Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Technical Magic in Music: The ADSR envelope

Hey guys ! I got my friend vocalist, who had earlier written the post : "Analog and Digital Recordings: Views, Misuses and The Present Context " , to write another one for me. And here it is! It might be a little bit technical stuff, but there's something for everyone to read on.

Rock singer Ian Gillan performing live with De...Image via Wikipedia

This content is basically for all the musicians but especially for the vocalists out there. I'm going to discuss about the sound envelope i.e. the modulation and various changes a sound faces while traveling . The sound envelope contains 4 major components, which are-

1. Attack
2. Decay
3. Sustain
4. Release

1. Attack- A Sound starts from attack. The attack time is very quick and It is the time when the amplitude of the sound reaches the peak level.

2. Decay- During decay time, the amplitude of the sound drops quickly.

3. Sustain-Its the time when the amplitude and the harmonics of a sound are maintained. This is the time where you get to hear the actual depth of the sound.

4. Release- During release time, the harmonics and the amplitude gradually decrease and audibility is lost.

Well, now that were just the technical parts.

Now just take out your guitar and play any open string once. You will observe that the note stays for a time and then it gradually decreases. In technical terms, an open string has greater sustain and release time. Similarly if you play a muted guitar you will find that the attack time is greater than the sustain time.

Now its time to give some advice to the vocalists.
Just make your mind clear with the ADSR envelope first. Now when you are singing, just increase your attack time and decrease you sustain time. This is how a vocalist shows his skills !

Let me tell you some songs which have got a high attack time. Listen to "Victim Of Changes" of Judas Priest. In the last part when he screams thrice, in that case the attack time is more than the sustain time and finally when he screams continuously for 5 seconds, in that case it has got high attack and sustain time but a very short release time.

One more song in which you have a similar attack and sustain time and less release time is "Child In Time" of Deep Purple. Basically attack time is more in high pitch screams.

Now its your time to do experiments with ADSR. Try to make various changes with your vocals by increasing or decreasing the time limit of any of these four components. Its really easy ! Just changing a fraction of a second of any of these components will bring out something new and this is how you can show your skills and create your own style of Vocals !

My best wishes to all budding Vocalists! Keep singing guys !

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classicrockforthesoul said...

Very interesting post. I only wish I could carry a tune.
I try anyway though and it's not exactly the prettiest thing you've ever heard! ;)

bearockr said...

Hey classic, Don't worry about your Vocals, I might be even worse than you ! Whenever someone asks me to sing, I kinda start giggling in between the song ! That's why I ask my friend to write posts related to Vocals and related stuff, because he's really a great vocalist, trust me !