Covers are wonderful in so many ways. If you are a new artist, learning to take on a cover song challenges you to learn new material, and offers exposure for your originals. If you are a seasoned artist, adding covers to your routine can help you grow and define yourself as a musician, and give you a different perspective on songwriting.
I have been practicing the art of covering music since I heard my very first cover on YouTube in 2008. I was hooked instantly and wanted to try my own spin on my favorite songs in my own style. I’ve highlighted some things that I always keep in mind when starting a new cover:
Play at your own pace.
When beginning a new song, it’s important to remember to play at your own pace. Unless you are not completely comfortable and at ease with the tempo, you won’t be able to really focus on playing the cover at your fullest potential. In my own opinion, slowing down a fast song or speeding up a slow song usually makes for a more interesting experience for the listener! Check out this noticeably slower version of “Demons” by Gareth Bush & Morgan Kingdon.
Try a new rhythm or plucking pattern.
One of the best things about covering a song is that there aren’t any rules. This is your time to discover and experiment turning a piece of art into your own masterpiece. My advice is to feel the notes, try out new things, and maybe even add a few new chords to keep the listener excited. Your instrument(s) should really be a platform for the voice to follow its strong points, so feel free to bend the music to create opportunities for your voice to shine.
Utilize different instruments or vocal melodies.
When covering an acoustic song, why not try it with an electric guitar? How about covering a classic old rock song using a banjo? The sky is the limit, and remember that there are no rules! Set your creative energy free and perhaps try adding in some extra oooouus and aaahhhs to give the song an extra oomph in the choruses. I also find that experimenting with instrument selection when covering helps me to define the scope of my own songs.
Keep it exactly you.
Yes, experiment… Yes, be creative! But also remember to be comfortable.
You have to be completely at ease in order to feel the music and bring out the best in your singing and playing abilities. As long as you remember to perform the cover for yourself, just as you would like to listen to it, you’ll be embodying your version and creating the best-ever cover on YouTube before you know it!
Good luck, and happy covering!