Working With Singers: Carnival

05 Sep
The Angel, The Fallen

A still from the film for the beginning of Carnival depicting the Angel. Film by Laurie Greene.

3. Give clear direction

The Fallen is a multi media theater show i wrote a few years ago which is currently in a long but ultimately fruitful pre-production stage for another run. The filming and film editing should wrap up by the end of the year and then i’ll go back and give the music another mix since a few things drive me crazy, but let’s not bore you.

The stunning Jen Folden is the star of today’s tale. The album/show is about a fallen angel and on the album Jen is that angel. Her voice is perfect for it, she sound like the voice of an angel. There are so many tidbits from the album i could play, but few songs where she is the sole singer so i’m ultimately choosing today’s song, a long one i admit,  but after the 4 minute intro it’s Jen’s song.

This was a tricky album because i had to hire and record a singer 6,000 miles away. Several tries were fruitless. How do you record a vocalist sing your material if you aren’t going to be at the recordings? My suggestion? Don’t do it. What if you have no choice? Well…. you’re buggered, but is you HAVE to, go with someone you know.

My partner, director and choreographer Shaun Rolly was on the east coast and able to run the recording sessions so we were looking to hire there. But it wasn’t working. So what do you do when a stupid idea is turning out stupid? Whatever you have to! Double down! Get even stupider! Eventually you’ll go round the bend to smart.

I already knew Jen Folden but she lives in California. However it seemed to me that hiring someone whose instincts i know and trust would be the best option even if she’ll have to set up and run the sessions by herself.

It was a good move. She was the right voice for the part, but more so was able to make the right choices. Thank goodness, but this is a situation you NEVER want to be in.

Singers sometimes need direction in order to know what exactly it is that you want. That direction is your job. If you like the voice but aren’t getting the performance, you need to be giving clear direction. I myself like to see what singers come up with on their own in case it’s something great i wouldn’t have thought of. But you need to be ready to guide the performance to what you need. When running a recording session this is especially important because the singer is putting themselves in an emotional state doing all those takes. You need to be the clear, cold ears that hear what it’s actually sounding like, the objective observer who makes sure in 2 weeks when everyone listens back to the recording,  there wasn’t something stupid you missed.

Giving clear direction is an art in itself and one i still try to work on. I’m much better than i used to be. Communicating intent in art is not always easy, but learn how to do it. When you see someone else doing it well take notes. NEVER let some minor thing slide. It will end up bothering you forever. But we’ll get into that more tomorrow.

So here is one damn long song. The Angel has been lured into and trapped in Raven’s carnival. The demon responsible for her fall is working on getting her out (turns out he’s kind of a nice guy), but this show is not as clear to follow from the audio as the steampunk opera so don’t worry about that part. The intro is so long because there’s an AWEsome film sequence depicting the carnival. You can hear at the 4:25 mark where the film fades out and the stage lights fade up as we switch to the stage to tell the story from then on.

Another still from the beginning of Carnival. Film by Laurie Greene.

Jed Folden as The Angel:

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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