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    • Hi, All.  Its late, so just a short post for now.  Here is some of my perspective on your topic. Given a choice in the matter,  singers choose the vowels that are consistent with they way they conceive the song should be done, that is, consistent with their musical and aesthetic choices for it.  It does not matter if they have been trained in a genre, or just grew up with it, the statement still applies. The issues come when a vowel choice which is perfectly reasonable for one range, does not work well in another.  For the male voice, singing lower fundamental notes, there are very many harmonics above that fundamental that fall within the bandwidth of the vowel resonances (R1, R2 and to lesser extent, R3).  The higher harmonics will also be amplified if the singer has 'twang' or 'singing formant' in the voice, which have their own, relatively constant bandwidth. As the scale is sung in an upward direction, the harmonics become farther apart, and fewer of them align well with the vowel resonances.  While this changes which harmonics are amplified by the resonances, the perception of the vowel does not change... we still hear 'ah', for the most part, if the posture of the vocal tract remains stable.  Any change in the posture (larynx height, pharynx dilation, tongue hump position, jaw drop, lip shaping) will move the resonances around.  Some of these changes do not change the perception of the vowel (heard 'ah') but are an ah produced with a different vocal configuration that arguably be called a different 'sung ah'.   Such an ah, even though different, can be more appropriate for the aesthetic of the song, or may be inappropriate in the singer's and listener's experience. Now, as to the reasons for considering modified vowels from an aesthetic point-of-view. Some note/vowel combinations are not very resonant, because few of the harmonics of the fundamental fall advantageously in the bandwidth of the vowel resonances.  This is especially true for voices without twang or ring.  However, because the listener's ear is very accepting and appreciative of resonant vowels, and 'hears' the words intended even though the singer has shaded a vowel slightly darker or lighter, those modified vowels can work in performance: they can be heard, are easier to do, and they are thrilling to experience.  As to what vowel is 'best' for a given syllable on a given note.... that goes to the artist's aesthetic and expressive intent.  How they achieve what they want is what guides their technique, and different singers make different choices based on the aspects of their physical instrument, and how they have decided to 'play' it. Best Regards, Steven Fraser          
    •      I agree with KillerKu and Felipe also...It is not that you are "Trying" to sound emotional, Yes, there are things you can do to help it adding a little sob or distortion in certain areas or sing softer or louder when called for.  but rather knowing the song and the story, just let it play out in your imagination while singing can help, especially if you have been in a similar situation.     You can practice your soft soulful voice or harsh one, or listen back to your recordings and decide to hold a note a little longer or shorten it for effect. But I would still reflect on how I would speak in a similar situation to give me ideas.      It is also that you would not need to reflect every time you sang that song, once you settled on the approach practice it enough that it becomes what you do when you sing it. There are some words where one syllable in a word may be strong and the next syllable almost whispered. That is also the same thing that happens when you are emotional.  Certain points are stressed and others weak. It is not latching onto a certain sound and sticking to that because you are singing a sad song. The tempo and phrasing of words are also different when in different emotional states. They are pretty much universal when you study them. Emotional delivery CAN be crafted and it is part of a good composition.   Edit.....You cannot tell me that she was not visualizing that night  while singing this.........
    • Another thing with Ray, is he was known to cry on stage: I think he really embodies being able to channel sincere catharsis into music and have it connect. I think the key is spontaneity of the emotion and whether the musicality of the performance is enticing. When the emotion in question is premeditated before hand and strategically displayed at a pre determined interval/duration it becomes something else, like if Ray was instead thinking, "in about 10 seconds at the middle of the saddest part of the verse, I'm going to cry," that would be very different. For this kind of performance, crying is just one of many feelings that can come and go while expressing the performance, there is no premeditation as to when or why. It is the result of expressing the sound he hears in his head and emotion he was feeling at that moment in time.
    • That complex vowel is exactly the way I teach it, when I have to use vowels as examples because they're not able to "move the vowel with the pitch as it goes deeper into the soft palate." That's a bit of an oversimplified way to say it, but I think I already explained it.
    • lol....timely video posted
    • I kind of agree with Felipe but almost from the opposite angle. What makes an emotion seem so contrived is the absolute monotony of it. Like if someone makes a an 'angry' song, so every word should sound, angry, every guitar part should be played 'angrily.' It sounds fake to me. Where the sincerity comes through is emotions are not one dimensional. Even if a tonal center of a song might be anger there is room for mockery, sarcasm, bitterness, disaffection, flippancy, disillusion, frigidness, a loss of empathy, deadpanning, scheming, seething, and hundreds of other ways for anger to manifest. It's not a single timbre, it is thousands.   Someone trying to dial in some kind 'consistency' in their emoting, for me just sounds fake. It's like if someone got into a heated argument with me but was trying to maintain an 'angry timbre' for every syllable of each word word just to make sure I knew they were 'properly emoting.' I'd laugh.   But it's the same with sadness or any other emotion. Emotions are unstable and multifaceted. Spontaneous and in the moment. When emoting comes across as one dimensional it comes across as 'acting,' manipulative, and insincere. When the emotion is allowed to grow and change organically to encompass the singer's present emotional state, in the moment, it comes across as more sincere. Ray Charles articulated it better than most: But now if I can wrap myself up in that song, and when that song gets to be a part of me, and affects me emotionally, then the emotions that I go through, chances are I’ll be able to communicate to you. Make the people out there become a part of the life of this song that you’re singing about. That’s soul when you can do that.[1] You take a song like Georgia, I’ve sung it thousands of times. But what happens is when I sing something, I never ever sing it the same way twice. And that’s not because I’m trying to be different, but it’s because I sing according to what I feel that night. Every day of our lives we feel different. You don’t feel the same way today as you felt yesterday - you may come close, but there is a little difference, and what difference there is, makes the difference. Now there are a lot of manufactured songs and you don't need much emotional sincerity to sell or market a product. You can have a near naked woman lip syncing the same pre recorded audio thousands of times, it sells fine. But the prosody thing is real. It's a different kind of listener looking for it and a different kind of artistry.
    • I think emotion is contagious. Personally, I have a hard time singing a song that's not my own because I have less of a connection to it, but that doesn't mean someone else won't have a stronger connection to it as the listener rather than performer.  What Felipe is talking about is pretentious to me as well, or overacting. It's one thing to lose yourself in the music/song, giving permission for others to do the same, but something entirely different to try to amplify that emotion through actions and emphasis. I think that desire for emotional amplification is where the rest of the band, other performers, wardrobe, staging, lights, and other visuals come into play. But even then, not to pretentiously amplify, rather to support it and assist.
    • Have you ever seen someone on the TV shedding tears when singing a super sad song, with sad lyrics, and sad melodies, and sad backings, all so sad. With a sad lighting perhaps? A live catharsis. Did you buy into it? Would you care watching the guy crying his ass for a few hours in a show? Or did it look pretentious and over the top? I like to think of movies. Compare a good horror movie, something like the first Alien movie or The Shinning with some random trash horror title, where people are all around screaming about how scared they are and you can see these carefully crafted monsters in all their rubberish splendor? One presents a situation, a (*auto edit*) up situation, but its still just a situation without making a point of TELLING you to be scared of it. Its a setting where you can easily picture yourself in the place of one those people, and then you will not just feel scared, but also curious, etc. The other... The other is all about telling you how scary the movie is, weird monsters everywhere, bad actors dying all the time, just an overwhelming display of things that should be scary, but that leave no room for YOU to fit in, so it becomes a mockery. I am not saying it is simple or to "not feel it", but I think we need to draw a line specially when attempting to make others "feel what you feel". This just won't happen, you won't transmit your emotions through the mic cable. People can UNDERSTAND that you are feeling something, sure, but this isn't much. How many people complain about their life in a rather emotional way and are just annoying instead of entertaining? Instead I believe that using the music well, with a nice interpretation line, and not overdoing on stating the same thing repetitively, could make even indiference be part of a good experience: the listener just does not need to share your feelings. Example: If you are the bad guy on a musical, and you are dying in agony, it can very well be a satisfacting moment. And if you try to hint that, it can very well spoil it. One of the tools, probably the most powerful one, is using Tension and Release as Rob mentioned. You create patterns, which will become expectations, which then you can either fulfill (release) or surprise (tension). This can happen on the context of the harmony, rhythm, melody, phrasing style, dynamics, vowels used and even the emotions you want to show. Without this movement, even the most emotional performance will probably just sound cheesy.
    • No, do not add delay or "echo" to your practicing, but it is ok to do so when you are working on your songs. Do it lightly. Set the rate of the delay to the tempo of the song as well so that it adds an additional element to the pulse and groove of the song. If you set the delay to a tempo that does not fit the song, it can create noise. Delay is a rhythmic entity, so use it as such.  If your quarter beats are 100 BPM ( beats per minute ) , then it is advisable to set the delay rate at 100 BPM. Now your delay is not conflicting with your song and actually adding to the groove. Anyways, don't use it when practicing. When practicing, just use a little bit of reverb, thats fine.
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