Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hear famous singers without their bands? Well thanks to a few brilliant people on the internet, now you can. Get on YouTube and search “Isolated Vocal Track” or “___(artist name)___ a cappella” or “____(artist name)____ mic feed” and check out what pops up. Some of the videos are better than others, but they all provide some very interesting insight. There are many ways these videos can be used to help educate our students. For instance, listen to how exact Whitney’s rhythm is on her entrances in this example. Also note how the vocals have been stacked on the chorus. If your student is struggling to find the same fullness Whitney has on this song, play this for them and talk to them about the process of double-tracking.
Mic feeds from live performances are in most cases less processed than the original album. They are also usually void of auto-tune. With these videos you can give your students an idea of what their favorite pop stars sound like in live performance with everything stripped away.
When students are trying to learn how to add stylisms to their pop/rock songs, they will usually learn better by listening and imitating than reading and intellectualizing. I like this clip of Freddie Mercury as an example of scoops, fall-offs, register changes, vowel morphing, and more.
And if your student ever has a bad moment on stage, it can be helpful to not only remind them that everyone has bad performances, but to also show them an example or two.
What are your favorite isolated vocal tracks? Add to the conversation by sharing them in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading!