually, all of us were born with their own energy field (also called magnetic field, source field, bio-plasma, aura).
Some people are conscious of it, some people are not. Depending on the level of everyone’s consciousness, our body can be more or less balanced, and this balance level defines nothing but either its mental or physical health status.
“Sympathetic Resonance” is a phenomenon occurring when the vibration of a body causes the vibration of a passive body that has a sufficient harmonic relation with the initial wave’s emitter. In this case, we say that the former makes the latter resonate in sympathy.
There’s a very cool example of this concept and involves several metronomes, all of them initially triggered at a different time.
The more time goes, the more each metronome starts to adjust its oscillation until all of them, one each other, reach an impressive synchronization.
Entrainment, Intention and Healing
Entrainment is a term referring to several Sound Healing techniques . Here is a very simple and concise definition of it:
“Entrainment is the natural process of a rhythmic pattern, which induces a second object to fall (or resonate with) into the same rhythm of the first object (the resonator)”.
Jonathan Goldman, one of the most important pioneers of the Sound Healing field, affirmed that any sound (or conscious) healing process needs a human intention. His formula can be synthesised as follows:
Sound (or Resonance Frequency) + Intention = Healing
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, everyone has their own energy field (or fields). During our lives, perhaps because of a tragic event, psychological issue or physical damage, one or more blockages may have taken place in our body fields (the same term for saying “energy fields”). These blockages affect our everyday life and should be definitely released making our body recover the right balance.
Sound Healing and Human Voice
The role of sound healers, who have a certain higher sense degree, is to unblock those energy fields primarily throughout their own voice, as it’s the most accessible and effective healing instrument.
There’s an active debate about the use of human voices against machines (see cymatic therapies) for the purpose of healing people with sound. Here’s the opinion of Jonathan Goldman regarding the use of voice healing:
“The easiest instrument through which intention can be focused and channelled is the human voice. It is a bit more difficult to pick up an instrument and project your intent. It is more difficult to turn on a machine and project your intention, especially if the machine is designed for healing and all you have to do is turn it on and leave the room…The human voice seems to be the most potent creator of sound frequencies that can be coupled with intention. Goldman, Jonathan. Healing Sounds (Power of Harmonics)”
Singer as a Sound Healer
Similarly to the entrainment process, the goal of a singer, as a professional music artist, should be resonating intentionally with the listener, making fans follow their music rhythmic pattern.
Imagine if all singers became sound healers. I think we would live in a better world!
Live Performance vs Recorded Music
I bet you may wonder now: “Does the entrainment process require to be done on-site and in real-time in order to be effective?”
As for machines, recorded music has the big challenge to send either a good quality sound (form) and human intention (spirit).
Although the distance should not be a problem for resonating people (Think of Distance Healing), many shamanic healers say that the Real-Time Factor still makes a huge difference.
This may explain why unknown singer-songwriters, or bands, who play more live-gigs, increase their fans-base quicker than their colleagues who rely more on their recorded music (unless you spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns).
The latters often hope to collect followers from home, attempting to be heard spamming tons of links a day by social network sites. However, they often get the opposite result, like being reported as a SPAM or even blocked by the staff of these platforms.
Voice Recording As A Preview of Human Intention
Nowadays, live shows represent the most powerful and unique experience for artists to spread their “intention” to fans.
At the same time, recorded music still has an important role. If done properly, that makes the audience aware of the existence of certain artists compared to others in the music market.
Despite the lack of “spirit”, a good representation of their intention may induce potential listeners to choose to attend their live shows in the future.
However, it’s very common for most digital voice recordings to miss one or more requirements in order to catch the attention of music lovers.
Why My Voice Recording Sounds Dull?
Recording a song has never been so easy like nowadays.
Digital Technology, cheap audio interfaces and affordable microphones give you the chance to become your own producer, engineer and performer at the same time.
Especially if you are a singer-songwriter, now you are able to track your own voice, recording takes at your own pace, with the comfort of your bedroom or home space.
Why do most digital records sound dull, cheap, or, worse, without attractiveness? What’s specifically wrong with them?
Assuming that the song is pleasant (hopefully), the mis-represention of the more juicy real-time intention has a minimum common denominator: Harmonics Power Deficiency.
Harmonics Power Deficiency and Digital Voice Recording
Harmonics Power Deficiency is a very common issue in digital voice recording, especially in modern home productions as we have mentioned above in this article.
It may depend on several factors such as:
- Low energy level (caused by the performer’s internal blocks)
- Frequency interferences (caused by sound waves coming from either the outer or inner recording environment, because of poor soundproofing/acoustic treatment or cheap gear)
- Low-Fidelity (caused by a poor frequency response of microphones in use)
- Absence of expressivity (caused by lack of intention in the voice performer)
- Audio Degradation (caused by audio file over-processing on the attempt to improve all the above issues)
The Magic Of Harmonics
Overtones, Formants and Harmonics
Let’s say we play a C note at a frequency of 256Hz (256 air molecule oscillations per second). What we really hear is the C note itself on the foreground and many other notes resonating all together called “overtones”. Although you may not distinguish them, these overtones contribute dramatically to the final tone of the overall sound of any human voice or instrument.
Depending on the nature of the instrument, some overtones are more prominent than others and they are called “formants”. The vocal tract is the cavity where a sound (which starts from the larynx in mammals, syrinx in birds) is filtered and formants are produced.
If “overtones” is a generic term we use referring to any resonating frequency higher than the fundamental note, for example C at 256 Hz, the term “harmonics” refers to specific overtones which vibrate as multiples of C.
The first harmonic vibrates at a ratio of 2:1 (512Hz) and corresponds to the “First Octave”, the second one vibrates at a ratio of 3:1 (768 Hz) and corresponds to the “One Octave and the First Fifth”, the third harmonic at 4:1 (1024 Hz) is the “Second Octave” and so on, going higher and higher to infinite multiple numbers.
Harmonics Intervals and Sound Healing
It’s important to notice that there are important relationships also between each harmonic. The second and third partial (or overtone) create a ratio of 3:2 (the Fifth Interval) which gives a powerful beneficial effect and has been extensively used by Sound Healers.
Pythagoras And The Secret Of The Universe
Pythagoras, using a single-string instrument called Monochord, found the whole number ratios (2:1, 3:2, 4:3) as balanced archetypes of form that could be observed throughout the world. The quote “Study the monochord and you will know the secret of the Universe” is still popular Today.
Pitagoras described the Universe like a big monocord connecting the upper end with the absolute spirit (the heavens) and the lower end with the absolute matter (the earth).
Understanding music leads you to figure out the relationships between all the elements of the Cosmo and vice versa.
The Human Hearing Spectrum
Our normal hearing range has a broad spectrum between 16 Hz and 16000 Hz. There’s more energy affecting all of us every day though, either below the lower or above the upper threshold. Some animals, like dolphins, can hear up 200000 Hz; elephants instead can perceive very low frequency waves under our hearing range.
Human Ear More Sensitive To Higher Harmonics
According to Athabasca University, Human ear is usually more sensitive to the higher harmonics than to the fundamental. As the range we pay more attention is between 1000 Hz and 5000 Hz, our ear sensitivity decreases substantially with frequency over the range below 1000 Hz, which also diminishes the contribution we might hear from the low frequency components. More power in the high harmonics makes a voice sound brighter and clearer; a high harmonics loss makes its tone mellow, darker and muffled.
How can I Hear Harmonics in My Voice Recording?
There are very good voice performers out there, but most singer-songwriters are not trained properly about the harmonics and ignore their power or even their existence.
Why do people focus more or only on the fundamental notes? Because when we listen to music we generally activate the left side of our brain (which we use for logic tasks), ignoring the right hemisphere which has to do with creativity and the arts. As all of us produce harmonics while talking or singing, we should start to pay attention to it, perhaps make advantage of technology.
At Song Like A Pro we provide our Harmonics Recognition Service (individual or groups of specific harmonics rendered as audio or spectrogram image).
If you train yourself to listen to harmonics either individually or as a whole, you will start using the right hemisphere of your brain, resulting in a higher harmonics perception and so execution.
Consistency, Health and Voice Attractiveness
The Bruckert et al. study (1982), a research about correlations between Harmonic-To-Noise Ratio (HNR) and voice quality (especially hoarseness), showed that a more regular vocal fold vibration was more attractive, considering both male and female voices.
Another study, Towards a More Nuanced View of Vocal Attractiveness (Molly Babel ,Grant McGuire, Joseph King, 2014), confirmed Bruckert study adding also that acoustic-phonetic features relating to sexual dimorphism, apparent health and youthfulness, and community-based typicality collectively contribute to listeners’ perception of vocal attractiveness.
It’s time for the final considerations now!
In Scanning (meant as a Sound Healing Technique used for discovering blockages in a body) either healers‘ or patients’ voice consistency is often associated with good health, and so attractiveness, as also for Bruckert’s study results.
That said, we should deduce that a consistent and so healthier recorded voice (also richer in natural harmonics) may have more chances to be attractive than one who is sick.
In pop music, consistency is very often achieved using several processing tools: Compressors, Dynamic EQ or Multiband Compressors. These means change the dynamic of your vocals and so its “liveness” degree. The more you squash a sound, the more consistent is.
Other VST plugins, like “drive” or “distortion” tools, are specifically developed to emphasise harmonics artificially.
However, there’s also a downside of over-using such tools. Especially in the digital domain, over-processing degrades the sound of your voice. If used incorrectly, these tools affect the power of natural harmonics and weaken the performer ‘s original intention; as much as they influence dramatically the listeners’ perception.
In conclusion, from a more holistic perspective these are the aspects I would take care the most:
- Power of Performer’s Intention
- Release of any body blockage (if present)
- Natural Harmonics Preservation
Thanks for reading this post about voice recording until the end. It was a long journey, but I hope you appreciated it. Catch up soon!