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Weird pitch correction vibrato biofeedback?!?

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  • Weird pitch correction vibrato biofeedback?!?

    So here's the story. I wanted to conduct an experiment to see if pitch correcting vocals really does suck as much as people think. I was doing a cover version of "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," and had four vocal harmony parts behind the lead. I copied them, pitch corrected them, and did exclusive solo between the pitch-corrected and non-pitch-corrected groups. I wasn't surprised that the NON pitch-corrected ones sounded more satisfying, although I was surprised at how much the "perfect" pitch-corrected ones lost all traces of sounding interesting.

    But here's the intriguing part. This was part of doing a Sonar column for Sound on Sound about using V-Vocal to do spot, manual pitch correction - a note here, a note there in order to preserve the vocal's soul.

    I've never had a particularly good vibrato, and I could see that just by looking at the lead vocal's pitch curves - the modulation was inconsistent, and fluctuated around the pitch center more than it should. I touched up the "off" spots, and was pleasantly surprised at how good it sounded. I went through the lead vocal, redrew all the various spots with vibrato, and listened back multiple times. It sounded really good, and didn't sound like it had been pitch-corrected at all. Case closed, right?

    Well, the next time I tried singing, I had suddenly acquired a good vibrato. I really couldn't believe it; I called up the vocals in V-Vocal, looked at the vibrato, and it was 10 times more smooth and regular than before. It was like night and day.

    Did some weird biofeedback thing happen where I saw what I was doing wrong, corrected it, listened back to it, and my brain assimilated it as "Aha! So that's what I'm supposed to sound like with vibrato! Got it!"?

    Honestly, I don't know. But after decades of not having good vibrato, within 24 hours I had good vibrato. The only difference was analyzing it in V-Vocal, correcting it, and listening back to it. Hmmmm.........
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  • #2
    Sounds plausible.

    I recall seeing Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas telling the story of how Cass Elliot couldn't hit the high notes to a certain song. Then a pipe fell out of the ceiling in a club and hit her in the head. Thereafter, she could hit the high notes just fine.

    So stranger things have happened

    PS. Watching her tell that story, cracking up the whole time, is hilarious.
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    • #4
      It's not surprising to me at all.

      My singing improved dramatically right after I started recording it, though, for me, singing has been a 30 year learning curve - - people in the band with me in the late 60's / early 70's used to specifically ask me not to sing!

      I've found that, whatever you pay attention to, that's what gets better. The trick is paying attention to the right stuff...

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      • #6
        I always sing better after a long session of using Melodyne forcing me to see the many ways I suck. It's really good practice to just sing right into melodyne and look at all your glides into pitch and pitch hunting and vibrato. It's kinda like having a vocal coach standing behind you with a ruler to smack you with, except less embarrassing and less expensive (over the long run).

        I also find Melodyne wonderful for trying out harmony ideas without having to sing all the ideas. Just copy / paste the original track to a new layer and drag the notes around.

        Terry D.
        Telling Stories releases 2nd CD, see our WEBSITE! Please check out my GROUPIE STORY and Tales from the Road.

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        • #7
          I think it is just a result of bringing your awareness to it - as philbo and others have suggested
          As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
          from the deepest hell to the highest states.

          It is up to you which one you choose to explore
          .

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          • #8
            I think it is just a result of bringing your awareness to it - as philbo and others have suggested


            I'm not sure it's quite that simple, as I've certain been aware of my vibrato and worked on it over the years. But then all of a sudden, it was there, and it's a physical thing - not just some kind of insight. Perhaps it was just a matter of being able to SEE what was going on as well as hear it, and it gave that "extra dimension" that made things snap into place.

            However, although I'd seen my vibrato before in V-Vocal, this was the first time I really worked with it, and could hear my original vibrato, fix it, hear the fixed version, etc. I almost wonder if my brain wasn't building a "database" of "If it sounds like this, you actually want to have it sound like this."
            Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

            Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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            • #9
              after decades of not having good vibrato, within 24 hours I had good vibrato. The only difference was analyzing it in V-Vocal, correcting it, and listening back to it. Hmmmm.........


              Consistently? A week later? Six months later? Maybe you just had a good day (or a bad one).

              It doesn't seem unreasonable to me that a listener might be more inclinedto recognize a wavering pitch that's inconsistent as sounding wrong than just hitting the wrong pitch and staying there (the "there are no wrong notes in jazz" theory). This was an interesting observation and you've discovered yet another technique for improving the outcome of a performance, surely a good thing. However, I doubt that you've had a miracle cure other than perhaps becoming aware of something specific about your singing that you're able to correct, even subconsciously, once you understand the problem.

              Some methods of vocal coaching work simply by telling the singer to do what he's not doing. You don't necessarily have to be told how to do it right, you just do. I don't know how that works - it's never worked for me, but apparently it works for some singers.
              --
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              • #10
                Craig, did you synch up the "sine wave" of the separate voices' vibratos, too? One of the characteristics of the finest vocal ensembles--- Think: Singers Unlimited, Take Six, HiLo's, Manhattan Transfer, etc.---- is the way that the different vocalusts can synch up the wave of their vibratos. (vibrati?)

                I think most voice teachers will tell you that the natural vibrato you posses... is the right one for you. It's just a matter of learning to control it to a degree, smoothing those peaks-and-valleys close to a sinewave.
                Every paint-stroke takes you farther and farther away from your initial concept. And you have to be thankful for that. Wayne Thiebaud


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                • #11
                  All the evil gridding and ATing I've done on albums I've produced for others made me a better musician. I sing in better pitch and play in better time. I'm more able to lay back, push, play straight, swing, sing lazy, sing tight.

                  Yes, I believe we acquire some of the skills after "correcting". Just as a visual eq feedback tool like Har Ball has given me a better ear. If we're paying attention, we're gaining insight.
                  __________
                  Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                  Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                  Jesus

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                  • #12
                    Consistently? A week later? Six months later? Maybe you just had a good day (or a bad one).


                    I wondered the same thing, but this happened over a week ago. If anything, the quality and consistency of the vibrato has improved over that time.

                    IHowever, I doubt that you've had a miracle cure other than perhaps becoming aware of something specific about your singing that you're able to correct, even subconsciously, once you understand the problem.


                    Actually I think that's the whole point. I was aware of the problem from an audible standpoint, but (apparently) it took seeing it visually, AND correcting it AND hearing/seeing the difference compared to the original version, to flick some kind of switch in my brain. And it really WAS like flicking a switch - from "maybe I should just hit the note and stay there" to "cool, I can do vibrato now."

                    Here's how much of a difference there was: Brian Hardgroove (my partner in crime in EV2) has heard me sing plenty, but when he heard the song, he said "Is that you singing?"

                    I think this whole experience underscores that the more senses you involve in the learning the process, the easier it is to learn. Now, maybe I had some interesting physical change I didn't know about that coincided with doing this song, or maybe "the time was right," or any one of a number of other things. But, the correlation - while not provable as cause and effect - sure seems to suggest that.
                    Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                    Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                    • #13
                      Craig, did you synch up the "sine wave" of the separate voices' vibratos, too?


                      Actually, the harmony parts I was working on before I got into working with my lead vocal didn't have vibrato. But, now that I can do vibrato , I'll have to try what you're talking about in future harmony parts, assuming I don't do it naturally.
                      Simplicity, my new album project, is now streamable from my YouTube channel.

                      Subscribe, like, and share the links!

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                      • #14
                        I think that we partly learn by being able to HEAR ourselves doing those parts before we actually do them. I'm learning some interesting "4 against 6" stuff now by practicing the 6 (six) 1/8 note pattern while listening to the metronome clicking on every 4th 1/8 note. If I hear it enough times, it makes it easier for me to perceive myself playing it.

                        Another thing I find interesting is that drummers today are learning new rhythms by listening to drum machines. Yes weird, but true....myself included.

                        Oh ya....to answer your question. Biofeedback thing....very possibly !

                        Dan
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                        • #15
                          Actually, the harmony parts I was working on before I got into working with my lead vocal didn't have vibrato. But, now that I can do vibrato , I'll have to try what you're talking about in future harmony parts, assuming I don't do it naturally.


                          I dunno, I find sync'd vibrato to be pretty sickening. Most of the backup singers I work with work hard to use as little vibrato as possible, leaving that to the lead vocal. I guess that's the other way to deal with the unsync'd vibrato problem.

                          Terry D.
                          Telling Stories releases 2nd CD, see our WEBSITE! Please check out my GROUPIE STORY and Tales from the Road.

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