Are You Stuck In A Vocal Rut?

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there.. writer’s block. It’s a tricky one to get around. Being stuck in a rut doesn’t have to be a painful experience if you’re prepared to do something about it.

Contributed by Braegen Russell for the Roland Australia Blog

So before you decide to take a month’s leave from society and book out a cabin in the woods—isolated and uninterrupted—let’s try to work through this writer’s block together.

Often the key is as simple as trying not to over-think it. By switching your brain off and stepping out of your comfort zone, your creativity that has left you will soon come rushing back!

Unlocking the secrets of the mind isn’t my job—that’s way above my pay grade. What I do know is that all musicians suffer from creative blocks, obstacles or barriers that seem to just suck all the life out of everything you play, sing or attempt to do.

What I also know is that with a simple change in approach these blocks can be turned into positives.

When we learn something new, we feel great about being able to show-case that new thing, we work on perfecting that one thing, until it sounds how we think it should sound. Really that’s all there is to it, we just repeat this process, living on the highs we get from perfecting that new thing.

But, next thing you know, that new thing isn’t new any more—we’re not excited to do it, play it, or even think about it. Like a virus, this rut can quickly spread through everything we do, putting up barriers that seem insurmountable. You find yourself going back to the same licks, the same tempo, the same key… it can be frustrating but you CAN work through it. You just need the confidence to go for something different and new and NOT LOOK BACK! What’s the worst thing that can happen?

So what can you do? It’s time to trick that brain of yours and lure out the sub-concious, creative side. Let’s take a look at three ways you can force yourself to think outside-of-the-box and break down that wall!

vt12Get back to basics with vocal training!

A great place to start when you find yourself into a rut is to go back to basics. Focusing on the fundamentals of breathing, rhythm, pitch and scales practice will get you looking to the voice and clear your mind of the pressure of coming up with something new.

Most musicians face this problem at some point and it is a great time to stick to a regular practice schedule. Practice should always be a part of your musical routine but by doing vocal workouts and by focusing on rhythm and pitch, you will soon find yourself creatively refreshed and ready to start writing that new tune.

The Roland VT-12 is a Vocal Trainer, a device that’s bundled with Vocal Workouts suitable for all styles or genres designed to help you with your technique by offering step by step lesson content used by professionals every day.

Also, by being pocket-sized, the VT-12 helps you practice any where, any time. Break up your routine by practising somewhere completely different to what your brain is accustomed to. Having headphone outs means you can practice while going for a walk, when you’re at the beach, or plug into your car stereo for when you’re on the road. Step out of your familiar environment and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when inspiration strikes!

Use vocal effects to hear yourself in a different “voice”

The Roland VE Vocal range

Whether you have the VE-2, VE-5 or the VE-20, there is a vocal effect that can help you crush whatever has been holding you back. Let’s take a look at how using effects on vocals can help you out – whether you are a vocalist, singer and/or singer-songwriter.

Playing around with harmonies can add some really dynamic movement to your song. Singer-guitarists in particular will dig the Auto-Harmonist feature because they can pitch their harmonies directly off the guitar chords. This gives you, as a solo performer, access to 2, 3 or 4 part harmonies plus rich reverbs, echoes and delays that you are in total control of.

“Looping” is a great technique to use to get the creative juices flowing! Being able to loop on the same device is a huge advantage, great for improvising new sections or repeating a bass line/chord progression when coming up with that catchy melody hook.

Sometimes a fresh approach is all it takes. Hearing your voice with some added depth, richness and sustain can really inspire something new – from a new melody line, progression, verse, chorus, bridge… it’s about embracing the new direction and letting yourself get lost in the moment.

Embrace your experimental side!

vt-3_top_galRecharging your aural senses by introducing completely new concepts to your vocals is a sure fire way of kicking writer’s block in the butt! This is more often how new styles of music come about—like rock with the introduction of distortion to the guitar, or synthesis to a keyboardist’s rig establishing electronic dance music.

Experimenting with new and exciting sounds and by using innovative technology would have to be one of the greatest ways of embracing your creative side. The crazier the experimentation, often the more successful the end result tends to be. This is not the time to hold back – let yourself go and try and make something you’ve never heard before!

The Roland VT-3 Voice Transformer alters your voice into something you have never heard before! Experiment with “gender bending” with the PITCH and FORMANT controls to take your natural tone from Mariah Carey to Barry White – or the other way around. You can even turn your voice into an SYNTH, BASS or VOCODER/ROBOT.

This approach not only forces you to think outside-of-the-box but it forces you to smash the box! You will get lost in the FUN of making crazy, out-there sounds that it will inevitably lead you down a path of new melodies or a chord progression that you would never have found otherwise.

Transforming your voice into synthesizers, synth basses, hard-tuned and lo-fi sounds is happening right now—it’s the future. Get on board and see how fast those creatively dark days become a thing of the past.

Whether you need to break out of your vocal rut through the use of training, effects or experimentation, Roland has the vocal tool/s right for you. Like all Roland/BOSS products, the vocal range of products is sturdy, reliable, easy to use and ready for you to take them from practice, to recording to the live stage environment.

So, what are you waiting for? Have fun with your new vocal direction. Your creativity awaits…

Contributed by Braegen Russell

VE2 VE5 VE20


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