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On using the voice as an instrument

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Fred
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I just wanted to share a wonderful breakthrough I had this morning since it's thanks to you all I got here.

I woke up, ate breakfast and started practicing and felt immediately it was a bad vocal day as my throat was a little stuffy to begin with. But I did some halfhearted warmups and started to sing my set-list instead. Just beacuse there had been people around the house all week I had not been able to practice so I had taken the time to analyze my set-list, dividing the lyrics into prases, musical phrases, rests, breaks and what not. All while I had done this I sung the pieaces in my head and body (quietly so not to make a fool out of myself).

I sang along with the music twice on the first song, but had some trouble remembering the lyrics so I sang the first few lines a couple of times, then noted that the melody began at B3 (chord is G I think so it's the 3rd). Sang the first phrase a bunch of times then noted that the next phrase jumped up to E4 at a difficult spot and noted that. Then I tried to sing the whole first verse.

It was spot on. I was so amazed I dug up my tuner and sang it again. Spot on. This is the first time I've felt my voice as an instrument cabable of producing "tones" like any other wind instrument. And I was right on pitch too, on almost all notes in the melody.

All I had to do to get the pitch right was to write down the difficult notes and my voice found the place and relation almost automaticly.

Does anyone else have a method for "instrumentalizing" (in lack of a better word) the voice?

Cheers

Fred

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What a great - great post.

Learning the actual notes of a song (usually by turning the vocal melody into an "exercise" using a midi file) has helped me too.

Maybe for people who've studied music or are natural born singers these things come naturally - I don't know.

What I do know is that this extra effort goes a long way for people like me who do not pertain to these 2 categories.

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I just wanted to share a wonderful breakthrough I had this morning since it's thanks to you all I got here.

I woke up, ate breakfast and started practicing and felt immediately it was a bad vocal day as my throat was a little stuffy to begin with. But I did some halfhearted warmups and started to sing my set-list instead. Just beacuse there had been people around the house all week I had not been able to practice so I had taken the time to analyze my set-list, dividing the lyrics into prases, musical phrases, rests, breaks and what not. All while I had done this I sung the pieaces in my head and body (quietly so not to make a fool out of myself).

I sang along with the music twice on the first song, but had some trouble remembering the lyrics so I sang the first few lines a couple of times, then noted that the melody began at B3 (chord is G I think so it's the 3rd). Sang the first phrase a bunch of times then noted that the next phrase jumped up to E4 at a difficult spot and noted that. Then I tried to sing the whole first verse.

It was spot on. I was so amazed I dug up my tuner and sang it again. Spot on. This is the first time I've felt my voice as an instrument cabable of producing "tones" like any other wind instrument. And I was right on pitch too, on almost all notes in the melody.

All I had to do to get the pitch right was to write down the difficult notes and my voice found the place and relation almost automaticly.

Does anyone else have a method for "instrumentalizing" (in lack of a better word) the voice?

Cheers

Fred

fred, don't rule out that you willed yourself to sing like that.

fact: the mind cannot tell the difference between that which is real or vividly imagined.

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Amen, Billy.

And speaking of the voice as an instrument, Both Plant and Gillan could meld in as another instrument in the band.

Back to mind guiding the voice. In Plant's case, I wonder how much his desire and ability to sound with the other instruments, rather than just endless libretto with accompaniment came from his view of himself as a jazz singer? Sort of a rock and roll scat singer.

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What a great - great post.

Learning the actual notes of a song (usually by turning the vocal melody into an "exercise" using a midi file) has helped me too.

Maybe for people who've studied music or are natural born singers these things come naturally - I don't know.

What I do know is that this extra effort goes a long way for people like me who do not pertain to these 2 categories.

akarawd, ronws, Fred: Speaking as a classically-trained singer, this kind of practice is the core of building the mind/body connection of technique into habit. Lessons take the tone qualities achieved in vocalises and 'work' the song into the voice, so that each tone, rest, phrase arch, tempo change and expressive element is properly positioned, balanced and rehearsed to the point of repeatability.

The 'mental' walkthrough or visualization is enormously effective, and a technique used to practice without laboring the body or fatiguing the voice. Its like planning the flow and effect of the piece in your mind and musical ear... which, after all, are the two things you bring to bear in the performance.

Fred: this is a very insightful realization on your part. Thanks for posting it.

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For some reason, Steven, your post reminded me of how my first wife developed her ability to sight read. After enough times of listening to a performance while reading a score, she could eventually hear it in her head, as she read. She had received a BA in piano performance and pedagogy from Meadow School of Arts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and her professor there was also her piano instructor since she was 14 and his name was Alfred Moulideaux and he was (I'm not sure if he still is, he may be retired) the pianist for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Sorry to digress. Now, back to your regularly scheduled program.

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Thank you.

Yeah this is a small revelation for me and I felt I stumbled across something great. The music is sort of playing inside my head together with my voice when I prepared the song enough and sort out the tough spots. As opposed to my voice taking over and music's disappearing, which was previously forcing me to listen hard for the music, and completely unable to sing it without a backing track. When I get the melody down I can slap on whatever lyrics I want and my voice brings another dimension to the music, like throwing in an extra, very expressive -instrument. I can hear almost all accomplished singers do this, which just eluded me before. Plant being an extreme case. I think sometimes he just had trouble finding his way back so he just wailed a note to indicate the others to get on with the song, or just having something to do other that twirling the microphone. In an interview I saw some time ago he explained singing with Led Zeppelin was like trying to jump into a pool, but with tiny little boats everywhere :)

For me I suppose it may partly come from years of running scales up and down a guitar-neck. I kind of know how a minor/major/dim7-5/etc should "feel" like in my body/vibrations. It may not sound very different to others but the feeling of singing and the way I approach a piece mentally is completely different now that I found out how to prepare myself better.

The basic routine I have on my setlist now is: Write down all the lyrics by hand, listen to phrases and how/if they follow the musical phrase (punctuation for a complete, comma for partly finished and lots of lines for all other stuff. Aretha Franklin have a nack of singing right through the music but still land right on rythm all the time, at those time the paper is real messy), listen for tough spots and note the pitch on those words, jot down notable fills/delays/instrumental parts, and then just sing along and follow my notes in my head until I feel confident enough to try the melody.

Listening to the musical phrase with the sung phrase on top seem to be really helpful to spot the harmony going on and makes it real easy to get the tricky notes down. I seem to have a nack for this. Maybe all the instruments I learned to play through the years comes to some use after all!

If this was a role-playing game, I'd say I just got myself a new level :)

Cheers

Fred

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