2.6 Capturing Emotion

One of our main jobs as producers is to capture the emotion of a performance.
Music is emotional. It’s meant to be. Music is just a conduit of emotion from one person to another. Capturing this emotion is paramount.

Demo

Often you will be handed a demo from the artist. The demo recording may have flaws, it may not be sonically correct, but what it often captures is the emotion. When an artist sits down to record an idea, the main thing they are trying to record is the message behind the song.

  • What’s the tone of the song?
  • How does it feel?

As the producer, we need to make sure we do not lose that emotion.
There are three things that can cause emotion to get lost.

1. Working on the song for too long.

Spending months and months on one song can be counter-productive. The artist loses objectivity on both themselves and the song and can end up in a never ending and frustrating cycle.

2. Recording too many takes

Often the first few performances have the best emotion.
The more takes you record, the greater the risk of artist fatigue. Keep things fresh.

3. Ignoring the demo

Never discount the demo. If when working on the song, you can’t match the emotion of the demo vocal, then why not use it! We can get sidetracked by thinking, ‘oh but I didn’t use my amazing microphone therefore it won’t be as good’.
If the emotion of the take is good, the microphone won’t matter. Performance comes first, gear comes second.

Set the Mood

A great way to capture emotion is to set the mood within the recording space. Find what makes the artist most at ease. Ask these questions.

  • Does the artist like to record their vocal with the light on or off?
  • Do they prefer to record during the day or night?
  • Would they prefer to have reverb in their headphones when recording or not?

In addition, think of some other things you can do that they may not expect. For example, have a glass of water ready to go beside them or
have some candles burning in a dark-mood room to set the tone?
Maybe you could burn some incense while you’re at it!
These things may sound crazy, but we need to remember what our job is. Our job is to encourage the best from our artists.

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