Try Singing into these 6 Instruments

July 3, 2018 | By David Bawiec, Spire Contributor

guitar hole

Sometimes all you want is a nice, clean recording of your voice. Spire Studio can do that for you and then some! But on occasion, you may want to take things further and create a truly unique and original sound.

In a recent article, I showed you five unusual places to record with Spire Studio. But what if you want to go deeper than that? Here we’ll explore the various ways you can sing into musical instruments to create unique new sounds.

What you'll need

As any recipe, let's go over what you'll need first.

  • You already have the first ingredient with you at all times: your voice
  • An instrument you want to sing into (more about this in a bit)
  • Spire Studio to record yourself

Why would you want to sing into an instrument? Most instruments have interesting shapes that are built to resonate and create sound. By singing into an instrument rather than just playing it, we'll be able to make use of its unique acoustic properties to create a new effect with your voice.

How do you go about finding the right instrument(s)? There is no right or wrong sound. It's all about what you're trying to create! So experiment with the instrument, where you're singing into, mic placement, and the space you're recording in.

1. Guitar

This one will probably the easiest instrument to find. Whether you own one, or a bandmate does, grab an acoustic guitar. You want one with a hollow body. Why? You’ll be singing into the opening in the guitar. The hollow body is naturally resonant, so you’ll be trying to make use of that and letting your voice resound in it. Depending on how close to the guitar strings you may be singing, those may vibrate as well creating some secondary ringing as well.

grand piano

2. Grand Piano

A piano will amplify your voice even more. If you can get your hands on a grand piano, awesome! If not, an upright piano will do as well. The body of a piano consists of wood and metal, both of which are meant to amplify and help resonate the sounds produced within.

The cool thing is that all the strings inside will also resonate with your voice. Different strings will resonate depending on the pitches you’re singing. So open up the flap on the piano and sing right into the instrument. Experiment with where you want to place yourself. How does it sound when you sing closer to the higher notes vs the lower notes? How about closer or further? How does it all sound depending on where you place your Spire Studio or microphone (inside the instrument or outside)?

tuba

3. Tuba

This one may be a tricky one to get access to. But ask around if you need to. You’ll be surprised to discover that possibly one of your friends may actually own a Tuba (or know someone who does).

Tuba is the largest instrument of the brass family. This all-metal instrument works by blowing air into a special mouthpiece. The air then resonates throughout the instrument and comes out highly amplified the other end (through the large bell). Since the mouthpiece is tiny, singing into it probably won’t do much for us. So we’ll try something different: sing into the actual bell of the instrument. It should give a nice brightness and metallic shine to your voice. Play around with how close or far you and microphone are to get the desired effect.

snare drum

4. Snare Drum

A snare drum can be found in every standard drum set. It’s one of the basic components, so ask your band’s drummer for help on this one. The cool thing that differentiates a snare from any of the other drums is a series of metal wires hanging at the bottom of the drum (called snares). For the most part, the snares are pulled tight so they don’t create much of a sound. But depending on the style of playing, they can be let loose, which lets them rattle with every drum hit.

Try singing into the top of the drum and see how it sounds. Try the bottom of snare drum and compare the effect. Find the perfect spot that achieves what you’re looking for.

cajon

5. Cajón

Spanish for “box,” this percussive instrument is literally a box that you sit on and play with your hands. Frequently used in Latin styles of music, it’s also great for acoustic lounge sets. Although originally the instrument is nothing but a hollow box with an opening in the back, many modern editions have strings, rattles or snares mounted inside to create an additional buzz sound.

Since the cajón has a circular opening on the back, try singing into that opening. Depending on the cajón type, your voice will either be resonating in an enclosed wooden box (giving it a bit of a muffled sound) or it may also push the strings/rattles/snares into vibration giving your voice this extra zing.

large drum

6. Large drum

The final contender on our list is a large drum. Call up your band’s drummer again and borrow the kick drum or a floor tom from their drum set. If you have a friend that plays in an orchestra, see if you can gain access to a large orchestral bass drum (one of those huge drums that are usually hit only a handful of times in the most dramatic moments of an orchestral piece), or maybe even a taiko (large Japanese drum).

In either case, you’re dealing with an instrument that is large and hollow, has a lot of space for sound to resonate in, and is covered by two membranes. These membranes will vibrate as you sing onto them. Kick drums frequently have an opening on the back, so you can try singing into that, that way your voice directly reaches the center of the drum and has the chance to resonate more inside. Try different things to see what gives you a neat sound.

vince-gaspar-506058-unsplash

Be bold

This list could go on, but instead, I will stop here and let your imagination do the creative thinking onward. There really is no wrong way to do this. You’re going for creating something unique and cool sounding. So grab any instruments you can get your hands on and think of unusual ways of using them. Have you thought of singing into a cowbell? Or a harmonica? As always, be brave, be bold, and experiment. You never know what may end up producing an interesting sound.