Expressing yourself in vocals

Hi I’d like to hear any tips on expressing yourself in vocals.

I am currently playing around with singing in my work and while I am passionate about the subject in the lyrics, I am not sure how to really bring that out when singing them.

Not really concerned with anything else like how good I sound or technical matter.


Its subjective. Try or dont try your call.
Record yourself singing and listen to yourself.

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Hard to give give advice without knowing what you are doing, but I would experiment a lot with putting a lot of character in. In general, the singers I like to listen to most usually have a lot of character and sing “wrong” from a classical perspective in some way. So I would say don’t hold back in terms of giving it personal character, put all your emotions in, experiment a bit, and see where that leads. If you do that, be careful with evaluating feedback when you are working on expressivity - it’s always good to get feedback imho, but if you start out and try to put a lot of character and individuality in your stuff, chances are some people will just not like it, but others will.

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Yes I could definitely try not trying I haven’t tried that yet, thanks. :slight_smile:


Yes I guess this is not an easy question to answer, I figure that some people are very in to lyrics and figured they might have some ideas on this.

Good idea about feedback when I’m trying to do my own thing, I will take that on board, thanks for chiming in.

I was in choir way back in the day but too long ago and not for long enough to say I can sing but I remember a few things… I know you said you didn’t want to worry about technical stuff but I’d probably at least get an idea, just through trial and error, how close to the mic you need to be. And unless you are doing a whispery or more spoken thing: Project! Warm up those cords somehow and make sure plenty of volume is coming from you. This isn’t about literal volume but more the energy/sincerity behind the vocals. You can’t add that in post.

Also if you have the space you can setup a little vocal booth with cardboard to at least cut back on noise outside or inside your home.


I have noticed how easy it is to be too quiet or too loud, so now I try and stay in the same position / distance from the mic and it helps keep it pretty level throughout, just need to control THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE! a little better and that part will be down pat.

I wasn’t thinking to project myself better by warming up, like I said it’s pretty new to me it just kind of happened so I went with it, good idea. Yes the energy / sincerity is what I was asking about, it’s not an easy thing to grasp or explain I’m sure, I was thinking to have images of the subject matter around and that’s the best idea I have so I will go with it and see what happens.

Thanks for your comment I will hopefully post this particular track here soon.

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A couple of thoughts from my own experience. First the too loud, too quiet thing. Choice of mic is a factor here, as well as how it is set up. I went from a condenser to a dynamic, because of outside noise. The condenser was on a stand, but I don’t have one at the moment, but it’s not to big a problem to hand hold a dynamic mic. If your mic is on a stand, set up a pop filter at the correct distance , so that when your nose is touching it you have the volume and clarity you need. You can use some compression to help keep things even. This is the only time I use compression.

Energy. Now this will be dependent on what you are singing about, and what genre it is. Your accompanying music will also effect this, so you will need to keep that in mind when song writing.

Sincerity. This all comes down to practice. The better you know your lyrics and the timing, the more sincere it will come across to the audience. Lyrical content will also be important. Don’t be too verbose. It makes it a PITA to get the timing right, all the words in and breathe at the same time (unless you are Snow or Hugo Weaving).

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Hey this is a great response. I did not consider practicing the lyrics for the sake of timing and conviction / sincerity, I knew I wanted to retake it a few times but this is really a good idea.

I have the mic sitting on a teddy bear type thing, it’s super noisy to touch the mic, it’s quite a cheap one but as I was told some moons ago even a cheap mic has its own flavour and it sound alright as is.

Interesting you say not to be too verbose, when generally writing or speaking for that matter, I’m aware that it’s always best to ‘let the words speak for you’ and instead of blabbering on about something, focus on the words needed and they will be more effective. This track I’m working on right now is full of lyrics as that is just the vibe it has, but while there are a few different sub topics in there I already know one instance where I have kind of repeated myself, and like you are saying that’s just making things difficult.

Thanks for chiming in! :slight_smile:

Before singing i would sing every sillable or lyrics constantly monitoring what pitch is it. And then when i knew how melody should sound I sing whole phare without monitoring. I use reatune to monitor the process.


Great advice for where I am at I will do these for sure thanks!~!!!~!!! :smiley:

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Did you get anywhere with this? Loads of great feedback ideas in here.

I’m trying to address this myself. I have a few tips that might help and it might be useful if you’re still pursuing this to bounce ideas and feedback off each other…

So first thing I’ve found is Compression on the way in. I’m not printing it, but it just helps to keep things quite smashed on the headphones so that I don’t overreach when I get quiet. Its the perfect solution for the variation in volume. I got a UAD and put the 76 and 2a in line, plus the Pultec EQ. That makes a big difference because I can cut out the frequencies that again push and pull my voice and add tension, instead of letting me relax. I have other little personal tricks that help my shit voice to sound better in my chain. Tight reverb helps me personally as well.

The best way to find your personal settings is to take what you record and put the same EQ and Compression etc onto the recorded track. I don’t print the compression etc so that I can keep improving the sound to my ears. I’m looking for something that helps me give a better performance, so this is perfect to keep tweaking the inputs.

Getting the UAD for the live plugins was a game changer personally. There are ways to get similar results, by having like a dual input with one recording no latency and no FX and another with vst plugins that you can hear instantly. It has a small latency whatever you do, but you can get very usable results. I can’t remember exactly how to do it because I learned it after getting UAD :slight_smile: of course.

For the energy, I did vocal lessons recently (before corona cut them off) and I was doing ‘Primal Singing’. What it sounds like you want to deliver is something along these lines. Generally you have your chest and head voice, plus the whistle etc. Primal focuses on the natural noises to understand these registers easier. Its noises that we would make in nature, so Whinging puts you in the chest voice. If you think about delivering parts of your vocal with a whinge it kind of accesses the power naturally and it sounds more honest I guess. Its emotional maybe? For head voice its Whimpering. So basically if you think about crying the lyrics, again its accessing the more honest part of your voice. Beyond these you can access Yelling and Sighing, lower and higher respectively and they’ll put you somewhere in the registers without having to learn to sing.

For engaging some more emotions, there’s little tricks like physical exercises. I find that shaking assertively can engage some emotions and energy. Particularly my arms. That’s hard to describe though and I haven’t worked out the best physical exercises to work on. Nobody seems to know either. I think that sit-ups might be the worst thing for vocals, because they end up tightening the diaphragm, but I just don’t know.

And other than that, scales are crap but they can help to warm up. You might find that you have limited time to get something out before these energies dry up, so you might need to keep practising to sustain them.

I probably have a heap more tricks, but I keep forgetting. This is where I think that working together in like a dual mentor type thing might help. I certainly need regular guidance and outside perspective with mine.

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For me, just laying down some vocals takes without going too deep and be too self critical is the way to start . I always bounce it down, so I can listen to it, on the bus train whatever. listening to my own stuff somewhere else than home/studio, usually makes it easier to hear where it needs to go and how I can improve it.

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Knowing the lyrics by heart and not reading from a note or paper is also a good way to go, in my opinion

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