Sign in to follow this  
kickingtone

Fixing a bad note: an example

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

I am not an instructor, teacher or technical specialist. This is only about my own personal experience and interpretation.

I am going to post two short a cappella clips showing how I partially fix a note I was having difficulty with.

An earlier thread by MDEW, "Tone, intensity Maybe maybe not", is more about singing vowels, but just thinking about the topic generally helped me with handling some consonants

I am singing the words "West Virginia", and my tongue is still "recovering" from the "t"of "West" while my lips are shaping for the "V" of "Virginia". This overlap is fine during normal speech, but I discovered that it is messing up the onset of the word "Virginia", during singing. And this seems to be made worse the higher the note.My thinking is that certain consonant combinations, in this case "t" followed by "v", can severely interrupt airflow just for an instant, but long enough to make it difficult to recover in time.

I know that some singers simply soften the consonants, or maybe would drop the "t" completely and sing "Wes Virginia".

People have different speech patterns so it is probably not relevant to everyone.

What I did here was to consciously make sure that my tongue pulled right out of the "t" of "West", leaving the onset of the next word simpler. There is a marked improvement.

AFTER

Still problems, but a marked improvement and something concrete to practise.

cf BEFORE

https://soundcloud.com/kickingtone/cr012frp

You can hear the collateral too, as the problem spreads to the next phrase.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, sideshow said:

its nothing to do with the valves and on onset silly knocker, its your over shouting the note to high

It is not Valves. It is vowels and yes in this case singing the "Eh" in west a little more open will help.

Try singing " I belong, West Virginia" as one word using the O in long as sprig board into West. Try not to close off on the g in belong

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MDEW said:

It is not Valves. It is vowels and yes in this case singing the "Eh" in west a little more open will help.

Try singing " I belong, West Virginia" as one word using the O in long as sprig board into West. Try not to close off on the g in belong

Thanks MDEW, I think I know what you are saying.

What I have not mentioned is that there is some anticipatory tension kicking in (the experiment is basically in its infancy). I normally wouldn't have any problem with the opening the eh (its still flat). In this case it is only collateral. Once I am comfortable singing Virginia, the other problems will go away because I won't be anticipating anything difficult for me. What's been tying me up is the hard stop from West to Virginia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, kickingtone said:

Thanks MDEW, I think I know what you are saying.

What I have not mentioned is that there is some anticipatory tension kicking in (the experiment is basically in its infancy). I normally wouldn't have any problem with the opening the eh (its still flat). In this case it is only collateral. Once I am comfortable singing Virginia, the other problems will go away because I won't be anticipating anything difficult for me. What's been tying me up is the hard stop from West to Virginia.

The top note in Belong and West is the same note/pitch. West seems like it is higher because John puts an emphasis on it but it is the same pitch. Do not stop the breath between west and Virginia. The whole phrase is on one breath. Trouble comes when you treat each word as a separate onset.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, MDEW said:

The top note in Belong and West is the same note/pitch. West seems like it is higher because John puts an emphasis on it but it is the same pitch. Do not stop the breath between west and Virginia. The whole phrase is on one breath. Trouble comes when you treat each word as a separate onset.

It depends on the (breathing) technique you use.

What has happened with the word West is that it hasn't gone into the mask. It should be resonating in the mask (in the technique I use). But I sing it stuck at the back of the throat (due to anticipatory tension). Then, because it is not responding the way I want it, it causes me to push the note. Once I stop worry about what is coming and place West in the mask, it won't be an issue. I just need to practice what I have learned.

Earlier on, I sing TO THE PLAY------CE.I BELONG. The way I sing it, there is no natural break (as I see it) for a breath there. I don't think it would sound right with a break between place and I.

So, to use one breath up to Virginia, I'd have to sing -- to the place I belong West Virginia in one breath with that stress on West -- not really ideal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not sure if I was having issues with the same thing "West Virginia" but I ended up taking air in after "To the Place" Quick inhale and Stopping the inhale with the onset of "I belong"

That "I belong" is a walk up to the higher note. That is why I took the breath before going for the higher note.

45 minutes ago, sideshow said:

Diction

Resonance is in the vowels. Consonants stop the air flow. The good and bad thing about  the consonants is that what vowel you shape underneath it does not change the diction of the consonant. You can use the time taken with  weST Virginiia to set up the next vowel. The same thing applies between Belong and West. The time spent on W of west is used shaping the "eh" vowel.

Even in maintaining diction just touch on the consonant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, MDEW said:

I am not sure if I was having issues with the same thing "West Virginia" but I ended up taking air in after "To the Place" Quick inhale and Stopping the inhale with the onset of "I belong"

That "I belong" is a walk up to the higher note. That is why I took the breath before going for the higher note.

Just checked, and John Denver takes a breath there, too. It's not even a quick breath. It's a leisurely breath. Sounds fine with a guitar! Haven't listened to that song in quite a while!

That's one of the downsides of singing a cappella from memory. I tend to make up the phrasing! Have to cover those awkward instrumental gaps.

Yeah, a breath there definitely makes it a lot easier.

Still, from a pure exercise point of view, it's still worth trying to skip that breath.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

    Each song has its own challenges. When you are singing in your own style and not just reproducing someone else's arrangement you would tend to use different phrasing.

I like and sing some of Bob Dylan's songs but I do not like his voice or the melody he puts to them. When I sing them, they may be far from the original.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking about what you said about a note sounding higher or lower than it actually is (due to emphasis, for instance).

It happens to me all the time, but because I am not playing a "tuned" instrument like a guitar, it is not a critical issue. it's not like you pluck the wrong string.

I think that it works itself out. If I sing a series of notes of the same pitch, but I have imagined them to be different, they still come out the same pitch. All it means is that I can track the right overall sound, but I am not great at isolating which part of the sound is pitch. I'm a lot better than I used to be, though. It's gonna become really important because I want to write music.

I've just picked a kiddie song as an example. They're great, cos they are simple. Here, the first four notes do not FEEL the same to me when singing them, but I think that they are supposed to be, and I can convince myself that I am singing the same pitch listening back. Maybe I am "tweaking" the pitch a little as I sing, I can't tell. Would it matter? It comes out the way I want it. If it is so off that I need ear training, I'd have to train the whole sound perception, anyway -- not just pitch, but darkness/lightness, timbre, etc.

I'm A LOT better than I was, and I think that I can usually confidently tell you which runs of notes have the same pitch. Saying if the pitch goes up or down is not always so easy for me, though.:(

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The pitch matters when you are singing with instrumentation. It is not a matter of individual perception and likes or dislikes. You are singing with other people and they also need to know which pitch they are singing. If one is off consistently they will be replaced. Unless of course they are the one paying the rest. The matter of tone is partly opinion and likes or dislikes but tone also has an effect on whether the pitch can be reached or sung in the first place. Tweaking tone helps or hinders the pitch.

This is the problem most have with the Passaggio. It is not that one cannot sing the pitch, but cannot sing the pitch with the desired sound. That is where the training comes in. How to sing the pitch you want to sing WITH the tone you desire or prefer.

If tone does not matter, then yeah, I can sing Dio songs or Rock tenor or any kind or Opera. But the tone does matter.

I did not listen to your clip yet. I am not in a situation that I can at this time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, MDEW said:

The pitch matters when you are singing with instrumentation. It is not a matter of individual perception...

(Pitch perception is slightly subjective, although that wasn't really my point.)

I am not saying that pitch doesn't matter or that being on pitch doesn't matter. I am saying that the ability to ISOLATE pitch is not critical.

I supposed the next question is "how can you be on pitch without being able to isolate pitch?" I say that that is what we do by default.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, kickingtone said:

(Pitch perception is slightly subjective, although that wasn't really my point.)

I am not saying that pitch doesn't matter or that being on pitch doesn't matter. I am saying that the ability to ISOLATE pitch is not critical.

I supposed the next question is "how can you be on pitch without being able to isolate pitch?" I say that that is what we do by default.

Yes, it is subjective and there is a range of variation. You do not have to hear a pitch and be able to name it to be able to sing it.  BUT, you do need to be able to reproduce a pitch relative to the music or accompaniment that is going on to blend with it in a suitable manor IF you want to be considered a "Good" singer. What is suitable of course is also relative.

Yes, there are styles and genres of music that involve singing "Out of tune" but they are also "selectively" out of tune. Just being off key is not the goal or considered "Musical". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, MDEW said:

Yes, it is subjective and there is a range of variation. You do not have to hear a pitch and be able to name it to be able to sing it.  BUT, you do need to be able to reproduce a pitch relative to the music or accompaniment that is going on to blend with it in a suitable manor IF you want to be considered a "Good" singer. What is suitable of course is also relative.

Yes, there are styles and genres of music that involve singing "Out of tune" but they are also "selectively" out of tune. Just being off key is not the goal or considered "Musical". 

This is quite a philosophical point. There is really nothing like "A PITCH". There is "A FREQUENCY", which represents to some sort of "consensus" as to what pitch may be.

Now, we can say that this thing called FREQUENCY that we have pulled out of the fray is what it REALLY is all about, and that people are hearing FREQUENCY but being "inaccurate", giving rise to "variation".

But what if there is a better fit, than pure frequency for what we are generally perceiving? What if the fit is only frequency dominant -- not pure frequency, but actually a function of other sound qualities as well? What if those inaccuracies are not "inaccuracies", at all, but reflect our authentic nature?

We may be reprogramming ourselves, even to something simpler and more inferior to our authentic nature.

I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE DO NOT NEED STANDARDS AND TO CHOOSE A STANDARD IN MANY SITUATIONS.. I AM SUGGESTING THAT WE SHOULD NOT LOSE TRACK OF THE FACT THAT IT IS ONLY A CHOSEN.STANDARD.

Apologies for the caps, the counterargument is often that...well, we need standards in the "real world". Sure, but we don't have to lose track of the fact that they ONLY are chosen standards, in the real world.

I read once about how different villages in certain countries would each have slightly different tuning, and you could even identify the village from the musical tuning used. Then along came standards and wiped a lot of it out. It was due to one simple thing, the standards were not allowed to sit alongside variety, even though we are perfectly capable of switching as necessary. And so certain sounds and traditions got lost, because a standard was treated as absolute.

Rant over...:).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not saying that it needs to be...but, the standards were put in place so we could go from town to town and join in. The twelve note scale was derived so we COULD have uniform frets on stringed instruments and be "relatively" in tune from chord to chord.

The way you tune a piano is to tune The Middle A to 440 you tune rest of the piano in relation to that Key. Not from the frequencies that are supposed to be for the rest of the notes. You strike the keys and listen for how fast the pulses of sound are when you get closer to the note.

That is another interesting thing about music each "Chord"(3 or more different pitches played together in harmony with each other) are slightly out of "Tune". The frequency interaction can be picked up on if you know what to listen for. Yes we get accustomed to the sounds and they seem "Right" to our ears.

For many years the dominant 7th chord was considered Evil and of the devil because of a tritone configuration that was so dissonant it was deemed there was no "Harmony" to the sound. Now it is used in most music...Go figure.:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, MDEW said:

I am not saying that it needs to be...but, the standards were put in place so we could go from town to town and join in. The twelve note scale was derived so we COULD have uniform frets on stringed instruments and be "relatively" in tune from chord to chord.

That's fine. That's what standards are about, as I said.

15 minutes ago, MDEW said:

For many years the dominant 7th chord was considered Evil and of the devil because of a tritone configuration that was so dissonant it was deemed there was no "Harmony" to the sound.

That's not fine. That's making a standard absolute, and turning standardization into a takeover. There is no reason why a standard should not be able to coexist with a local dialect. You don't have to kill the dialect to use a standard.

18 minutes ago, MDEW said:

The way you tune a piano is to tune The Middle A to 440 you tune rest of the piano in relation to that Key. Not from the frequencies that are supposed to be for the rest of the notes. You strike the keys and listen for how fast the pulses of sound are when you get closer to the note.

That is another interesting thing about music each "Chord"(3 or more different pitches played together in harmony with each other) are slightly out of "Tune". The frequency interaction can be picked up on if you know what to listen for. Yes we get accustomed to the sounds and they seem "Right" to our ears.

Somebody decided that beat frequencies were "ugly". Crap like that can become standards, even, or perhaps especially, among, the most sophisticated musicians.

I read somewhere that some classical music was written specifically to produce "pure harmony", i.e try to resolve the irreconcilable contention between harmonic and logarithmic scales. They probably tuned the piano specially to support the "pure harmony" in that particular piece of music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kickingtone said:

I read somewhere that some classical music was written specifically to produce "pure harmony", i.e try to resolve the irreconcilable contention between harmonic and logarithmic scales. They probably tuned the piano specially to support the "pure harmony" in that particular piece of music.

Yes, each instrument was tuned to a chord or key. If you wanted to play in a different key you had to retune the instrument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing I have noticed is that a W can be a problem when it starts too closed and has to open out into a vowel, like the -eh- in West, in my example.

If you start the W with an -oo- shape, it can cause a pronounced diphthong. In those cases, I am learning to start the W with more of an -o- shape (as in the word "pot"), but I still have to remind myself to do it. It really reduces the diphthong effect and unnecessary resonance shift.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Each word can cause its own problems depending on accents and speaking habits. That is another reason for training the vowels(Formal or otherwise). To break some natural habits that cause problems. And training vowels with different consonants to start them. La La, Mi, Mi etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this