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what i've come to realize


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you know folks, i took a personal inventory of every singer i could think of, who for their voice, or their songs, or both i've aspired to sing.....male and female.

do you know the one thing they all have in common? they all are singers deep down inside my conscious or subconscious thoughts i knew i could sound like or sing the songs of...

i've never gravitated to singers i knew i wasn't going to sound like....not in the literal sense...but perhaps in a mutuality of tonality sense.....

and they all had a common characteristic in all of them, and that was sincerity and sexuality.

except for my band days where you may not have had a choice, i've never sang songs or seleted songs without those 2 primary components.

i also never gravitated towards happy-go-lucky songs...sure, i'd listen to them and enjoy them but never want to sing them.

and as i write this, i've rarely, if ever, picked easy songs or songs i thought were easy to sing....

i always went for these tougher, more demanding songs....interesting huh?

how certain singers gravitate towards certain things....

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This case can be found in many aspects of life, when I focused solely on guitar I only liked music with incredibly hard solos and complex riffs. While I still like some metal artists, now days I'm finding myself more and more drawn to pop and electro stuff and the reason why is probebly because there is alot more room and focus on the vocals. :)

(Oh and I recently started mixing in cubase and playing around with oscillators which probebly explains attraction to electro stuff.)

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Totally agreed... I don't even listen to singers whose songs I can sing easily, with some exceptions. I like challenges ;) I will always love Ozzy for instance, even when he can't hit a note now and never represented a challenge to sing! I used to love Amy Lee until I saw her live and heard that by the second or third song, her voice was hoarse and had to let the audience sing. Maybe she's improved her technique now, but that was a total let down. What I like to sing the most is aggressive and dramatic songs and with a lot of energy, so that's the music I listen to. I get booooooooooooooooored with slow songs in general, though there are some that totally kill me :P

That reminds me, I was watching Verdi's Requiem with Angela Gheorghiu the other day (after years of having that dvd buried at the bottom of the drawer) and I was blown away. Isn't it awesome when you've forgotten about something that you really loved and go back to it after years and find that it's still as good as it was the first time???

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This is a very interesting point. There is definitely a distinct difference in our listening qualities and performance choices. It's almost as though we will always choose the difficult option to sing to prove something. Is it the singer or the song that finally convinces? Personally, I hate to cover 'Brown Eyed Girl' or (God Forbid) 'Mustang Sally' as I class these songs in the category of 'anyone can sing'. As vocalists (be honest), we all want to demonstrate that we like to sing songs meant for 'real singers'!

However, inherent to any song we may class as 'throwaway' or not challenging vocally, there is a reason why some songs are popular. The key factor here is one of delivery. I have had the great (mis)fortune for example to listen to old Celtic balladeers singing passionate folk ballads and bringing me to tears. Is their vocal technique conforming to the latest pedagogies? Perhaps not. Is the message conveyed passionately? Absolutely. When I hear Rob Halford scream, I am convinced by his vocal delivery. Similarly, when I hear Steve Hogarth, I melt. Singing is about emotion and the delivery of the lyric. It doesn't have to be technical but it must be heartfelt. If we equate this to guitar playing, some of the old blues guys can move you with a string bend and don't need to have a sweep arpeggio technique.

My 2 cents


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Just like Eric Clapton, aka, Slowhand. He doesn't play tremendously fast, though he could. He plays with soul and style. When I go for a song, I don't sing it for the technical aspects of what is the highest note, etc. I sing it because it makes me feel something. A memory, a feeling, a story. That is why I still sing "Brandy." It makes me think of US Navy shipyards at the Port of San Diego and the Port of Los Angeles. My first step-father was in the Navy. The song is low in range and everyone can sing along with it without any special skill.

At the same time, I also gravitate toward the low vs. high stuff of Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep. Whether the way they sang was a sign of weakness in the mid or not doesn't matter. What matters is the intent and content of the song. That is, I sing "Stairway to Heaven" and "The Immigrant Song" not because they have high notes where I can show off my range but because of what the songs mean to me. When I learned how to sing high, I was happy because I could finally do the "Immigrant Song."

I realize I tend to cover songs more fully known to the public than some of an artist's equally relevant work. For example, I have covered "I Don't Believe in Love" by Queensryche but not "Queen of the Ryche" or "Distant Warning." Though I like all of the songs.

Some songs I could do but I won't sound like the original singer or sing them like the original singer but it's nearly impossible for others to quit comparing and evaluating per the original. And I don't consider myself a failure or needing instruction just because I may not sound like David Coverdale on "Here I go again." When I tried out for bands in the early 90's, they were mainly looking for singers that had equipment, like a p.a. or recording equipment. Aside from that, they were looking for people that sounded like Robert Plant or David Coverdale. I didn't sound like either one of those guys then and I still don't, 22 years later.

I sing what pleases me, technically demanding, or not. Whether I sound like the original singer, or not. So, what draws me to a song? More than sexuality or mass market appeal, is dramatic content. The marriage of a story in lyric with music that seems to evoke the scenes in one's head.

Living easy,

Loving free.

Season ticket on a one-way ride.

Ask for nothing.

Leave me be.

Taking everything in my stride.

Don't need reason.

Don't need rhyme.

Ain't nothing that I'd rather do.

Going down,

Party time.

My friends are gonna be there, too...

I'm on the highway to Hell ...

It tells a story and is also a parable. For the path to Hell is a wide and easy road, navigated by those who define their own direction. And that is me, for I don't accept the sacrifice of an innocent. And actually, I've already been to Hell and have my own parking space. Is there some sex in there? Sure. And sex seems to be defined as a sin, at least unofficially, in a number of religions and sects of those religions. In fact, it seems that anything that can bring you enjoyment on this Earth is a sin.

As opposed to the songs of Ronnie James Dio, which talk about the struggle of good and evil with a sense of uplifting hope throughout the song. The voice, the instruments and arrangement, the lyrical content all match to make a solid unit of expression, regardless of what was the highest note, or lowest, or exactly how much vocal distortion to use and when. It's not about the exact minute stroke of a brush, for me. It is about the effect of the painting, as a whole, to be metaphorical.

And just as importantly are some technical aspects that do require artistry. For the entire song can be helped or hindered by how it was recorded, mixed, and then mastered. Recording is an art. Type of mic, placement, reflectivity of the room. A mixer can only mix what he is presented with. So, to capture the intended sound of an instrument is an art of technical gadgets. Likewise with mixing. A truly balanced mix will put anyone to sleep. A mix that moves people often has a few select parts in prominence while the others support it. Finally, the mastering, usually done by someone else, brings the levels to parameters defined by the media format of presentation, whether that is cd, digital download, whatever, as the music will often be played by the public in less than ideal listening circumstances.

That's why live performance is still the crucible. The trial by fire. The litmus test. Choose whichever allegory that suits you. Regardless of venue. I've mentioned elsewhere that last weekend, we had dinner at a restaurant for a friend's birthday party and my wife wanted me to get up and sing "Brandy." The 2-piece band kind of new it but the other people in the restaurant listened, and sang along, without any coaching from me. Because I sing the song from the heart. I bring to them what it means to me.

If a song needs a technically demanding high note, that's fine, too. Or if hitting a high note, even higher than the original expresses something for me, that's fine, too. Sing what's in your heart and let the technique support that, rather than the other way around.

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