Connection to the performing artist – a sense that the artist personally aims at the listener

How many times have you listened to a song and had a feeling of “he is singing for me now”?

Well, I bet all of us have had that moment more than once and with more than one artist. I know, this feeling might be emphasized, exaggerated or more easily being aware of under substance use, but this happens all the time regardless of this.

Apart from the more obvious lyric that one might feel is written based on his personal life (A value we’ll talk about soon), there is a kind of special quality to certain performing artists. Something that is kind of hard to explain or execute, it is like being a worthy front man, it separates the ordinary artists from the ones that influence generations.

The funny thing is that it’s actually the opposite of one might think: How am I going to get attention from a large number of listeners if I am not aiming for the masses? As you might know from reading my previous posts, certain artists and certain genres do create a sense of collectivity and mass appeal. They do get the attention of the masses –  but there is a limit for the time frame they may be appropriate for, considering the listeners’ age and status, the time of the year, the ongoing trend and a lot of other things. As an alternative artist, it is harder to find that spot, but when found, the emotional connection with the listeners may stay strong and relevant throughout their life.

Why does an artist need such a personal approach? Well, an artist that can create a sense that he personally aims at the listener, and doing it sincerely, the listener may feel a sense of equality with the artist. This is also crucial for being a role model – as you’ll notice, all artistic values I talk about do connect in one way or another. When the listener feels that the artist personally aims at him, he feels more emotionally open, as if he was in some conversation with the artist, that the artist understand his feelings when no other can. And please don’t try to find the connection with religion, faith or such, because there isn’t. This is purely emotional.

Again, if that wasn’t clear – a sincere emotional connection is what listeners seek when they look for a distinctive experience with a certain artist.

So how can we create this feeling you might ask…

I will also talk about is in the future when we go through important music production values, but, first of all – if you’re not aware of that value – you’ll never try to aim for it, are you? Being aware of that value is the first step. And don’t mix it with being aware of the performance while you sing. The majority of the performing artists I know only aware of how good they are perceived as performers, and while doing that, totally miss the point. Sounds familiar? If not, try one of the millions of abandoned artist pages on Myspace (when was the last time you actually logged in to your own personal page over there?).

The emotional connection with the lyrics is also a crucial element. If, as a performer, you can’t connect to the emotion the lyrics convey, trust the unprofessional ear of the listeners to unprofessionally and unconsciously point this out and refresh their You Tube page with something else.

You have to feel that you’re sharing your feelings with someone else. If you can’t do it in person, chances are that it will be hard for you to do it while recording your next single.

You have to know how to get close and intimate on the technical level also. Using dynamics, mic technique and unique, purposeful vocal expression all contribute to that special feeling the listener will have while listening to you.

That’s it for now, try to implement these ideas the next time you record a vocal track as a starting point. Have an objective professional listen and ask him if he feels some kind of a personal connection (as opposed to asking how technically good the vocals are). Then keep working and record more vocal tracks on more songs until you get that naturally. Hard work indeed, but it’s you who wanted to be the performing artist, songwriter, front man etc. and influence people. Everyone thinks that it’s easy but it’s not.

Can you tell me of an artist or a song where you got that personal feel, what was the ongoing personal situation, why you felt this way and did this emotional connection with that artist still exist today? Feel free to comment below. I know I have countless examples for this – for each one of yours I’ll give you one of mine… Deal.

2 thoughts on “Connection to the performing artist – a sense that the artist personally aims at the listener

  1. Radiohead in ok computer era (1997) times of getting to know my grown self… Digging deeper then I did up untill that album. Ok computer still effects me today, when I totally know myself. Radiohead are one of the most emotionally effective artists to me.. But I like to target that album as a deep/strong junction in my life.

    1. Thanks Oded,

      Even though it took me some time to connect to this album, I feel the same way as you.

      As I promised – If I need to give a more precise example (and I do), From this album I choose to take for instance “Exit Music (For A Film)”. The meaning of the lyrics aside, the feeling that Thom Yorke sings personally for someone is conveyed by a few elements.

      First of all – the vocal technique, attitude and dynamics which progress through the song, according to the lyrics. In the beginning, the vocals are soft, almost whispering and sung closely as if he sings next to your ear. Then they open more in the next sections until the last sections that he sounds as if he is shouting at you, then the soft warm emotion from the beginning change to uncertain feelings of insecurity and disappointment, as if you actually hurt him in some sort of way.

      Then there is another element – the depth of field that is created by long reverberation on the acoustic guitar and the vocals. The pre-delay on the vocal reverb separates the vocal from its reverb, making the vocal appear even closer and more intimate. That’s a bit too technical, but it sub-conciously affects the emotional value in this song by a high degree.

      Overall, it is the vocal expression that gives the unique personal emotional impression that might bring some people to tears (if you search well enough you will find people writing about that).

      There are more songs in this album that had an immense emotional impact on me, but for now this will do..

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