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Horrible vocal texture/color/resonance?

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Hey ya'll, I've been training myself as a vocalist for about 8 years now, and I absolutely am horrible when it comes to absolutely anything to do with texture, resance, vocal character, accents, ect ect. I'm great when it comes to achieving notes themselves (most any human being across the face of the planet has the ability to at least belt out extremely high notes and extremely low notes no matter how horrible they sound, and everything in between) and I have absolutely no musical problem singing scales and notes in terms of at least hitting the note in solid, non-wobbly, non-off-key manner (as I come from a background of music).

However. I have one of the worst voices possible for absolutely any type of singing, wether opera, rock, acoustic, or anything in between. Even in terms of speaking, all my life, people have made fun of me and have told me I sound "austistic" because my voice is so rounded, off-kilter, and downright goofy. I have absolutely no strength when it comes to vocal resonance or texture, and my voice gets off key the louder it gets. Absolutely every single time I get extremely passionate about a song, try to picture in my head that I'm a good singer, feel confident about the song, and shape my chords and mouth how I expect the singer to do, my actual voice comes out and crashes my feelings down like thunder with how awful it sounds!

My personal problem with this is I have been practicing with literally hundreds of types of singing voices (singing along with literally every artist I've ever known to see if one of them can help me "unlock" a style that fits me) and nothing works. I also have been writing vocal and instrumental music for years, and I've been told several times that I'm a genius when it comes to songwriting, but that I need to give my songs to someone else (not possible because of the personal lyrical content that ONLY fits my life and passion.) I've worked too hard at all corners of this field to say "Oh well, that's life, maybe singing isn't for me."

Basically, I sound like a redneck mated with a gay guy! Here's a sample:

Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep6whlkX4mg&feature=youtu.be

The Original (Jason Castro):

Obviously I have very little problem with musical notes themselves, I'm generally spot-on with those. But as you can hear, I sound absolutely ridiculous concerning texture, like a guy who was never, ever meant to sing. Is it possible to improve my texture and character? I've never had a proper vocal teacher because I can't afford one, I simply spend 2 hours or more ever single day (and have for the last 8 years) trying absolutely every form of throat manipulation, tone, tombrance, pitch, accent, volume, emotion, mental image, and style I can muster. And with 8 years of work, the above same is still about as much as I can do without my voice literally "giving out" and not making a sound; locking up.

Also, are there any surgeries available about this issue? Don't tell me that surgery is a lazy way out because quite frankly, I've been practicing and working at my singing goal longer than most people on here probably have. If there's something technically wrong with a vocal chord or throat modulation (which I strongly feel that my chords are "too tight" and aren't letting me vocaliate properly no matter how hard I train) than surgery should not be seen as a negative if it can truly help me unlock my hard-earned voice.

(P.S. One of the biggest things I hate about my voice is that it's "rounded and soft" and does not have a "solid" hit under any circumstance whatsoever, as though my vocal chords didn't develop properly through growth and hormones [like, have you ever heard gay guys that have just the weirdest, softest, pitchy sounding vocal chords, beyond the lisp, that you've ever heard?]. Even singers that are considered "technically bad and aren't doing anything more than speaking in a swaying manner" like Bob Dylan and are frequently bashed on, at least have that "vocal punch" that defines a tone as "solid." I don't even have THAT.)

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I'm no expert and I'm sure you'll get much more thorough suggestions but here's what I think.

Sounds to me like you're singing with no support, I can actually hear you running out of breath. that's definitely something you should work on.

Other than that, your voice is far from the worst ever. It's very nice from the snippet I heard and I can picture that voice doing an acoustic, singer/songwriter type show and it will be just fine. keep it up.

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Beyond my tone, another thing is the "I'm gonna come right out and ssssssssssssay it even though I barely know you at awawawawaw." proncounciation that comes from sounding like a gay redneck. I hate it :|.

I literally sound like Zach Galifiniakis doing his Seth Galifinakis character:


Also, this guy's even a better singer than me - http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?id=3927 - (concerning a specific level of tone that he reaches at rare points in both samples) and he has cysts all through his nose and whatnot! However, I've also had extensive nasal surgery after a car wreck that crushed my entire nose and it's possible that I have a deviated septum and all that (I certainly can't "sing" through my nose or head without sounding completely stopped up) so I don't know.

Please help!

To me, I just know that natural singers who have no nasal-vocal-throat-chest defects have the natural ability to open up their throats and chords to give a strong texture, also with their voice echo-ing all through their head and nose and whatnot, also being able to mimic a variety of completely different voices (such as with Seth MacFarlane, one of my vocal heroes, who can sing with and mimick so many types of voices perfectly.) No matter how many doctors or teachers don't want to diagnose us with defects that prevent singing, there's so many factors that get in the way of singing and vocalizing, especially when it comes to having an impacting, multi-layered, heartmelting voice. I'm technically a good singer, I can obviously carry a tune in a bucket, and I'm so good at carrying a note that I can do it beyond such hardships as vocal chords that don't seem to want to open, extensive nasal injury and surgery, and just all sorts of things. But concerning tone and texture - yuck.

My main problem is that my songs require a vocal texture that has always been what I feel like my voice would be if my voice had developed properly for a 22 year old male with a somewhat middle-deep voice, which trying to find what singer it sounds closest to, I'd say I want to achieve a Gigilo Aunts feel -

- with a Nickleback raspy power as well. How in the WORLD do you train to get that power into your voice? Confused.

Basically, my voice has absolutely no acoustic echo and ring to it (which is something, say, Jason Castro is utterly amazing at and was born that way, sorry to break the truth) and that is the absolute first part of singing well - the texture, in my opinion, comes after mastering acoustics.

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BBfilm wrote:

"However. I have one of the worst voices possible for absolutely any type of singing, wether opera, rock, acoustic, or anything in between. Even in terms of speaking, all my life, people have made fun of me and have told me I sound "austistic" because my voice is so rounded, off-kilter, and downright goofy. I have absolutely no strength when it comes to vocal resonance or texture, and my voice gets off key the louder it gets. Absolutely every single time I get extremely passionate about a song, try to picture in my head that I'm a good singer, feel confident about the song, and shape my chords and mouth how I expect the singer to do, my actual voice comes out and crashes my feelings down like thunder with how awful it sounds!"

If you are stopping yourself from singing loud because you go off key that could be part of your trouble.

That is one of the reasons for training. Getting your voice to stay on pitch weather you are singing loud or soft.

If you are puposely singing soft you will never be loud and resonant. Get loud. Don't look for a singing style that will magicaly open up your voice. It takes training.

The sounding like a "Redneck mated with a gay guy"(your words not mine) That is part accent part lack of support and not wanting to get loud. When you train for singing you use vowel forms designed for singing. Like a lot of people here have said you do not sing like you speak. Adele has a very pronounced English Accent when she speaks but you cannot tell that when you hear her sing.

I am not a teacher just someone who is also in the process of training. Others can give you better advice.

It is better if you send a sample with you singing to music and really getting into it.

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Next step - sing slightly louder and learn how to breathe and support. You should get vocal lessons - otherwise you might be looking at another 8 years of getting nowhere. You can ABSOLUTELY improve your tone so that it will become very pleasant to just about everyone.

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BBFilm: From your comments, I was prepared to hear something truly repulsive when I listened to your recording.

I was disappointed. You sound ok. :-) I have heard many, many song presentations that were worse than yours. Chin up.

If your song had a little bit of guitar with it, would be perfectly fine for a coffee-shop rendition. The style is a casual, rhythmic presentation that many people will like. Those folks who tell you that your voice needs 'this or that' characteristic replaced, have a different expectation of what your voice 'should' sound like. Put another way, they are comparing your singing to someone else's singing, and they want you to sound like someone else, or that they think would be 'better' from their perspective. Resist their suggestions. Sing the way YOU decide to, not the way they say they think you should.

Now, on to a bit of vocal technique, and some practical recommendations:

The reason your singing sounds the way it does is that you have conceptualized it this way. Your voice is simply responding to your mental image, your musical concept of how to express the text in the song. If you decide that you want to sound differently, you must begin at the source, which is this concept you are using.

I will say that again with different words: sounding differently begins with re-conceptualizing your singing.

Here are the things that you can immediately change in your concept, and which you can add to your vocal practice. If you are already doing them, continue to do so:

1) practice long, slow vowels, without consonants, on single notes. Tone quality comes from well-made vowels, so those should be practiced individually for their clarity, and then combined with the vowels that are used in words.

2) When applying these vowel sounds to syllables, think about what vowel will be sustained in the syllable, and make all the others as short as is possible and still be heard.

3) add clear, short consonants to the vowels.

Since you are a composer, write yourself a song that is of slower tempo and with fewer words. Put another way, for each syllable, consider making the melody use more than 1 note from time to time. For those, you will sustain the longer vowel over the multiple notes.

4) practice changing notes on the same vowel, maintaining the pronunciation and volume of the vowel for the group of notes.

Add 15 or 20 mins practice of this type every day. Your body will respond immediately (but not perfectly) to your concept as soon as you try, and will get better day-by-day at matching your concept. In a month or 6 weeks, you will have internalized this new concept, and will have added new sounds to your vocal ability.

I hope this is helpful.

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Both my redneck friends and my gay friends were horrified ... just kidding.

Well, it seems, after 8 years of being a genius, you still haven't learned that you cannot hear yourself like others hear you. I didn't hear any gay or redneck in your voice. So, right off the bat, you are hearing something through your bones that no one else in the world hears. For you hear yourself through your own bone conduction, at least partially.

There's no magic pill except for the magic pill of working at it. Mostly on your breath support.

I've notice that the melody doesn't seem to change and the same 5 notes are so, are repeated. Is that just the way of singing, and songwriting, these days? Probably the influence of rap. Hmmm...

Or do you have false modesty? Come in talking about how your voice is just awful and upload something nice for what, irony's sake? Or that it's better to think you are crap and find that you are not?

I sentence you to accept the fact that you have a decent voice and that you are going to make mistakes, like everyone else.

If you do nothing more than heed Steven's words, the keys to the kingdom will be given to you. And that's the hard part. Changing your mind to accept the advice given to you. The actual exercises are doable and easily enough for a good 30 minutes a day. But washing the crap out of your mind, that task is herculean, to say the least.

Good luck, and may the Force be with you, always.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You guys sure you aren't hearing the actual Jason Castro version and believing it's me? Trust me, my voice is just the 5-second sample version!

I don't know, I judge my voice by what I hear playing it back, not by what it sounds like in my head (which is better), and playing it back, it sounds like a gay redneck - trust me, there's many of them where I live, and I sound just like them. Actually, I sound just like all the folks who have big twisted up broken noses, and well, I do believe I have a deviated septum (and I have nasal trauma) and I can't get a note in my head without it sounding nasally, breathy, and lispy.

Deep voice wise, I'm more clear (and I can get louder with the lower notes) but I'm basically having to sing Chocolate Rain before my voice becomes really clear (which is an awful range, no one's sung like that since the 40's). But even then, my voice still doesn't have differenciating acoustics, like a ringing blend of head, chest, and chords, which is something essential for marketable singers. As I've said, I believe I'm a genius at songwriting, I've written things that chord for chord, note for note, tempo for tempo, ect ect, emulate the catchyness of "the hits", with my own personal touch, and that's simply what I've always wanted to do - I'm a mainstream rock/acoustic-rock songwriter, I know I have a gift for that.

But problem is, my own songs aren't "14-year old teen coffee shop" mess - even around my town, all the 22-year old coffeeshop songwriters can actually sing very well, with much more texture than me. My songs are more along the lines of The Killers. It doesn't help that my facial and body image is actually very nerdy (I'm a somewhat geeky looking 115lbs 5'4 person with acne) and while I completely shut that out while singing (I actually picture myself as looking much better when I sing) the fact that my singing voice isn't nowhere near commercial is what stops me from making music my way, and the fact I'm not super attractive is what stops people from just going gaga over me and forgetting about what I sound like (haha).

And I don't care what anyone says - the only songwriters who write songs based on what they can't do are the ones who don't write their own songs. All the singer-songwriters that I admire sing and write everything from jazz, rock, pop, blues, country, acoustic, piano, everything, all in one. A good voice and a talented writing style spans a lot of genres, at least in the terms of say, Pink singing jazz-pop or piano-pop or country-pop (all of which she's done on her full albums.) Even mainstream singers like Pink, Brandon Flowers (The Killers), Taylor Swift, and even people with really odd voices like Marilyn Manson, Thom Yorke (Radiohead), ect ect acually all switch up the genres a very lot if you listen to their full albums and bonus tracks. A one-genre singer is just not a classic singer.

I've just clearly said that my songs, musically and supposed-to-be-vocally sound mostly like Gigolo Aunts mixed with The Killers in vocal tone, and because of the genre, I can't really change that to an acoustic teen feel just because of what my vocals can't do. My songs are a bit more mature, a bit older. I really need a grown up voice for my grown up, 22-year old age. What are the technical steps for doing that, and I know it's not vowels. My vowels do need a lot of work, but opening up my chords and getting a real singer's voice, not an online-forum/bedroom singing voice, is what I know I need to do first.

P.S. My vocals cannot get loud no matter how loud I try to talk or scream. It's not possible for my vocal chords. I strongly believe I may also have a defect there preventing my voice from getting loud, but I just can't do it. My vocal chords completely close up and will not produce sound no matter how hard I try, if I go over a certain decibel in volume (which is not a very loud point for me.) Same happens if I try to sing high notes.

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Also, I don't buy that you're really serious about your singing voice.

If you cared that much and wanted to sing that much, how is even possible that you've been doing this 8 freakin' years by yourself, not see any improvement, and yet you didn't even once go see a vocal coach , and instead you rather feel miserable and bitch about how much you suck on a singing message board??

Who stays at the same level of doing or learning anything for 8 years? That's impossible.

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I'm sorry but this whole thing just seems a little odd somehow. No offense.

I'm not the one that could help you, but if I were I would have questions first. Like what have you been doing for 8 years of self practice? For that much training you must like to sing and the point of singing is usually entertainment. So have you sung in public? With a band? Karaoke? What? How did that go?

So if it worked out then volume couldn't be that much of an issue. If you haven't sung out then 8 years is a long time to self train with poor results. Why, after a year or two wouldn't you have gone to seek out professional help like from a coach or teacher if you felt you weren't getting results on your own?

Why come to a forum after 8 years? That's more self training!

You kind of sort of point to a feeling that you may have a voice problem; that you just "can't" raise your volume. Then why haven't you gone to someone who would know...a professional in that area...rather than fretting about it and seeking answers on a forum or by yourself. Isn't it possible you got on an 8 year path but misread your map and headed in the wrong direction way back at the start? Most people, after a little while of poor results switch tactics. I can't see that you have been, what I interpret as unsuccessful, for so long.

Maybe it's just me but if I were the guy with the answers, I'd have a crap load of questions and background info first. Something stinks!

Also, I think it was a low blow to post a link to another members song/recording and say "even this guy sings better than me." To me, that sounds like you are saying he sucks and even he sings better. That just ain't right. Poor taste.

I'm just sayin' :D

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If you really want to improve take some of the advice given you. Find a vocal teacher or buy a vocal technique program. Do the exercises. You may not see results for a while but the exercises will work. The fact that you can talk and be heard prooves that the vocal cords work. We all start out not being able to sing on key.

Most of us have problems when first trying sing above a certain pitch. Yes sometimes it feels like the voice is being choked off. That is why you need a teacher or a vocal program to follow. Most of the exercises will start off using a quiet tone any way. Don't worry about not being able to get loud. You will learn how to get loud later.

And if you know you need :

"a real singer's voice, not an online-forum/bedroom singing voice, is what I know I need to do first."

Your words not mine.

Shell out the money and buy a program or take lessons and do the exercises. Don't expect miracles expect work and progress.

Your voice really did not sound all that different from any other normal voice. If you really do think there is a physical problem with your voice or vocal mechanism or structure see a specialist.

I am not a teacher. All that I write is an opinion from someone who has been in your shoes.

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You can't afford singing lessons, but you're asking for a miracle quick-fix surgery.

You swear that there's some medical issue, but you sound normal to everyone.

You've been training for 8 years, without taking a single voice lesson.

You're a musical genius songwriter.

You're "horrible when it comes to absolutely anything to do with texture, resance, vocal character, accents, ect ect."

Something is definitely wrong here.

Whatever you've been doing those 8 years, just isn't working.

It's time for a change.

Like FelipeCarvalho said, voice lessons would be a great first start.

It sounds like you haven't really found your voice yet, even after 8 years.

If you can't afford lessons every week, then try some one-off

Skype lessons every 2-4 weeks.

Other than singing songs, what is your daily warmup/workout/exercise routine?

8 years into training, you should be a superstar by now. Or at least, you should

know enough about your voice to control your tone/texture/character.

Rather than singing many types of songs, maybe you should focus exercising the skills that you

need to sing them.

If I'm not mistaken, I hear you running out of breath.

Do you perform any breathing exercises daily?

Since you're a songwriter, how about playing the songs yourself while singing them?

Singing along to a CD track is not good IMHO.

Better to play it yourself and make it your own.

Also, I think I agree with ThePowerOfOne.

I don't think you're so serious about singing.

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