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How do you review? Do you consider your criteria responsible?

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Felipe Carvalho

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Hi all!

I would like to invite you guys to think about a few points that are real when we give our opinion to others.

First of all, I know that no one here has the compromise as being a reference to anyone, or have responsibility over other peoples voices ok? Still, consider for a second section and the forum where we are participating.

You see this forum name is "The Modern Vocalist World" and this is a review section inside it. It may be the case that you dont consider your opinion to be so important, but for someone looking for a reference, looking to know where he/she stands, opinions given here have a lot of weight, make no mistake.

So can your opinion be trusted? When you say that its "good", do you think that it would hold well on an audition for a band if this person should seek one? Do you think that a common listenner would keep listenning to the end of the file sent? What are your parameters? Are you reviewing the whole singing or just a small piece of the song where it is possible to identify a small quality?

How much weight does the social side have on what you write here? Do you think that the fact that the person receiving the opinions will also comment on your own recordings play a role? No? Well then you are ignoring something real, we are all humans, of course we think about what the other will do when writing something for us. The question is: do you manage this well?

Are you writing your opinions based on just the person singing, or are you considering your own habilities as a parameter? You see, if you say that something that is above what you can do is bad, where does this leave you? This is a real problem too!

Truth is that when we do a review honestly, we must open our defenses too. Im not telling anyone to be an ogre and start just being an ass on everyonelse. I am just saying that if you write something without doing so, you may actually be causing a problem, instead of helping.

Consider the little monsters you are creating when you say "good job" to someone who is clearly not doing a good job, maybe 5% better than the horrible last recording, but surely not "good job". We all know how falible our own perception above our own voice is, we relly on external feedback to improve. It may look a good idea to give a small tap in the back to make the person feel nice, but what will happen in the long run?

My perception of the current culture here is quite strange. It is subjective, remember that this is an opinion, but Ive heard recordings that no one in his right mind would listen to the end (maybe the mother of the singer), receiving positive reviews.

And Ive also received emails from other users (more than one, you guys know who you are) telling me that they simply dont trust many of the opinions issued around here anymore, exactly because of this. Quite frankly me too. Do you think that this is a healthy state? I will not say names, the fact is more important than who.

To end this blabber, Id like to say this: Saying that something its not good is not looking down on others! Wake up! You look down on people when you start to review stuff without expecting to hear something decent to begin with. Raise the bar, the reviews are the reason for this section to exist, and we are the ones who make it. Show respect by expecting more instead of leveling all down.


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I think the important part of critique is to remember WHO you are talking to. I know people who thrive on being critiqued harshly, or harvest some kind of motivation from insults; I also know others who would simply abandon hope after hearing such things. I usually take critique well, but I feel like I'm at the point where I can honestly critique myself when I'm doing something seriously.

After a few encounters with an individual, you can usually decide if they are helped or harmed by critique, and therefore guage your word-choice based on that.

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I find it hard to give feedback on many of the things people post, often for the following reasons:

1. the opening post is loaded with excuses. I don't want to waste my time listening to stuff that even the poster says isn't their best effort. NO EXCUSES!

2. the poster doesn't sing out, but quietly like they are ashamed to be heard, or maybe don't want their mum in the next room to hear them. LET'S HEAR YOU!

3. the poster uses a funny affected voice. There are some people who are professionals who do this, but I don't like it at all. Most of the regulars here don't though - thanks guys. Let's hear what the poster really sounds like that hiding behind some strange artifical facade. For example, that guy singing in a artifical British accent recently (not me - my British accent is authentic!). Once singers have mastered singing in their own voice, then maybe they can get clever. JUST SING DAMMIT!

Maybe I should put these comments in a standard text file and wheel it out when necessary, which I think is several postings a week, especially newbies. Adon - I often dont critique newbies because they often do the things above, which winds me up, and also because I don't want them to run away thinking we are all nasty.

I am nasty of course, but I like people to get to know me first before they find that out.

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The reason I find it acceptable to sometimes post 'screw-around' stuff is because its review and critique. The way I see it, someone can really enjoy something and not be looking at it from a standpoint of technique. Entertainments is a valid form to review if that's what someone is going for, too. Right?

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I wasn't getting at you. Just explaining some of the reasons why I don't always post reviews, and also why I sometimes find it difficult to know what to say.

Although, I do listen to pretty much everything that's posted.

I've done my share of silly songs in my time :)

My earlier post made me sound really miserable. Actually I love singing and music. I blame Felipe for getting all serious at the start of the topic.


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Sometimes someone is very new and I try to give them advice based on what I hear and the little I know. A lot of times it isn't technical but rather just advice on practice addressing what I heard. But often I try not to get too technical with other singers because I'm not really the technical type and lack a lot of knowledge in that area. Other times it's a singer that I think sings better than me already so I am hesitant to say anything unless I think it is very general. Something I piked up on.

But quite often I just listen as if I am sitting in a bar somewhere and someone got up to sing. I'm not listening for perfect technique or vowel formation but at those times I'm just listening and wondering "would I keep listening if I were at a bar having a brew?" It's those times I might say nice job. Which is my way of saying (sometimes) it's listenable. Maybe some instruction will help but it wasn't "bad." Then again sometimes I just think it sounded good. Again, without looking for anything more than just a decent song. Not trying to look for corrections. Before I knew anything about technique all I ever did was listen to a song and if I liked it I liked it. It seems that the more I learn the more I am listening for details. the more critical I become. There are times when a member posts a song and I just go back to "Do I like it or not." I could critique it but don't. I decide I'm just going to listen. If it's pleasant enough I'll like it.

But I have to agree with Felipe. I have seen praise given to singers that sounded (at least to me) terrible. And then I start to question myself? "Am I hearing things that aren't there? That whole song sounded like it was in the wrong key." Or, "wow you think that was good? I thought someone was strangling a cat!"

If the critics thought of themselves, well as "critics, as well as judges," then they'd listen for faults, point them out and then give reasons why they thought there was a problem. In turn advice would be given on how to approach fixing the problem. "You sing well, but this or that is all wrong and needs work." I think that is helpful. On one hand it offers hope and then finishes with a direction to head toward.

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I recently signed up here after buying relatively cheap recording equipment to record the songs I liked.

I've listened to a few of the songs on here, some of them I've liked, some I haven't liked so much. I'm in the same boat as Tommy when it comes to technical details. I'm not a trained singer and in many cases (not all) I don't really know how to offer advice on improvement even though I can hear there is something wrong.

I know writing a detailed review can be hard, especially if you're not 100% sure about what you're saying.

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When I was teaching steadily (non music related) I really pushed. Make it right and then make it more right! I didn't impress easily.

Even in my own training people thought I was nuts. So you had to keep up with me. It can get too easy to be like that here but that isn't my place.

I'm hard to please but it makes for disciplined trainees and future instructors. Believe me I can do the same here but don't. I almost do at times but I then reel myself in. I don't want to get too overly critical since I too am just a student. But to be fair, I am also very critical of myself. For me, once I reach the top, there is no where to go but up!! ;)

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I try to take into count the level that the poster seems to be in. I can not give any technical advice. If there is a solid quality or if I percieve potential I will comment on that.

I also want a true evaluation for myself with tips if there is something obvious that is causing problems.

There are times when I hear something that is not to my taste and I hear something that sounds off to me, I will not comment because that may actually be part of the "Style".

And there are times when I wonder if everyone listened to the same song as I did.

I have seen comments that seemed a bit harsh, but at the same time the one giving the critique explained why and gave help for fixing the problem.

I give praise to some because I have listened to earlier recordings and can hear the improvements.

And others because I am simply in awe of their sound. There may be flaws that are easily seen by others but to me it is perfect.

I am not worthy to give a critique on technique. But then again none of us are unless we are teachers or performers making a living from this ourselves. I can make comments on what actually sounded good to me and what sounded bad and give an opinion on what may help.

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Excellent thread.

I am the one that is more guilty than anyone here of being supportive and saying "good job" even if it's not ready for "prime time." So, yeah, even though the thread is not directed at anyone in particular, I am the one who consistently "fluffs up" beginners and less than stellar takes.

But I also often give pointers on pronunciation, especially if the singer is trying to sound american. That is soley stylistic. They might be singing okay but I think their articulation could be tweaked.

But I echo George. When someone either puts on an affected voice or worse, whispers as if they were in a closet and trying to not disturb a butterfly, I jump right on it and tell them to stop. Directly, and using that word, "stop it."

Now, this is where I expect draw some fire. And I just can't help it, so let me dive in. I absolutely do not believe that any and every voice can sound like any and every other voice. Which can be difficult for both singer and listener. For the original version becomes the sound ideal for that song or that singer. And if you don't sound like them, it seems off to many. Not to me, which might make me the odd person. I can listen to a person singing a song from outside their normal genre and really enjoy it. I really do like Dolly Parton's cover of "Heaven" by Collective Soul.

But then, again, I think the point of this thread is a professional sound, regardless of how you approach the song. And maybe I am wrong for expecting a genre to have a certain sound, as do others expect this, as well. For example, I really like the blues. And I like the way Tommy sings the blues. And I don't expect him to sing a blues song as if he were singing opera. Nor would I hold him to the sound ideal(s) of opera.

And vice versa. If a person, who is more prone to operatic singing wanted to sing the blues, I would not say they are doing it wrong just because he doesn't sound like William Gibbons from ZZ Top. Would it sell a million copies? Probably not. But it still has artistic merit, in my book.

So, then, are we critiquing based on salability? Not always.

More importantly, I think we are here to help on technical issues and I like to think that is what we are here for.

And one of the most valuable persons in critiquing has the ability to pinpoint exactly where a problem is and how to fix it. And yet phrase it in a way that makes you glad for the pointer. Then, we are talking of how someone expresses himself. And everyone talks different.

Quick example. I worked on a project and the general superintendent walked around like he was on a forced march and when he spoke, it sounded like he was angry, to most. I knew different. Someone once said, "What's bothering him?" "Nothing, " I replied. "He's having a good day. You should see him when he's upset." All because of how his voice sounds and the way he phrases.

Maybe we sometimes encounter that here. The person means well but, in print, it comes off as "feeling" like something else.

While we are busy saying how we don't affected accents or quiet whispering passing for singing, I would like to say that general complaints don't do much, either. Just saying "pitchy" doesn't help much. "Pitchy" where? And I don't mean having to list the time counter on the track. Just say pitchy on this or that lyric.

One of the most helpful things someone ever critiqued me on was when Jonpall said I was crashing my notes. A sudden deflection downward in pitch from true pitch at the end of a word or phrase. For the next few weeks, I was powerless to stop myself from noticing how I both sang and spoke, for the problem was also in my speach, and I traced it to how men speak around where I live. Focusing my attention and imaging the note continuing on after it actually finishes fixed. And I have Jonpall to thank for pinpointing that.

In addition to that, we have some responsibility in how we address others. Yes, it is important to say "this is wrong, that is wrong" and those things are helpful. But, if you phrase it in a way that is confrontational or denigrating, or that you are so far above those whom you critique, don't be suprised if you get some resistance or some attitude, right back atcha.

Yeah, I know that you (whomever) are expert and knowledgable and may even be right. And that what you say might be logical and valid. And how you treat others will bounce back on you. It's human nature. Not all of us are "Mr Spock" in our reaction to various ways of talking to each other.

That is, it's okay to point out what is wrong. But being brusque is also sometimes going to get a brusque reaction.

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I have posted songs here knowing there were faults but not being able to pinpoint their origen. If I am having trouble I will post the worst take not the best. I am usually not looking for praise but a direction to follow to fix the faults.

Some post songs here to see if they are worthy of distribution. And when they do they usually tell us up front. Others are just wondering if they have potential. And again they usually tell us of their intention.

I also like to hear songs from those that are giving advice. A "how it is done" kind of thing.

This is "The Modern Vocalist World" and we have members all over the world yet there are about ten members who regularly chime in on their views and some kind of critique.

We do owe it to the posters to be as honest in our critique as we possibly can. And I believe that we do take into account the many variables that go into giving some kind of honest review.

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Good post. M. Oops, sorry, I was supportive of how you expressed yourself.


I totally value technical critiques. Especially on issues of pitch or volume, or even of sound effect.

And a lot of critique seems to be more about style. Can we truly give just a technical critique without bringing our own paradigm into the discusssion?

For example, I am not a big fan of rap, or at least anything past Tone Loc. So, I normally choose not to even comment in such postings. Ironically, Tone Loc was not a trained singer and most of his stuff was growled. But the feeling was there. If the rapper is on pitch, what else is there?

I think we also suffer from a disparity of semantics. What do people mean by the different terms that they use? Lift up, pull back, hourglass voice, carry chest high, bring head voice down, balance of emission, balance of air below and above the glottis. Engaging the core, breathe with the belly, activate the diaphragm. Sing from the diaphragm (as opposed to singing from the big toe on your left foot.)

What does it mean when someone says "I didn't like that"? Is it purely a technical issue? If the singing was on pitch but did not include the tone of voice one prefers, what does that mean? Should everything be sung at "full voice," regardless of lyrical and emotional intent?

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Adon. I dunno, If someone abandon hope from one negative opinion that he asked for, its better to not even begin in this.

Insulting is not necessary, and now let me remark that it goes for both explicit and implicit insults.

George, excuses are the best. Its the mic, the weather, the day, the night... You are spot on.

Tommy. Humm I see man. But make no mistake, this isnt about just technique, its musicianship too. I dont buy it that you cant say at least the specific spots where most apparent problems happens. We dont have to provide a solution for problems, nobody can do that on a few lines of text anyways.

You can write a few general directions, of what can be done. But exercises and quick fixes are doomed to fail, miserably.

mdew its cool man. I am not trying to tell you what to write, just wanting to know what you think about it really.

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It is good that you braught up the subject. We do have a responsabilty here that can be inadvertantly overlooked. There are people who will check reviews of other people to get a feel of what to expect if they post their own songs.

If we say good job to a song that is clearly in need of help it makes us look bad and gives the impression that we don't have a clue to what is good or bad. Most of the time when we do that it is because we know that the poster is aware of the many faults and are working on one particular problem. We are responding to the one problem and overlooking the others puposely. But newer members will not know that, so we should remember to add what we are responding to.

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Interesting thread indeed.

I have been lurking on this forum for about a year and have remained silent because i thought the most experienced singers won't have time to bother to tell me what i can improve. I hold this forum as the best on the internet, regarding singing technique, and I would be really glad to have one day the singing level of some of the active forum members posting here.

I have hesitated about posting reviews on singing performances which were higher than mine. Probably I should have, but then, i would have judged the artistic interpretation rather than the technical level.

I also agree with the idea that if you think something is wrong in one's singing, you have to say it. You are going to do more harm than good by not saying it. But yeah, as Ron said, there are many ways of telling things. Voice is something quite personal, its part of someone's appearance and personality, its a bit more intimate than lets say, a guitar or a bass play.

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I think the worst thing you could do when you give critique is to be polite or misleading if for example you say "good job" or something like that when you honestly really think it sounded "crap". I could understand why some people do that, either it could be that you are afraid to insult the person or it could be that you afraid that the person you critique will be hard on you. That said , you could give constructive critique without sounding rude and that would also help the person you give a "negative" feedback in the long run as Felipe stated if there is some truth in it. I hope i have made myself clear that i want honest opinions of my singing. I, myself, is not an expert, i have never taken singing lessons, i just happen to be a big music fan and have singing as a hobby. I really like to listen to contributions here and give comments but i find it sometimes hard to explain technically what is going on so i usually don´t. But i am always honest and if i don´t like something i try to explain what it is i don´t like but usually i can´t give advice on HOW to improve it unfortunately. So, maybe my comments are not of much help but i like to support as much as i can so therefore i do it and hopefully i don´t confuse too many people here :) With this statement i hope everyone knows where i stand. Take care!

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Ron - LOL! I didn't know what any of that was about.

Man! I need to read up more theory:

... Lift up, pull back, hourglass voice, carry chest high, bring head voice down, balance of emission, balance of air below and above the glottis. Engaging the core, breathe with the belly, activate the diaphragm. Sing from the diaphragm.. .

I can hear clear diction, power, tuning, accent, passion, delivery, timing, dynamics. I don't know how they get there though!

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"Do you consider your criteria responsible?"

Everyone is different. Some like to be very blunt. Some would rather lead more gently.

Some people prefer the blunt review. Some people prefer the little boost mixed in with the critique.

So, as mentioned, if someone is so demoralized from a tough review that they might not ought to be in this singing thing?

I think it is really a case by case question. For me, sometimes, the review is too ambiguous. Not sharp enough, not pinpointed enough. And I realize that not all reviewers have that ability to focus in on a thing.

So, let's try some examples.

"You went flat in the first chorus but tuned up by the second chorus" (a review I gave myself, believe it or not.)

"You are crashing notes." (and proceeds to explain what crashing means.)

Now, try this.

"You went to this tone of voice. You did not sing properly."

"You don't know what you are talking about and stop talking about it."

"Don't sing this song unless you can sound like the original singer" (The original singer was "a baritone singing out of his range with wrong technique," as was stated later by a reviewer.)

Which pointers do you (in general) think help a singer progress?

Nothing wrong with being blunt and I actually prefer it, I just wish for more accuracy, even when I critique someone else. I task myself to be a bit more precise. At the same time, if there was some good things in the effort, I don't see the harm in pointing that out, as well.

I think it is responsible to be as accurate as possible. "You were off pitch or wobbled at this lyric in the first chorus."

And "good rasp on the high notes."

Both, I think, are responsible statements. If we're going to tell the truth, then tell the whole truth. The good, the bad, the ugly.

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Which pointers do you (in general) think help a singer progress?

In general, find a teacher. Specifically, specially. ;)

And that is always good advice. And if we all did that, we would not be here in this forum.

That is, if I was paying someone some hard-earned money to teach me about singing, I will listen to the man or woman I am paying and politely ignore others ideas about singing.

Even one coach who helped me and didn't charge me anything and gave me warm-ups on cd (because I have a long commute to and from work), and another coach, who gave me the keys to his system, for which I did pay some (what I could afford at the time), I will listen to those two more often and more likely than some armchair expert on the internet.

So, yes, get a coach, somehow.

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That is, if I was paying someone some hard-earned money to teach me about singing, I will listen to the man or woman I am paying and politely ignore others ideas about singing.


... I will listen to those two more often and more likely than some armchair expert on the internet.

So, yes, get a coach, somehow.

I consider all information. It is all useful somehow. I may have to weed through a lot of it, but I don't discount anything. I have learned much from beginners in my time. Much learning happens by accident.

How do you review? Do you consider your criteria responsible?

With the truth. That's the only way you can help who asks you an opinion - not only in singing, but in life.


This is the best response.

However, I have been on many forums and have seen contributions put up for judgement and it is much the same. Whether it's harmonica, guitar or singing or even non music related, doesn't matter. If you are good it is easier. For example. a good singer on this or any other forum who also has a decent amount of knowledge to go along with the skill to back it up, will get away with a strong critique easier than a knowledgeable person who doesn't sing well; and even more so than one with little knowledge and little skill.

The skilled person gets away with it while the lesser skilled gets looked down upon or called a trouble maker. Or "what the hell do you know....and where are your song samples?"

That makes people tend to take the middle road and be a little more cryptic or vague. "Nice job." I think for real critique everyone needs similar criteria and all have to be on board.

As one poster here said, after being slammed for "truthful" critique while his song sample was a poor one. And who promised to post a better one but never did..."The bitter truth is better than sweet lies."

He told what he believed the truth and was hammered for it. I'm sure if he sang like Geoff Tate, everyone would be agreeing with him and hanging on his every word.

That is the stuff that I don't like. It only causes confusion. It's a disease man!

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Well, Tommy, I am conceding that Felipe is right. Get a coach.

In which case, what are we doing here, other than to listen to each other's singing? Because our instructors, the first thing they would say is don't believe everything you read on the internet. And if I, the instructor, say that you are doing it right and that you sound great because I can hear you in person, then you don't need the opinions of admitted amateurs, like this guy from Texas who keeps calling himself a redneck.

And yes, it's possible that your coach might teach something a little differently than another coach. So, then, do we keep the forum for a "my coach is bigger than your coach" thing? I mean, if we want to do that sort of comparison, let's make it about vertical height. I win, hands down. It pays to be a winner.

But I don't think that was Lunte's intention and that is certainly not how Adolph runs this show. It's an open forum for people of all ages, skill levels, and viewpoints, including those, I think, of amateurs such as myself. Whether I have a live coach listening to me in the same room, or not. It's okay to come from an opera background, it's okay to come from a rock background, whatever.

Are we then more likely to be concerned with the end product? Does the recording sound salable? Is the singer "believable" in singing the song?

On the other hand, the section title is "review and critique my singing." And that is what you will get, whether you agree with the review (which can include criticism,) or not.

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I guess I'll have to quote myself from my post above. :D

Whatever you just wrote seems almost opposite of what I was saying. A redneck thing? :lol:

I wrote:

I consider all information. It is all useful somehow. I may have to weed through a lot of it, but I don't discount anything. I have learned much from beginners in my time. Much learning happens by accident.

That means I would listen to my coach but also consider all other information, whether that's from forum members, experienced or not or some drunk in a bar. I take the information, consider it then either use or discard it.

And like I said. I agree it's a critique section. And if it isn't honest then it isn't a critique. It's a butt kiss ;)

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