Recording music… Letting go of recognition, perfection and stepping into the YES

Recording music… Letting go of recognition, perfection and stepping into the YES

Recording music… Letting go of recognition, perfection and stepping into the YES

Working as a choir, voice and workshop leader in the UK I have sung, written and performed songs and music for most of my life. When on sabbatical in Australia, I co-wrote an upcoming album with a close friend who lives there. We chose an Australian producer to work on the album, however world Covid events unfolded and recording vocals at home in my own studio rather than travelling to Australia ended up being the order of the day.

Initially I thought great, I can do this! I ordered the equipment and cabling I needed but after it arrived, every time I thought about getting down to it I felt my body contract and heard a barrage of discouraging thoughts whirling around. Knowing there was more to explore, I booked some singing sessions with amazing soul singer Carola Woods, got stuck in … and this was what unfolded…

Simply committing to being honest about what I was feeling, and then singing with that honesty exposed so much. I saw that when singing I was still looking for validation and recognition from the outside, despite the fact that this is very contrary to what I deeply know to be true – that nothing outside of ourselves can ever make us whole. I saw that I was still holding pictures around producing the perfect sound, phrase or take, not just to get the recognition I was seeking, but also to live up to a ‘perfection’ of musical standards I thought I 'should' meet. I felt the discomfort of realising it's often viewed as 'normal' to have these kinds of anxieties. But is it?

Since the sessions, rather than striving to ‘get it right’ (the normal way of practising), I have instead been developing a deeper connection within myself: tuning into a natural sense of fullness and sensitivity that has always been with me, but that I have not always allowed myself to fully feel. Aligning with this true inner-sense of myself, the essence of my Soul, allows my body to open up to the true power of what is waiting to come through. And come through it does!

Saying YES to what feels good, nourishing and alive and NO to what doesn't – namely the negative thoughts and pressures that try to come in – is a loving choice. It is saying NO to the torment and agitation of aiming for perfection, YES to allowing the wisdom of my heart, body and voice. And the beauty of the quality that comes through speaks for itself.

Recording vocals in this way is a simple process (not to mention radical for a long-time perfectionist). It's also quicker because I've stopped letting myself do the unnecessary fifty-nine takes – after two or three takes I'm often done. I might come back to a song another time if I feel to, and if I do then there's something more to bring next time, but when I record a take and I feel a sense of expansion in my body, it is this that confirms the essence of the song; I’m learning to trust that. This sense of expansion is like an energetic YES moment that shows me I’m in the flow. I'm letting go of the illusion of the 'perfect take', because in truth there's just what is given to express in that moment. I'm also learning to let go of judgement of any so-called ‘out of tune’ notes.

What is an ‘out of tune’ note anyway? In the music world, any sound that does not vibrate at the same frequency that has been decided for the notes we call ABCD etc is ‘out of tune’. In the world of professional singing, there is a small allowance of singing either side of that note – a bit ‘sharp’ or a bit ‘flat’ – but it is tiny given that most singers are not able to sing right in the centre of the vibrational frequency of a note. In pop music, most singer’s voices are highly auto-tuned before albums are released (sometimes when they sing live too), and in the operatic world singing out of tune is an absolute disgrace. There is a very alive and kicking attitude in the music world that getting it ‘right’ as per these musical standards makes you a ‘better’ musician/person: over the years, I myself indulged in many conversations on the topic with fellow musicians, thinking it was fair game. But essentially, I now realise that we are very highly programmed to accept idealised sound (and performance) over vibrational quality.

And what about vibrational quality? Do we stop to feel what quality a singer is singing in? Whether they are emotional, stressed, needy, seeking adulation through being perfect? And if they are, what impact does that have on themselves, the performers around them and the listeners they perform to? Do we even give it any consideration? Whether performing or listening, we have made music about chasing an idea of perfection that completely discounts the deep inner sensitivity of the body, what it is feeling and receiving and what this is telling us about what is really going on in the world around us. We have made the production of idealised sounds more important than the voice of our inner-most beingness.

When we sing in connection to our heart and body, saying yes to our inner-sense, everything that comes through us in that YES moment contains the exact quality that is needed to communicate the essence of the song. Because of the programming we have been under, it is a learning process to say NO to how the world of music has become more about the drive to produce perfect idealised sound and/or the ‘perfect’ performance and YES to music being about the quality of vibration. Now, I can feel that the quality of how I sing is, in truth, more important than what I sing. Or to put it in the bigger context of life, how I do life is more important than what I do. I have a responsibility to hold and communicate that truth and therefore to fully let go of the ideal of perfection – not just for myself but because what I produce has an impact on others.

Being honest, raw and saying YES to the true essence of our voice allows us to be ‘in tune’ with a deeper truth, which in turn allows magic to unfold. Singing from a place of striving for recognition or perfection cannot deliver the fullness of beauty and wisdom that we all are in truth – and potentially imposes that same compressing energy onto the listener.

Put simply, if we take care of the quality of the how – how we live, love, feel, speak and sing – then what we produce, which carries the living imprint of the quality of all of that we are and connect to, falls beautifully and naturally into place.

Bringing vibrational responsibility into the world of music is an eye-opener that enriches life so deeply – and from that place why would any of us want to promote the stresses of the false world of idealised sound? Perhaps a question worth asking is: how would it be to live in a world where we express and reflect to each other the beauty and wisdom that we truly are in every sound we make?

Filed under

ConfidenceEnergy in musicMusicians

  • By Anonymous

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.