How To Improve Your Vocal Production For Emotional Impact

Have you ever listened to a song that really moved you, and wondered why it makes you feel that way? 

The power behind those moments often comes down to skillful vocal production. It’s about more than just hitting the right notes; it’s about how those notes are presented and felt.

Let’s break down how to improve your vocal production. We’ll explore three techniques to help deepen the emotional impact of your music.

Key Techniques for Enhanced Vocal Production

Dynamic Range Control:

When we’re talking about how best to make vocals stand out in a mix, it’s all about how we work with volume. You might think of it a little like adjusting the brightness on your phone. Sometimes you need it brighter to see on a sunny day, sometimes dimmer in a dark space. It’s all about context. This is exactly what we’re doing to improve our vocal production and ensure the performance shines through. 

For example, take Adele’s anthem “Rolling In The Deep”. Paul Epworth and his team are able to balance the emotional impact of Adele’s vocal delivery just right. Whether Adele is softly delivering a tentative moment in “There’s a fire, burning in my heart” or powerfully belting “We could have had it all”, the team ensures that the emotional intensity is perfectly balanced. This approach allows Adele’s vocal performance to truly shine, allowing the listener to feel the full impact of the song’s emotional journey.

In the same way, we could also point to Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”. Here, Jimmy Napes, Steve Fitzmaurice and Sam Smith work on delivering the vocal production just right to enhance emotional impact, aiming for a soft and close feel. It’s more than just allowing Sam’s vocal performance to shine through. It’s drawing you into the song’s emotional message making it hit home just that little bit harder. 

Reverb and Delay:

We should approach reverb and delay much more carefully than just cool effects you can add to your tracks; there are tools used to improve your vocal production by adding depth and emotion to your songs. Let’s break down how these effects apply in the modern landscape, and take a look back to how these have been applied historically to improve vocal production. 

Take Billie Eilish’s “When The Party’s Over” as a modern example – the reverb here is not just applied without consideration, but carefully adjusted to make Billie’s voice sound close, yet somehow distant to capture the sadness of the lyrics. This approach, applied carefully, makes every word she sings feel heavier, pulling you into the emotion of the track. It doesn’t just make the song sound better, it makes it feel better. 

Or going back a bit, Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” was all about using reverb to make songs feel bigger and more emotional. In The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody,” the reverb wraps around the vocals, giving them a heartfelt quality that’s hard to miss. It’s like the song is reaching out from the past, still able to touch hearts decades later. By experimenting with similar techniques in your own tracks, you can start to give your music that emotional boost that will resonate with your audience.

Layering and Harmonies:

Layering vocals and incorporating harmonies are fundamental techniques in vocal production. These techniques go beyond simply enhancing a melody. They offer an enriched and more complex listening experience to further elevate the emotional impact of a song. 

Consider Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” as an insightful modern example. Here, Heap uses vocal layering to create a captivating sound-landscape to mirror the songs themes of loss and introspection. The layered vocals produce what can only be described as a haunting ambience in order to effectively convey the song’s emotional undertones.

The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” historically demonstrates the emotional power of harmonies. The complex, overlapping vocal lines enhance the song’s heartfelt message. They showcase how harmonies can add depth and resonance to the emotional landscape of a track. By strategically using these techniques, The Beach Boys craft a more emotionally resonant and memorable musical experience. For students aiming to enhance their production skills, understanding and applying these concepts is crucial in creating music that not only sounds good but also connects with listeners on an emotional level.

Dive Deeper into Vocal Production

Improving your vocal production technique is a continuous process that mixes technical expertise with a keen sense of emotional expression. Whether you’re looking to start out in vocal production or you want to take your skills to the next level, the best way to keep an eye out for your upcoming masterclasses or blog posts is by subscribing to our newsletter.