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Everything posted by kickingtone

  1. Over the years, my vocal "training" has basically consisted of doing research and practising through snippets of a cappella. One reason for this is that I have had to fit everything round one huge, all consuming IT project. The project may let up soon and I'm thinking of putting everything together by doing actual covers of songs. It's gonna take time (I don't even have the right recording equipment yet) but I thought it would be fun to informally "blog" my progress in a thread. So.. My starting point is to pick a song I think I know more or less from memory, and sing it a cappella. This raw vocal should give me a rough idea of whether the song is doable, before I attempt to dot i's and cross t's Then I am going to go away and study all my errors and misconceptions, hopefully with no show-stoppers. The song I have chosen is Green Green Grass Of Home (Tom Jones)
  2. kickingtone

    Preparing My First Ever Cover

    Ok, let's face it, it's karaoke -- some of us call these things "covers" so that we can feel professional and for the feel-good factor. But all I am going to do is slap vocals on top of a backing track -- karaoke. So... I got me a youtube video and had a listen, and compared it with my "in-memory" version!!! I give myself 5 out of 10 for effort! (I was probably singing a hybrid of a heap of different versions, which is fine for practising vocals, but not fine for karaoke or "covers"). Half of it is sort there, and god knows where the other half came from. So,.... work to do. It's what I expected, anyway. Most of my songs "from memory" turn out like that. No problem. I am off to make the real version "in-memory" when I find the time. That will probably mean goodbye to how I have been singing it. (I may have to unlearn that, as I learn a real version).
  3. A lot of the time it is autotuned. The techniques classical singers use are good for melismata. You can find genuine examples from there. You can pick up bad habits by trying to emulate autotuned vocals.
  4. kickingtone

    Working on a song

    [Constriction and "choking" can also be a protective reflex. If the body detects that the pressure or airflow at the throat is unhealthy, it says, "forget the singing" and reflexes to shut off the problem. Just like your "blink" reflex, it is not a good idea to try to simply override it psychologically. You need to address the thing that is causing the reflex. For singing this is likely to be something like inadequate breath support.] Anyway, back to the OP. Decent vocals, imo. With proper diaphragmatic breath support, your voice will glide effortlessly straight over the passaggio, and you will get that responsiveness and agility you are looking for. I notice in classical training techniques that they make a big deal out of breath support (probably coming from traditions of singing without a mic), and relatively less of a deal about the passaggio (even though the term comes out of that pedagogy). Once you are able to employ a good diaphragmatic breath support method, .like appoggio, the passaggio is no longer a big challenge. It gets "fixed" almost automatically. Add that to the fact that you are able to siren up to G5 (wobbly, but an impressive foundation), I think you can really take your vocals places. Yup, I am not a coach. Just my personal take.
  5. kickingtone

    Breath Activation

    Producing a resonant, projected sound has a number of components, of which good breath control is one. (So improving breath control has to be achieved alongside the other factors if you want to observe an improvement in resonance and projection). I recently discovered a great diagnostic exercise. It came incidentally from another thread on this forum. You simply sing a single note on one vowel (perhaps, -ah- ), loud and clear, and hold it steady for as long as you can. Keep any vibrato to a natural minimum. Record yourself and play it back. Listen to the recording carefully. You will be able to hear at any point if your larynx jumps, your embouchure wobbles, your diaphragm or posture wavers. It will cause a wobble in the note. (Don't use vibrato to hide the wobbles!). You can use this feedback to practice relaxation and to iron out any twitches in your breath control. It will train you to correctly isolate the moving muscles groups (diaphragm, trunk, intercostal etc.) from the steady parts (larynx, embouchure, mask, etc., [and perhaps tongue, depending on which technique you use]). The note should last long enough for you to hear what gives first as you start to run out of breath. That will help prioritize what to work on. If 5 seconds is what the student is able to do, then start there. Eventually they should be aiming for 20+ seconds. I am not a coach. Just my own observations and tuppence worth!
  6. kickingtone


    Part of gaining confidence is discovering that things are nowhere near as bad as you imagine. It's a classic catch. You need the confidence to take the first step, but you need to take the first step to see what it is about and gain the confidence. The other thing is that negative opinions and thoughts are only as potent as the attention you give them. So forget all the imagined "horror" scenarios and think of the time when you are looking back and saying, "what on Earth was I worried about?". That is the prize you are aiming for. As a start, bear in mind that any competent teacher has seen and heard it all before: singers of all abilities. All the teacher is thinking about is building a voice -- none of the negative opinions you may have grown up around. So it really is up to you to drop that fear. The teacher is not going to even bat an eyelid. Listening to your clips, I would think that the first thing a teacher would tell you to do is to RELAX! Don't try to compensate for doubts in your head! Think six months ahead, man. I am not hearing anything in your clips that could stop you from sweeping away all your doubts within six months. It's your career. Is it worth that patience?
  7. kickingtone

    "How do you Make a Tenor Voice Sound Manly?"

    Growl a bit? (jk) Become baritone . I'd say that there is nothing in the tenor voice that is inherently unmanly. If the title said, "more" manly...then that puts a different slant on it cos you can always keep adding more and more of the more "obvious" manly vocal qualities, like weight and boom, until, yep, it is no more a tenor voice. But I'd say that it is more than just the obvious things that make a voice manly, just as a beard is not the measure of a manly face. There are other more subtle sound qualities that mark a voice as manly and make the tenor voice manly. Having said that, I can do a head voice that maybe could pass as a boy's voice, but never a woman's. This is my practice clip I did a while ago for switching between "mix head and chest" voice.. I can go thinner/lighter than that, yet sound more..uhm...mature, lol. So, it is quite complicated.
  8. kickingtone

    How to get less tired from belting

    I don't think it is a belt, actually. But dyaaaam! I've never really thought about trying to hold a single note like A4 for that long. Thanks for drawing my attention to a new exercise with this thread. I've just given it a try! It's gonna need work, lol! Dreadful! I won't even post my first two attempts. I think the main key is going to be keeping the diaphragm really steady. Maybe I should actually stand up, too!
  9. kickingtone

    Please help me unleash my singing

    It is amazing to me how Bollywood manages to churn out these beautiful tunes. What genre is it? (Sometimes, not understanding the language is a blessing. I am often disappointed if I see the translated lyrics. They are usually very average. ) Anyway, listening to you singing, I would say that you have good pitch appreciation (you may be thinking, "of course", but it is a big deal for some beginners). You do have some problems with execution as the pitch ascends (or occasionally as it fluctuates quickly), even though you seem to be aiming for the right notes. It sounds to me as if this is mainly to do with breath regulation and is made more difficult with a genre of music that uses a lot of melisma and arpeggios. I would recommend finding an appropriate diaphragmatic breathing technique. However, as I have not come across any coach or trainer of Western music who has correctly characterized the unique sound of this genre of singing, I can't really say which diaphragmatic breathing technique will work well. Somehow the Indian singers manage to get a lot of "cry" in the upper range, while keeping the lower range mellow. Some Western trainers confuse this with breathiness. In your singing, I think that the mellow lower end is going to come naturally. Breath control will be required to find the resonance in the upper range. That's my two cents worth of opinion.
  10. kickingtone

    I'm desperate for help

    I hear voices in the background. It may only be my (vivid) imagination, but you sound to me as if you don't want to attract too much attention to yourself. You sound as if you are singing to yourself. If you are singing somewhere where you are not yet comfortable, I advise that it is an absolute MUST to find somewhere where you can relax. If you don't, you could end up training all kinds of inhibition and nervousness or tension into your voice.
  11. kickingtone

    A siren

    My siren (it's getting to where I want it to be, but it is still work in progress) (I've deliberately allowed the harsh open tones at the high end of the scale, rather than alter the vowel.) NB It is all my own opinion, so don't let it turn into a slanging match as it has in the past. If you disagree, why not post your own siren and explain the differences. Objectives: 1. Throat, larynx, upper body and vocal tract should be completely relaxed and naturally posed. Nothing much going on there. 2. All effort is concentrated in the abs, trunk and diaphragm, regulating air flow and freeing the larynx. This should enable you to glide through the passaggio. 3. Maintain a single placement. Don't flip registration. 4. Keep effort uniform throughout. Any volume change (and it can be quite substantial) is caused by resonance shift only. 5. Sing on one vowel** but allow vocal tracts resonance shifting to cause its natural change in vowel. 6. Keep the siren slow. You should be able to hold abruptly at any point. 7. Relax. No "blasting" to force ascent at any point. 8. Control. No collapse on descent. 9. Both ascent and descent are important. 10. If you are running out of breath in the 20 seconds, your breath support is probably inefficient. ** But close the vowel to protect your vocal cords from damage if you find the vowel is too open to sing safely at higher pitches. A characteristic heady resonance may kick in at around A4 for males. It may not sound pretty. Don't worry. The exercise is taking you through the second passaggio. Don't let it become a psychological barrier.
  12. Sounds like good advice to me. But think of "change" as your voice expanding -- being able to achieve more. Thin tones, harsh tones, etc. all have their place. Work on them, and build new tones. There are people with heavy tones who struggle to thin their tone when appropriate. Celebrate what you have been gifted with, and work on everything. Also, know the difference between repetition and practice. Repetition gives you the opportunity to observe, but it is not itself observation. Observation is critical to progress and is a key part of practice. So many little improvements happen first fortuitously, but you have to be very alert to take advantage, by hearing the improvement and promptly exploring and learning why it happened right then. That takes real awareness while practicing -- so you are not going through an hour of blind repetition, just hoping that eventually improvements will "happen". 3 months is not very long. Sounds like you are doing well. I would say 3 months is about the time it takes for some muscles you are learning to use just to start to become strong enough. Then they have to become even stronger so that they can do the job in a relaxed way. That relaxation opens the door to the sort of control needed for regulating tone. All that is contingent on observing and engaging the correct muscles. So, it takes "time" and patience.
  13. kickingtone

    Vocal recording does not sound like me at all?

    I'd still like to hear JonJon's take on what he said (and I hope your reply hasn't changed what he meant! ) Yes, I know what you mean. I did a thread on such psycho-acoustic effects once, although I don't know if it is on these forums. When listening to my own vocals, I take a break from time to time to assess how they sound fresh. I have to say, that I don't see it as the ears being fooled, though. It is just how the ears work. The psychological sensory experience is built out of physical clues and cues. The more we build up the sensory experience, the slightly less significant the physical clues and cues become, and we can become more tolerant in joining up the dots. After we let the picture fade, we need the cues back again, otherwise the music may sound ambiguous or ill-defined. I think that skilled composers exploit this behaviour. They start off very explicit, but later in a piece of music they can exploit tolerances and expectations built up earlier, to artistic effect. Sometimes, it also seems as if writers exploit your familiarity with the original, when writing a cover. They play off the original, so to speak, even though you cannot physically hear the original. It won't work as intended, though, if the listener is not familiar with the original. It may even sound loose or lacking.
  14. kickingtone

    Vocal recording does not sound like me at all?

    Audacity has a dropdown for selecting the driver and some middleware. You can change whatever gets selected by default. My mic comes with its own driver that says "compatible with Windows 2000, XP, 7 blah, blah, blah... operating systems", but it sounds much better with the native Windows driver, so I get that to load instead. Obviously, the sound card is also a factor. The reason it sounds better with the "wrong driver" is probably because "compatible" only means that it will load and won't crash. It doesn't guarantee the quality. Clearly, the native Windows driver is a better match for the mic than the mic's driver is for Windows and my soundcard etc. in my setup.
  15. kickingtone

    Vocal recording does not sound like me at all?

    For how long have you been using your new mic? Do you sing using headphones for feedback? Maybe you need to get used to the new mic. It can take a while. It is a new instrument, just like a new guitar, after all, except that you are operating it with your voice. In fact, the whole software stack can affect the recording. Which software are you using? Do you select a driver for the mic? Does the operating system select one for you? Does the mic come with its own driver for you to install (if so, does that driver load), or does it rely on whatever the operating system gives it? (I have a mic that 'mumbles' back, unless I force a different driver to load by changing the order in which I load the software and plug things in. It sounds completely different with different drivers and middleware.) Anyway, I think that getting used to a mic is good vocal exercise. It helps you to train your voice in areas where the mic isn't helping. You've probably done that already with your old mic without necessarily being aware of it. I deliberate stuck with a crap mic for a while, just for that. Of course, you still want an optimal mic for when you are recording for real.
  16. kickingtone

    Sounding flat while singing live

    Does your voice stand out as clearly in the live mix as in the home studio mix? It is just an example. Check what they mean by "flat" before you try to correct it! Some people call an airy tone "flat", or singing that isn't cutting enough through the mix, "flat", etc., even though the pitch is fine when they really listen. The size or environment of a venue can physically expose aspects of your voice that work fine in a home studio. It may get compounded if you find yourself "pushing" to compete with other instruments, which I think is what Draven is saying. I can't post it here, but I devised an exercise to help with this. It involves practising singing over your own vocals playing at volume on your headphones in your home studio environment. You have to aim for the same key, but with a different tone to your voice. It will train you to overcome a lot of distraction and find a correct slot in the bandwidth to project your voice into.
  17. kickingtone

    Sounding flat while singing live

    People will often throw out the word "flat" for anything. I have heard singers who sing in tune, but lack projection, being labeled "flat". Or maybe they are talking about expressiveness. it is not always pitch related. So, I'd first get someone who can really isolate what the issue is.
  18. kickingtone

    Google Leaves "Auto-Tune" In The Dust!

    Impatience, laziness, pretence, frogs legs and puppy dog's tails, and whatever else is at the bottom of the cauldron, I guess. A bit harsh, maybe. You could ask, why use a mic? Why not just train to sing louder? etc. etc. Basically, I think that the software would make it easier for lazy people. For some people it is about "production" by hook or by crook. At the other end of the spectrum there are people who like to be more in touch with what they are producing. Well, when you think of robots that are able to observe their environment for themselves, their "truths" are already at the mercy of fallible analogue technology. On top of that, you have programming bugs and program complexity, both of which lead to unpredictability of outcome and irreparably corrupt databases. Rumour has it that national telecoms systems have for decades demonstrated behaviours that nobody can explain. That is put down to accident of complexity. But we also have human factors... People would be writing viruses. Robots will fall "sick". Maybe they would need robot clinics, staffed by other robots. (In a sense, diagnostic technology has already reached this point.) In the world of AI, many human factors can be mimicked. The best way of tackling such viruses and malware may be a form of software vaccination, etc. because the scope and scale of virus infection would be of a different order. Infected software could learn how to write viruses even in inscrutable machine code, and they could write viruses that write viruses, and they could hide inside vast data sets, inaccessible to human scrutiny. So, you would need computer cops, allowed to make decisions that humans have to trust, and with powers of arrest and destruction of software and data. Then we could have corruption, infiltration and spying at that level. I have a saying. If we are afraid of a person who can do what we do, only better, then we are doing something wrong. Humanity is being forced to look its crooked self in the mirror. The voice comparisons in the video I believed were both artificial. But, even if one was human, I bet a computer would be able to tell! If you were to quickly write, off the top of your head, a random thousand digit number, a computer should be able to tell that it was done by a human. For example, we tend to prefer certain patterns of numbers that are buried in our subconscious, maybe bits of old address, dates telephone numbers, etc. These would be represented with abnormally high frequency. There would also be other patterns that should appear occasionally, but which we somehow psychologically do not envisage. A computer could scan our number and pick up on these human traits. Now, could a computer be trained to mimic ALL such human traits, however nuanced, so that no other computer could tell between a human and the trained computer? At one time I was going to write a program that could ID a person from their typing profile. All you would have to do is type a paragraph and the computer would examine the pauses between various keystroke combinations, spelling errors etc. etc. But, to work well, the algorithm would have to be built parallel into a microchip, as its execution affects the thing it is monitoring.
  19. kickingtone

    Google Leaves "Auto-Tune" In The Dust!

    No amount of AI or quantum computing is going to achieve such conversion on the fly, unless it can look inside your brain. Such a conversion has to look ahead. A very simple example would be where two vowels sound the same in one accent, but different in another. If you are converting from the first accent to second, you would have to look ahead for context. That is just a simple case. When it comes to all the nuances and inflections involved in singing, the information for conversion is not available on the fly, without being able to read or control your mind. It is similar to a language translator, like Google Translate, not being able to do an accurate translation word by word. A sophisticated translator has to look ahead for context (Google Translate does some, I believe). However, with the help of the singer it would be possible to do the conversion on the fly. Just like working a mic, you can "work software" and get out whatever the software is capable of. The difference is that you would have to manipulate you voice to cue the software, so it doesn't need to guess ahead.
  20. kickingtone

    Emotional Responses to Certain Musical Things?

    Believe me, I have come across so many people who won't get that! Their expectations are so tuned in to "sob" and "fry", that anything different becomes a failed attempt at what they are expecting. For them, defiance would be a catastrophic failure. To use that expression you introduced, they would think you were "phoning it in". Your choice is quite subtle, especially "matter of fact", which some people easily confuse with "no emotion". I would totally get it, though. I enjoy listening to singers who can nail positive defiance, particularly "quiet defiance", which is the most subtle. "Dead pan", "monotony", "reminiscence"... are other subtle qualities that don't reach the most people. These are all very interesting emotions. Sometimes they are mere effects the singer uses as a foil for another singer or the mood of another instrument. e.g you can bring out the the quality of something else by singing in a contrasting style. This is one of the dangers of the concept of "universal emotions". The person who doesn't pick up on these subtle emotions has a smaller "universe", but may not know it.
  21. kickingtone

    Emotional Responses to Certain Musical Things?

    I also think that what we deem to be "the majority of people" can be distorted by the fact that most of us tend to gravitate towards like-minded people, and are exposed to the echo chamber effect. This reminds me. I was brought up with no TV as a child (very strict parents, who didn't believe in it. I was 18 before I had regular access to TV). When I started watching the news on TV, the body language of the news anchors (news readers in the UK) just looked WEIRD! THOROUGHLY WEIRD! They are no doubt trained to emphasize and stress information with head and body movements, and this was supposed to convey gravitas and assertiveness. But to me, who had not been exposed to it, it looked exaggerated and comical! I guess that people can get desensitized to effects, which then need to be made more explicit. Same sort of thing happened with movies. I would hear what was supposed to be a "chilling" and foreboding cello interlude, but it would sound comical. I think that the nuances of a lot of these associations are learned, and not instinctive. I wonder how much of the evolution of expression is also beset by desensitization.
  22. kickingtone

    Emotional Responses to Certain Musical Things?

    That can depend on whether it is trending, and with whom it is trending. "Train to give yourself more choice" is too obvious an answer to the question. "Nothing specific" seems to be closer to the mark, imo. Isn't that what makes it an art more than a skill?
  23. kickingtone

    Emotional Responses to Certain Musical Things?

    I've just youtubed "sob", and the description is as I would have expected. Off the top of my head (I am not familiar with Hozier, although I checked him out) Tom Jones singing "Green, green grass of home" is fine, for example. Excellent in fact. But that is a lot more subtle than some modern trends. Personally, in such a song, I am expecting the artist to communicate nostalgia, not sound as if they are on death's, door. I believe it is even possible to capture the nostalgia in that song well with very little sob. There is a popular trend of sounding emotionally "broken" that seems to have taken a grip on some people.
  24. kickingtone

    Emotional Responses to Certain Musical Things?

    True, but the sort of thing I am talking about is downstream of choice. The artist has made the choice and folk are reviewing the vocals. There are situations where I am fully engaged by the vocals, and I can hear plenty of emotional content and uniqueness, yet another listener would say that the singing lacks emotion, expression, or distinctive quality. Yet, I can hear all these things. Then they suggest some "remedies", which are usually dogmatic and along the same technical lines. What is really happening is that they are not tuned in to the emotional content. So they will make blanket statements like, "in order for the singer to 'engage' the listener, he should do x, y or z". I am engaged, they are not, but this fact is bypassed by using the term, "the listener". Usually, when I don't like a vocal production, I can still hear the emotional content and quality. It's just that it is not my personal taste. When people tell me that emotional content that I can hear is lacking in emotion, it suggests to me that they need to educate their ears until they can hear it. Then they are in a position to like it or dislike it.