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Aftermath - could use a little help on this Adam Lambert song

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gno
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I'm did this song to help work on my high range. It is my wife's and my favorite Adam Lambert song and has some tricky vocals.

Most of the song feels comfortable and "in control" except:

1) The high phrase "In the Aftermath" in every chorus and

2) The high improv's near the end starting at 3:30

What I'm having difficulty with is when the phrase starts on a high note above C5 - I have a hard time hitting the notes consistently. I have to do multiple takes to get these phrases to sound good. I won't be satisfied until I can sing these phrases good 10 out of 10 times. I'm probably 5 out of 10 now. I find if I can hit the first note correctly, the rest of the phrase falls into place.

I've made up exercises for these phrases, but it is still difficult. Especially the "in" word. That vowel is hard for me to hit up at Db5 or Eb5.

Any tips on how I can get these high notes under control would be appreciated!

http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=10994176

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Practicing it over and over again is probably your best bet. I think you should try to put more twang into a little. When I do those parts it feels like its resonating behind my nose on the "in". Try to make it SUPER nasally then change it so it doesn't sound nasally. The high "in the aftermath" feels like the whole phrase is in the same place for me so that's probably why you can get it if you just get the first note, the "in" is just a bitch lol.

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Thanks. Yeah I'm practicing those parts a lot. Just not coming as quick as I would like. I do find it easier if I turn "in" to "een" a little, and twang does help. It's a new territory for me. I appreciate your comments.

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Normally, I don't care to compare to the original. I truly like your version, Geno. So, let's see how the songwriter did it.

Here he is, the "Elvis" of the 21st century, Adam Lambert.

And here's why I post this. He is singing this way lighter than you are. In fact, at points, he is in falsetto, where as you are applying the KTVA "rock god" power to it. Maybe it's just a stylistic difference. But the best thing I could think of, if you want to manage the high notes a little easier for just this one song, approach it as if it were "Dust in the Wind" (I know you are at least as big a KANSAS freak as I am.) Remember the light touch in that song? Same thing, here.

To me, that is the danger of learning from some rock singing systems where "falsetto" or light mass phonation is demonized as weak and effeminate. This song is about being brave, regardless of what the life challenge is. Whether that is being gay, burying a loved one (which I have done more times than I like to count), or facing the unknown, or, god forbid, getting up in front of people and singing.

Dig down deep and find the gonads to sing soft and "vulnerable." And you may find that the lighter "approach" takes the weight off the high notes and they are suddenly obtainable.

Edited to add:

I dare anyone to scroll over to the performance of "Purple Haze." Not only does he do it well. he does it well while it is raining. That is rock and roll.

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Thanks Ron - Actually that is the "concert" version where he sings it really light and takes it down a half step. I can sing it like that very easily. When I try to add more "meat" is where it gets tricky for me. The original he sings much heavier. Check the original:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8y9CmAAnEY

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Did he really take it down half a step? I didn't notice that. Also, the studio has more than one track on the chorus which, as you know from your mixing abilities, makes it sound bigger. Even if he is singing light. But I can't make you see that. Good luck, and may the Force be with you, always.

Granted, he is probably singing with more medium mass in the mid-range on the album cut, but that doesn't mean that he is "rock screaming" the high parts. However, I know that you, if anyone, can get this part. You're just having an off day or week. Take a breath, wash the dishes, do some laundry, get your head totally out of it. Come back at it fresh, minimal warm-up.

And yeah, I'm bad, because I don't give much concern for studio versions. Live, that's where it's at. In the studio, you've got a recording engineer asking you to sing it higher because that's what he thinks the "audience" wants to hear. And, in the studio, you can get away with it. I trust the live version with Adam and his guitarist more than the studio version that has been auto-tuned (Yes, they auto-tune everything and I invite any one to read the book by the Mixerman to verify that.)

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I know what you mean about live - I like those the best. Lambert has a coach that travels with him and warms him up before concerts. His coach took a few of his more intense songs and made them drop the pitch, and suggested the lighter singing to save his voice. It's pretty interesting. Here's an excerpt from his web site, and the link:

He explains his approach with Adam Lambert's tour: "Adam can do extreme things with his voice that most singers will probably never be able to do, but he can't do it endlessly." Stroud started by going through Lambert's set list. "Adam's tour right now is around 14 songs, of which three are at 11 on the intensity scale," he says. "Going all out on those songs, it makes it more difficult to pull off the subsequent songs. The fact is Adam is so amazing that he doesn't have to overdo it. I work with the music director to look at the peaks, where they happen in the show, and where he can recover from that."

Sometimes Stroud will suggest changing the order of the songs or even making slight key changes. "Sometimes just dropping one song a half step or a whole step can change the whole dynamic of the night," he says. "The artist is no longer worried about that one note."

http://www.backstage.com/bso/advice-vocal-ease/rescuing-voices-1004098965.story

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Way cool for you to quote that here, Geno. So, why don't you take the advice of a professional vocal coach on tour? Oops, I said that out loud, in my "outside voice." ;)

Something else. If the top notes on the studio album, which is not the same thing as touring 8 months out of the year and can be managed and usually are managed in comp'd vocals (as in give yourself a break, Geno, you did it the way Adam did it, after all, unless you have knowledge that he sang the album version in one take), you might try different vowels in your onsets, as I have been learning in 4 Pillars. How you start the note can determine the body of the note.

So, if a professional coach has Adam lowering half a step in concert (something every one and their uncle has done, even Guns and Roses) and the album is almost always comp'd, mainly at the insistence of the recording and mixing engineers, why are you beating yourself up because you had to do a few takes? You are not the only one.

I comp'd the vocal track of my performance of "Rainbow in the Dark," as mixed by Snax. And I can still look at myself in the mirror (because I have no shame, probably.)

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Thanks Ron - yeah, the vocal coach is trying to keep the intensity down so he doesn't get fatigued throughout his 14 song concert. I can understand that. I just wanted to try it his original way, and of course I'm not on tour so I'm not worried about fatigue. Actually when I do it right, it is really not strenuous at all. I feel good about the recording I made, it's just that I haven't mastered those onsets yet to the point of being able to execute them 100% of the time with no problems. Interesting what you say about trying different vowels for the onset - can you expand on that?

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Like Kevthemusiclover said would work i guess. Practise, practise over again and add twang. When i approach high notes with heavy mass, like i always i do :), i try to aim for a more darker tone, i am not sure if this technically is what Robert means as laryngeal dumping, and twang. I also found that the word "in" as it is pronounced correctly on a high note sounds too squeezed so i change it to sound more like "ein" like the word "eight". I also must be very warmed up to be able to hit high notes.

Take this advice with a grain of salt, i don´t know if there is a better way, i like to experiment and just found that this made the singing on high notes work a little better.

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Hey Geno,

Can you explain what it is that happens differently when you reach those notes ? eg. tongue rising (along with your larynx),

different psychology as in "here comes that difficult note again" etc ?

One more question, when you exercise, do you reach these notes using the same tone without any problems ?

You know I'm an amateur but my guess is that in all probability it is a psychological thing since everything falls into place when you hit the right pitch...

although you know of and probably have applied the following, here they are, just in case ;

a) "in" that high reverts back to a purer "ee" from the "eh" as in "eight" in mid voice , making sure it's the tip of the tongue that produces the "n" - just an

ever so slight "n" sound

B) first sing the phrase in your head, doing what you know breath-wise from ktva just to measure each breath during those phrases, when that's done

c) sing them 1-3 octaves lower using only the vowels and making sure no tensions arise and attaining near perfect pitch

d) introduce the consonants in each octave slightly and when your open throat is perfect do it an octave higher repeating "c". Higher does not mean harder.

e) when you do the really high stuff make sure you warm your voice down every 10mins or so to relieve any tension.

Again, I know you know all this stuff 100 times better than I do but I don't know any other way to help.

One last thing, you already sound stellar - the fact that you want to perfect it so that it feels natural every time you sing it says a lot about your dedication.

Kind Regards,

Thanos

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I feel good about the recording I made, it's just that I haven't mastered those onsets yet to the point of being able to execute them 100% of the time with no problems. Interesting what you say about trying different vowels for the onset - can you expand on that?

And actually, one can also find this in Frisell's system and a few other classical systems and it's taken a while for it to soak into my brain, as well. Different vowels sound like they do because of the different harmonics. And the different harmonics depend on the resonating spaces. When you reach the highest notes in your range, one is barely having a enough room for the fundamental, let alone harmonics. That is why all vowels sound like one at the very top. Anyway, notice what your tongue does for different vowels. Well, the tongue in relation to the soft palette can sometimes support or negate a note getting into the upper resonators. So, a particular vowel for an onset may have you open up sufficiently and then you transition to a vowel or modified vowel that pronounces what you wish.

The worst vowel sound to onset a high note is ah. Better to start with oo or ee. You could use ee for this song. "een the ehftehmehth ...)

Sometimes a particular vowel lends itself to easier head access. One teacher said to think ee sound even if the vowel you are singing is not ee.

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Olem - thanks for your suggestion - I'm going to try the darker tone thing. I know what you mean about changing the vowel, for whatever reason changing to an "eight" works well throught the passagio, but when I'm up over C5 it helps me to modify it the other way towards "ee". In Tamplin's video he does say modify the "ee" to "eight" but at the very top go back to "ee". I don't understand why he says this, but it seems to work here.

Thanos - Thanks for all your suggestions. Yes - during exercise I hit all these notes no problem. But I never practiced the "in" vowel, I'm usually working on the tamplin's vowels. So after having issues with this I created exercises with that vowel - and onset. This I think will help but it is not there yet.

Basically I'm trying to hit that note with the same weight as I recorded it, with "maximum weight allowable". That is to say - as much TA activity as possible. In that range, if you go a little too much with the TA you can't sing it. Or - if you go too little, it sounds falsettoish. There is a sweet spot that I'm trying to engrain in my muscle memory. Most other vowels work fine for me but this one is a bitch. Practice over time - maybe weeks more - is what I'm thinking it will take for this to become second nature.

Ron - thanks. The fact that I gravitated towards "ee" is consistent with your remarks.

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Basically I'm trying to hit that note with the same weight as I recorded it, with "maximum weight allowable". That is to say - as much TA activity as possible. In that range, if you go a little too much with the TA you can't sing it. Or - if you go too little, it sounds falsettoish. There is a sweet spot that I'm trying to engrain in my muscle memory.

That really is a hell of a goal Geno, one I am confident you will achieve.

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amazing stuff again Geno! I really think you should be taking LaBries' job.................with regards to these tricky Lambert track parts the only suggestion i have is that i've noticed when this guy really goes for these highest of notes he seems to try to stick his tongue out as far as possible. Combining this with the deep placement may help. :P

Good Luck ;)

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Mr Bounce - Thank for your comments!

Thanos - thanks again

jonathan - thanks for your comments and suggestions. You know it's funny, because on some of the really high stuff at the end, I can feel my tongue moving foward - I'm pretty sure as a result of my larynx coming up, and my tongue "getting out of the way". I'm not sticking my tongue out like he does but it is moving forward as the pitch goes higher.

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Olem - thanks for your suggestion - I'm going to try the darker tone thing. I know what you mean about changing the vowel, for whatever reason changing to an "eight" works well throught the passagio, but when I'm up over C5 it helps me to modify it the other way towards "ee". In Tamplin's video he does say modify the "ee" to "eight" but at the very top go back to "ee". I don't understand why he says this, but it seems to work here.

Thanos - Thanks for all your suggestions. Yes - during exercise I hit all these notes no problem. But I never practiced the "in" vowel, I'm usually working on the tamplin's vowels. So after having issues with this I created exercises with that vowel - and onset. This I think will help but it is not there yet.

Basically I'm trying to hit that note with the same weight as I recorded it, with "maximum weight allowable". That is to say - as much TA activity as possible. In that range, if you go a little too much with the TA you can't sing it. Or - if you go too little, it sounds falsettoish. There is a sweet spot that I'm trying to engrain in my muscle memory. Most other vowels work fine for me but this one is a bitch. Practice over time - maybe weeks more - is what I'm thinking it will take for this to become second nature.

Ron - thanks. The fact that I gravitated towards "ee" is consistent with your remarks.

Ok, Geno, i think i applied the "ee" to ei" on a slightly lower note - a C5 i think, it seems to be better to apply "ee" above passagio so i will experiment on that later on. Good luck with your effort, Geno.

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Practicing it over and over again is probably your best bet. I think you should try to put more twang into a little.

Yes for that.

BTW I like your style of singing. It's fantastic that you don't copy Lambert's sound but you are trying to make this one of your own.

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I think it sounds great. Probably your best bet is just practice it, repetition and strengthen your vocal chords. and if you aren't already, I always have to make sure I take in real deep breaths before high notes or I struggle as well. I breath in like I'm about to yawn, really gets a good deep breath in and relaxes my throat. Try it out. And again, your song sounds awesome

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devaitis - thanks for your comments. I tried to copy the weight he uses througout the song. I'm also trying to copy some of his distortion techniques, which I've got a ways to go yet. And then, I try to put my own style on top of it.

8DACDDDE - Thanks! Actually, you can sing that high if you want! When I first heard this song I thought it would be impossible for me to sing it.

livvy - Thanks! Yes - I'm still practicing this and it is getting better.

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I'd love to sing that high lol - also, I'd love to know how to change my user name to something that doesn't suck ! my highest note is actually pretty high, but i'm sure it's just over supported falsetto - it takes a ton of breath for me to hit it... Comparatively, if you listen to "screaming in Digial" by queensryche, I can sing that song. The very last few words kill me - take all of my air. And I can't always hit that note either. I haven't really been singing long enough to be able to know what I have for limitations - but old Queensryche and Helloween are the ranges that I would aspire to.

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over supported falsetto almost sounds like an oxymoron, as in mutually contradicting terms, 8. And many is the person to assume that a note above about E5 is "falsetto" because there is a tonal shift (that is the leggiero range) and it is not falsetto but there is also an absence of "chest" at that point.

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