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The James LaBrie Approach To Singing

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Oh, man!!  Those two songs are awesome to build finesse and coordination, and to actually train the hell out of your SINGING ability.

Personally, I feel a lot more touched by Disappear and when I sing it I get heavy goosebumps. It's a song that if you really like, it's very satisfiying to get down completely and learn all the nuances and stuff that give it that heavy nostalgic feeling. 
 

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20 hours ago, Robert Lunte said:

LeBrie, without the band behind him, would be a lot less soulful. 

Ron, if you don't get the band, then you don't get the mojo from LeBrie. 

If you think about it, many of these great singers are only as good, as their band. 

Would Steve Perry be as great as he is, without those songs to sing?

How about Bono?  Without that band behind, people wouldn't even know who he is.

Yeah, I have to admit even as a big fan of LaBrie, it's John Petrucci who is the face of Dream Theater. LaBrie doesn't really write many of DT's songs actually, if I recall correctly. A good song is a team effort with all the members of the band. Kind of like how the voice works!

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I thought Disappear sounded Octavarium-ish. Interesting!

ronws I would have picked Learning to Live to be the hit, as it is the most progressive, but I guess at over 11 minutes, it is a bit long. Then again that's what they said about Bohemian Rhapsody and look at what a massive hit that was.

So I created this thread mainly to talk about JLB's techniques, but I suppose you can't separate that and his style. The thing about lack of consonants, tongue, thinning out the voice, all valid points. Not everyone is going to like JLB and that's ok! But let's try to give him a little break too lol his songs are very difficult to sing and nobody is perfect

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Yes, he has a nice voice.

I guess it's a matter of what kind of singer or tone moves you. No right or wrong here guys.

It's good study to hear all these singer's and their nuances and flavors.

 

 

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Funny random story--I was out with some friends and we got to the topic of music. So I asked them what their favorite singers were. One said Justin Bieber. I chuckled a little bit inside. Another mentioned Ariana Grande...at that point I couldn't keep a straight face and let out an audible chuckle. 

Then they asked me what music I've been listening to, and when I said Dream Theater, they didn't know what I was talking about. 

I just find it interesting that we can talk about technique all day but a lot of it also comes down to marketing and whatever images the media bombards them with. 

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My brother was a big fan so I've seen Labrie twice in concert. I thought he sounded best on the Awake album. Neither of us can really listen to his newer stuff much and part of it is the auto tune bothers us. But he's very honest and a good person. 

http://www.jameslabrie.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=86a9b447823e2a469d5f31311dd5445a&topic=756.15

Quote

Hey All,

Let's get something straight. I do not use auto tune live. I have in the studio and post live recordings. This recording from Tokyo and any other live videos on youtube has not been auto tuned. So to those who don't believe it, sorry to bust your bubble but you are absolutely wrong. This and all the others are exactly as they went down.

Rock on,

James.

Overall, my tastes are more for singers that a bit more freewheeling. A lot of times in Dream Theater songs there will be a formula in the song that the vocal pattern will follow, the loud part, the quiet/sensitive part, and so forth and he tends to sing with a lot of consistency mirroring the modes of singing. I connect more with syllabic emoting. There is no loud part, no quiet part, one syllable a delicate whisper and the next a roar, with another being something totally different, depending on the current emotional state of the singer and what they're trying to communicate in a song. Al Green represents an ideal for me kind of singer who is just totally in the moment:

 

Every syllable of every word is inflected with 'immediacy' in emotional expression, timing, timbre, and emotion, it's syllable based. It's improvisational and very much in the moment. I think black singers really brought this kind of singing into popular culture. Blues in the early 1900s, jazz 1920s, soul in the 1940s pushing these qualities forward, where as a lot of the whiter traditions in music were more formulaic. I think the metal genre in general might be even more so than the rock genre to be more influenced by repeating formula than improvising immediacy.

Labrie is good, but I think I might relate to Bob there a bit with the verse/chorus just formula. Quiet part, sensitive part, loud part, belty part, rigidly separate parts of a song, think their composition style is more in that tradition than a more organic free flowing thing.

Once the vocals got tuned it got even more formulaic sounding for me. I don't know why he does it cause I don't think he needs it. When I saw him live, he seemed more 'immediate' and in the moment and I enjoyed it more, but even some of the live albums are getting 'tuned' and all that. His voice is good, he's good at using it. But if it was more like, screw tuning, screw part A, screw part B, just sing right now, straight from the gut, whatever seems the most sincere, right? Whooping, hollering, grunting, whispering, shouting, slurring, gritting your teeth, gnawing, wailing,  anything. For me one verse of a could be sad, hopeful, and irate. I can picture Ray Charles or Al Green singing just like that. With James it's better live, but it's still like the verse is the verse, the chorus is the chorus, etc. It's not bad, a lot of people like it. But it's not really my thing. Every syllable of every word can mean something different and doesn't need to conform to the song structure or whatever.

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20 hours ago, KillerKu said:

My brother was a big fan so I've seen Labrie twice in concert. I thought he sounded best on the Awake album. Neither of us can really listen to his newer stuff much and part of it is the auto tune bothers us. But he's very honest and a good person. 

http://www.jameslabrie.com/forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=86a9b447823e2a469d5f31311dd5445a&topic=756.15

Overall, my tastes are more for singers that a bit more freewheeling. A lot of times in Dream Theater songs there will be a formula in the song that the vocal pattern will follow, the loud part, the quiet/sensitive part, and so forth and he tends to sing with a lot of consistency mirroring the modes of singing. I connect more with syllabic emoting. There is no loud part, no quiet part, one syllable a delicate whisper and the next a roar, with another being something totally different, depending on the current emotional state of the singer and what they're trying to communicate in a song. Al Green represents an ideal for me kind of singer who is just totally in the moment:

 

Every syllable of every word is inflected with 'immediacy' in emotional expression, timing, timbre, and emotion, it's syllable based. It's improvisational and very much in the moment. I think black singers really brought this kind of singing into popular culture. Blues in the early 1900s, jazz 1920s, soul in the 1940s pushing these qualities forward, where as a lot of the whiter traditions in music were more formulaic. I think the metal genre in general might be even more so than the rock genre to be more influenced by repeating formula than improvising immediacy.

Labrie is good, but I think I might relate to Bob there a bit with the verse/chorus just formula. Quiet part, sensitive part, loud part, belty part, rigidly separate parts of a song, think their composition style is more in that tradition than a more organic free flowing thing.

Once the vocals got tuned it got even more formulaic sounding for me. I don't know why he does it cause I don't think he needs it. When I saw him live, he seemed more 'immediate' and in the moment and I enjoyed it more, but even some of the live albums are getting 'tuned' and all that. His voice is good, he's good at using it. But if it was more like, screw tuning, screw part A, screw part B, just sing right now, straight from the gut, whatever seems the most sincere, right? Whooping, hollering, grunting, whispering, shouting, slurring, gritting your teeth, gnawing, wailing,  anything. For me one verse of a could be sad, hopeful, and irate. I can picture Ray Charles or Al Green singing just like that. With James it's better live, but it's still like the verse is the verse, the chorus is the chorus, etc. It's not bad, a lot of people like it. But it's not really my thing. Every syllable of every word can mean something different and doesn't need to conform to the song structure or whatever.

This is  Killer, Killer...LOL

This is just greatness, that's all it is. 

 

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On 4/3/2016 at 5:03 PM, charstar said:

Funny random story--I was out with some friends and we got to the topic of music. So I asked them what their favorite singers were. One said Justin Bieber. I chuckled a little bit inside. Another mentioned Ariana Grande...at that point I couldn't keep a straight face and let out an audible chuckle. 

Then they asked me what music I've been listening to, and when I said Dream Theater, they didn't know what I was talking about. 

I just find it interesting that we can talk about technique all day but a lot of it also comes down to marketing and whatever images the media bombards them with. 

Reminds me of when Ted Nugent was a guest dj on Z-Rock ("we're harder than Mom's meatloaf!") A  young man called in and couldn't quite place Ted. So, Ted mentioned he was in the Amboy Dukes. Nothing. Then his solo career as the Motor City Madman. Nothing. Damn Yankees. "Oh yeah, okay, I know that band."

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I just saw them last night in Chicago.  James LaBrie was excellent.   They performed their "The Astonishing" rock opera from start to finish with one intermission.  They finished the European leg of the tour which gave James' voice some time to acclimate and strengthen with this material.  We sat 4 rows back from the stage to the right of Petrucci so we could see all facial expressions and nuances that you don't get from further back.  The theater was sold out.

This was - to me - the best DT concert I have ever seen, and I've seen many.  The music on this album is phenomenal.  The band has never been better.  

James performance ranges from soft head voice to lots of high belting - never missing a note or struggling.  And his stage performance is really cool.

If you have a chance to see them on this tour - do it.  They've taken it to a new level.

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You mean James can sing well in spite of having a choking accident with some food over 20 years ago? Wow, just waiting for someone to bring that up again, ad nauseum. It seems like the people that critique James' singing just regurgitate something they heard something else say.

True fact, one of our former members is friends with James LeBrie. And wanted to invite him to join the forum. Oddly enough, we were going through yet another "crap on laBrie" cycle about then. For some reason, he didn't want to join with so many armchair critiques weighing. Instead, he just worked on his singing and songwriting with DT. Crazy, huh?

 

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6 hours ago, gno said:

I just saw them last night in Chicago.  James LaBrie was excellent.   They performed their "The Astonishing" rock opera from start to finish with one intermission.  They finished the European leg of the tour which gave James' voice some time to acclimate and strengthen with this material.  We sat 4 rows back from the stage to the right of Petrucci so we could see all facial expressions and nuances that you don't get from further back.  The theater was sold out.

This was - to me - the best DT concert I have ever seen, and I've seen many.  The music on this album is phenomenal.  The band has never been better.  

James performance ranges from soft head voice to lots of high belting - never missing a note or struggling.  And his stage performance is really cool.

If you have a chance to see them on this tour - do it.  They've taken it to a new level.

That's great! I wanted to see Dream Theater in NYC last week but I was not in the area at that time. It must've been so cool to hear the story all the way through live.

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1 hour ago, ronws said:

You mean James can sing well in spite of having a choking accident with some food over 20 years ago? Wow, just waiting for someone to bring that up again, ad nauseum. It seems like the people that critique James' singing just regurgitate something they heard something else say.

True fact, one of our former members is friends with James LeBrie. And wanted to invite him to join the forum. Oddly enough, we were going through yet another "crap on laBrie" cycle about then. For some reason, he didn't want to join with so many armchair critiques weighing. Instead, he just worked on his singing and songwriting with DT. Crazy, huh?

It's really a shame how some people go about criticizing his voice.

It's one thing to provide a constructive view of your opinions in a more neutral manner, as I believe everyone in this thread has done. But to post some of the stuff that people do on other sites like YouTube is just shameful.

Not just with LaBrie, but other vocalists who maybe had an off night, you see some horrible comments. I would venture a guess that probably most of them have never sung a note in their life and have no idea what is involved in singing and how the voice fluctuates from day to day.

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On 28.3.2016 at 4:34 AM, charstar said:

I wonder if LaBrie has studied Italian before. The Italian "e" and "o" seem to be his favorite choices for vowels (just listen to his version of Oh Holy Night--those are everywhere). He tends not to close the diphthongs, so that may be why he sounds very open. A North American approach would probably be to use the "ay" (e + i in Italian) and "oh" (o + u in Italian) diphthongs. 

Those vowels (Italien e and o) are specifically the ones that can be used to thin out the folds while at the same time get the "belty" formant tuning. The North American diphtongs that are typically used in speech will be a lot more heavy and chesty and will make you hit a brick wall at some point in your range. In the high range you have to go more "Italian" with your vowels, but you have the choice to go for the open vowels (e, a, o) for a more belty sound or for the closed vowels (i, u) for a more covered sound.

On 28.3.2016 at 6:24 AM, Felipe Carvalho said:

Open vowels and falsetto from around G4 and up.

Be careful, you are daring the register discussion again :P But yes, it's exactly what he does imo (would just say M2 instead of falsetto). And this is also why he is going so strongly for open vowels because he needs the open formant tuning to have power in his M2 up there. M2 on closed vowels in the high range sounds a lot weaker because of the lacking formant energy.

Personally, I sometimes have trouble to identify if I'm in M1 or M2 when using those belty tunings in the high range. What I do to check is to sing the full diphtong and hold the second vowel, like OUUUUU or EYYYYYY. The closed vowel in the end will give the register away a lot more easily.

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9 hours ago, Jabroni said:

That's great! I wanted to see Dream Theater in NYC last week but I was not in the area at that time. It must've been so cool to hear the story all the way through live.

Yes it was.  The visuals with the movie playing in the background and the light show was phenomenal in itself.  Stunning visual effects that were totally integrated with the complex music - whoever "composed" the light show did an excellent job - right on par with the musicianship of DT.  

I was with two friends who weren't as familiar with the album as me ( 34 songs is a lot of music to listen to ).  But the show held everyone's attention to the very end - we were all hanging on to every moment.  

The entire performance - from dissonant passages to grippingly emotional melodies - was like music from a great broadway musical, like Les Miserable, Rent, or Phantom.  It would be really cool to see this music turned into broadway show some day.  There are a number of songs from this album that could be huge broadway hits.  The music is that good.

It will be interesting to see what DT does next.  I don't know how they will top this effort...  

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20 hours ago, Jabroni said:

It's really a shame how some people go about criticizing his voice.

It's one thing to provide a constructive view of your opinions in a more neutral manner, as I believe everyone in this thread has done. But to post some of the stuff that people do on other sites like YouTube is just shameful.

Not just with LaBrie, but other vocalists who maybe had an off night, you see some horrible comments. I would venture a guess that probably most of them have never sung a note in their life and have no idea what is involved in singing and how the voice fluctuates from day to day.

Yes, I've seen YT vids where they just love to point out or poke fun at every mistake.  Most of those people cannot sing.  Man, there was one where they just crucified Bobby Kimball to the point where Bobby Kimball posted and had no choice but to agree!  I tried to stick up for Bobby and they came after me...LOL!!!  The man is still great to me. 

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Here is one of the best songs off the album - LaBrie is awesome on this - from quiet head voice singing in the beginning to stronger vocals in the chorus.  You gotta listen to this all the way through this is an amazing song and vocal performance.  LaBrie at his finest.

 

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