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We are the Champions cover and my experience learning this song!!!!

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aravindmadis
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Hi Folks,

Please listen in to my cover and critique.. I am happy with the outcome, but I look forward to any feedback.

https://soundcloud.com/aravind-madhavan/we-are-the-champions-karaoke-1

I also wanted to share my journey over the last 9 months which led me to doing this cover. I used to sing in my college band in my university days.. I always dreamed about singing like Freddie or Bon Jovi, but never could pull of the really tough songs.

Now in my thirties, I have a strong urge to become the best singer that I can become. So I started singing last June after a 10 year gap. "We are the Champions" was a holy grail for me and one of the songs I desperately wanted to sing, but somehow never had the skill or technique to pull of a tough song like this. I am no Freddie, but I have attempted to cover this song, the studio version and I am happy to be able to sing all the notes. Here are the things that I discovered during my journey.

1. Building an effective bridging mechanism :- The "But I've come through" part

I had never heard of a term called "head voice" before in my life. Consequently, I used to belt out songs like this and higher pitch meant more volume and effort. I used to get stuck regularly in the verse when it goes "I've come through". I learnt to cut the weight upon ascending the scale and bridge into my head voice early and I could sing this portion more easily

2. Effective usage of falsetto:- The portion "We'll keep on fighting"

This was a big problem area for me. I used to sing the preceding like too heavy. Consequently, I just could not get into a soft falsetto without making it sound like an abrupt shift. I learnt through trial and error that it is easier to get into a falsetto from a lighter tone, than a heavier tone. This is a pattern Freddie uses in many songs and it took a long time for me to learn.

3. Singing low parts high in the headvoice :- The bloody tough chorus

This took a long time for me to learn. The chorus where it goes "We are the champions" second time around was something I could simply not understand how to sing. I just could not belt it and if I tried in my head voice, I just did not get the power and it simply did no gell with the earlier "We are the champions" which is a chesty belt. Then I came across an instruction video that said that to sing like Bruce Dickenson, you needed to sing the low parts high. This was a bit puzzle to me. What could "Sing low parts high mean"? After many months, I got the answer.

Having never been a trained singer, I always used to approach the note from below, and build it up from the chest. I tried to hit the notes by approaching them from top, which meant I had to let go bad habits and muscle memory from several years of improper technique. Once I was able to "descend into the note" instead of "ascending up to the note", I was immediately able to generate a lot more power in my tone without nearly causing that much strain. This helped me leverage a strong head/mix voice and I could then choose to increase the amount of chest component in the voice. I found that it is a lot easier and consistent to add chest to the mix than the other way around and I began to re-orient my singing style to sing from head and descend to the chest.

4. What is your true voice :- The Baritone curse

One bad habit all untrained singers have is to try and imitate the singer exactly. This is a bad habit for two reasons, one it robs you of the individual quality your timbre brings and second, more importantly, it really restricts what you can do. For a long time, I thought singing those really high notes was impossible for me and I needed the high vocal Fach of a Bruce Dickenson, or Steve Perry to do it. I could not have been more mistaken. Most of us, especially high baritones can definitely sing in the tenor range through training and hard work.

For this song, the more I tried to sound exactly like Freddie, the tougher it was. Even if you have a similar vocal Fach, the extent of chest in a note, the power of distortion, the lightness of the voice in a soft falsetto are all impacted by our individual voices and register breaks.

I forgot all about trying to sound like Freddie and tried to understand how I could hit that note. It became a lot easier.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice..

Today, after a mere 9 months of dedicated practice, I am able to sing songs that I never thought I could sing before. I may not be a Freddie Mercury, but I can definitely become the best singer that I can become with hardwork..

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You have learned all the things I learn, as well. And the advantage of using falsetto, even in training, is that it will allow you to get the pitch right, where ever it is in your voice. You add power back, later, through resonance, like you did on the highest notes. So, your bridging part, "but I've come through," is done right but you could sharpen the resonance a small bit more and that note would ring loud enough to hurt your ears.

And I, too, have found that when I let go of how I think the note is to be done, let go of how others may think it is done, and find out how my voice does it, I do better, especially for pitch accuracy. To me, that is job number one, having the right pitch. I am a tenor, rather than a high baritone but the same process applies.

Also, vowels. Your ah tends to float toward aw or oh. Also, spend less time on the 'L' sound in "my curtain calls." It just makes for cleaner articulation, though your articulation is quite good, as it is. Your sound is very close to american. L is one of those sounds made by curling the tip of the tongue upward, which is filtering out some of the note and impeding it.

Descending to the note, always a wise choice and reminiscent of what I read in Frisell's "The Tenor Voice." Basically, you let the sensibility and "controls" of head voice control the entire voice. Which, of course, means not letting the low end of the voice boom forward in the "chest" we have all spoken our entire lives. That is, to sing is different than how we speak.

I, too, have sought to value the uniqueness of my voice. And a few might say, "Don't worry, Ron. You sound like nothing I have ever heard before." :lol:

Though I do get comparisons. My wife thinks I sound like Glenn Hughes. A few here think I sound like Neil Young. I hear similarities to what I do with my voice to that of Glen Campbell. But it's definitely all me, good or bad.

Maybe I have an "Abercrombie and Fitch" voice (the kind of generic voice you hear while shopping in that haberdashery.) \m/

So, yes, Freddie was and Jon Bon Jovi is great singers. And so are you. You just have a different and valuable sound that deserves to be heard. And I think your style is suited for this song, whether you sound like other singers or not. I find that what is most important is whether or not the singer is believable in the song, rather than who he is a carbon copy of.

Bravo, Ara.

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Hi Ron... Firstly thank you for such a detailed feedback.. It feels so amazing to be in a connected world where you can get such good feedback from a person in some other part of the world. I just could not have improved this much 15 years ago without help from people like you..

When you say "sharpen the resonance", what do you mean? How can I do that?

Also, I need to learn vowel modification.. I have learnt to go easy on the consonants and stress on the vowels, but I am from India and though my spoken accent is relatively neutral, I do not always get the diction right while singing

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