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Sam's town (the Killers)

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Ronron
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Hi there,

Been fighting sickness for the last three weeks, the coughing especially has been fairly persistent and annoying. I realized today the mic we got from buying a karaoke game for the wii the other day actually can be fitted on my laptop, so I decided to give it a shot. Erm.. So well, I don't know if it is because of practice or the mic, but I barely recognize my voice :D

It's far far from perfect, but to my great pleasure, it seems that clapping rythms for a couple dozen minutes every week for the last month has been beneficial (or it's the mic, I'll never know).

One take (first take actually). Only thing I did was to lower the background and level up the vocals. I'm not skilled enough with Audacity to do anything else anyway.

There are a few cracks, but I think it'll come back to reason when the coughing will finally stop for good. Also, I don't know why there's that funny voice in the end.

Well, no more words, here it is : http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14571174/Sam%27s%20town%20cover.mp3

As usual, link to the actual song :

As you can hear, it lacks something, and I don't really know what it is, and how to get it. I mean, I could shout it all out and it would probably still feel kinda weak (and I feel it's not a good idea anyway). Let's call it power, conviction, edge, or monkey.

If you can help me find my monkey, I'll be forever gratefull to you (thankfull ?).

On a side note, I have to thank Jonpall for pointing out this software that makes mp3 out of youtube videos, it's really a whole new world opening. I've tried Patience right away, though I'm far too impressed by his own take to dare posting it :p

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Outstanding. I like your note placement. And, related to that, you have a consistent tone thruughout your voice, which is magic. A number of singers sound different high than they do low. I'm one of them, I think. But you have the gift of an even tone all the way. And, your volume is better and not just because of a slightly better mic. You have more confidence than you did on previous takes. And that is showing through. You may have specifically worked on timing and rhythm but having confidence to really get into this song allows you to quit thinking about yourself and, instead, feel the song. While I would agree that it now sounds like two different people, that difference is in the strength of the notes and more consistent tone because you have the confidence to allow your voice to be heard. So, the flip side of that is while yes, you sound different, so to speak, you have the voice I knew you had in you and wanted to hear from you. And you delivered. And definitely, this is your song. And don't lose the accent. It totally fits this song, with you. Maybe the exercises helped you build confidence as you grew used to the sounds you didn't realize that you could make. And that enabled you to get away from the severe self-recriminations you had earlier. Once you quit holding yourself down, you fly.

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And also realize that you may do some of the same exact things as the original singer, you will sound different. It's genetic. This doesn't have to stop you from singing the song. You sing it because you must. Whether it's a cover or your own original music. You don't sing to sound like the Killers, no matter how much they inspire you. You don't sing Guns and Roses to sound like Axl Rose. Or the song "Patience," to see how close you are to Axl Rose. You sing it because the song moves you and you must sing it, in your own way.

One vocal coach I have read trained a singer that wanted to sound like Celine Dion. So, she let her cover all the Celine songs she could muster. And then required her to mimick another singer. And then another, trying her hardest to sound just like each singer. And then the student was in the studio trying to make a demo tape and had an engineer mixing for her. And no matter which singer she tried to mimick, it just wasn't coming through and the engineer was trying to fix it here and there with suggestions and it wasn't working. Finally, she "surrendered." She had it. She was exhausted. "I'm going to just sing it as myself. If they think my voice is funny then, fine, let them laugh and I will be done with it." And it was the best take, the one they kept. Because she freed herself from the constraints of trying to sound like someone else.

I think you sang this song like yourself and you should stick with that. Even better, write a song similar to it but start out with your own vocalising. Even if you do it a capella, you will feel even stronger and it will show through.

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I'm glad that the software I pointed out helped you. As far as your singing goes, you're right - you can sing on pitch and with emotion and you seem to have good musical sense, but it lacks a bit of power. What you're looking for is curbing/mixed voice. I'm absolutely 100% sure of it. I recommend you educate yourself on it. I also suggest that you record yourself singing a bit of curbing for us to listen to. I can offer you my ol' take on it, which is kinda funny and I cringe slightly because now I do it slightly better. But you should be able to hear what I mean: http://www.box.net/shared/revh0z9ccb

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ronws : what a great compliment, and advice too. Thank you :)

Jonpall : I can only agree with you. I have tried this though. I think I can have something ok on a speaking level, but when I try to sing something with it, I'll just lose it. Maybe though, I should try to think about it by adding sound to the cry instead of adding cry to the sound ? Thank you for your advice too :)

When I have both time and breathing room at home, I'll try to record something.

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I thought about your idea of writing something, ronws : One day, maybe, but for now, I'm not quite there yet. Plus when I write "" songs "" it's honestly quite depressive, cynical and morbid, not quite the " Why do you waste my time ?!", more like " How come you don't you see there's no time to waste ?" :P

I've tried my hands (my folds actually) at the curbmixycry, but it seems to wear my voice faster than forcing, so I think I'm not doing it properly, though there is one point that makes me wonder : when I listen to you, I hear a disctinct distortion on the onset of the note, which is exactly what happens when I'm wearing my voice. I tried a few approaches. A lot actually. Some feel better, others are tiring quickly. The sounds are a bit strange. I also think that I have to learn to cover for this specifically... As when I think I achieve something ok, some vowels, the Eh and Ah especially, seem to lose all resonnance and end up forced, strained and breathy, whereas uh, u, ooh ee and ih seem to be ok.

I've tried basically 2 (well 4 actually but 1 is not worth mentioning, and the 4th I have no record of :P) approaches. The first one feels like I'm stopping the breath from flowing with the throat, like I'm holding my breath, but at the throat level, trying to open it up a bit, and then, kinda, going through it. It wears me quick, ALTHOUGH I think I have noticed that the higher the volume, the easier to sustain (weird concept to me).

The second is entirely through support, feels weird, sounds weird, like I was trying to squeeze air through a balloon's neck (or whatever the name, I hope you get the idea), but it's not wearing, though it was attempted on a kinda weared voice. The 3rd one is just falsetto and can just go die in a fire, and the 4th one was through feeling only, and thus I wasn't able to duplicate it.

Used Patience as a guideline, because it seems to trigger the feeling easier. Plus I feel silly enough as is right now (:P), I'll record something else if you want.

1 (I think you can even hear the breath being stopped): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14571174/curb%20throat.mp3

1 bis (Technique 1 but lighter and with more volume): http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14571174/Curb%201%20bis.mp3

2 : http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14571174/curb%202%20support.mp3

3 (for the laugh) : http://dl.dropbox.com/u/14571174/False%20cry.mp3

Oh yeah, the mic is yet another one similar to the first, I just didn't have access to anything else.

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The one you did labeled support sounded best.

I hope you don't mind but I recorded a sample, using breath support from the belly and slacking just a smidge on fold compression to get some rasp. And you can hear my breath takes, as well. What is also there is some sharp twang aided by a wide smile, though Axl uses a grimace, which accomplishes the same thing.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/patience%20demo.mp3

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I never mind hearing from you ;)

I think I hear the twang (big improvement ! :D). That's the mean thing that kinda distorts the sound a bit right ? I think I can have something like that going, though not to this extent, as I kinda stumbled upon something like this before recording Sam's Town. The rasp, I discovered I could do something qualifying as this, sometimes, but I have no real control on it lol, it kind of just happens appropriately. It doesn't sound like yours though, but I could be mistaken : I'm not a good judge for my voice (who is actually ?). For example, I find it absolutely terrible (but a lot more fun) when I'm above ~D4, yet, people I tend to trust tell me I'm not. Some even tell me I have a consistency of tone I don't quite think I have :P

And then, of course, my family sometimes mocks me, though they have been less and less as of late. Which coincides with less and less falsetto, though it could be that we competed on this wii game I talked about in my first post >:

But then, they're the ones hearing the strangest sounds I can produce, which are laugh worthy, actually.

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Well, tell your family that I think you are a fine singer and you are about to unleash the Beast in the East (east of me, anyway.)

Yes, the sharp twang helps make the "mean" sound. A little bit of cackle, I think. Maybe some fresh ground black pepper. A little but of cayenne, so to speak. And these are all subtle touches that I know you will get to in no time at all because you have such control over what you are doing. Helped by the fact that you are taking small steps at a time, which is more of a guarantee of success than jumping to supersonic overnight. As you build the right habits, you will strengthen even more to where you will not recognize your earliest recordings, finding yourself saying, "Who was that guy?" Often was the case of coach Roger Love "Set your voice Free" when a student thought he sounded one way because of how he felt. Then Roger would play back the piece and the student wouldn't recognize himself. That's how much of a difference can be between what we actually sound like and what we think we sound like.

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