Vocal arranging? Not surprising if you haven’t heard of it . I hadn’t heard of it until I was in the business for quite awhile.
A vocal arranger decides how the artist will sing a song. It might be a line that the arranger thinks sounds better if the singer uses a straight tone in their voice, or a vibrato at the tail end. Maybe the note should be sung an octave higher, or add a breathy tone to the words. Add a riff here or there. All to bring out the singers voice and emotion more powerfully.
A great vocal arrangement basically designs the vocal, reveals the singer, generates bigger emotion, and overall, increases the impact and power of the song tenfold.
No record should ever be without arranged vocals, not if you want to really blow people away.
I also get the question: “what is the difference between a vocal arranger and a vocal producer?”
Very little, but there are some distinctions. Typically, but not always, a vocal producer is someone who is a music producer who produces great vocals. It is a signature of theirs (not all producers are “vocal producers” ~ hence why a vocal arranger/producer matters even more on your project.)
Sometimes vocal coaches or arrangers call themselves a vocal producer. Whatever you call it, a vocal arranger, or a vocal producer, they are often the most important person on your record ~ for the vocalist. Because your vocal is the most important thing on your record. It’s what everyone hears above all else.
And a subpar vocal will kill even the best record.
Here’s a quick process process to help you prepare for, find a vocal arranger, as well as get a bigger and better vocal than you ever would on your own. Do this right!
1. Sing a Song 50-100 Times
Don’t just write the song and let it sit. You gotta work that puppy. Train it, improve it, give it a chance to reach its potential. Songs need to be worked into your voice just like any routine does. The more you work it, the easier (and better) it gets.
Tip: Record during this process. This gives you the opportunity to “hear yourself.” Once you listen back you can work out details like phrasing, the right key (use Transcribe to transpose keys ~ even a half step can make a huge difference in how you sound), work on perfecting your intervals and pitch, work out ad libs, as well as tweaking lyrics & melody to fine tune your song (it’s not done ‘til it’s just right.)
2. Hire a Great Vocal Arranger
Sometimes your vocal coach can substitute for a professional arranger, BUT — if you really want to pull out all the stops and crush your vocals, hire a great vocal arranger. This is not a place to skimp. It’s better to spend more and get the best. Mediocrity won’t do the trick here.
3. Pre-production Vocal Arranging Sessions
Pre-production sessions getting the singer ready ahead of time for the big day. It gives the singer an opportunity to work out all the kinks, get in the saddle right, and get comfortable. We fix any issues with pitch & pronunciation, tweak phrases to sit just right, build the dynamic arc, smooth out kinks and get you sounding 100x better than you ever have before ~ no joke. And no, you won’t lose the magic by preparing ahead of time ;). You’ll only gain it ~ guaranteed.
Sometimes these pre-production vocal arranging sessions are all the singer needs to prepare, and they don’t even need me at their session ‘cause they’re so happy with the results!
4. Vocal Arranging Recording Sessions
But if you’re the kind that wants white glove service, then having a vocal arranger at the studio with you is the way to go. It’s not cheap, but then making a killer record requires an investment. Why gamble with it? Remember, subpar vocals will kill a record’s chances. No doubt. Your vocal is the most important thing on the record. Don’t let it go undelivered.