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If you notice though, almost all of it was tenor range and tenor timbre. Lots of different sound colors and FX, but I doubt he could sing bass or even lower baritone. I didn't even hear like a convincing Sinatra or Elvis, more of a lower resonance kind of timbres, and definitely nothing operatic baritone. I doubt he could sound like a bluesy black guy as another example, or get a convincing tone of a female. He's still 'him' with all of the versatility and that's not a bad thing.

The point is the voice can do a whole lot but it's not limitless so sometimes people do create goals that may be damaging or unachievable. A lot of my favorite singers aren't actually range singers per say, so much as tonal singers, or sound color singers, so I agree some tonal diversity is important and it's actually one of my favorite aspects of untrained singers. I like it best when singers don't keep the same tone on every note throughout every song and vary it with emotional and artistic context.

The other thing as I understand it, is the further towards the extreme highs and lows you go, the less tonal options people generally have. There are proven techniques that can get you extremely high pitched, or can get you low pitched, but by necessity the extreme configurations the voice has to do to sustain them, doesn't allow as much alteration as what is possible in the normal modal range of a singer in tonal diversity. So a natural tenor, will likely have more tonal options in tenor range, natural baritone the same. One may be able to sing the other's notes, but not necessarily with the same tonal options.

I think in general there is too much focus on pitch though and not enough on tone in singing culture. I'm not talking about operatic ideals of 'richness' or perfection, but I do believe what people love about singers in the end, is usually their tone and how that makes them feel more so than their number of notes. If singers sacrifice too much tonal diversity for more notes, they probably won't please the average listener as much as if they focus on notes that have more room for emotional coloration.

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At about 2:50 he does pretty low notes, although a natural bass would of course make them sound more resonant. I agree with KillerKu that the tone and the way you pronounce - and even "caress" the words when you sing, is more important than the high notes. That's why I like singers like David Coverdale, Steven Tyler and Lou Gramm, who actually sing a lot in the lower and middle registers and sound like they really mean what they're saying. They almost overpronounce the words and can get away with that more so on the lower notes. And then they add in the more dramatic high notes at just the right moment, usually in the chorus. But if you sing TOO many high notes it can get grating on the ears. Kind of like Brian Johnson, who's awesome and I love AC/DC, but his LOWEST note is often G4 or so :) . That's why many people can't listen to too many AC/DC songs in a row. And it's also not enough to "sing like you mean it", if you're singing with a constricted throat that kills your resonance. You have to know how to maximize your resonance and make your voice sound as beautiful as you have potential for.

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If you notice though, almost all of it was tenor range and tenor timbre. Lots of different sound colors and FX, but I doubt he could sing bass or even lower baritone. I didn't even hear like a convincing Sinatra or Elvis, more of a lower resonance kind of timbres, and definitely nothing operatic baritone. I doubt he could sound like a bluesy black guy as another example, or get a convincing tone of a female. He's still 'him' with all of the versatility and that's not a bad thing.

The point is the voice can do a whole lot but it's not limitless so sometimes people do create goals that may be damaging or unachievable. A lot of my favorite singers aren't actually range singers per say, so much as tonal singers, or sound color singers, so I agree some tonal diversity is important and it's actually one of my favorite aspects of untrained singers. I like it best when singers don't keep the same tone on every note throughout every song and vary it with emotional and artistic context.

The other thing as I understand it, is the further towards the extreme highs and lows you go, the less tonal options people generally have. There are proven techniques that can get you extremely high pitched, or can get you low pitched, but by necessity the extreme configurations the voice has to do to sustain them, doesn't allow as much alteration as what is possible in the normal modal range of a singer in tonal diversity. So a natural tenor, will likely have more tonal options in tenor range, natural baritone the same. One may be able to sing the other's notes, but not necessarily with the same tonal options.

I think in general there is too much focus on pitch though and not enough on tone in singing culture. I'm not talking about operatic ideals of 'richness' or perfection, but I do believe what people love about singers in the end, is usually their tone and how that makes them feel more so than their number of notes. If singers sacrifice too much tonal diversity for more notes, they probably won't please the average listener as much as if they focus on notes that have more room for emotional coloration.

killer, i'd love to explore this topic with you more, as in a friendly debate, because it's something i believe can be done at least to a large extent.

i say this because some singers can emulate better than others and can do what you are of the opinion they can't. whether it's a ton of experience and practise, or sheer willpower i really don't know, but some singers have this ability.

they can sound like a black guy, white rocker, country star, female, you name it. they can get surprisingly close in many ways.

brody dolyniuk on youbube is such a guy.

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Some singers can sound more like a particular singer, others singers can't. Physiologically, we have different sized vocal cords, each larynx is a different size, as are the resonance tracks throughout the entire pharyngeal region, different sized and shaped tongues, mouths, even our teeth are different, noses, sinuses. Some people even have different muscular setups (sizes, position, shapes, connection) in the hyoid region which I'd imagine would extent into the laryngeal function. Let's say voice distortion (grit, whatever) 'is' produced generally with the false folds. Would not different people have different sized false folds which would resonate differently? How would you change the 'tone' of the grit to match another's?

It's like recording something in a different room, with different acoustics, with a physically entirely different instrument. When you try to recreate someone else's sound, it's trying to do an physical impossibility unless you are very close genetically, even then it's only an approximation.

I'll never sound like Barry White, no matter how hard I try. Probably not David Ruffin either. Ruffin is one of my favorite singers, but the timbre of his voice is different than mine. I could sound 'more' like them, but I've never heard a white guy that sounded this way ever and while I'm sure it's possible, it's probably not for me. Not for Michael Bolton either, nor anyone I've ever heard and I'm not convinced it's possible for everyone to reproduce certain sounds even if they work their entire lives as it doesn't physiologically make sense.

I believe people's vocal strengths are in what they can offer as unique individuals rather than what they can fail to replicate. You can't take things that are physiologically different, and make them identical through willpower or training and if you take the attitude to the extreme, you'll only injure yourself. People need to learn to accept themselves, including the limitations, rather than attempt to be be someone else.

Some guys can do a decent female impression, other guys get failed surgeries attempting this. I've been thinking of contacting this doctor here as CunoDante was recommending him as an open minded physician:

Yet what I found myself reading was horror stories. People should slow down and think carefully about what they are trying to replicate and the health ramifications involved, every time they try something new. Something else to think about, females literally cannot do Barry White. Not even with fake low, vocal fried to ridiculous extent tones, like this joker here.

There are definitely limits, and if we don't respect them, we push towards injury and disappointment. I should know, living with what might be a life long injury that causes me constant pain, that there is wisdom in being cautious and wise, rather than chasing what may be a dangerous or even impossible goal given your biological makeup. I've had to find out the hard way that it is possible to ruin your voice beyond medical understanding. Willpower and a belief in myself alone couldn't prevent me from injury, and willpower alone hasn't been able to heal it either. People need some caution and science in their lives when dealing with something as delicate as the vocal mechanism.

I suppose my ultimate advice to singers, is to be inspired by your heroes. Be inspired by other singers, but take what you can, and leave the rest. Inspiration is best taken piecemeal, not whole sale. No matter how skilled you are, you will never 'be' or 'sound just like' anyone you want to. So take what you can, and I'm sure your heroes will appreciate this even more so, that someone was so inspired, they were happy to take a special piece of inspiration into their artform, rather than attempting to replace them, their sound, their technique, their delivery, their everything. That's not what your heroes are hoping to inspire. They want you as a unique artist who offers your own stuff, and in turn you can let others become inspired by you. That's how art works in general. Otherwise you get people painting the Mona Lisa endlessly, rather than saying "hey I like this about the Mona Lisa, but I think I could take some inspiration from this but do something more unique or interesting, because this was already painted once."

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no question there are limits and i'm not advocating taking anything to dangerous extremes, i'm just trying to point out that you can go places with your voice you just may feel convinced you can't. not saying you're going to sound exactly like somebody, nor would one really want to, but certain singers have this ability, and they produce it safely. some don't produce it safely...do we know for a fact that david ruffin sang safely, did robert plant?

now the singer i'm going to show you, you may not know about...but man this is one black-sounding, white singer. remember this guy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh12_Ox-P6s&list=FL1DuIp4hjb2A4b5k5sebgPw&index=1&feature=plpp_video

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I'm not familiar with Steve Marriot, Bob. He sounds good, and he sounds like he uses a similar technique to the classic soul shouters. I'll tell you one of the things I associate with this sound though, is there is almost a different sometimes 'lower' resonance to the grit when I hear a lot of my favorite soul singers in this style.

If I were blind, this Marriot might fool me into thinking he was more of a higher pitched resonating black guy, but I wouldn't associate him with the sound I'm thinking of which is hmmm.... The extremes of this difference in tone I always think of Robert Plant on one extreme side (bright, shrill, thin crackle rasp) and Ruffin on the other (darker, meatier, warm tone, gruff) etc. Generally white guys seem to sound more Plant on average and black guys sound more Ruffin in my experience. That doesn't mean it can't go the other way that is just my average experience.

And yes, there is no knowing for sure who uses healthy technique and who just got lucky with endurance in singing in general but some people do have more problems than others (Plant has had a fair number of them). Still, my main point is about, even when presumably using a similar technique, people often sound quite different. That's how singing works, and people who embrace this idea, are probably going to be healthier than people than those who do not.

I'm also not convinced every person can train identical muscular coordination to another person in order to 'reproduce' a technique. This is partly because of my experience of involuntary muscle spasm (you'd be surprised just how much is outside of people's conscious control in the vocal mechanism), but also because of my research into how muscles, tendons, and ligaments are actually more different between people than I would have suspected. There are nearly as many differences 'inside' us as on the outside. Some people actually lack small bits and pieces that other people have or have them connected. Another thing, I've considered in false fold distortion, the theory on how overtwanging produces distortion by having the false folds make contact? Well, 'if' the false folds are different sizes or differently shaped, or 'if' the muscles are either receiving different signals from the brain, or the wiring is different, would this mean someone would have to either twang a different amount to produce the same amount of distortion? Would some people have folds small enough or out of the way enough, that this technique was more difficult than others? Would this account for different tones or difficulties?

At best, I think it's healthy for the average singer to 'be themselves, inspired by aspects of another singer that work for them.' For tribute bands, I suppose this has to change to 'be themselves, emulating as closely as physically possible another singer in the healthiest way possible.' The problem is, people can and do lose themselves in this process which can turn dangerous if there isn't a conscious separation and acceptance of limitations and differences there. Also 'healthiest way possible' is pretty hard to know since the vocal process isn't completely understood.

In general, if you can teach people to appreciate more what they can do themselves in their own way, rather than appreciate how well they can copy others, it puts people in a safer mindset where they are less likely to become obsessed with something that may not be possible or could come at a large price.

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Just to keep this a little light hearted, keep in mind having a tone closer to what I'm talking about or being a black guy doesn't automatically mean you're the best singer, though it can still make for some very entertaining singing if you're not:

You hear that? Dense, rich low velvety tones. He pulls off a rasp there on the high notes as he twang belts that 90 percent of white people can't do! Just what we are talking about right? If you can just get all of these black sounds, you'll be the best singer ever.

Hehe. Yeah lots more to singing people! Sing as yourself. Work on artistry and growing comfortable with your own voice by eliminating constriction and developing some fluidity in your voice as you navigate pitches. Try to find tones that work for your own artistry and emotionally resonates with music that don't limit you too much or constrict you. For some it's closer to their speaking voices (cause they are lucky to talk like a good singer) for others (probably more) investigating singing techniques is helpful.

Sounding more like a black guy isn't a remedy for your singing problems! Sounding like you, if you work hard enough (and smart enough) on it could very well be exactly what you need to engage people as an artist!

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Just to keep this a little light hearted, keep in mind having a tone closer to what I'm talking about or being a black guy doesn't automatically mean you're the best singer, though it can still make for some very entertaining singing if you're not:

You hear that? Dense, rich low velvety tones. He pulls off a rasp there on the high notes as he twang belts that 90 percent of white people can't do! Just what we are talking about right? If you can just get all of these black sounds, you'll be the best singer ever.

Hehe. Yeah lots more to singing people! Sing as yourself. Work on artistry and growing comfortable with your own voice by eliminating constriction and developing some fluidity in your voice as you navigate pitches. Try to find tones that work for your own artistry and emotionally resonates with music that don't limit you too much or constrict you. For some it's closer to their speaking voices (cause they are lucky to talk like a good singer) for others (probably more) investigating singing techniques is helpful.

Sounding more like a black guy isn't a remedy for your singing problems! Sounding like you, if you work hard enough (and smart enough) on it could very well be exactly what you need to engage people as an artist!

i agree with everything you say and respect your opinion, but now i want to take it from another perspective. i'm going to just say this is possibly true but a inner voice is telling it's more prevalant than we think.

take singers i think have really great sounding voices and you take singers you think have really great voices.

i'm talking great, appealing, sounding voices...forget about range or any skilll... just the sound

for me it's guys like elvis, roy orbison, tom jones, lou gramm, gary puckett, steve perry, freddie mercury....to name a few

i happen to believe that as these guys were growing up they wanted to sound a certain way. if we could ever sit down with them, i'll bet they would base some of their "ingredients" that make up their voices on intention to sound a certain way.

tom jones i'll bet wanted to give women near orgasms when he went to sing, and i feel the same way about elvis. somewhere deep down in their minds was the need to get that response.

steve perry sounds the way he does (i believe) from an inner core of both passion and perfectionism. again, these are just my feelings...some of these singers worked on those specific "sounds" in addition to physiological endowment.

it's much deeper than i'm able to articulate, but i hope you get the idea.

their hidden mentors perhaps?...early life experiences?, heartache, dispair, love lost, all the way up to incarceration?

i truly believe if i were a voice teacher, and you came to me and said i want to sound like a "black singer" and the drive and intention was strong, i truly believe i could get them close.

i myself like to have a soulful core to my sound. i want to sing and have the audience think i have a sexy voice...i don't want to sound like a conceited a'hole now, but i really intend that when i sing certain ways.

i want my audience to really feel like i gave my all and i moved them.

i'm embellishing though, not "manufacturing" my sound. i never want to contrive my sound....i.m.h.o., axl

rose "manufactured" his sound...and that's his perrogative to do so.

i tried playing around with that song "my whole world ended" am i going to sound like david ruffin singing it, hell no, but i'll bet i can capture the core passion inside the vocals...it's a bitch to sing because it sits at the break, but hey, isn't the fun in singing the challenge?

so, as a wrap up , if i can take from a david ruffin, a paul rodgers, whomever, (some woman singers too) doesn't that culminate in one diversified singing voice?

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Yes, you take inspiration in parts, and you combine these parts in ways that fit with yourself. Something everyone could learn from David Ruffin, is his passionate delivery. He has an impassioned, kind of almost 'wringing' the notes in such a near desperate way it really grips people emotionally. But if you were to say, "I want my rasp to sound like David Ruffin' you'd be in trouble, unless you were physiologically setup to match this. You could easily injure yourself trying.

I've read on Wikipedia, Lou Gramm took inspiration from John Lennon, Marvin Gaye, and a few others. Steve Perry took a lot from Sam Cooke. These are all some of the same inspirations I have. I can't sing with my voice (now), but I take inspiration from a lot of these same singers and if I could join a band with a singer, I would love to have someone who was inspired by the same. But if you notice, Gramm or Perry sound very little like their idols, they sound like themselves. They sound good, but I doubt either could give a perfect impersonation of their idols, as they just took the little bits and pieces that worked, and combined it with their own voices.

Going over my inspirations, I've often sang from a place of pain or grief, sometimes even when singing happier songs. That's part of why Ruffin is so identifiable for me, as I can feel this heart wrenched instinctual need to 'connect' with people, through pain and happiness, it's like a cry to be heard and express something fundamentally human. I've heard it described as 'glorious anguish' and this is a huge part of what I wanted as an artist.

From John Lennon, I learned the ability to strip down and bare your soul, flaws and all. To realize that voices aren't supposed to be perfect, that a really good song, an impassioned and to the point vocal, can be more moving than an orchestral symphony.

Someone like Stevie Wonder, has vocal agility, and the curbing sound people can learn from, but more so for me it's his melodicism, songwriting (harmonic, melodic, rhythmic), and this almost childlike simplistic sincerity that can make every day things beautiful and fresh. The fact that he can turn things that aren't even happy, and make me smile, is something I envy.

Marvin Gaye has an aloof, stubborn, sexy, thoughtful quality and a great use of falsetto and rasp with a very intuitive sense of rhythm. He can communicate sexy things without seeming like a creep, and can communicate thoughtful things without seeming pretentious.

Frank Sinatra, I've learned the value of richness of tone. Of rhythmic and harmonic subtlety, diction, legato, interpretation, how something closer to a primal emotional expression isn't as far removed from classical technique as you might expect.

Freddie Mercury is an inspiration for me too. I appreciate perhaps most his willingness to embrace more feminine sounds, getting really warm, sometimes near falsetto kinds of tones that are genuinely moving and beautiful, while also having a more masculine side that can belt out sounds or tear things up. Also technique wise, he has this quivering wavery vibrato, combined with kind of a sobbed tone, that I absorbed some of and I really liked.

David Bowie, I learned fearless experimentation. The ability to imitate and use 'different voice tones' for different effect, character acting, and the willingness to combine new or potentially avant guarde ideas with more accessible melodicism and rock and roll. Technique wise, more than any other singer he taught me what it's like for a baritone to sing in their upper range more comfortably and that it could sound 'natural' without having to do many funny tricks.

So I completely agree with you in a sense, but if you notice, I don't want to be any of these people as an artist or a singer and this is key. It's all about the bits and pieces. There are large parts of these singers, I could probably not copy whole sale and would risk injury. If how you want to sound is 'exactly like another singer sounds' flat out, this could pose a huge problem, as it's a physical impossibility.

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check out the singer in this band..the vocal dexterity and diversity of tone is so impressive. he can basically sound anyway he wishes to. still looking to see if he does any foreinger...lol!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecza4Iw99wY

Killer stuff! Guitarist looks awefully familiar! Check out this article Renee just wrote about hitting high notes, I think you'll like it!

http://ezinearticles.com/?Vocal-Ranges---Coach-Has-Tips-for-High-Notes&id=6763128

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no question there are limits and i'm not advocating taking anything to dangerous extremes, i'm just trying to point out that you can go places with your voice you just may feel convinced you can't. not saying you're going to sound exactly like somebody, nor would one really want to, but certain singers have this ability, and they produce it safely. some don't produce it safely...do we know for a fact that david ruffin sang safely, did robert plant?

now the singer i'm going to show you, you may not know about...but man this is one black-sounding, white singer. remember this guy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh12_Ox-P6s&list=FL1DuIp4hjb2A4b5k5sebgPw&index=1&feature=plpp_video

I have seen Marriott at least 20 times starting w/ Humble Pie right up to a small club in Dallas(needed a good manager) several years ago. My absolute favorite singer...rates right up there with Plant!!! Great post!!!

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no question there are limits and i'm not advocating taking anything to dangerous extremes, i'm just trying to point out that you can go places with your voice you just may feel convinced you can't. not saying you're going to sound exactly like somebody, nor would one really want to, but certain singers have this ability, and they produce it safely. some don't produce it safely...do we know for a fact that david ruffin sang safely, did robert plant?

now the singer i'm going to show you, you may not know about...but man this is one black-sounding, white singer. remember this guy?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh12_Ox-P6s&list=FL1DuIp4hjb2A4b5k5sebgPw&index=1&feature=plpp_video

Man! you really got me going with Steve Marriott. Can you say Hallelujah I Love You So? 30 Days In The Hole? Hot And Nasty? The list goes on! As soon as I have the time I've got to put some of thoes links up!!! Thanks for bringing him up!!!!

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I think that many of us want to capture the SOUL of our vocal heroes more than their exact SOUND.

Also, if two guys are using the same vocal setup, for example mixed voice with false fold distortion, they will have the same "basic, core sound", but they will still not sound exactly the same. It's a similar thing me, Bob and others were saying to Ronws a while ago - many of us aren't looking to be a carbon copy of our favorite singers - we just want to be able to sing powerful notes in the tenor range. Well, that's the most common thing guys are looking for. And girls look for the same in the soprano range. It's only natural to want that and no harm is done by it. But we must also be thankful of what we HAVE accomplished with our voices so far and secondly, we must not forget to simply enjoy music.

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I wanted to add a bit here, Bob, as your mention of the thrill of a challenge hits close home to me.

When people say they love the 'challenge' more than anything in music, I can relate to this. I came from a background of pressing buttons in video games (Mario Brothers, etc), and it can be a thrill to try to get the timings right, and do something that is physically difficult correctly. When I first started playing my guitar, I got this thrill from pressing buttons (frets) faster and faster, doing more complicated patterns, like it was very similar to how I felt in a video game or if I was playing a sport. Constantly testing physical limits.

Perhaps the biggest inspiration the Beatles gave me and why John Lennon might actually be my biggest influence, was when I realized just how incredibly simple, but extremely well written and enjoyable their music was. Somehow it hit me like a ton of bricks, that what he did, was not anything like a video game. He wasn't just moving his fingers, or moving his voice around in challenging patterns. He was actually listening very carefully and expressing the sounds that he had cultivated inside himself.

And at least for me, that was when I realized my previous challenges were hollow. Cheap thrills. This is when the real challenge started and unfortunately it was a bit late considering my injury. Ear training, composing, improvisational melodies, in general attempting to learn to create 'emotionally honest expressive' music, rather than a fun challenge.

I never 'quite' made it. I came really close to what I wanted and a huge part of it I have to thank Lennon for his inspiration. It's in his voice, but also in his soul. If I hadn't had him to inspire certain sounds, I'd have never sung in the first place. I might be a Guitar Hero expert now, but I may never have truly sat down and tried to connect with music as an artform of valid expression.

In some ways, it might have been that inner Vocal Guitar Hero that was my downfall. I sang comfortably, happily, and probably good enough to be a singer song writer for at least a year because of my diligent practice in the years prior. But when I heard online advice that the reason I didn't have 4 octaves worth of singing voice was because I sang 'wrong,' (a bit shouty sometimes) I tried to change too many things in ignorance for probably the same reasons I would change my technique in Guitar Hero, when I found out other people were scoring more points.

So you guys, should really think carefully about what inspires you and why. Somewhere, I think most people probably have some deeper artistic sensibility, that can probably be safely and successfully tapped into it just might involve a very different kind of challenge than what some of us are accustomed to.

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that renee thing about drawing back the jaw for a high note is something i just learned about..thanks to you too goldy.

it seems that it kind of "shoehorns" (or channels) the air up into the topmost resonating cavities.

please keep sending any great tips form renee. i like her support-driven approach.

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I think that many of us want to capture the SOUL of our vocal heroes more than their exact SOUND.

Also, if two guys are using the same vocal setup, for example mixed voice with false fold distortion, they will have the same "basic, core sound", but they will still not sound exactly the same. It's a similar thing me, Bob and others were saying to Ronws a while ago - many of us aren't looking to be a carbon copy of our favorite singers - we just want to be able to sing powerful notes in the tenor range. Well, that's the most common thing guys are looking for. And girls look for the same in the soprano range. It's only natural to want that and no harm is done by it. But we must also be thankful of what we HAVE accomplished with our voices so far and secondly, we must not forget to simply enjoy music.

I do understand this, I just believe it can be a rocky road there, and I'm not convinced everyone will make it healthily, especially without one on one instruction from professionals. Even physiologically I'm not convinced everyone will make it to the same goals and sounds because just physically, it's obvious to anyone who has looked that people are very different and should likely expect this to be the truth.

So if someone says 'you can get any sound you want' I feel it can be turned into pretty dangerous advice if it isn't modified to 'closer' to any sound you want assuming you execute a similar technique and your body obliges.

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I wanted to add a bit here, Bob, as your mention of the thrill of a challenge hits close home to me.

When people say they love the 'challenge' more than anything in music, I can relate to this. I came from a background of pressing buttons in video games (Mario Brothers, etc), and it can be a thrill to try to get the timings right, and do something that is physically difficult correctly. When I first started playing my guitar, I got this thrill from pressing buttons (frets) faster and faster, doing more complicated patterns, like it was very similar to how I felt in a video game or if I was playing a sport. Constantly testing physical limits.

Perhaps the biggest inspiration the Beatles gave me and why John Lennon might actually be my biggest influence, was when I realized just how incredibly simple, but extremely well written and enjoyable their music was. Somehow it hit me like a ton of bricks, that what he did, was not anything like a video game. He wasn't just moving his fingers, or moving his voice around in challenging patterns. He was actually listening very carefully and expressing the sounds that he had cultivated inside himself.

And at least for me, that was when I realized my previous challenges were hollow. Cheap thrills. This is when the real challenge for started and unfortunately it was a bit late considering my injury. Ear training, composing, improvisational melodies, in general attempting to learn to create 'emotionally honest expressive' music, rather than a fun challenge.

I never 'quite' made it. I came really close to what I wanted and a huge part of it I have to thank Lennon for his inspiration. It's in his voice, but also in his soul. If I hadn't had to inspire certain sounds, I'd have never sung in the first place. I might be a Guitar Hero expert now, but I may never have truly sat down and tried to connect with music as an artform of valid expression.

In some ways, it might have been that inner Vocal Guitar Hero that was my downfall. I sang comfortably, happily, and probably good enough to be singer song writer for at least a year because of my diligent practice in the years prior. But when I heard online advice that the reason I didn't have 4 octaves worth of singing voice was because I sang 'wrong,' (a bit shouty sometimes) I tried to change too many things in ignorance for probably the same reasons I would change my technique in Guitar Hero, when I found out other people were scoring more points.

So you guys, should really think carefully about what inspires you and why. Somewhere, I think most people probably have some deeper artistic sensibility, that can probably be safely and successfully tapped into it just might involve a very different kind of challenge than what some of us are accustomed to.

Very interesting story and I think a GREAT point made in your last paragraph! Thanks for sharing!

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I wanted to add a bit here, Bob, as your mention of the thrill of a challenge hits close home to me.

When people say they love the 'challenge' more than anything in music, I can relate to this. I came from a background of pressing buttons in video games (Mario Brothers, etc), and it can be a thrill to try to get the timings right, and do something that is physically difficult correctly. When I first started playing my guitar, I got this thrill from pressing buttons (frets) faster and faster, doing more complicated patterns, like it was very similar to how I felt in a video game or if I was playing a sport. Constantly testing physical limits.

Perhaps the biggest inspiration the Beatles gave me and why John Lennon might actually be my biggest influence, was when I realized just how incredibly simple, but extremely well written and enjoyable their music was. Somehow it hit me like a ton of bricks, that what he did, was not anything like a video game. He wasn't just moving his fingers, or moving his voice around in challenging patterns. He was actually listening very carefully and expressing the sounds that he had cultivated inside himself.

And at least for me, that was when I realized my previous challenges were hollow. Cheap thrills. This is when the real challenge for started and unfortunately it was a bit late considering my injury. Ear training, composing, improvisational melodies, in general attempting to learn to create 'emotionally honest expressive' music, rather than a fun challenge.

I never 'quite' made it. I came really close to what I wanted and a huge part of it I have to thank Lennon for his inspiration. It's in his voice, but also in his soul. If I hadn't had to inspire certain sounds, I'd have never sung in the first place. I might be a Guitar Hero expert now, but I may never have truly sat down and tried to connect with music as an artform of valid expression.

In some ways, it might have been that inner Vocal Guitar Hero that was my downfall. I sang comfortably, happily, and probably good enough to be singer song writer for at least a year because of my diligent practice in the years prior. But when I heard online advice that the reason I didn't have 4 octaves worth of singing voice was because I sang 'wrong,' (a bit shouty sometimes) I tried to change too many things in ignorance for probably the same reasons I would change my technique in Guitar Hero, when I found out other people were scoring more points.

So you guys, should really think carefully about what inspires you and why. Somewhere, I think most people probably have some deeper artistic sensibility, that can probably be safely and successfully tapped into it just might involve a very different kind of challenge than what some of us are accustomed to.

i feel you....i know and connect with exactly what you're saying. but singing in the style of a ruffin or a gramm takes guts, and stamina and strength.

i also have a feeling that certain voices need to generate a certain level of sound pressure (support) to have their voices work properly (or at all). in other words, they need to work more to generate those tones by the very nature of their voice.

there are those singers who fear that way of singing and they don't even know it. i feel for you because your injury has made you tentative and hurt...

but man, you cannot give up the fight to fix this problem.

now here's gramm again...notice the level of intensity that he generates...could he do that same song and use a lot less energy, or does he instinctively know his instrument's needs perhaps better than any voice teacher would?

what makes a singer drive this much into their singing? fascinates the living hell out of me. it seems like at any minute he would crack but he hardly ever does.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwuB2Oaekc4

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Just a little bit of input on the "Sounding like yourself" mantra.

I don't think there's such a thing.

One doesn't sound like "oneself", in my experience. One sounds like one's most persistent vocal and also listening habits. They change - especially if you're perfecting vocal technique and if you work on increasing your sense of music.

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Just a little bit of input on the "Sounding like yourself" mantra.

I don't think there's such a thing.

One doesn't sound like "oneself", in my experience. One sounds like one's most persistent vocal and also listening habits. They change - especially if you're perfecting vocal technique and if you work on increasing your sense of music.

So why is it that John Lennon, Elvis, Steve Perry, Freddie Mercury, Lou Gramm, and so forth, did not sound like their listening habits? You think they just stopped listening to music when they found a voice that worked for them?

In fact nearly all of the greatest rock singers sound nothing like their inspirations because they willingly put a divider there and hold onto an 'identity' of sorts. That's part of what separates rock stars from the kids making pale imitations of them.

This mantra may not be true for you if you're the kind of person that sits around copying everyone else and can never accept anything innate or true to yourself in your voice, including your physical biology, but it's certainly true for a large amount of successful singers.

What is true is many people inevitably 'find their voice' if they work hard enough for it by continually pursuing comfortable sounds. A voice that works for them artistically and is most comfortable for them to use long term. Whether that's Neil Young, or Geoff Tate, people eventually settle upon 'something' that works with their innate equipment and psychology and art. Kind of a 'base line' for the voice.

I've said it before, but we could make Neil Young an operatic superstar. He has the same equipment as everyone else and he's not tone deaf. But if you did this, he wouldn't have sold all of those albums and his fans would cry foul. He'd probably be working at Starbucks. Because he wouldn't sound like 'him' anymore and people wouldn't have responded the same way.

Sounding like you means pursuing things that are efficient and intuitive for your voice, your identity, and your art and not attempting to be everyone else because it's 'harder' or because of some obsession with sounding like another singer. It means accepting your sound limitations too. The limitations and choices of what not to do with your voice are just as much part of your identity as the capabilities.

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i feel you....i know and connect with exactly what you're saying. but singing in the style of a ruffin or a gramm takes guts, and stamina and strength.

i also have a feeling that certain voices need to generate a certain level of sound pressure (support) to have their voices work properly (or at all). in other words, they need to work more to generate those tones by the very nature of their voice.

there are those singers who fear that way of singing and they don't even know it. i feel for you because your injury has made you tentative and hurt...

but man, you cannot give up the fight to fix this problem.

now here's gramm again...notice the level of intensity that he generates...could he do that same song and use a lot less energy, or does he instinctively know his instrument's needs perhaps better than any voice teacher would?

what makes a singer drive this much into their singing? fascinates the living hell out of me. it seems like at any minute he would crack but he hardly ever does.

I was a relatively fearless singer before losing my voice. I'd sing hard, I'd sing loud, I'd sing with grit, and so forth, without training. In some ways this worked quite well for me, so long as I stayed in chest voice and didn't push outside my about two octave natural range without going falsetto, It was generally ok with more of an unrestrained passion or fire and it sounded pretty good. But when trying to bridge into the more advanced techniques, I learned that you need less air and you need different configurations that were not 'open throat relaxed technique with breath support.' So I found myself overblowing which might have caused additional injury. What's worse, I tried exercises (gug, tongue stretch) that clearly caused me pain and likely injury that claimed to help me sing more.

Part of what makes Lou Gramm and David Ruffin able to sing what they sing, is a lifetime of comfortably singing that was gradually escalated combined with their own equipment which apparently works for their purposes. I've been reading Lou Gramm apparently did NOT take singing lessons prior to his success. He took some afterwards to try to protect his voice, but did not create his voice from lessons, it was a result of naturally exploring his voice for him.

People fear singing beyond their limitations (Ruffin and Gramm are beyond 99.9 percent of people's limitations) because if you push too hard it's damaging and you can lose your voice for the rest of your life. People should fear pushing their limitations too much, I truly wish I had feared more. Believe it or not, David Ruffin had his limitations too. Past an extremely yelled tenor high C, he resorted to a near falsetto head voice that he carried up another few octaves and used grit to color it, rather than anything fancy. It's possible with the right lessons, and the right 'reconfiguration' of his vocal habits, (careful twang, cry, less air, etc) he could have gotten farther, but why he could sing the way he did, was because he listened primarily to himself. He listened to his intuition, and he was a blower like me. He was a shouter, and extremely loud.

So if you want to know what allows someone to sing in an what seems like an unrestrained way, primarily it's a lifetime of self created rules, based on gradual acclimated personal experience, adding and discarding things (including outside input) as they go, listening to their bodies very carefully for what works for them. People will never be able to do what they did again because it was their unique instrument, their intuition, and their lifetime of trial and error.

But if you focus on your instrument, your intuition, and learn to explore your limits rather than focus on someone else's, you can do great things. If you focus on someone else's, you set yourself up for disappointment and or injury. The only thing that matters, is your limits, and every time you push them, there is risk, that's why yours are way more important than anyone because they are unique to you. They won't be the same as someone else's, for endless reasons (biological configuration, psychology, natural inclination, neurology, disposition to injury).

I'm serious, I'm sure you're a great singer, Bob (I haven't even gotten to hear you yet man!), I'd love to hear your take on My Whole World Ended as it's one of my favorites. But if you can focus on your own limitations. That's what all of the professionals do. If you get too focused on Lou or anyone else, it can put you in a position of constantly risking injury trying. You may or you may not have a similar setup to Lou, that will enable you to emulate something like that. But the only way you'll get there is by focusing primarily on your voice and respecting what is different about it. You can do things that he can't do with your voice, because it's your voice, with your own lifetime acclimation of what works for you.

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Rein it in a little bit, dude, didn't mean to offend you :)

I'm not at all sure the greats sounded, as you put it, nothing like their influences. I'm not sure if anyone here has tried to really analyze influences in terms of phrasing, the shape of vocal melodies etc. (Notice I didn't mention voice qualities, because they're obviously more difficult to imitate) I'm drawing conclusions from experience both in singing (rather limited) and experience in neighboring arts like literature (very extensive).

I've learned there's very little that's original in "originality". It's synthesis, more or less deftly achieved. If it's indeed very deft people make up names for it like "originality" and "genius". It's, to use your terms, a matter of "innate equipment and psychology and art.", only these are anything but innate. They are absorbed through the practices of singing and listening to music. This doesn't mean the result will resemble the influences in its entirety; but it cannot exist without them and if you look closely enough, they should be apparent.

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