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Who Are You

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Who are you?

One of my favorite songs by the Who, of course. But also a question to get to the heart of why we are here and what do we want.

I have often applauded others for singing in their own voices. And that certainly has a lot to do with my mental make-up. Many is the singer and singing teacher who admire and desire to emulate a favorite singer or singers. So, right off the bat, I don't disagree with picking up style and effects, whatever you can, from other singers. I find that I can do the tight vibrato that Colin Hayes does. But I don't do it on every song because I don't desire to do so. So, for me, it is a comfortable balance. I sing a few Men at Work songs in my own voice but with some of the stylings of the original singer. The parts I want to incorporate.

And there are accepted examples of singers doing a song in their own voice without trying to sound like the original. Sheryl Crow's version of "Sweet Child of Mine" has become iconic, in it's own right and there are countless young ladies on youtube doing her version, not trying to channel even a little bit of Axl Rose. And I find it quite good, even though I am a fan of the original. In fact, it was the original, when I was listening to it in 1988, that inspired me to concentrate more fully on my voice. So much so, that I changed my perspective of myself. I was no longer a guitarist who could sing but instead, a singer who plays guitar. To me, that distinction was important.

Even while not trying to sound like Axl. But I was inspired by the power of the voice and that is what I sought out. But it was not my desire to sound like Axl Rose or be mistaken for him while singing. And really, my favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. Totally enthralled with the whole band, not just Robert Plant. To me, the whole secret of the band is jazz. Again, without wanting to match Plant's timbre exactly, I sought to sing the songs with the same feeling and power. And I have been successful in doing that, even though I do not sound like Plant.

Nor do I think it is me being lazy or not wanting to work at incorporating enough of someone's style. To the contrary, I think I have altered some covers of other songs by Led Zeppelin-izing them, if that can be a word or phrase. A little too much slinky jazz and high-end pyrotechnics.

And when I applaud someone singing in his own voice, I am not applauding faults or failings. Nor am I eschewing training or making changes. But, in the same breath, I think it helps to define what is desirable or not. And I accept my own limitations.

I worship no man. And have an ego. I want to be valued for my own voice. Which leads to the question, I know, ron, what if your voice is not valued? :-) What if your singing stinks no matter how much you try to "validate" it? Well, there is that, I suppose. Which puts me in the same club as Bon Scott, as far as being unique and being an "outlaw." He had a very small range. No singing lessons. The weirdest tone. You could never mistake him for an opera singer. He would have butchered most ballads. He could not dance. Watching him jerk on stage was like watching an epileptic fit. No wonder he couldn't make it in glam rock, which he was trying before answering an invitation from the Young brothers.

Where he found a niche for his own voice.

On the other side, you may admire a singer and wish to have those sounds in your voice. You won't get it by wishing for it. You have to experiment and keep going until you get the elements.

Go ahead and ask me how I get the tight vibrato like Colin Hayes. I don't know exactly. Like Phil would suggest, I just listened a lot. Though I can say this about it; you have to control the exhalation. If you push a lot of air, you will not get it. You have to take the "load" off of the larynx. You will have to use resonance to get your volume. And just keep messing with it until you get it. And I would suggest starting at a comfortable pitch. And, let it happen later in the note, rather than at the onset. It works better, I think, if the note is already in motion.

If you want that. If you don't, that's fine. And I don't think you, in general, are any less of a singer because you don't seek that one thing. For I don't assume that what I want to do with singing is the model for everyone.

We maybe talking about style coaches, though you should seek one that teaches basic singing, as well. But first, go ahead and define what you want to do and then seek it.

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