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Mahesh

How Do You Keep Emotion?

15 posts in this topic

Frequently, it so happens that when you are rehearsing, you can deliver the songs much more genuinely with respect to emotions as compared to while performing the set itself. Being a songwriter and doing more of solo performances, this aspect is very important to me. Naturally, because of a lot more happening during the actual performance, it brings your focus down from the content of the song, even if very little.

 

What do you do to keep your emotions up while performing? 

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Guess this would be one method........... :whistle:

 

 
 
BTW - Advice from "Oprah".....not Tom LOL 
I'm certain Oprah would be pleased that her name is being bantered about in this fashion.
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LOL Tom,

Never tried that before (on stage *coughs*) but I do find myself connecting better with a Mojito (or anything that has just enough alcohol to calm the nerves and the mind).

 

I'm interested to know what people do or apply to naturally have their mind free enough to grasp the song. Even moving from one song to another might prove a potential factor in losing emotion (or adding). Emotion is so important when it comes to music and in a general perspective, I see that it is one of the least spoken of and looked at. I hope more people will contribute .

 

But Tom, I'm sure that's the first thing that came to yer mind, eh bugger? :P Oh how I wish to be in the 80s. lol

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I don't think I have access to that. I cant do something to enable a more emotive performance.

 

It is possible to simulate it to a certain extent. Ive seen lots of artists do this & I'm sure you have too, but you can tell the difference right?

An outwardly spirited or energetic performance is not an emotional performance. An emotional performance is more likely to be subtle. It will move you without you being aware of it at first.

 

Faced with an indifferent audience, I know I have tried this too. Its damned hard work, but I don't like doing it.

 

Sometimes playing well will touch me emotionally and it will develop into a more emotional performance. I don't think I have ever done this using my voice though.

 

It either happens or it doesn't. For me anyway.

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I don't think I have access to that. I cant do something to enable a more emotive performance.

It is possible to simulate it to a certain extent. Ive seen lots of artists do this & I'm sure you have too, but you can tell the difference right?

An outwardly spirited or energetic performance is not an emotional performance. An emotional performance is more likely to be subtle. It will move you without you being aware of it at first.

Faced with an indifferent audience, I know I have tried this too. Its damned hard work, but I don't like doing it.

Sometimes playing well will touch me emotionally and it will develop into a more emotional performance. I don't think I have ever done this using my voice though.

It either happens or it doesn't. For me anyway.

I agree Rudi, that's pretty much been my situation these days. I guess you can't force it. It's annoying when that happens though. When I see the biggies on YouTube performing at concerts, it seems like theyce figured it out. To stay true to the song. But I guess this is an outwardly opinion. Anyways thank you.

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It's about being in The Zone, Man.  When you're in The Zone, nothing else matters.  It's not about the audience.  They're only there in the before and after.  The performance is about you, the guitar and the song.   The "emotion" of your performance isn't something you can manufacture.  It's something you get from being in The Zone when you play and sing your songs, and you share that with the audience.  You're a solo, singer-songwriter/guitar player.  Don't worry about giving them "show."  You're not doing party songs or crowd participation numbers.  You are more an artist than an entertainer.  Give them a recital - give them you, and your amazing songs, voice and guitar all in The Zone.  You'll get encores, Bro.   :)

Edited by HoboSage
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It's about being in The Zone, Man. When you're in The Zone, nothing else matters. It's not about the audience. They're only there in the before and after. The performance is about you, the guitar and the song. The "emotion" of your performance isn't something you can manufacture. It's something you get from being in The Zone when you play and sing your songs, and you share that with the audience. You're a solo, singer-songwriter/guitar player. Don't worry about giving them "show." You're not doing party songs or crowd participation numbers. You are more an artist than an entertainer. Give them a recital - give them you, and your amazing songs, voice and guitar all in The Zone. You'll get encores, Bro. :)

You always know what exactly to say don't ya man? :)

Thanks Dave. That is so true. To just go there, not contemplate over what's happening , just sing. Just sing.

You know it's interesting. Though I can't manufacture emotion, me putting up this topic and eventually you getting to comment on it this way did help me stay more connected.

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Mahesh, two years on, you would be in a better place now in terms of performing with the right emotions in place. Maybe an update on how you've been faring?

 

A remotely related question - how does one maintain the performances in terms of emotional delivery when the same songs are performed over and over again?

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Sreyashi, 

 

Yup. I'm able to connect much better now with the gigs. Some days better  than others. Being in the zone as David mentioned still holds strong. Being able to emulate that emotion at the beginning will help get into the nature of the song a little more and then you end up being more connected, at least in my experience. 

 

Regarding your question of keeping emotion every time while doing a song repeatedly, I got this tip from John. To be able to reassociate the emotion in the song to a current situation or a recent life event really helps. 

 

At first this seemed a little difficult for me since my mind is used to associating the song to the original reason I wrote it for. 

 

But then, a song is interpreted by every person in their own way. In fact that's the beauty of it which brings people together through the music. This works for the artist too. You just got to get out of the habitual way of thinking. I'm known for tearing up on stage quite often. That's because of all these tips and things I've learnt from other musicians. 

 

Anyways, on a side note, there will be a new article about this - "Keeping Emotion" very soon. I'd interviewed John about this topic a while ago and being the editor, I added my own views a bit as well. This topic is super close to me and I look forward to publishing it soon. :)

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1 hour ago, Mahesh said:

 I'm known for tearing up on stage quite often.

 

Jeepers you surprised me for a moment there Mahesh!

 

I thought you meant ripping up the stage... no, I cant imagine you being violent so I had to read it again.

 

 

Oddly enough, I've lately considered this from a recording performance point of view lately. I haven't played a gig in nearly 3 months!

 

So I've spent time in my studio.

When playing or singing, I often don’t get it right. It sounds fine when I’m doing it, but on playback I hear all these little mistakes. Mistakes with timing / phrasing usually. Especially true when playing instruments I’m not good at; keyboards, violin, that sort of thing. Trying to play them properly can cause stress.

 

I cant just rely on concentration to get it right. That’s not enough. I have to remember to enjoy it. So I begin with relaxing. A few deep breaths, clearing my mind etc. When I’m relaxed I will just play a little (not rehearse) to get the proper feel of the music again. When I begin to enjoy it, I’m ready to hit ‘record’ again. It always produces a better take.

Simple things but important things.

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On 01/03/2017 at 9:32 PM, Rudi said:

 

Jeepers you surprised me for a moment there Mahesh!

 

I thought you meant ripping up the stage... no, I cant imagine you being violent so I had to read it again.

 

 

Oddly enough, I've lately considered this from a recording performance point of view lately. I haven't played a gig in nearly 3 months!

 

So I've spent time in my studio.

When playing or singing, I often don’t get it right. It sounds fine when I’m doing it, but on playback I hear all these little mistakes. Mistakes with timing / phrasing usually. Especially true when playing instruments I’m not good at; keyboards, violin, that sort of thing. Trying to play them properly can cause stress.

 

 

 

I cant just rely on concentration to get it right. That’s not enough. I have to remember to enjoy it. So I begin with relaxing. A few deep breaths, clearing my mind etc. When I’m relaxed I will just play a little (not rehearse) to get the proper feel of the music again. When I begin to enjoy it, I’m ready to hit ‘record’ again. It always produces a better take.

 

Simple things but important things.

 

 

 

It's something annoying and weird that I face as well. When I'm up on stage, I can do a fair job of giving a good performance in terms of emotion and technique. But when I'm recording something at home, the very same song becomes a struggle to deliver the same way as the live performance. The mind is a weird and shitty thing lol 

 

As you mentioned, if I'm in the zone, the recording just gets done in a few takes at max. It feels like I'm put on a spot to get it perfectly right when I'm being recorded. Have a click track on and there I am crumbling into pieces.  lol

 

In the case of a live performance, I'm not so bothered about getting it exactly right but instead am focused on the emotion. I think it's an important and under rated skill to have to be able to direct the right thoughts and state of mind whether you're on the stage or in the studio.

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4 hours ago, Mahesh said:

 

In the case of a live performance, I'm not so bothered about getting it exactly right but instead am focused on the emotion. I think it's an important and under rated skill to have to be able to direct the right thoughts and state of mind whether you're on the stage or in the studio.

 

Producing the right mood/emotion for the music is something I cant do easily. Fortunately I am not the principle singer, nor a front man.

 

I know how to project energy or produce a spirited performance. If we are unlucky enough to get an audience that is indifferent to the band, we will try harder to win them over. This usually creates another problem, if you try too hard, the performance becomes desperate. Intense but now its too intense. We haven't faced an audience like that for many years.

 

I have studied this phenomena in myself, my band and other artists. All professional artists know how to inject energy of course, but I've heard enough of them try too hard and corrupt the mood by being overly intense.

 

Very occasionally, if I have the opportunity,such as in an extended jam session (as a guitarist) I will not try to bring any mood nor energy to the music. This is deliberate. What I am trying for then is to find the mood after beginning playing. The reason is simple. When you step onto a stage and project energy straight away, its simulated energy. It sounds good, but it doesn't sound as good as naturally occurring energy or emotion. So when a begin to play, I am allowing the emotion to occur within the music. If it doesn't work, I will still have played competently. If it does work, it sounds much better this way.

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7 hours ago, Mahesh said:

As you mentioned, if I'm in the zone, the recording just gets done in a few takes at max. It feels like I'm put on a spot to get it perfectly right when I'm being recorded. Have a click track on and there I am crumbling into pieces.  lol

 

1. You don't practice with a click track, if you did this would be easier.

2. When you are used to playing without a click, you will find that emotion expresses itself in tempo dynamics as well as volume dynamics. It will immediately feel different when you rob it of one or the other. People who play with rigid timing would add tempo changes at the level of sections to help with the tempo aspect of expression... however, those who are not used to using a click tend to go 1, 2, 3, 4, go... and the tempo is the same until the song end. So, as a solution, get used to practising with a click track that when appropriate uses tempo changes.

3. The notion of "Oooo this is for posterity!" has ruined many takes. One solution is to play the song several times and get a friend to click record without you knowing which take is being recorded. Not foolproof, but it can help.

4. Like Rudi's suggestion about thinking about breathing, this is the core of being "mindful". Try doing that with the click going, and then think about the emotional meaning of the song. Feel the words. Feel the melody. All with the click track going... and then just start. So what if your track has 5 minutes of silence at the front? That way, at least on your draft take, you can get in the zone.

 

On top of what we have spoken of before, David's advice is pretty good though for me I do think performance as a singer-songwriter, I rely upon practice to deal with most issues, including visual performance. It allows me to be comfortable on stage. When I haven't been, it tends to be because I am not comfortable with something. I want performances to be emotional, with an emotional dynamic, and that means me being connected to my own songs, and it means not being self-conscious about experessing feelings. It also means being practiced at shifting emotions through a set. It is something you can get good at with practice. What makes it easier is a set method to center you and move onto the next song. Breathing and closing your eyes helps... do it right at the beginning of your gig before you start. If you are practices doing this at hope you can get good at it. Take 10-15 seconds. Between songs you can do it in 5-10 intiially, but you really can get good at it with practice so that it doesn't require closed eyes and breathing... it is like a long blink and focused thought to put you in the zone for each song. Additionally, visualisation is a powerful factor. Closing your eyes initially is just to make it easier to visualise by cutting down on interference.

 

As you mentioned earlier, associating similar and current circumstance can help get you in the zone. So if a song is happy and upbeat, have some stored things that make you laugh and smile that you can picture. If a song is sad and introspective... have thoughts ideas, images that help evoke similar ball park feelings. Of course, feel the words that you sing, but getting in the ball park definitely helps you get in the right frame of mind for a specific song.

 

Lastly quick tip is to do with set structure. Think of emotional integrity. Have songs that flow together emotionally. Songs have highs and lows in intensity and variations of emotion too. So think of it like a roller coaster. You are the track designer. You need to get people from A to B. Each song is a different section of the track. If you arrange your set to match highs and lows, different emotions, then the number of pauses to let you center yourself is far less... if at all. Similarly, if you want to adapt your set to cope with audience mood, or sudden set extensions or cutting short, then thinking in terms of arranging set chunks of 2-5 songs is a good idea. It means you can quickly adapt your set without it causing too many issues. It also means that you are thinking about the journey you will be taking your listeners on... and that is not a bad thing! In general, sets start with relatively upbeat and energetic pieces, and end on more upbeat and more energetic pieces. Everything in between is a journey

 

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4 minutes ago, john said:

1. You don't practice with a click track, if you did this would be easier.

 

Quick question. What would be the difference between playing with at click track at say 120 bpm, and playing with a drum loop at 120 bpm? I never use click only anymore because using a drum loop is 1) the only time I'll be playing along with drums and 2) it makes me feel more of the actual music like there's a drummer there, rather than just a click. I've done both, and can do both, but using a click track metronome just seems … well … boring and unnecessary when you can play to drums expressing the same rhythm and keeping the same time you need.

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You are right that it can help with feel, but it can cause more issues with spill from your cans. Percussive sounds tend to cut through more, plus you have the issue that drums cover more frequencies so the spill can be a real pain. If you have decent close backed cans it is less of an issue.

 

The whole click track issue is only an issue on initial or draft takes, when recording 1+1 or bare arrangements etc.

 

Personally I use close backed cans and only use clicks on draft takes if I can. Otherwise I use the actual track drums. One thing i found useful when working with a drummer was to get the drummer to do a first beat of the bar closed hi-hat when he wasn't playing if doing multitrack overdubs. They could then be dropped for mix down. This was more to do with disliking various tried clicks and disliking a click per beat (which I kept for the intro).

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