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Fullmoon - Sonata Arctica

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ronws
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Keith thought I would have a good voice for this song. Sonata Arctica started out with hard rock and this song marks their first major venture into heavy metal / prog.

This song was a challenge in a number of ways. It is extremely operatic. Notes have to be dead on, no jazzy slides or rubato interpretation. Considering that I used to sing the entire Led Zep catalog up to Houses of the Holy. An oscuro feel to the vocals. So, I ended up with more dropped jaw and low larynx than I usually use. I also made a big change in how I recorded it. I recorded the vocals in sections, but in sequence. I recorded the first section of verses on one track. Then stop, then start another track for the second section. Then start another track for the first chorus. That way, I had stilll had some continuity to the song. All the tracks were recorded in the space of an hour, so it's technically the same voice. My reason for doing this was to make it easier on Keith to mix. Each section could be moved as necessary and mixed separately, as needed. For example, if a different effect was required on the choruses or just one chorus, that could be done. So, for example, the last chorus is faded back, relative to the other choruses.

I was last recording "Heaven on their Minds" for my brother, slstone. He had asked that I keep the same mic placement. I did the same for this song, when it would have been better if I moved the mic in for the verses. As I sing those quite soft in volume and blast away on the high parts. That is, Keith, who mixed this for me, had to mix based on the max volume of the high parts.

I'm still not sure if this song is right for my voice, or vice versa and I fear there was a smidge of trying to sound like the original singer, especially as I watched a live performance to get the "vibe" of the song. But Keith thought I could do it and so I did it, for him.

So, I dedicate this to Keith. And all metal opera singers.

http://dl2.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Full%20Moon%20cover%20by%20Ron.mp3

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This song... I can't begin to explain how much it means to me. If there is one song you would have to choose for how it affects you, how it moves you, how much it means to you - this one be my pick and it has remained as such throughout all these years. I e-mailed some with Tony Kakko (singer and keyboardist on this song) and he gave me lots of good advice for singing. Mainly he told me that if I would ever wish to stand on stage, do cardio. And lots of it, haha!

Anywho, I will be quite harsh and honest with the critique, I hope you won't mind that Ron...

This is a song I can't sing for the life of me. The narrow vowels that you hit in chest voice.. It's beyond me. You do it cleanly and what sounds to be without any strain... I am jealous to the point I want to punch my screen and curse my vocal folds... So really, big ups for "keeping it chesty", I love your tone and you would make an AMAZING power metal singer due to the clean nature of vocals (as compared to many other forms of metal).

However... It pains me to say but you are more off pitch than on pitch. It's a difficult song to sing and hitting the notes, as you say - spot on - is a daunting task. It really takes balls to give this song a go, even more so to post it. I notice you do alot of variations to the melody, I don't know if they are intentional or not but in a song like this, where the melody really is it's strongest suite, it's forte, I would try to stick to it as much as possible, possibly adding some twists and turns to the end of phrases and bars :)

Anyway, I hope I don't come across as rude... You have a phenomenal voice and if you did a little bit of pitch practice I could listen to you for hours.

PS: The instrumental. Where did you get it? I would love to try and give this one a try too... Either this one, Replica or Talullah... :3

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Yeah, this song is a bit of a nightmare to sing, I know I have tried. Something about the phrasing I can't seem to get, and of course the high notes I can't hit. And yes, balls of steel to try this one . For not knowing the song and only listening to it a little I think ya did great. I wish you were singing it at my house so I could record it here lol, might have been easier to get the dynamics right. Anyway , I'll be sending you another one to cover soon :)

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Aye. This song was an early endevour for the band and Tony did some amazing things on it - things he unfortunately can no longer do. He sung too high, for too long, straining his high notes (he's not a natural tenor like Ron) and whenever he aims to shoot high nowadays, he does so with enormous amounts of grit and he entirely skips alot of the very highest notes or simply resort to falsetto shrieks.

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Thanks, Snejk. I might have done better if I were singing a little more naturally. And sorry about varying the melody. I didn't realize I was treading on "holy ground." ;)

I'll work on the pitch, too. I was trying to sound as much like him as I could and should know better. Well, if I'm in for one sacrilege, why not another. Perhaps I should have done a Robert Plant version of this.

:D

We'll see what other gymnastics Keith as arranged for me.

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I always love your voice Ronsw, it's one of the most unique on the forum and always passionate! I could probably spot your voice out of hundreds and it never sounds phoned in. This song sounds like absolute hell to sing properly too, there is no way I could have done this.

As much as I love your voice though, I think Snejk is onto something here, in that if you can work on pitch control and phrasing here and there, you will be near perfecting your voice. Honestly, I suspect the hardest part is you probably aren't getting enough time to do regular pitching exercises. As mundane as it is, just singing along with scales, intervals, lip bubbles regularly, etc, helps a lot.

Another thing that helped for me and I'm having my friend who is learning singing trying the same right now, is to sing a song very, very, very slowly and get every single note on pitch and internalizing the phrasing before considering the song 'finished.'

What do all of these things have in common? They require a fair amount of free time and perseverance and they can be boring. And when you're working and busy with day to day life and are just looking for a good time, it's a lot more fun to record a song. I'm really happy you're doing that, cause we get to hear it.

But to show you some tough love man, you have an incredibly unique, powerful, expressive, and artistically viable voice, but if you can iron out any troubles remaining, I'm asking you to put 100 percent behind it. And I'm not asking that to be critical or a dick, but I'm asking because it's that damned good and it deserves 100 percent.

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Thanks for the tough love guys, and the sideways compliments that fit in with it. Killer, that is one of the greatest compliments, that I have a unique and unmistakable voice.

And I did work on this song, sometimes trying a different section a few different ways and you have shown me that I have not done enough prep, regardless. It's not that I can't sing on pitch. But this song was new to me and what you hear is really improvised. I heard the song a few times, including a live performance described eloquently by Snejk. Bing'd the lyrics and printed those off.

I got hoisted by my own petard, as it were. There've been a number of songs where, even if I didn't play them for years, or have not played them in years, I still did a good version in 3 tries, recording the 3rd try. I just didn't mention that because it ticks people off.

That being said, some songs I have heard forever just don't fit my voice. This one, however, I should have prepared better and spent more time recording. Some of the notes I sang were a personal choice and that is the chance I take recording a song that so many others know. They cannot help but compare to the original. Even I catch myself doing that, with myself.

Pitch issues for this could have been fixed by more prep on this song, as well as just pitching practice, in general.

It is also been suggested that I get ahold of an in-line compressor/limiter. Right now, it is just the e835 jacked right into a USB interface, jacked into the computer ("Frankenstein", built by a friend in 2005 using spare parts from other builds. It has a 40G hd, which was "big" at the time.) A 330 MHz processor, a few memory cards and it's pretty full as far as empty slots go. Even if I changed hd's and could add some memory, I would need a new CPU that can handle the increased size, otherwise, it would bog down searching or queuing.

About the only thing I can work on right now is pitch problems.

And thanks, Geno. One of these days, I hope to record as well as you do and take from your example. To make a perfect recording, which highlights your voice, rather than detracting from it. And that can mean simply not recording a part on a given day if the voice is not behaving that day. So, instead of an hour to record the whole thing, it may take a week.

And more familiarity with the song, until it is fitted in with my voice. There really is a difference between singing scales on proper vowels and then singing a lyric at tempo with articulation. A song I have sang for 33 years has just about no pitch issues.

note to self; quit recording sight-singing attempts and posting them. :lol:

And even I can mature, now and then. The "criticisms" made are about the sounds I made, not my worth as a person, etc. It's similar to having a golf coach who corrects your swing or your grip as you approach the ball. For that, I am always thankful.

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hey Ronws, this is a pretty awesome cover! its sounds really challenging, but its cool you can even do that! ill put in my two cents i guess, though it feels weird kinda criticizing someone who's much more experienced than i am. I noticed on some of the high stuff, that it sounds like your throat is constricting, as in getting smaller in diameter, which gives it a sound kind of like Stitch from lilo and stitch. I have that habit too sometimes. it is pretty easy to do on the high notes. i guess think about keeping it open? haha im sure someone here can tell you how to change that if you want to change it. but other than that i thought it was a great cover!

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Thanks, Jason. I think what you are hearing is an artifact of the recording and mixing process,as well as vowel usage. When I am singing, I feel as if I have no throat. And I have a lot of volume up top. I mean, a LOT of volume.

And your comments are welcome. I have been singing a really long time but I still learn something new, sometimes from beginners, sometimes from experts in the field with way more knowledge and creds and even a bigger range than I have. Someone has said we are never finished, as singers. But that might be said of any musician. What we do is constantly evolve.

And thank you for the compliments, too.

It's funny, just walking around the house taking care of this and that, I will sing it now, completely relaxed. I think my problem, whether it shows or not, is "red light" syndrome. I've always been a live singer and have never had a complaint from others in that setting. However, venue is venue and the voice is different each day. That's not just me saying it. In my book of interviews with the world's most famous opera singers, they say the same thing, too, having noticed it in a 2 or 3 night or week long engagement of performances.

Welcome to this forum and everyone here is more than willing to help you with whatever you need.

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Hey bro, its what I call Recording Syndrome. You can do it a million times but when you go to record, you get nervous, just like on stage.

Murphy's law of recording too. You will make all mistakes known to man when recording. Its a given, lol.

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Thanks, Jason. I think what you are hearing is an artifact of the recording and mixing process,as well as....

.

Hey Ronws,

pretty much same comments as everyone else, but you seriously have a nice sounding instrument. thats the first time I hear you sing.

yvon

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Hey Ronws,

pretty much same comments as everyone else, but you seriously have a nice sounding instrument. thats the first time I hear you sing.

yvon

Thanks, Yvon. You could search this section of the forum for my other stuff. Or just find most of it on my profile page on the main site. Look in "my music."

http://www.themodernvocalist.com/profile/RonStone

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ronws, I listenned to it just now, twice.

I didnt like it man :(.

This song is really hard, and the style is plain unforgiving. Overall there are too many things out of pitch, and I can tell they are like this cuz you were kinda searching for the melody as the song progressed. The lower parts sounded really "lousy", some words are plain impossible to understand. Since those problems seems to fade on the higher parts, I can only conclude that you didnt acutually know the melody and the lyrics... This is easy to fix.

You do have a great deal of coordination and agility, and as your voice goes up and you get to those higher parts it gets much more coherent and precise, still, as the vowels change there is too much shift on resonance pattern which really works against the overall aesthetics of your voice, it sounds like you are doing lots of different things, they dont sound connected, lacks legatto. And even on the higher parts, some notes where squeezed and didnt reach the correct pitch.

On the mix itself: The lower parts could benefit greatly of more compression and the whole vocal line would improve a bit if you could bring more bottom end around 200/300Hz and maybe take a little bit off around the mid/high mids, I heard some rough edges around there. Specially on the higher parts I would try to bring more bottom end, the idea is to make them sound somewhat the same. I missed clarity too, a gentle boost around 8Khz could help, maybe you will need a desser to tame the sibilance. I think this could somewhat improve the overall result but is by no means a fix for it. If you want, send me the files and Ill give it a shot.

Overall: Didnt sound nice, slow things down, try to consolidate the lower notes a little better on easier material. And if you aim to sing stuff in this level of difficulty, I personaly think that you will need to work with a coach.

GL!

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  • 3 weeks later...

How awesome isn't that??? Doing a Power Metal number on prime time television!! :P

Sad as it is however he totally butchered it... Extremely much off-pitch and a very insecure/wobbly voice... I'm amazed he got as far to get to being voted on o_O

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He was the winner for that season..he got 86% of the vote. Looking forward to if American Idol ever allows that. I was extremely surprised last year when they let James Durbin do Judas Priest. First time they ever let anyone do a metal song.

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Man, I thought this thread would die a peaceful death, be cremated, and buried quietly at sea.

Let me try to reiterate some items.

Backing tracks were provided by another. He also mixed it for me. And I am not blaming him for anything. He can only mix what I have sent. Dynamics was caused by me not changing mix proximity. I was still keeping the same distance like I had to for my brother to mix something he wanted me to record. Normally, I change mic proximity because of dynamics in my interpretation of the song. It's funny you should mention de-esser. He who mixed it for me actually captures my consonants and articulation better than others.

There's the next problem or mistake of mine. Doing a song that many others believe can only be sung one way, like the original. If I had known, I might not have done this song, no matter how much I wanted to.Or this style of singing.

Recording-wise, the best piece of equipment I have is the Sennheiser e835. (I got it for half of retail on ebay.) It is plugged into a Guitarface II USB interface. That is plugged into "Frankenstein." Frankenstein is my computer. It was built in 2005 out of spare parts a friend had. The 40G hard drive had been laying around a while, still in the wrapper, before he used it. Onboard sound chip, no fancy plug-in sound card. No in-line pre-amp compressor/limiter. Recorded into Audacity (freeware) which has its own issues with latency, timing, tempo. I have to record with one headphone off and no play-through on the mic.

Other mistakes of mine (for they are legion ...)

I listened to this song exactly 3 times. Two times with the album version, which is auto-tuned. (I know many people choose to believe that albums are not autotuned but they are and it is totally against the wishes of the recording artist and that's just the way it is.) 3rd time, a live performance, where the singer couldn't sing the highs any more and was growling them.

When I recorded, that was the first and only take. And I sang it in sections. Record one section, back up a smidge, record the next section. Align the section and check for tempo and sent it off to be mixed. He who mixed it for me heard the raw tracks more than I did. Still going off the model of being the tempermental PITA artiste and let someone else be producer. And let him decide if I needed to re-record something, which is part of why I recorded in sections. He had total free reign to hav me re-record anything.

Basically, I was sight-singing by ear, without a score in front of me.

Next mistake. I recorded this at the end of a really long day, on a weekday. My work is an hour away from home and my workday is no less than 10 hours long. Phone calls all day. Even on the way home. And a load of stress that you cannot possibly imagine and I would not want you to. In fact, I am currently responsible for details on a project that was completed way before I ever came to this company. Being tired affected the legato, recording in sections aside, which I think also affected legato.

Next mistake, I was trying to sing similar to the original with an oscuro sound, easier for him since he is a lyric baritone and I am not.

You are so right, Felipe. I should have had a coach. And I know what a good coach would have told me.

Don't record when you are tired. Wait until Saturday, around noon, when you are fully rested and stress is minimal.

Get rid of that oscuro. It doesn't fit your voice on this song. Sing in your own voice.

Corollary to previous, sing a song that fits your style. Even if you can do this song, range-wise, is it really suited for you? Do you do well in this style? And even if you do, it doesn't mean that you will sound "right" on this song. (and he would have been right. For I have done other songs easily in my range that I have known for years. and not sound right because the song is wrong for my voice. My version of "I RememberYou" stinks so bad even I tell myself to stop singing that song.) The voice is not plug-n-play. Not every voice can do every song to everyone's liking. (In so many words, that is what coaches such as Jaime Vendera have said.)

A good coach would also say, don't record this cold, as in no rehearsal. What you do live does not cut it in recording. Totally divorce yourself from your "live singer" thing when recording. Otherwise, the variances we all have will be captured forever, amen. Don't record a song you have never heard before the week you decide to record it.

But don't worry, I don't listen to such wisdom. I am planning on recording another heavy metal aria. But I will not put it up until I have perfected each section. For recording something is wholly different from performing it, live.

Another thing that either a vocal coach or more accurately a performing coach would say is, don't sing a song just because you, as an artist,want to sing it. Consider the audience. What does that song mean for them? Ronnie James Dio did a cover of "Dream On" on an Aerosmith tribute album. He did not do the high note. He knows what the audience expects and did a different note, instead. That also extends to whether one should even do a song.

And it's to experiment with other styles. Have fun.

Again, you are right, Felipe, I should have had a coach on this one.

Others have made mention of me being pitchy. And it has stuck in my brain. To where I listen now, for pitchiness. And hear it myself and others, even pros. Live, Kiske went flat a few times. As did Mick Jagger. And it is easy to get hung up on that. But it makes me pay attention to what I am doing. I was told by someone that I was pitchy on my cover of "Stairway to Heaven." I couldn't hear pitchiness, which led me to wonder if I have a problem with my hearing. And I may have pitch problems. And how a sound is eq'd and filtered and flanged and compressed or whether or not I have overloaded the mic may have nothing to do with it. So, I continue to practice and hopefully get better.

And, perhaps, I should wait to record anything until I have worked with a live, in-person vocal coach. That's actually some really good advice, I think. In which case, I'm going to have to stop recording and presenting here. As we say at work, do A, then do B.

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Lots of honesty there Ron. You pretty much picked up the issues in your own analysis.

I thought you made a brave attempt at a difficult track. If it had been me trying it, then I would have taken several sessions, and then probably abandoned it from frustration.

I've never had any vocal coaching. I'd love to and it might help me get where I want to be. In the meantime I use mark 1 ear-holes, listen back to my own work, and read a lot about singing. I think for most musicians there's nothing as honest as listening back to yourself recorded to help you either improve or quit!

I think X-Factor stuff must be the exception, those people perfoming seem to have no self awareness or honesty. Jeez, 99 from a 100 wouldnt even stand on the stage if they really knew what they sounded like. Maybe they have no ability to listen.

Your enthusiasm is fantastic, for both singing and contributing to the board. Your ability to listen is first class, as reflected in the comments you make. Keep on :)

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