Writing a bad song, using upward compression, and learning to belt higher

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Be willing to write a bad song

Mr. Rogers says in this video, "It's just the fun of doing it that's important. … It feels good to have made something." Kurt Vonnegut said, "Practicing art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow." And according to Leonard Cohen, writing a bad verse is just as hard as writing a good one. Next time you sit down to write, be willing to write a bad song. Maybe even have fun and try to make the worst thing you can. Don't put the pressure on to write something great—that can be a fast-track to writer's block.

How I create this intimate acoustic guitar tone

In this video, I share a little bit of my process mixing intimate acoustic guitars, inspired by a Damien Rice song. A feature of close, intimate sounds is that their quieter information is louder than it would be if it were several feet away—maybe that's an obvious statement. One way I work with this notion when mixing is using compression to bring up the quiet bits, and upward compression works especially well for this task.

How to belt higher

Most of us voice teachers separate the voice into two mechanisms: chest voice and head voice. The "belting" sound comes from singing in the higher end of chest voice. When developing a higher, more powerful belt, the temptation is to "pull chest" higher and higher. This inevitably causes tension, even injury. Instead, practice bringing your head voice lower into chest register. This is one method to develop a "mixed voice," which has features of both chest and head voice, and which is a sustainable way to sing high and powerfully.


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