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Baritone singing tenor pop!?

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Mr Bounce
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Hey guys,

How does a baritone convincingly sing chesty tenor pop that sits around the passagio? Here's a clip of me singing a part of of When You Were Young by The Killers.

http://soundcloud.com/tjg2011/when-you-were-young-snippet

When I do it with my band they say that it's actually an interesting change (btw it's more in tune when I do it with the band ;)) from the original which is somewhat monotonous. But I'm actually interested in how to get that chesty tone that Brandon uses on the recording. Sure, he was never known for his vocal technique on those records but it's a sound I'm trying to capture because most people want their favourite songs to sound how they sound.

Also of note: those spoken-word phrases are hard for me to get. Such as "you play forgiveness, watch it now, here it comes!" and "I know we can make it if we take it slow. Let's take it easy, easy now, watch it go!" There is a pitch there but it's definitely not lying within any scale I can determine. I just try to "attitude" it but are there any other ways of approaching that kind of thing?

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Good cover. First off, you need to get those phrases down. Then try making your head voice louder first off and see if that works or not. If it doesn't then try to sing deeper, I've sung this song both in his octave and an octave lower, and they both sound good because I'm putting in a lower tone.

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I don't know what a baritone should do.

I just wanted to say that I liked your cover. It had a punk element to it. Something that a more hardcore version of Green Day could do. Except that you obviously sing higher than Billy Joe Armstrong.

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Dover I understand what you mean about the phrasing, I'm definitely not doing it how the original is done. I'm not too worried about that but thanks for commenting. Also, I think that singing it down an octave is not good. It has no energy.

Thank you ronws. I'm a self-taught singer so I really appreciate all feedback, negative or positive, it all helps.

Owen, thats the thing. I'm trying to get more body in this vocal. Admittedly this particular take is quite gentle, but overall I am trying to get some more balls in my passagio singing without straining! I have bought Robert's programme and I use his concepts to warm up with and train. I'm not sure if his overall aesthetic is in line with mine however.

I guess the main point of this thread was to talk about how baritones can sing tenor songs with similar weight (if it's possible). Chestiness, CT/TA activation and all that jazz; I'd love to hear even more input!

EDIT: Dover, I'd love to hear you demonstrate what you're talking about if you would :)

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Range has nothing to do with vocal weight. Everyone has a unique voice, so there will be cases when someone will naturally have a similar vocal weight to another person, and other cases where their weights are completely different. From what I've heard in your cover, it seems like you have a lot of potential for getting Brandon's production.

Tone wise you can choose any tone you want, it's just not gonna change permanently, because that would mean your voice changing into something different. And It's important to experiment with your vocal areas that are less natural.

Compared to one of my favorite tenor singers that I sing along too, my voice is much lighter and not as sharp/high pitched at the high notes. The notes range around d4-Bb4, and in some cases I will put extra chest into the notes, but this only works well if I'm already warmed up and might put extra tax on my muscles. I also can't attain his exact pitch until I get up into my ct/ta voice.

That being said, learning how to use your tone takes a long time. So it's all up to how you want to produce your voice and how you want to emulate it if need be. And the most important thing is to not strain or hurt your chords!

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There isnt such thing as a tenor pop, I dont hear a baritonal timbre in this and the main problem on the recording is the interpretation line, its completely different from the original, even the melody is different... its hard to recognize the song... I mean, its ok if you want to do it different, but its impossible to do it completely different and still sound like the original (you want the power, the power IS on the phrasing of the verses).

Id say listen to the original more, and deliver more power on the phrasing both by using a stronger intention and defining well the melody and lyrics, it will sound MUCH better. Learning how to use a stronger intention without getting hurt is the problem, I am becoming repetitive, but for look for a coach...

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I have to agree with Felipe. I didn't hear a lot of what I think is baritonic quality in this. Then, like I said, this sounds like something Green Day could have done if they wanted to go a little more hardcore punk and Billy Joe Armstrong is a baritone. I don't think he could sing a C5 if you kick him in the right place.

As for tenor pop, that might be a modern description not supported by classical fach designations. Just as "rock tenor" is a modern description, usually applied to baritones that have learned to sing high, countertenor qualities or otherwise. Then, again, there are singers who defy fach adequately, especially outside the classical arena but it also involves different timbres than on finds in classical. For example, Axl Rose is a bass. but he can sing in the tenor range, though it is overtly nasal and "gritty." It was not until the song "IRS" that I heard him sing a relatively clean high note. But, when he is singing bass, as he does on "Shackler's Revenge," his tone is clean and legit.

please excuse the uploader's misrepresentation of the lyrics. The sound quality is good, though.

Classically, he would be cast in bass and dramatic baritone roles.

Just as, Rik Emmett from Triumph would never be cast in the original role of Caiaphas from Jesus Christ, Superstar. His voice is too high. He could not even "fake" bass. Neither could Steve Perry. You will probably never hear him cover "Silent Lucidity" by Queensryche, even if he were to do cover songs, in the original key and melody line.

As for doing something completely different, I don't see anything wrong with that. I like the way Guns and Roses did a brief reggae version of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Then, again, just about everyone has made a bigger hit of Bob Dylan than ole' Bob, himself.

Dover also makes good points, some that I have made, myself. And not only is each voice different, it is different on each song. I think I sound pretty good on "Holy Diver." I do okay on "Rainbow in the Dark." And I sound like crap on "Last in Line," at least in the previous times I have tried to do it. And that is from trying to match the "weight" of Dio. Which I don't have. And it's not from not working hard enough or trying for enough different effects in the voice. It's that song, with that melody line and those vowels. I could sing it another way that does not hamper my voice. And as Felipe suggests, it will also not sound like the original.

Which needs to the next problem. Expecting someone covering a song to sound like the original. We all do it, even with ourselves. For the original becomes a sound ideal in our heads.

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Hey guys. Just wanted to say that I appreciate all the comments a lot. I took them on board and we did win (local college event). I listened back to this recording and it was like night and day. I think sometimes attitude is a BIG part of a good vocal.

In regards to the comments about phrasing and melody, I must admit I've never been good at copying songs exactly. Perhaps that's a skill I should work on!

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  • 4 months later...

Billy Joe Armstrong is a baritone. I don't think he could sing a C5 if you kick him in the right place.

sorry if I resume this thread, but Billie Joe Amrstrong is not a baritone at all, he's a low tenor which sounds close to a light baritone but he still has tenor cords, he can pull off a very good full A4 without mixing so much which is a note that not all the baritones have.

Judging by your words you haven't seen many recent green day concerts have you? Billie once hit a C#5, he learned to do a gritty mixed voice and often goes higher than a A4 with that, he's been covering some AC/DC and led zeppelin songs also, even though he tends to make a mockery of them when he does.

Believe me, I'm a light baritone and I was forced into a green day tribute but after 3 years I had to give up cause it was hard, and believe me it's hard, Billie doesn't have a very good vocal technique, he just tends to push the chest voice and often sings in very unconfortable ranges (he's often around E4 G4 for entire songs).

So he might sound like a baritone, especially in their golden age, but if you hear the new albums he always sings in the tenor range, so he's either a great singer (which I think not) or he's just a versatile tenor (most likely), I think he's a well gifted low tenor with a characteristic timbre which works great in punk rock songs and even pop.

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