Rhythm for a lot of singers can be pretty far down the list of priorities. It’s not typically thought of as essential and many singers have a “near enough is good enough” approach. But understanding what rhythm can do to the feeling of your performance can make all the difference. And for the world’s top vocalists and producers, this tends to be their best kept secret – rhythmic feel separates the sheep from the goats!
So firstly we need to understand what groove is. Sure, we have tempo, which defines the speed of our song, but groove looks to the finer elements of rhythm – where your phrase “sits” in reference to the instrumentation. When you get this right, it can really change the feeling of the end result.
So experiment with it. Firstly, make sure you’re singing in time. This sounds obvious but a lot of singers might start out a little loose with their rhythmic accuracy (I certainly did!). The best way to be sure is to use a metronome click (a phone app is perfect) and set the tempo at least a 3rd less than the original. You’ll soon notice if you’re pulling faster or slower and can correct. Once you’re secure with this, experiment (again slowly at first) with different placements. A good rock or upbeat pop song might be directly on the beat, whereas an R&B feel might be slightly behind. You can then get more adventurous, pulling further and further behind if you like. The key is to never slow down or speed up, but to stay consistent with your placement of the groove.
It might take a bit of getting used to but once you’ve nailed it, people will notice! Check out the video for some examples of different groove placements and also some stylistic tricks you can use to enhance it when you’ve found it. We promise you, your groove will make your body move!