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My cover of Journey's "Open Arms" - please read

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berniemcpeak
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I haven't put anything up in a little while because, well life's been busy and I just haven't been "feeling" it lately. But the last couple of days I started feeling the need to get this one out of me. This song is more difficult than it seems, but I felt like I was in good voice and ready to give it a go. Unfortunately I was given a less than satisfactory review by someone close to me. Her comment was "well, it was okay but it lacked passion". This comment really caught me off guard, because if I don't "feel it" I won't sing it. I thought I carried this one pretty well, so I'm trying to hear what she heard, or didn't, as it were. I'd appreciate any feed back you guys could give me on this on. Am I "lacking passion" on this one?

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When you say you needed to get this one out, why is that? Is it a song you have done a long time or really feel or was it a chance to match others?

You are running into an effect I have encountered and I have learned to embrace it, rather than fight against it. That's the wisdom of growing old. Learn to pick which battles. I've received the most applause from songs that sound believable in my voice. As if I had written them.

Technically, you were spot-on. Excellent pitch, timing, relevant volume. I also could hear how you were trying to match the lightness of being that is Steve Perry. So, you did all the "right" things and it is not connecting with at least one in your audience. And the audience is whoever is listening to us, be it the critical one here in the forum, or the family and friends we are often singing to, to the interested or disinterested crowd at (for example) the Library Bar & Grill. (ancient history, a place in Sherman, Texas. It used to be a house, then later, a small independent library. And finally, a bar and grill and live music venue (outside stage in what was originally a large backyard. And actually, I have seen better response from a crowd, in general, at Loose Wheels in Denison. Two stages. Open mic stage in the restaurant part, featured performer stage outside.)

And you cannot please everyone. I did a song that I wanted a number of people to try, as they would have voice more "suited" for the song than mine but none would take it, as they didn't "feel" it. So, I did it. And some thought I should sing it lower. So, I found a way to sing parts of it lower. And got applause. Except for one guy, who thought it was crap and took the time to tell me so. Then again, he has not liked one thing I have done, ever.

Anyway, point being, it's not the end of the world. I think it can be tougher to take criticism, however it is founded, when we normally get applause. We're using the same voice, right? How can we get kudos, high number of downloads, etcetera on this one and not that one? C'est la Vie.

I have received crticism here, more than once, because I do not sound like the original singer on a few songs. At least once, I was told that I should not sing the song unless I can sound like the original singer. I received critique on one song, even though I was singing technically better than the original.

That is, technical precision did not matter. Breadth of material and even trying to sound like the original, in some cases, did not matter. Simply put, did it sound believable to the audience at that point in time? And they could return and give me a "Bravo" on something else, the next day. So, the type of day a singer or a reviewer has had can also make a difference.

Very few people, and I am one of the very few, can differentiate between personality and artistic effort. I have received scathing emails from a few here, including the statement that I do not know what I am talking about and should start all over again, from scratch and that I should really shut up and on and on and you get the point. Yet, this or that person can put up a posting of their cover of something and if I thought it was good, I will say so, personality conflict aside. Then, again, I'm a grown man and capable of such things.

So, are you looking for us to counteract or prove your reviewer with the close relationship is wrong? I don't think I can do that because I cannot control my audience, let alone your audience.

I liked what you did as an artistic venture. Was it believable? Mas o menos. We've had so many Journey covers here that it is easy to get jaded, just as it was for me for "Hallelujah." Every other newbie, for a while, came in with another Buckley - esque cover of the song.

On the other hand, I did a cover of a song that I had no special "feel" invested. I did it on a dare. Sight-reading and sight-singing, first take, only take. Not unlike doing a karaoke dare in a bar, straight up, cold shot. The inevitable folly of rednecks "hold my beer, watch this." And I received some of the most scathing reviews, ever. I do not sound like the original singer, though I have the technically better range for the song. The "feeling" wasn't there for me and certainly none was perceived as correct by the reviewers. And it might have hurt worse if I had labored over the song for some time and still received "I'm just not getting it" reviews.

Other times, I have posted songs that I have literally done for a decade or more and not received a single comment. Not good job, not, please for the love of God stop making that sound, nothing, nada, zip. Chirping crickets were my audience.

And it may depend on what feeling you were transmitting when you recorded. Maybe others pick up on your feeling too well and just were not feeling what they expect to, with this particular song.

That leaves the undefinable x factor with a particular audience on a particular night. You were technically perfect and on another night, receive much applause. That happens, too. Big pros have had nights where they were totally in the groove, nailing every part as easy as they breathe. And the audience lays there like a fallen log.

In the end, I have no answers. I thought you did well. Journey was huge when I was in high school. And even though you don't sound like Steve Perry, I was not expecting you to, either.

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Bernie, If you had not written anything and just posted for comment I would have merely said "WOW!". I have also TRIED this song. At this point in my singing there is no way that I can input the passion as I feel it into the singing.

I did not hear anything inherently wrong with your singing, nothing to be anylized or Fixed. I did not detect any lack in passion. But I have not heard you sing enough to judge whether this song matches the passion you put into another song.

I felt that it had plenty of passion.

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Bernie, you did one of my all time favorite Journey songs and I believe you really did it Justice! :o ) I did not think it was a flawless performance because I thought it sounded like you were a bit sharp when you sang WE SAILED ON TOGETHER, WE DRIFTED APART. But then it seemed like you nailed the rest of it in regards to pitch. I also thought there might have been one small spot where you fell behind the beat for just a second, but then again, Soundcloud files do not play well on my PC so I could be mistaken. I'm guessing that the lack of passion that your friend was hearing, was actually in the fault of the Mix. Seems like the music was drowning you out, especially during the 2nd part of the song. I honestly think that if your vox had been louder, the women that was close to you wouldn't have felt the same way. I thought the tone of your voice and your range fit this song very well and I for one, am a bit Jealous.Heehee Very Nice Job, Bernie. :o )

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I thought you sounded really good on this one. Your voice fits the song nicely, and it didn't sound like it lacked passion at all. You had really good dynamic phrasing - soft or strong depending on the emotion of the phrase... and it sounded quite natural. That's a tough song. It's actually the last song I recorded, and I'm still working on it.

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It sounds well done to me.

There were a couple of places that you were off-pitch in a very minor way (some say I have a sharp ear :) ) but it was not the high notes .... it was the low places where you were likely resting and less focused.

Forget about comments about things like "passion". Unless nearly everybody says that, you can rest assured what one or two or three people feel is a product of their current state --- a very subjective opinion that is a function of all kinds of things going on inside them. If you felt the song while singing it, you have done the needful.

The very last thing one needs to worry about is to sing like the original. What is best --- always --- is authenticity.

In this gadget crazy world of electronica, that authenticity is harder and harder to come by. But when it is there,

you see it instantly ...... and like a painting, it has great value.

Keep it up. :)

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Thank you so much for the input. It is greatly appreciated.

Ron, thanks for such an insightful response. So, when I said "I needed to get this one out" it's because I've been wanting to do it for a while and I had planned on doing it back at the end of October and then I strained my voice during Halloween. It's taken until this last week or so for my voice to recover enough to feel comfortable in the "Perry zone". I completely agree with what you stated about one's audience. I guess i was caught off guard by her critique because I can understand when someone points out where I flat or sharp or off tempo, but "passion" was such a subjective term that I didn't know how to process it. So I asked her to clarify her point and she told me that it was just that she feels I have sung it better in the past. In stopping to think about it I realized something. She had only ever heard me sing it in the car or at home, with the song playing loud enough where I felt comfortable really letting the air out of my lungs. With this in mind I came to understand what she was saying. With certain songs, when I listen to a voice like Perry's, I can "let go" and really sing in my power range when I have the tune turned up a ways. It just feels like it flows from me easier. So this time I tried it again, only with the original turned up on my headphones, while singing along into the mic. You can pick up Perry's voice faintly bleeding through my headphones in the background of my vocal recording. Then I took the original song, removed the vocals, and recorded it on one of the tracks. She felt this one was more indicative of how I usually sing it, but I'm not sure about that. Have a listen and tell me what you think.

Ed and Joseph, thank for pointing out where you felt I was flat or sharp. I think I was able to heed your advice in the second take.

MDEW and Geno, thank you for the encouraging words. Yes Geno, it is a much tougher song than most people realize. I really enjoyed your cover of it.

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Thanks Ron. After listening to both back to back, I can see what she and you are talking about. It's an interesting effect, that I can let go more with some songs when the original is in my ear and others I have no problem with on my own. Perhaps it's because I've sung that song so many times with the original that I need the "crutch" of having it in my ear. Kind of like a follow-the-leader thing? In my first attempt, which was several takes pieced together, I was constantly nervous on the mic and self-conscious of my voice. The second attempt was one take, one shot. I'm still learning a lot about myself and my voice, and this certainly has made me think about what "my style" is.

Eric

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I really enjoyed it Bernie. I liked your phrasing and the contrast between the light and the strong parts. I felt the emotion of the song. I think the person who said it lacked emotion was influenced by the mix that was burying your voice. Very good job.

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Thanks Gneetapp. I'm still learning this whole mixing thing. My first couple of mixes turned out pretty well, I suppose through dumb luck. As I'm progressing in learning to mix I think I'm trying too hard to find the perfect mix and trying too hard to get it right.

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bernie hi. It is maybe unfair given what you are doing technically, but in my opinion you are just having trouble with the phrasing.

The first verses, when they kick in, you must catch the attention of the listenner. I believe you tried to do so but your choice was not the best for the job.

The keys are doing the same melody as you, so if you just do a linear phrasing, it gets old very fast.

Listen to the original version, and hear what he is doing. Now listeb to yours. You will see that you are attacking most of the notes, like this:

LyIng BeSide You

Panpan PanPan Pan

Try to turn your phrasing into this:

Lying besIde you

Panan... pananan

Here in the dark

Panan pan pan

If you have a hard time to imagine it, its the difference of using a pick to play a note (percursive/marked attack) and using hammer on/off/bend/slide (legatto/continuous) on a guitar.

And also the dynamics. You got the idea but you are not using it enough, when they go down, really go soft. "Beside you" and "The dark" , for example, you can be softer in there. Still about the dynamics, the bridge, keep at mezzo and use a more marked phrasing/open vowels to give the idea of crescendo, so that you have room on the chorus to create some peaks. (here-I am-here-I stand).

These things, where to mark more the attacks, where to use more legatto, where to go soft and where to go strong, are very important, try to listen to the original and map down these details one at a time.

Basicly you have the technique necessary but your understandment of the language is still lacking a bit. I would use a more open posture in the overall but thats of little importance compared to the phrasing.

And oh, the passion you mentioned, thats very important, keep it.

Hope it helps, I dont think it sounds bad btw, I think it sounds fine, probably this person that listenned thinks that you can do better, and I agree.

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Yes, Awesome post Felipe. The phrasing makes a big difference. You can turn a statement into a question just by breaking the connection between words and coupling them different. The rhythm of the words can also change meaning and emotion.

The analogy of the guitar phrase was awesome.

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