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medcall

Subjectivity of the terms

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Hello everyone,

I used this forum for a couple of times a long time ago and now I think I would like to share my thoughts about this learning process. I have tried many methods including The four pillars ,but mostly I went for the soft way (SLS and SS) of singing although I really like rock and powerful voices but the idea that I got from more "athletic methods" was not the one I had in mind. I had a couple of lessons with a CVT teacher, and also went against my preconception of "singing should be easy". But the thing is : how easy???

I think we all have preconceptions based on many reasons , including the psychological aspects of our way of seeing the world, how hard should be the learning process, which sound I want to have , how healthy is this or that method, how dangerous are some techniques,...and many other influences. But the thing is that I feel now that I have been going round in circles looking for answers and that there is some truth in almost everyone that has created a method and I would say in almost that has tried to learn how to sing and was successful to some extent. It is like trying to choose the car you need to buy. There is always a subjective ingredient that is going to make you think that the one you had in mind is the right one.

I have been trying to get results but I am far from what I think I should be right now, but still moving forward. Some days are better that others of course but I do not think of giving up.

My specific concerns were about the following aspects of the voice and what I thought I should be learning:

-support and its different grades. From what I interpreted from different methods and many videos on youtube some were really intense and others like SLS were softer. I think I might be neglecting something and the truth in "my body" could be something in between these two ideas. Over the last two days I have been trying to pay more attention to the support because my notes between B and F , are really unsupported and for the higher notes my neck is tensing , creating a hole below the larynx.

-chest voice and where to bridge. The idea of bridging around E, F is accepted but I realised that the big problem started around B or middle C until the bridge. I thought i should be lightening around B but after some months of practising I feel now that I do not have a chest voice.

I think that the idea of breathing low and the bridging made my chest area a dead zone. What I mean is that I literally when I try to breath and get support my chest area is dead. It resonates but it is like if it was inactive. I tried to put the resonance more in the chest because I think it was muffled and hidden somewhere in the neck.

Sorry about being so long and disperse, but frustration came tonight and I needed to throw up everything. Is it possible that paying so much attention to not raise the chest while breathing, I created a more inactive area which is needed for the bridging??

I can resonate in the chest, but it is kind of without control when singing a song. I need to raise the volume and I am looking more for a control sensation than a powerful chest without control.

Thanks so much in advance and I hope you the best in this process.

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Well first of all the idea of the voice resonating in the chest is just ridiculously unnecessary and confusing to think about.

Basically the entirety of the voice resonates in the pharynx (throat, mouth, sometimes nose), and how you shape that is what determines "chest" vs. "head" resonance.

Also, you sound like you are going through the typical struggle many SLS students go through...in trying to find too much ease early on, you don't make progress and don't extend your full voice range. And yes I have personally been there, which is why I don't study SLS anymore. Like you, I am more into powerful voices. And one thing I can tell you is that "rock and powerful voices" and even lighter rock singers like Jeff Buckley or Steve Perry... all of that requires "athletic" vocal technique. Not in the sense of going through physical hell, but it takes physical energy. That is a fact that I think any experienced vocalist can agree with. Intense sounds take intense ENERGY. No that does not mean pain. Or even strain. Or pushing. Or the sensation of your body exploding. Frankly it kind of just means not being lazy. SLS will make you believe you can just lay on the couch like a slug and sing a rock song from that position and I'm sorry, it's just absolute BS. Posture and breath support are ESSENTIAL. So is the cord closure that SLS teaches, but the point is ALL of it is important. And all of it is fairly difficult, fairly physical, and also very challenging to control it all mentally. That amount of struggle is to be expected, that is what singers deal with and manage so

I would invite you to just remove your preconception of "singing should be easy". In fact, until you have experience being successful as a powerful rock singer or whatever, you should have NO preconceptions. For all you know it could be super easy. Or super hard. Or extremely thrilling or extremely tiring. Or make you feel like you're in outer space, who knows. As a beginner, you have to accept the fact that you don't have the experience to ASSUME anything about singing with power and be correct, if you've never done it before. So let the method instruct you, trust it because it was developed by someone with more experience...and if that doesn't work for you, find a new method. Not every method works for everybody.

But anyways back to my point, I would say, completely remove that preconception and perhaps replace it with "singing should not hurt." BIG difference. And from my personal experience I can assure you the latter is more accurate to reality. Sometimes singing is easy, sometimes it's hard, depends on the intensity of the sound you want. But as long as it isn't painful, it probably won't injure you. So don't be too worried about that. Be open to learning any kind of singing technique that doesn't hurt, and you will progress much faster, by being open to techniques that may be more difficult, often they are the ones that produce the powerful results you're looking for.

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Medcall, singing is mental and your post was certainly more eloquent than my simplified mantra, my hillbilly haiku.

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Singing is not easy, but you can surely develop to the point where you can do it with ease.

And also, there is no such thing as effortless singing, you control the effort level, but it can be intense. Thats exactly why technique to sing is important and not a mere way to "choose sounds".

Good teacher and lots of study is the only way to solve the doubts, there isnt much to understand about the coordination except that the difference is really skill level. How to develop it can go a long way, but in the end, either its all the same, or its wrong.

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if you read any of my posts, you'll know that i gravitate to the harder, more intense, side of singing.

you absolutely will work to produce the kind of sound and tone i think you're after. and depending upon the weight and size of your voice, this amount can vary. a heavier weight voice may need to work harder, simply because there's more to move.

if i ever became a teacher, i would focus on breathing (support and breath management) first and working on the strength building....you have to build up the muscles to enable the voice to cry. i believe you have to develop the cry. to really know how to correctly cry into the voice, will help you a lot with power vocals....

but crying has to taught to make sure it's clearly differentiated from squeezing.....unlike others, i believe you have to learn to sing strong first...you can always lighten up later.

if you listen to singers with really great tone, the majority of them will have some sort of cry in their production...

you cannot bypass chest voice musculature development..it's your launching pad and you also have to develop the head voice by bringing it down to basically "compete" with chest.....

only a teacher can figure out what needs to be worked on first. of course, there's more to it that this but i just wanted to help.

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I personally find the language and terminology that is rampant in vocal teaching "camps" to be absurd for the most part. Many of the courses provide so much stuff to remember that it actually clutters up the learning process rather than free the voice. That includes many of the exercises in my opinion.

In reality, little kids are able to do practically out of the womb what adults forget to do and then consequently pay huge sums of money to re-learn. Which is to simply make sound without straining.

Singing is a very simple thing to understand yet can take years to master.

So what are the keys?

1. "Botox body." Which is to simply imagine that everything from the naval up except for lips, chords, and lungs are unavailable to you in order to create sound.

2. To strive for sensation in the lips and nose that would feel like a slight buzzing.

3. To strive constantly for a LACK of sensation anywhere else in the body but especially in the "botox" parts mentioned above.

4. Practice in a mirror to see how much you strain compared to what you think. It will reveal much. If you cannot sing what you want to sing without making faces, you are on the wrong track.

5. Keep reminding yourself that the #1 goal of every singer ought to be to move as much air as efficiently as possible.

That's it. If a person remembers those things and does not deviate from them, they can forget all the complicated terminology and will ultimately have a connected smooth voice from top to bottom without strain.

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Good post Phil, a much needed rant. I can totally relate.

I've pretty much been a victim of all of those examples you mentioned. None of those little phrases have ever really been helpful to the process.

Many people forget all the hard work they had to go through to do what feels as simple as breathing to them now. And so ive come to realize, one of the hallmarks of great teaching is to be able to put yourself in the student's shoes and tailor the talk track and to the skill level of the student.

Another weird thing is that with singing the beginner actually needs to know waaaaaay more information in order to make progress. Whereas you might tell and advanced singer dont flip just thin out and bam they got it. I don't know why it works that seemingly backwards way (usually too much information overwhelms beginners in other crafts, in singing, too little leads to overwhelming confusion), but it does, and its important to know that.

At least I think it is that way for most people...but I could be wrong

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Hey!

Thank you all for your information and perspectives. Just all your ideas and thoughts make me think I am not crazy and that this is hard to almost everyone. What amazes me is to see singers like Jeff Buckley singing with a neck that does not show any movement and still get so many different textures and intensities. I try to control the muscles popping up out of the neck no matter how I approach the sounds, they are there. That is maybe a reference I try to check, because for the sound it does not feel so squeezed for me. Then right, the problem is that you know from others that you should not be doing that but how?? Then comes terminology and the checking from one thing to another: tongue, relaxation, breathing, palate, lips...:o the unsolvable puzzle. I will keep working patiently and more focused on your ideas.

Thanks everyone!

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Stiletto raised a good point. Any of you who has raised an infant can attest to the fact that an infant can carry on at ear-piercing volume and pitch for what seems like an eternity. All without training, practice, terminology. It's funny how we have said that singing is not a survival trait yet singing includes many of the motions of an infant. Free and easy breath into the abdomen, some kind of balance and cry at phonation, and mouth open enough to let the sound find a resonant spot and issue forth. Later on, through the mimicry of language and speaking volume, as well as cultural admonition to "keep quiet," we learn to do just exactly that. Get away from true sound and into the sounds we are expected to make as an adult in whatever culture we arise. I am not sure if that means anything but it was a thought that I had.

To quote Jens, results count. But I think people can sometimes get bogged down in terms and come to defend the host of terms he or she is used to using as the only "correct" method.

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I can agree that all of the ingredients necessary for good singing are natural coordinations known and used by infants and children. But do you really think that it is free and easy? A babys cry is loud, obnoxious and powerful, but free and easy it is not. The face turns red and the body jumps and the stomache tenses. It is not free and easy.

How about a childs laugh? or that bratty whiney thing that they do? Free and easy? without enery? I think not. Screams of delight when getting that toy that they wanted? Free and easy? without tension? Without energy? NO.

Suppression of expression from childhood, That is what makes us forget how to make those sounds as adults. We still think that we should be able to make and control those sounds without energy, without the emotion that drove them in childhood, without physical involvement.

Even a sigh of relief is energetic.

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Hey!

Thank you all for your information and perspectives. Just all your ideas and thoughts make me think I am not crazy and that this is hard to almost everyone. What amazes me is to see singers like Jeff Buckley singing with a neck that does not show any movement and still get so many different textures and intensities. I try to control the muscles popping up out of the neck no matter how I approach the sounds, they are there. That is maybe a reference I try to check, because for the sound it does not feel so squeezed for me. Then right, the problem is that you know from others that you should not be doing that but how?? Then comes terminology and the checking from one thing to another: tongue, relaxation, breathing, palate, lips...:o the unsolvable puzzle. I will keep working patiently and more focused on your ideas.

Thanks everyone!

medcall, most singers here in previous discussions have agreed that veins/muscles showing in the neck is not necessarily correlated to bad technique. Some people have skinnier necks where you see everything happening through the skin, for instance, even if its not a huge effort. So, don't worry about that.

Another thing important to not get caught up on is how high your larynx appears to be. Despite the neutral larynx myths, it actually has to move up and down for pitch, that is normal and unavoidable. Let it do its thing.

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Stiletto where can I hear a sample of your singing usig this strategy?

This is an original written, recorded, mixed and mastered by us we did about a year ago. I have improved quite a bit since in terms of the stuff I mentioned in my first post. I can still hear places where I am not practicing what I preach when I listen to this but that's the life of a singer eh?

We have about 9 songs done now. But the vigor's of recording force one to find every possible way to reduce the amount of stress and strain. Doing it live reinforces that even more.

All I can tell you is that when I focus on the stuff I mentioned earlier and forget all else, everything comes easy. I keep it as simple as I possibly can in terms of concepts so as to not clutter up the thought process.

To quote Steve Perry:

"I try to do everything I do with the least amount of effort. I try to think the sky is the limit on range."

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I can agree that all of the ingredients necessary for good singing are natural coordinations known and used by infants and children. But do you really think that it is free and easy? A babys cry is loud, obnoxious and powerful, but free and easy it is not. The face turns red and the body jumps and the stomache tenses. It is not free and easy.

How about a childs laugh? or that bratty whiney thing that they do? Free and easy? without enery? I think not. Screams of delight when getting that toy that they wanted? Free and easy? without tension? Without energy? NO.

Suppression of expression from childhood, That is what makes us forget how to make those sounds as adults. We still think that we should be able to make and control those sounds without energy, without the emotion that drove them in childhood, without physical involvement.

Even a sigh of relief is energetic.

I think this is a misunderstanding of where I am coming from. I would never use the term "energy" as something to avoid. The key is getting the energy out of the body as efficiently as possible. I will also add that many times when a child is screaming and red in the face it's because of emotion/anger - not because those things are needed in order to produce the sound. Just listen to them when they are happy. They make ridiculously easy "cooing" and "squealing" sounds that are all connected. Go listen to a playground for awhile. Kids do amazing things vocally without hardly "trying".

Without tension = yes. Without strain = yes. Without pain = yes. Free and easy = yes.

Without energy = NO.

We want lots of energy without all the other stuff.

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LOL botox body haha. I'm going to rant here a little, it's not really directed at you but the things you said inspired something I've been feeling for a while.

like overly complex terminology, i have a bit of a beef with what i feel is underdelivering on information. things like "singing is jsut about letting go!!" . If just telling people that fixed their 5 year struggle stuck on F4 and allowed them to seamlessly get an octave then that's all I'd teach.

Believe it or not, just about everyone stuck with their voices KNOWS what to do.. They know they aren't supposed to feel strain. They know power should come from resonance.. The problem is they CAN'T do it because they don't know the process to build that.

There are many teachers that take the CONCLUSION of singing which is free, resonant and flexible and powerful and they are like "just do it!!" they expect the student to just "get it". there is a process to get to the conclusion (please spare the whole "there is no conclusion phil!!!" yes i get it, but what other word should I use?). Singing is about feeling the right sensation that will build the right coordination, and getting int he right coordination is about trying to find that sensation again. a teacher that can guide is useful obviously.

Your post is like saying "Just don't flip, just get to the top seamlessly!!". "let the vowel take you up" "lower the volume and just thin it out" Yeah......but many people can't actually do that straight away.

"just let go" "let the vowel take you up" "just back off the volume and thin out the sound" that's all great advice and I agree wholeheartedly with that advice, but many won't actually be able to apply that until far later when they've built up a voice already. The singer needs to learn how to maintain the cord closure and keep the right types of tension while still releasing. This needs to be trained well.

Those things are good advice but most people don't know how to actually DO THOSE THINGS properly. You tell someone to "let go" and what they do is just drop all tension and flip, then they think thats what they need to do to build the ability to blend the chest with the head. "there's no chest or head its just one voice!!!!!!!" another one i chuckle at. To someone with a huge break int he voice it isn't just one voice. and what I hear them do when they think it's just one voice is that they try to avoid ANY CHANGE IN THE VOICE AT ALL, so they don't allow the weight to shed and they end up just straining with their chest and not releasing the tone. Because they think "it should be one voice and not change".

so what do we have to do? well when we give them this type of advice we have to give them other types of advice to make sure they apply teh first idea properly. and then other ideas to make sure they apply that idea to that idea to that idea properly.

and then what do you have from that? TERMINOLOGY. A process.

Now when you get good at blending the chest witht he head and relaesing it will feel like one voice. but once again, we have to be careful with giving conclusions to beginners and thinking they can just apply it perfectly.

If you tell a beginner this big sound should feel very relaxed and easy what they start doing is not putting any oomph into anything and just letting their voices flip etc.

People interpret information differently this is why there is terminology and different approaches. I do share your frustration with overly complex methods, but I think there are some overly simplistic methods also. It's all opinion really and we all have our different perspectives on what we think is too much or too little :)

This wasn't a hate post so don't take it that way :D

No worries. I am not advocating against terminology. Indeed it would be impossible to teach anything without using it. I am against many of the terms such as "head voice, chest voice, flipping, top, bottom mid" and every other combination of words out there.

It's my experience that all of this just clutters up the learning process and makes it all overly complicated when in actuality the thought process should be way way simpler.

I am also not of the viewpoint that anyone needs to "build up" a voice per se'. I most likely won't be well received in that regards. :D I am of the camp that believes that singing properly is 90% in the brain.

The things I am able to do now vocally are purely because I think differently then I did before. Not because my voice became suddenly stronger or able to do things it was unable to do in years past. Just mental shifts.

And the mental shifts are the ones I mentioned in my first post. Hope that helps clarify.

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This is an original written, recorded, mixed and mastered by us we did about a year ago. I have improved quite a bit since in terms of the stuff I mentioned in my first post. I can still hear places where I am not practicing what I preach when I listen to this but that's the life of a singer eh?

We have about 9 songs done now. But the vigor's of recording force one to find every possible way to reduce the amount of stress and strain. Doing it live reinforces that even more.

All I can tell you is that when I focus on the stuff I mentioned earlier and forget all else, everything comes easy. I keep it as simple as I possibly can in terms of concepts so as to not clutter up the thought process.

To quote Steve Perry:

"I try to do everything I do with the least amount of effort. I try to think the sky is the limit on range."

Thats very nice man. Thanks for the sample.

What if I said that your model is still full of complications for someone working alone?

For example, how slight must be the buzz on the nose/mouth? And what about those details more Steve Perriesks that you are doing in there? What happens to this buzz during those parts? :)

I am not trying to say that you are wrong, in fact doing what you say, and reducing movements does increase efficiency. But its the how to do it that is problematic, and in the end, you would have to see and define the things that you need in order to make things happen.

Im with you when it comes to talking about terms in an attempt to learn how to execute songs, but I dont agree that simply avoiding terms makes the learning process easier. One thing you said that I also agree, is that there isnt much to understand about the coordinations, its skill.

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I think this is a misunderstanding of where I am coming from. I would never use the term "energy" as something to avoid. The key is getting the energy out of the body as efficiently as possible. I will also add that many times when a child is screaming and red in the face it's because of emotion/anger - not because those things are needed in order to produce the sound. Just listen to them when they are happy. They make ridiculously easy "cooing" and "squealing" sounds that are all connected. Go listen to a playground for awhile. Kids do amazing things vocally without hardly "trying".

Without tension = yes. Without strain = yes. Without pain = yes. Free and easy = yes.

Without energy = NO.

We want lots of energy without all the other stuff.

I loved your song. Very nice, More my style than what you hear on radio and TV today.

My post was more about the idea that a lot of people have that singing should be effortless. They seem to equate free and easy with no effort needed. The posts by beginning singers in the critique section usually have a lack of energy in their singing. They are usually off pitch and are barely letting any sound come through.

I was one of those even though I thought I was loud and projecting. I was singing free and easy, a little too free a little too easy.

When you do not know where the problem lies you need to be able to take guidence from somewhere else. All of those terms where created to help guide singers like myself who have some skill but cannot pinpoint the problems that may be obvious to someone else, and further refinement takes even more terms that only should be used as a guide rather than a definition.

There have been many times when a Term used for guidence has led to further confusion because someone wants to contest its definition instead of enhancing the intended meaning when applied to singing problems.

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i agree with your viewpoint mdew....i've said this ever since i joined the forum.....singing is not easy, and it's not effortless!!!

however, i also think we leave out two key components a lot of the times folks.....

every voice is different

every mind controlling that voice is different

our sound ideals are all different...

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That's very nice man. Thanks for the sample.

Thank you! It's always nice to hear encouragement on original music.

What if I said that your model is still full of complications for someone working alone?

I would most likely agree. I am not trying to make the argument that any of this is without work, practice, and some thought about the subject. Only that the concepts need to be kept simple simple simple in order to be productive. It's like anything else, most times we over complicate things before we realize how simple it was all along. When I sing or record now, I have a three (extremely simple) step approach to every lick I sing. Which always keeps me centered on the concepts I outlined above.

Also, just to clarify, I know nothing about the people that frequent this site. So, my comments regarding teaching programs and the absurdity of many of them may very well not apply to what some here have to say. I am sure there is a lot of great info to be had here that would not fall under my earlier criticisms.

For example, how slight must be the buzz on the nose/mouth? And what about those details more Steve Perriesks that you are doing in there? What happens to this buzz during those parts? :)

My experience has shown me that more buzz = better air flow/speed. I have never had a reason to try and reduce the buzz or limit it. Its a side effect of what I consider to be proper airflow. Of course its not as pronounced on something rather gentle, but I am striving always to have it on every note. Sometimes its quite pronounced. Regarding "Perryesk" notes, I still get it on those with varying degrees of intensity.

I am not trying to say that you are wrong, in fact doing what you say, and reducing movements does increase efficiency. But its the how to do it that is problematic, and in the end, you would have to see and define the things that you need in order to make things happen.

I agree. And I am in agreement that it takes some terminology to convey those thoughts. In showing others, I try and keep it to the principles I listed earlier and focus almost all of my language on sensation or lack thereof as it just seems far easier to convey.

I'm with you when it comes to talking about terms in an attempt to learn how to execute songs, but I dont agree that simply avoiding terms makes the learning process easier.

Right. I am not trying to argue that terms should be avoided. Only that the overwhelming amount of terminology that I see in general is entirely over-complicating the process.

One thing you said that I also agree, is that there isnt much to understand about the coordinations, its skill.

It's a change in mentality more than anything. I just don't find it to be true at all that a person "builds up" a voice like a muscle for instance. Only that people change the way they think about what they are doing and end up with a different voice as a result.

I absolutely believe that if Steve Perry could be transported into my body, I would suddenly start producing sounds I never have before because he would be operating the machine differently than I ever have.

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I loved your song. Very nice, More my style than what you hear on radio and TV today.

Thanks! Recording is an entirely different endeavor than singing. Putting the two together has been a learning experience to be sure. Appreciate the kind words. :lol:

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stiletto,

it has a lot to do with how you wish to sound....

you sounded great based on how you wished to sound.......if you are wanting to belt and wail and peel paint of the walls you are going to go to the gym....

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stiletto,

it has a lot to do with how you wish to sound....

you sounded great based on how you wished to sound.......if you are wanting to belt and wail and peel paint of the walls you are going to go to the gym....

Thanks..... I think? Not sure what you mean about going to the gym though.

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Thanks..... I think? Not sure what you mean about going to the gym though.

He basically means that if you wanna sound big, powerful and thus peel the paint from the walls you will need to beef up your vocal musculature to be able to handle those "weights". It's like trying to deadlift 120kg when you only have the strength for 80kg.

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He basically means that if you wanna sound big, powerful and thus peel the paint from the walls you will need to beef up your vocal musculature to be able to handle those "weights". It's like trying to deadlift 120kg when you only have the strength for 80kg.

I couldn't disagree more. I'ts not a strength issue at all. Case in point, give this a listen:

Matthew Ward is an incredible singer in my opinion although not well known outside Christian music. The thing is, I have listened to him sing from about 5 feet away and he sings like hes having a conversation. You would think he was talking into the mic. Yet, I don't think many would say he was not powerful. Indeed hes incredibly powerful and looks like hes hardly trying.

Here is the interesting part, he sounds the EXACT same way now that hes in his 60's as he did in this recording when he was in his 20's. I've also heard him sing when he was 14 and he sounds like the same dood. There are lots of ways to sound "big". But in my opinion, there is only one way to do it over a career and still sound good at the tail end of said career. The music industry is littered with folks who sounded great for a moment in time and are complete train wrecks now. The folks who still sound good late in life are much harder to find.

Also, don't discount the difference the pro's have in recording with world class mic-pre's, world class mics, world class mixers and mastering techniques in getting those "big sounds".

The pro's are excellent, don't get me wrong. But they also have the BEST possible equipment chain capturing those vocals and giving them a presence above and beyond what most people can ever hope to accomplish in their home studios.

I have actually spoken with Klaus Heyne about the microphones that Perry used to get those vocals. Klaus modified 2 identical Neuman M249 mics to specifically suit Steve's voice and dynamics. Each of those mics used are between $8-12k if they are in good condition and before the modifications that Klaus does. He will tell you that those mics greatly impacted Steve's sound. I have only had the privilege of singing on a decent Neumann U87ai one time which is about a $2,000 mic. It was running into a Avalon mic-pre and the differences were astonishing.

And that's still really low on the equipment food chain.

I am using a Neumann TLM-103 which is about a $800 mic running into a $300 M-Audio Profire 610 currently and it leaves a TON to be desired.

Just pointing out the fact that there is a lot more to these discussions than just the vocalist.

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