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My first song sample

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Hi,

Ok, I'm taking the plunge. As I've said in my intro, I'm new to this and have no equipment, recording programs, sound system backing tracks....nothing. All I have is a video camera. So I stood in my living room and chose a song fairly easy to sing without music. "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. I was going to wait to post something but I figured what the hell. The best way is to go at it head on! No warmups no rehearsing no multiple takes, just me in the raw. (ok ladies...calm down, that's not what I meant :D). I've sung this song (to myself) a lot over the years and was always hesitant to sing it in public because it is sort of a monotone song in my opinion. Unless the arrangement is changed, it is a little boring to me. But I like it and like to sing it anyway.

Maybe I'll post something else soon.

Here goes. Remember I have no lessons and no real knowledge other than what I hear and try to learn on my own. I have only sang in front of anyone about 3 times in my life. I know this song doesn't show much. but...

Be gentle

http://youtu.be/QJaSs8nSeqk

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That's a neat Colin Hayes - like vibrato. You got lost in the melody once or twice. By that, I mean, it was fine to sing around a central pitch. Then you modulated while in the chorus and centered around that note rather than return to the tonic in the verses. That is, your pitch control was great. You just changed where the song centered. And I could see where you might think it was monotone because you think the song always returns to a center pitch.

A danger of doing a capella. And not bad for a song you don't do that often.

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Very, very nice. Well projected, relaxed and pleasant to hear. You have a very interesting tone and even the basics of forward focus going. The technical problems show in the higher parts but it is absolutely normal and yet you show great awareness to not try to force it.

Work on your voice with a good coach but keep in mind that this freedom you have on the verses MUST remain. You already have this reference and it is solid.

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Thanks guys, I appreciate the feedback. Actually I am pleased and surprised at the same time. When I sing to myself I think it is good. But when I hear it recorded I hate it. I was on another forum for harmonica playing and whenever I made a video for critique of my harmonica playing I would get comments on my singing which wasn't the point of the video. That surprised me also because I didn't think it sounded good when I heard it played back. Believe me, there is plenty of stuff I sing (to music) that is very pitchy!!:D

I have my first lesson scheduled for next week. Maybe I can really get better at this.

Thanks

Tommy

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Thanks Jewels, I really appreciate that. lol at the floor creaking. After I recorded it and played it back I heard it. I was wondering if anyone would be listening and saying, what the hell is that noise :D Next time I'll have to find a quiet spot in the room! Maybe I'll stand on the couch. :P

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So: PF portamentos down a P4 smoothly(actually he hangs on the C a little). You quickly glissando down a little over a P4(maybe not a big deal) but you also increase your pitch slightly at the start and at the end(probably to get back into a P4. The biggest issue here is the phrasing. It is just too quick.

So you think you can tell: Pitch wise it's pretty close. This biggest problem is phrasing. PF is pretty much singing exactly on every 8th note while you are making some notes slightly longer and others shorter in a more slurred way.

Heaven from hell: On Hell PF sings a quick E note before dropping a whole stop on the last part of ell before the portamento. You sing the E with some pitch variation and go to the D a bit late and again, add vibrato which PF doesn't. You also sing more out of pitch here more.

Blue Skies From Pain: Here you are out of tune. (the right notes but you start singing about a quarter tone off). Your phrasing is off and you add vibrato that isn't there.

Can you tell a green field. The notes are B --- D E but you sing (E -> D) on green. On Feel PF sings a A D F# which you sing a legato A D.

From a cold steel rail: Just completely wrong phrasing.

...

It seems to get progressively worse.

So, here are some points to pay attention to if you want to get closer to PF.

1. Stop the vibrato. Gilmore doesn't use vibrato so you shouldn't.

2. Get the phrasing right. You sing it more like it was R&B than the way PF does it.

3. You have pretty good pitch sense and most of the time you get the right intervals(i.e. notes). Sometimes you seem to sing a bit off(a quarter tone). Singing with harmony would/should fix that though. The biggest problem is that sometimes you vary the pitch of a note instead of hold it constant. I do not know if this is intentional or due to the lack of harmony or what but PF is dead accurate and steady. It could be a confidence thing or just a lack of vocal control.

To me, I think the biggest distraction is the phrasing/feel. When you sing it with the feel/phrasing you have it changes the mood. I think you got good enough pitch sense and control so if I were you I would focus on phrasing and dynamics.

I wouldn't do the acapella thing. Even for "help". The song isn't made to be sung acapella and won't sound good and is not representative. Why? Unless you have excellent memory(or practice) of the song if you sing it acapella a lot you'll inevitably sing it wrong and might develop bad habits/phrasing issues.

1. Sing a long with the original track. Preferably the studio version as this sets the bar the highest. Listen to the phrasing: Dynamics, pitch, and timing. I think you got the pitch down for the most part(as good as you need to at this point but you might want to keep in mind the things I said about control). If you get all these down you'll automatically have the right feel/phrasing and you'll sound very close(aside from things you can't control much). Record yourself as a solo track(but as you sing along) for comparisons later.

2. Sing along with a backing track(or if you are in a band do it there). This is the next step. Record yourself and compare to the first. Here you can see what your changing that shouldn't be changed.

3. One you are proficient at 1 and 2 you can start singing it acapella. You would have developed enough understanding of the song and Gilmore's style to do this without creating those bad habits.

If you do this you'll find what you are actually doing is learning Gilmore's singing style and other songs will be easier too. If you can nail one of his songs you'll get most of his songs right off the bat. You will also develop your own senses to understanding how all those different things work. When you try to learn another singers style you'll be able to do it easier because you'll have a conscious ability to understand them.

Of course all this is assuming you really want to master these songs. If you don't care about perfection and then your doing great(you can sing better than probably 99% of the people in the world so it's up to you if you want to

How about you use some headphones and sing along to the track and record yourself? See how much the phrasing changes. It will probably make a big difference. Try to be a bit more conscious of keeping a note steady then letting it be wavy(like a sort of very slow vibrato). When you change the pitch of of a note slightly, say around +-25 cents it makes people feel subconscious let you are not certain of the pitch. 25 cents is quarter tone and is enough to make people feel something is not right(not that It's jarring or noticeable but it is a feeling they get that makes you sound more tense due to the uncertainty). Even if you sing out of tune slightly, it is best to keep the note steady then be "wobbly" trying to search for the correct pitch. It's this searching that creates tension and changes the feeling because if your uncertain then it comes out of your voice and people pick up on it subconsciously. Basically it's about confidence. When you sing confidently your pitch control is stronger and people feel that. When you are nervous it will come out through your voice and people will feel that. If you are not nervous but your voice does things nervous people do it will have the same effect. Again, this is just something to be aware of.

Note that there are many people that sing this song in bands that will sing it much worse than you do. You could go sing this live and people will enjoy it. There is nothing *wrong*, per se, with what you are doing. I'm just trying to point out things that you might not be aware of and can get you closer to sounding like PF. It's totally up to you if you want to go the extra yard or be content with what you are doing down... after all, some people are content to sing out of tune or sing the wrong notes and phrasing completely.

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Stretto,

Thank you very much for your critique. Very informative and thought provoking. But I should point out a few things.

I wouldn't do the acapella thing. Even for "help". The song isn't made to be sung acapella and won't sound good and is not representative. Why? Unless you have excellent memory(or practice) of the song if you sing it acapella a lot you'll inevitably sing it wrong and might develop bad habits/phrasing issues.

I didn't sing it acapella because I felt I was experience enough in the song to do so or that I thought it was the right song for that. I sang it that way because I was forced to :) I have no backing music for it or equipment. I just wanted to get some critique on my voice. I just kind of did it because I had no other choice. Actually, I was out all morning taking my grandaughter to the doctor and was pressed for time as I had to get ready to go out again. I figured I knew that song and could grab the camera, record it and be done in 5 minutes to continue getting ready so that's what I did. Then I uploaded it when I came back later. I agree, I don't see it as an acapella song...I didn't mean it to be...I just had no music for it:)

As far as phrasing and an R&B sound, that's kind of the point for me. I love the blues and I love improvisation. I actually argue about this with a friend of mine who is in a band, all the time. He likes to play songs exactly like the original. I don't and I don't like to hear artists do it that way either. For that I can just buy the album...lol. I like to hear what some one can do with a song or add their own interesting flavor. I always try to add "my" flavor and phrasing.

It may not come out good all the time but then that's how I learn...by mistakes! So my version/interpretation was meant to be different. It was meant to be mine. Hopefully I didn't totally screw up a good song:D But I do understand that some will like certain things while others won't. For me that is what is hardest to deal with with singing unlike other instruments I've attempted. Singing (IMO) is a very personal thing.

So yes, you are correct that I sing things different than Gilmore/PF and add vibratto where it isn't. This was my version.

BUT, I thought your review/critique was excellent and informative for a learner like me and am glad that you took the time to listen closely and write an in depth review.

Actually I truly thank all the responded here. I am happy with the reviews. I hope my next song goes at least as well. :/

Thanks

Tommy

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A couple of things. First, and this gets back to song choice.

I've been reading the ad hoc history of Black Sabbath through interviews with everyone involved in the band through its mutations. Most telling was the interview with Glenn Hughes during the time he was with them. They were expecting him to sing like Ozzy. Ozzy, like Gilmour, is a bit of a straight-tone singer. Almost no vibrato save for something done for effect and is mostly done with their breath support. As opposed to yours, Tommy. Yours is like Colin Hayes from Men At Work. Your vibrato is laryngeal, from what I can hear. And is, indeed, more suited for R & B, ska, reggae, soul, and even much of the blues.

There are singers out there who are more skilled and have prettier voices than Ozzy or David. And you are one of those with a prettier voice. I can sometimes be torn between singing a song that is not meant for my voice but I do it anyway because the song means that much to me. My personal example is "Highway to Hell." I really love that song and will continue to sing it and horrify people, even though I sound nothing like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson and would hurt myself if I tried to do so.

To get back to my point about Glenn Hughes. He's always been a bit of a soul singer, by his own words. It is completely within his voice and expression to add vibrato, whoops, and trills. And when he did it on stage, the other band members, notably Geezer and Tony were telling him to never sing Black Sabbath stuff like that, again. So, it was a mismatch. Plus, Hughes is a devout christian and didn't like the band name. He enjoyed working with Tony on side projects. But he knew he didn't fit the "mold" created by Ozzy's monotonic sound.

So, I would agree, do the song, if you want to, though this was really just an example of your voice and not you reaching for the effect of Pink Floyd, nor you expressing your penultimate for all things PF. It's just a song that you know how to sing and wanted to sing. Others have their idol and compare everything to that and assume you are doing the same. So, then, they don't know what to do with you if you are not "trying to sound like singer x." I would rather you sound like Tommy which, fortunately, you already do. If you care to expand range and your dynamic control, that you can and will do. The hardest part will be changing your mind. Allowing yourself to make "odd" sounds until you have re-calibrated your voice, within its limits, of course. Singing is mental.

I've done the song, too, while playing my guitar. And I don't really sound like Gilmour and take liberties with the lyrics, too. And don't care if I sound like them, or not. So, when I like your singing of it, it's because I am not comparing you to PF. I am reviewing you on what I think are the merits of your voice. Not a lot of people can see from my perspective. And it earns me the reputation as a cheerleader who will not be "blunt" and therefore allow others to follow the wrong path by receiving compliments, instead of "tough love" criticism.

And I can do a song in a way that I like that many others might not. And that's okay, too. Everyone judges from their own aesthetic. The other hard part is to detach yourself from the critique. A criticism is not about you as a person. It's about a sound that you made. That one took me a while to understand. Again, it was a matter of changing my mind, the hardest thing of all. Changing of expectations should also go for listeners but that can't always be relied upon to happen.

Nor do I expect you to always sing a capella and learning a capella skills may have their advantages but Steven Tyler still plugs one ear on high notes. On his own songs. Because he will need a reference point. Especially when Joe Perry is playing so stinkin' loud.

Anyway, looking forward to more stuff from you.

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Thanks ronws, it makes sense.

First off I'd like to say that I didn't take Stretto's comments in a bad way. He gave me good food for thought and I am so used to doing my own thing with songs that I never considered that anyone would be comparing. Your points about Sabbath band members telling Hughes not to sing that way make absolute sense and something I never considered. Then again, I spent years singing rock songs (to myself..lol) so I thing I would sing the pure rock songs straight. The vibrato thing is something that developed over the years and it seems to just happen now almost uncontrollably. It just inserts itself. I know it is from the throat more or less and I am trying to train myself to do it from the belly but with no great success thus far. I consider myself new to this because I have no training and have only started to "study" or should I say look into, singing technique a few months ago. But as far as the act of actually singing. I have been doing that since I was a kid; just haphazardly. But I was just singing to myself in the shower and car and once and awhile for a friend or two. My point is that over the years I have played around with my voice trying to do my own thing. I can quite often mimic songs but usually "ME" ends up showing up if I sing the song enough :D I think I sing "Wish You Were Here" more like Gilmore (or at least his phrasing etc...not sounding like him) when I sing along with the actual recording.

I'm thinking of doing Clapton for my next video...blues. A Freddie king number "Have You Ever Loved a Woman." But then again I'm itching for some real critique...Like by doing "Don't let the Sun Go Down on Me" where I have to stretch and I tend to go out of pitch more (with Elton John songs).

I have already learned something from this thread. Thanks

I'm excited about my first lesson/coaching on Wednesday.

Tommy

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Tommy:

Yes, It is fine if you want to do it your way(after all, it's music). Just don't fall in the mind set of doing it your way because you can't do it the "right" way. Your vocal technique seems pretty decent, specially for someone untrained.

One thing you have to realize from a working band's perspective(which I suppose you are not in so it's kinda moot but may give you the "other side"):

The "record" is the template and what to judge against. Everyone in the band can learn it like the record separately, get together without any rehearsal on it and play it "exactly". If you get someone that isn't playing it right(or learning from a different version of the song) it can throw everything off. Vocals are the most important usually since they are the center piece and is what everyone focuses on and keeps everyone in check. When you do things "different" there is no template or guide to follow. You are in uncharted waters. This is very bad for a band since it can result in loss of jobs/profit, followers, success, etc... Why is this important? Because your audience judges your sound on 3 things: 1: Image. 2: Sound quality. 3: Against the CD(assuming it is not an original or just completely different style).

If you are not in a band and don't ever want to be in a band then it doesn't matter. Your voice is perfectly fine if you want to do karaoke or something like that(in fact better than most). As I said, I was just pointing out the things you can do if you want to get closer to PF's sound. I'm not a vocalist so I can't really comment too much on the technical issues you have(things you'll probably need a vocal coach for).

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Actually, a long-lasting band is made up of people who can gell with each other, whether they fit another mold, or not. I can't think of Mick Jagger making it in another band of another style. But he will always be the man for the Rolling Stones. Period, paragraph, new book. And he doesn't fit anyone's mold except his own. And has more money than just about anyone here will ever see.

Not bad for a guy that didn't try to sound like someone else.

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Thanks Jewels, I really appreciate that. lol at the floor creaking. After I recorded it and played it back I heard it. I was wondering if anyone would be listening and saying, what the hell is that noise :D Next time I'll have to find a quiet spot in the room! Maybe I'll stand on the couch. :P

Haha you don't have to that! It stinks how cameras pick up all the sounds around them, wish they had a microphone option on them!

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Thanks Stretto, I understand completely and can't say I disagree. :) I think that most of the songs I sing, I can sing pretty close to the original (or at least I used to). I have just sung them so much over the years I thought it was time I added my own flavor and that is what has happened to most of my singing. These days it kind of happens automatically though. But you bring up a good point. If I really think about it, I think I have become comfortable with controlling my voice in some areas and if I feel unsure or that I may not hit a certain note I automatically change the phrasing or the notes/melody somewhat to fit me. Bad habit now that you mention it. It may be becoming a crutch. But again, no band!! :D Plus I do a lot of blues so in between the 12 bars (12 bar blues) anything goes. That may be part of my vocal freedom/playing with the vocals and lyrics, and where it comes from. But yea, learning it the original way is a good idea if I have to share time with other musicians.

Thanks again, it's all good ;)

Tommy

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Well, I always try to push people to be the best they can. Most people have the ability to be quite amazing(relatively speaking) but they tend to either be lazy or unaware. It's not my decision to determine if a person wants to be the best or not but I assume they do. Most people I talk to say things like "I want to be famous one day" or whatever. Usually it is younger people as older people have already given up(after all, this is a young persons world).

I personally feel that I should always work to improve things since that is the only way for me to get better. I'm not perfect and sometimes I'm lazy but if I don't try I won't magically get better. For you, it is your decision. I know a older country singer that knows thousands of songs and seems to never forget any lyrics. He's a decent singer and he can entertain a crowd. But he just doesn't care about getting better(of course he says he wants to get better but he makes no effort).

Anyways, it's totally up to you. I just try to provide a little water for the seed...

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