Author Topic: Singing 101  (Read 18157 times)

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Offline Tourniquet

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Singing 101
« on: November 09, 2010, 06:05:01 pm »
Singing questions continue to crop up every now and then so I'm pulling all the singing resources together in one post that can be referred to. I'll add to it as things occur (If anyone wishes to add to it they are welcome, i'll edit submissions into the main body

Singing 101
It's not uncommon for people to dislike the sound of their own voice when they first hear it recorded whether speaking or singing. It only takes a little effort to get past this. As with the guitar, improvement comes with correct practice.

A few links to vocal coaching courses that have free video content (may require registration, but the content is good)
http://www.aussievocalcoach.com/
http://singingsolutions.com/
http://aapproach.com/free-lessons/

and a few links to text courses
http://www.voicelesson.com/html/lessons/free_lessons.htm
http://www.vocalist.org.uk/voicetraining.html

Getting the best out of your voice
Drink plenty of water
Relax, singing in the morning when you are rested will produce better results than late at night when you're tired or tense
Warm up by singing or humming scales
Never ignore pain

Vocal registers
It's important to recognize that there are several vocal registers, each with it's own range and tone
Vocal fry: The lowest register which is characterized by a clicking sound due to the low frequency. most vocal coaches seem to discourage regular use of this register.
Modal: This register is also used for speech.
Falsetto: High pitch and quite thin, it's commonly used by men when trying to talk mockingly like a woman.

Chest voice/Head voice: Not registers but where the sound chiefly reverberates.



Finding your vocal range and using the guitar to compare pitch

 6th string       5th string       4th string
E---------------  ---------------  -------0-------
B---------------  -------1-------  -----0---0-----
G---------------  -----0---0-----  ---1-------1---
D-------3-------  ---2-------2---  -2-----------2-
A---0-3---3-0---  -3-----------3-  ---------------
E-1-----------1-  ---------------  ---------------

Play the mini scale on the guitar and sing the notes along with it. when you finish a scale successfully, increase all of the notes by one fret and start again
Start with the 6th string until you've increased it to the 7th fret on the Low E. when you finish that one move onto the 5th string pattern and repeat until you reach the 6th fret. finish that and move onto the 4th string pattern, repeat until you run out of frets.

this covers almost 4 octaves so don't be surprised if the lows and/or highs are out of reach. don't push your voice for them either, if a note is out of reach go no further and consider that the end of your range.
This exercise will first off help you find your range. done with regularity it should also strengthen your voice and extend it over time.

for reference the first fret on the B string is Middle C and the guitar covers most of the approximate human voice range going from E2 to E6 (on a 24 fret guitar)

Matching your vocal range to the song
You should have two ranges, one you are comfortable in and one you are not.
it is down to you to be honest with yourself when you become uncomfortable.
Once you know your comfortable range you need to find the vocal range of the song. if you can follow the vocal melody on the guitar it should become apparent what the lowest and highest notes are and how many octaves (if any) it covers.

If for example your comfortable vocal range is C3-C4 and the song ranges D4-D5 dropping the key by a whole tone and the vocal by an octave should put you right.
if the song has a greater range than you can manage comfortably, you can try going a little further, just don't push it too far.

Vocal range in comparison to musical instruments

http://images-mediawiki-sites.thefullwiki.org/08/3/8/8/5710768927378145.png

Recording
It's important to record yourself singing as the sound you hear in your own head is altered by vibrations. recording allows you to check up on your vocal tone and pitch

Singing while playing
Start with something simple that you know both the lyrics and music like the back of your hand... well enough that you don't need to concentrate on either vocals or rhythm and can concentrate instead on getting the two to fit together.
No matter how well you can play appreciate that you'll have to slow down your playing to make the initial connections.
You could also try recording your strumming and then sing over the recording,  it might help reinforce where the changes should fall with the vocals.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2011, 10:58:07 am by Tourniquet »
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Offline Paladin117

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 06:00:42 am »
Unless I can sing like Chris Cornell, I don't want to sing at all. There's no point.

Offline Tourniquet

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 08:52:19 am »
Can't say whether you have the potential to sing like him, but if you don't try you definitely won't.
       Road Case        Singing Primer guide

Offline flyhead

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 11:18:19 am »
Unless I can sing like Chris Cornell, I don't want to sing at all.
Chris Cornell couldn't always sing like Chris Cornell.

Offline Asjh89

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2010, 02:03:42 am »
Unless I can sing like Chris Cornell, I don't want to sing at all. There's no point.

I smell fear  8)




A few points about vocal development

When practicing melodic exercises such as:
Do Me Re Fa Me Sol Fa La Sol Ti La Do, etc.
Do Re Me, Re Me Fa, Me Fa Sol, etc.
etc.
Its a good idea to keep your voice free of vibrato, you want to use vibrato intentionally. If you can't help but use vibrato then you need more practice.

When you're warmed up proper and you've gone through a few songs you want to try to sing loudly (shouting even) keeping every note at the same volume, just to develop tone and projection. When you can project easily start adding more dynamics, this could take a few months.


A technique, not necessarily a beginner's technique, for vocal strengthening is to try holding a note as long+loud+steady as you can. Do not try this for a few weeks after starting, it can easily throw your voice out, when you can sing for 2 hours though, that would be a time you could use it. This exercise should follow your regular warm up, try singing through a song or two as well, you want to be at 100%



I have a chronic infection in my bronchial tubes, so vocals come particularly difficult for me. However by warming up with 20 minutes of sulfeges and focusing on being deliberate with my voice I've found that I can avoid most of the irritation.
Even with a healthy throat the vocal chords are very fragile and you must treat it well to develop (past kareoke level aye?). All that really means is starting slowly - never skipping the warm up, and focusing on the moment.
10 minutes of long tones, 10 minutes of short tones, followed by a logical progression of songs (easy - mod - hard - mod - easy)

Break the songs down, master each piece and then master it together, hit every note deliberately. Not much to it really - just focus and have fun

Offline Paladin117

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2010, 02:11:11 am »
Can't say whether you have the potential to sing like him, but if you don't try you definitely won't.

I try every day.

Offline Asjh89

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2010, 02:25:28 am »

I try every day.

Every day for how many years?

Chris' singing displays discipline which he could only have gained after years of practice. His voice is well developed, he has good tone, good intonation, strong projection, and tight control over vocal ornaments.
It takes years to master any craft, and though I'm not particularly a fan of his, Chris is definitely a master at his craft.

Offline Paladin117

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2010, 09:21:36 pm »
Every day for how many years?

Chris' singing displays discipline which he could only have gained after years of practice. His voice is well developed, he has good tone, good intonation, strong projection, and tight control over vocal ornaments.
It takes years to master any craft, and though I'm not particularly a fan of his, Chris is definitely a master at his craft.

You think Chris Cornell sat around all day with a piano singing solfege? ahahaha

Offline Tourniquet

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2010, 09:51:54 pm »
No singer gets to the top of their game without some measure of practice or coaching.
It no more absurd than Hendrix, Clapton, Page etc plinking away on their guitars on day one like the rest of us.

It all takes practice.
       Road Case        Singing Primer guide

Offline Johnny Proxy

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 11:27:31 pm »
I once heard an interview with someone who was in the studio with Jimi Hendrix. He was telling about how Jimi was ashamed of his own voice and had to sing behind a cardboard barrier at times so nobody could see him. I wish I still had those interviews. Had an amazing unreleased rehearsal of Angel on it where instead of singing "Angel came down from heaven yesterday, stayed with me just long enough to rescue me" he sang "stayed with me just long enough for afternoon tea."

What makes a good singer really though? Somehow I don't think Jimi or Neil Young would have made it past auditions on American Idol. On the other side of that coin, I don't think and American Idols will be heard on the radio in 100 years from now.

Offline Tourniquet

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2010, 11:53:17 pm »
What makes a good singer really though?

The qualities of a good singer can be easily defined. Accurate pitch, interesting tone, strong resonance and an appreciation of how best they can use their voice.
The qualities of a great singer are less easily defined.
       Road Case        Singing Primer guide

Offline licksnkicks

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2010, 03:41:21 am »
Do you really think that a frog can turn into a princess?  I really sound like a frog that croaked and is almost dead.  I honestly don't think I have the potential.  When I go around do my "womanly" chores like cooking, laundry and crap to boot I sing and everyone says don't sing pulleeze!  It's really annoying they say!

With all the negativity surrounding my vocal renderings it leaves me with no confidence at all!
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Offline flyhead

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2010, 08:39:13 am »
Neil Young, Bob Dylan and JJ Cale all have voices which would disqualify them as 'good' singers by TB's definition. Billie Holliday had a range of barely an octave. They are all arguably 'great' singers. 'America's Got Talent' is full of ostensibly 'good' singers, yet they are generally simply dreadful to listen to.
Technique is an important part of being able to sing but it doesn't always trump musical intuition or character. One needs to find and develop one's own expression, given the flaws and restrictions that limit technical ability.

Offline Paladin117

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2010, 02:15:11 am »
Neil Young, Bob Dylan and JJ Cale all have voices which would disqualify them as 'good' singers by TB's definition. Billie Holliday had a range of barely an octave. They are all arguably 'great' singers. 'America's Got Talent' is full of ostensibly 'good' singers, yet they are generally simply dreadful to listen to.
Technique is an important part of being able to sing but it doesn't always trump musical intuition or character. One needs to find and develop one's own expression, given the flaws and restrictions that limit technical ability.

I agree with everything you said. Bob Dylan is one of my favorite singers.

But back to Chris Cornell: I never implied he didn't practice. Obviously he did. But what's more likely than him singing scales along with a piano is him singing along to Led Zeppelin records.

Offline jimiclaptoncarl

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Re: Singing 101
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 05:39:41 am »
Interesting topic.  ;)

I agree with TB's definition of a good singer, however I meet all those requirements and I would not consider myself a "good" singer. 

There are just some people who have voices that are meant to sing.. that it's pleasant to listen to.

Everyone CAN sing, whether or not they are good at it, is a different matter. 
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