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The Ugly Voice - Nature vs Nurture

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Now I don't mean to discourage anyone so please take this post with a grain of salt...

What if your natural voice is ugly and you want to sing like Bruno Mars or MJ. A vocal coach can only teach you so much. What makes you think that vocal technique will make you the next Justin Bieber? If vocal technique could make you the next Bruno Mars wouldn't every man with money in his pocket learn technique? Why are some of the users in THIS forum who have amazing vocal technique not on the radio? Robert Lunte can bridge through the passaggio and has good technique as demonstrated countless times in Pillars yet why is he not famous, is his voice not beautiful enough? (No offence Rob, just getting the point across).

In all these singing competitions you hear people saying they've been singing for years and years yet 90% of them still get eliminated. Could someone on this forum really walk up to Bruno Mars and out-stage him sheerly because they have the technical prowess?

I know I seem very shallow here... but beauty cannot be taught. The natural timbre of your voice is pre-determined. All these artists on the radio with shitty technique... they're making millions while people with great technique have to "teach" or "gig" for money.

To be even more clear... there are many on this forum who claim to be tenors and have good technique... some even claim that fach does not matter. But lets hear them sing a Michael Jackson song with even a hint of the beauty and finesse he had.

So if my voice is ugly what do I do? Get a vocal teacher and hope for the best?

For the people who have been practicing for years... and I know many of you have... have you really DEVELOPED a beautiful voice? Now I honestly don't mean to discourage anyone or myself but to sum up this thread... lets just use Bruno Mars as an example...

Lets say you train technique over and over and you have reached the conclusion that you are no Bruno Mars and you are not even close to a Michael Jackson... there are 2 roads to take. Either accept the voice you were given by nature... or form a specific plan of attack to CREATE beauty of tone targeted towards a specific genre.

Let's say the hopeful student chooses the latter... to CREATE a beautiful voice... then what is the plan of attack? How do you create something beautiful from something ugly? I'm sure I'm going to get many useless responses to this thread but I feel like someone had to bring this up. You technical geniuses must have something up your sleeve right? ;)

Let the controversy begin. Note: I think people are missing the point of this thread... it is that there are hundreds of thousands of people who have trained for years and have good technique yet they STILL sound bad. Bruno Mars smokes cigarettes regularly and still sounds 10x better than me and others who try to imitate his sounds.

Must one accept the cards he was dealt by nature or keep trying to change the sound to be something that you're not.... what if the cards you were dealt SUCK. This thread is about having shitty cards.... training your entire life won't change that

Ps thanks Ron for your honesty.

______________________________________________________________

I saw the angel in the stone and carved to set it free - Michaelangelo

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IMO

It has nothing to do with any of the following

*

-Training

-Technique

-Genetics (unless you have some wierd disorder)

-Talent

-Money

*

I can't decribe to anyone how bad I was when I started singing. I can post examples if you would like, But that's going to have to be upon request hahah. When I started singing, I had no idea about vocal lessons, proper technique, anyting. I started singing because I recorded songs and I wanted to put vocals on them. To begin, I sang in a really bad talking style voice, and falsetto. I know that now, but at the time I thought I just needed to get better.

I didn't think 'I need a teacher' or 'I have bad technique' or anything. Sure, I did have bad technique, but I didn't know it. Sure, I could have used a teacher, but I didn't know it either. I was doing everything wrong, but that didn't matter. You see, I started to get better. What keeps me getting better is not any of the techniques or teachers or anything, it is the ability to reflect.

Do you notice when you suck? I don't, not at first. At first I will think I'm quite good, then upon listening to someting else, and reflecting on my performance, I will realize that I am not there yet.

I don't think that any teacher or technique or exercise or anything will intrude upon that, it's only yourself, and it's only your ego. If you say you are at your best and cannot get any better, or that you are there yet, you are as good as you need to be, you will stop improving. Frankly, it's the ego that is destructive. The knowledge is harmless, but if you have the ego the say 'this is what i need' you might end up not getting anywhere. Even with a vocal instructor, I would not say 'this is what i need', I would say 'this is what benefits my IMPROVEMENT'.

----This goes for teachers, techniques, exercises, anything. To say 'this is what i need' is foolish. The only thing you need is to get better, and it may help or it may not. You should be trying to find ways of getting better regardless.

What you need is not a vocal instructor, what you need is to get better, and a vocal instructor will(might) help. That goal I think is really essential. Now, of course, I never had a voice teacher. I came inches to getting one, but schedules didn't work out. Turns out I am able to improve on my own quite effectively. It doesn't matter. What matters is the imrovement, nothing else.

(One thing that really assists with improvement, and the thing that I always try to do, is experimentation. Trying to constantly experiment and find new ways of singing. Even if they sound bad, you are experimenting with your voice and it can eventually lead to something new and better)

About the 'great' singers...

I think it's the fact that they can, to a degree, tell what sounds good. They are able to reach a point that is satisfying for them, where they are no longer questioning themselves. The craving for improvement is satisfied?

Maybe.

It could be different for everyone, but it really seems like that is the key. Getting your sights straight, and being rather independently minded about how your voice works perhaps.

-END RANT-

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First of all, let's clear up the myth that if you have a "beautiful voice" you'll be famous. I know plenty of people with beautiful voices that are not famous. And in the competitions, they are looking for interesting personal stories - there a tons of singers with beautiful voices that get cut on these shows.

The other thing is beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or in this case the "ear" of the beholder). What you think is beauty isnt' necessarily what the next person thinks. Bruno and Micheal Jackson both have very light high voices. I know many people love these guys voices. I think they are both excellent, but I personally don't gravitate towards this type of singing. I like a little more meat. So I don't automatically hold their voices as the most beautiful voices. If someone were to ask me who my top ten favorite singers were, neither of these guys would be on my list.

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The times that I heard a voice that I would concider ugly was when the person did not understand the control of pitch, yet.

If you are trying to match your voice to a sound ideal you are going to be a very frustrated person. I have not heard you actually sing a song. But I have heard some of your exercise examples. THERE IS BEAUTY THERE.

Confidence in singing or pretty much anything seems to be a deciding factor.

As far as the being famous and making it big. In some cases it has nothing to do with talent or even beauty of the voice. Some ,not all, of the "STARS" are made.

Both Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars Were "WORKING" since they were under 10 years old.

I can also imagine Michael wishing he sounded like someone else.( I don't know who. I am just sure he felt the same insecurities that we all feel at times.)

There are many Famous singers that you would not consider their voice beautiful but we still cannot help singing along with their songs. Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger..... Those voices do not appeal to me but they are all still singing somewhere.

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@Geno I just used Bruno Mars and Michael Jackson as an example, the point would be exactly the same even if you liked "meatier" singers. The ability to create a beautiful voice based on your ideas of beauty... or simply accept the cards you were dealt.

I thought we all knew beautiful is a subjective term. But once we have our ideals for beauty and our natural voices simply do not cut the chase... then what path is there to take? That is the point of this thread.... it's not to see who your favorite singers are... though feel free to share your top 10 :P

@Lord_Adon great answer... these high-level singers do have a "relationship" with the audience in a sense, they instantly know what buttons to press to achieve a certain reaction from the audience. They can tell what sounds good... AND they sound good.

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Jay, you find a quality in your voice that you find attractive. Then you look to enhance that quality.

It may also be a particular "sound characteristic" in your voice that you do not like will be the "Querk" that sets you apart from everyone else and makes your voice more attractive to other people.

Adele may have hated the rough low sound to her voice. but that is part of the charm that we love.

I just do not think that Whitney Houston singing "Rollin in the deep" would have had the same success.

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Thanks MDEW, I'm sure if I look long and hard enough I will find some sort of attractive quality in my voice, though it may not be from my modal register ;)

Here's a cool clip since Geno likes "meatier singers" it's Kelly Clarkson covering Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe.. it doesn't sound high and light like Carly Rae Jepsen's cover but imo it still sounds good. I don't think you need a low or high voice to sound good but the ability to isolate and amplify the attractive qualities of your voice is crucial.

Thanks again MDEW. Btw Adele and Whitney both sound good but had horrible technique lol! Adele needed vocal surgery and hasn't performed since... she is recovering and going to be performing soon. Whitney's voice was totally ruined from years of belting.... and substance abuse.

They did have their own unique beautiful sound imo... but was it worth it? Is that the price of beauty?

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Bruno Mars has been training his whole life (since 3 years old). If you trained as

hard and long as he did chances are your voice might sound just as good. "Beautiful voice" can

be very subjective. In the end, work with what you have and just leave it up to people to decide

if they like your voice or not. There's probably lots of people out there that don't like Bruno Mars' voice.

Also, Bruno Mars has professional sound engineers to make sure everything sound good live and in the studio.

Don't underestimate that. A good singer can sound bad with shitty recording technique.

From Wikipedia:

Mars was one of six children and came from a musical family who exposed him to a diverse mix of reggae, rock, hip hop, and R&B.[16][17] In addition to being a dancer, his mother was a singer and his father used his musical ability to perform Little Richard rock n roll music.[3] Mars' uncle was an Elvis impersonator, and encouraged three-year-old Mars to perform on stage as well. Mars also performed songs by artists such as Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations.[14] At age four, Mars began performing five days a week with his family's band, The Love Notes, in which he became known on the island for his impersonation of Presley.[18] In 1990, Mars was featured in MidWeek as "Little Elvis", going on to have a cameo in the film Honeymoon in Vegas in 1992.[14][19]

His time spent impersonating Presley had a major impact on Mars' musical evolution and performing techniques.[20] He later began playing guitar after drawing inspiration from Jimi Hendrix.[21] In 2010, he also acknowledged his Hawaiian roots and musical family as an influence, explaining, "Growing up in Hawaii made me the man I am. I used to do a lot of shows in Hawaii with my father's band. Everybody in my family sings, everyone plays instruments...I've just been surrounded by it."[22] In 2003, shortly after graduating from President Theodore Roosevelt High School at the age of seventeen, Mars moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a musical career.[14][19] He adopted his stage name from the nickname his father gave him, adding "Mars" at the end because "I felt like I didn't have [any] pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I'm from Mars."[23]

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Jay - you're right it is a very subjective thing. I used to think I had an ugly voice too. Mdew is right - if you learn good technique and free the unwanted tension the tone will sound great. Thats only half the equation though. the second half (the part that distinguishes a pro from an amateur) is a matter of phrasing and developing stylistic nuances. This part requires a keen sense of awareness, rythm, coordination and listening and knowing what you like.

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This is one of the few times I have read thread and did not comment on the spur of the moment. Went away, read some other stuff, came back to it.

Why is an awesome singer like Robert Lunte not a big name like some other singers? Some of it is just luck. Local Texas legend gone big Johnny Lang had the right connections and timing and support and recorded his first album when he was 17. He even lived in the same general area as Bugs Henderson, and most of you are not likely to know the second name.

Secondly, prog metal has such a defined market. And a place in time. The reason that Rush and Dream Theater made it big when they did was partially timing, in addition to their awesome talent.

Given enough time, I might be able to assemble a Led Zep tribute band. And get gigs playing retirement parties and maybe sell a dozen cd's if I had them with me and sold them at cost. Maybe. Which is about my speed. I hear those are great places to score some Geritol back stage.

\m/

Why is Justin Bieber more popular than Lunte, for example? Because that is what the market is buying.

Joe Cocker, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, not beautiful voices, in my opinion. But their performances are iconic and I like what they do. Who knows, maybe they even studied some technique. I've noticed Springsteen applying a little more control to what he does. And Joe, now in his 70's (?), is still doing what he does.

There are times when someone will submit a cover and I will tell them good job. Pitch was good. Nice expression. That does not mean they will ship platinum with that performance. That is, I consider the performance artistic and find it valid, may even enjoy it myself. Let's say that someone covers a heavy metal song from an opera singer perspective. I think that's cool. That's not the same as saying "book your flight to England for the Download Festival at Castle Donnington."

And when someone submits something I think will sell well, something I know I would buy and suspect others would, too, I point that out and advise that they get going on it. And I don't think I am sending someone to their ruination, either.

Listening is mental. And we all to one extent or another, judge singing based on personal criteria. Pretty or ugly? Macy Gray can sing a song. And had a hit. And my wife simply cannot stand her voice. I didn't care for it one way or the other. It was neat, not bad in my opinion.

Among the female country music fans that I know, those who like Leanne Rimes do not like Shania Twain. And vice versa. I gave up trying to figure that out. I think it has to do with "innocence" versus "sultry." But many female fans like Gretchen Wilson. I like her, too.

Sometimes, blunt honesty is just that, nothing more. To say, I do not like this. Even if pitch and timing was good, one could also not like the tone of the voice, the chiaro or oscuro of the voice. And that's okay, as long as people understanding we are now dealing with aesthetics and sound ideals, which is being addressed in another thread about how a technique applies to a genre.

How do you advise on that, then? Now and then, someone has submitted a song and they did okay, pitch-wise, etcetera. And I felt they would be even better suited for another genre or another song. And, without exception, they reject that advise, albeit, politely.

Accepting the cards you are dealt. I get some heat for that. I won't re-hash that. However, if you like the sound that you make, that is good because you need the confidence. Because not everyone will be a fan. Of your voice, of your genre. Or of how you approached a song. I've seen a thread where a guy posted a song and completely went off on his own with it. And so the reply or two came back that he should treat this song with "respect" for the original recording. Because it was a little too different and not what people were expecting. 6 one way, half a dozen the other. You cannot please everyone. I am sure their are some r & b purists who do not like Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams." But I thought it was cool.

I am not so sure that any voice is naturally ugly. Maybe just misapplied. Just like the notion that only MJ and Bruno are examples of beautiful singing and anything is not. That's just as dictatorial as any sound ideal we may find in opera.

That's why I like to remember and repeat the advice of professional hard rock and heavy metal singers who have been doing what they do professionally for just about my entire lifespan. "Do what it is your voice can do, don't do what it will not do. Find your own sound."

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I also forgot to add that the songwriter can also make a big difference.

Songs are often written specifically for a singer's voice.

That's another reason why pop singers often sound good.

The song actually suits the singer's strong and weak points.

A lot of times people learning to sing often keep trying to sing songs that don't fit their voice.

Also, even if you are a mediocre singer, if you know how to write songs for your voice,

you can maybe sound better than you actually are.

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Well if you sound good then you sound good.

What I meant was that you can write songs that avoids all of your weak points.

This might give people the impression that your voice is flawless, but really it's

because you never get close to stretching your limits in your songs.

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Check out any one of ken Tamplins videos "how to sing like". Notice that when he is singing He has a big resonant sound. At the end when he is explaing some things and again starts singing he doesn't sound Big and resonant. He sounds like any one of us. He still sounds great. But just not as great as when he is singing to the backing track. Some of the effects are turned off.

A little reverb goes a long way. Record your voice singing a song. If you have the capability to add a little reverb, do it just to see what a differece it makes.

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I also forgot to add that the songwriter can also make a big difference.

Songs are often written specifically for a singer's voice.

That's another reason why pop singers often sound good.

The song actually suits the singer's strong and weak points.

A lot of times people learning to sing often keep trying to sing songs that don't fit their voice.

I want to buy a tattoo gun, several needles, and several bottles of ink and tattoo this to everyone who aims to be a singer.

Professional recording artists, for example, the often mentioned and sometimes belittled, Justin Bieber, has a manager and others who's job it is to find songs that match his voice. And the producer, who expects to make 10% of his 12.5 % of the 90% of the 100 % of the record company's gross, is absolutely going to make sure that the material will be chosen that best fits his voice.

Here's another ancient chinese secret I learned. The key to success is sometimes found in learning what successful people do and then, do that for yourself. Mystic, deep, archetypical, I know. But there it is.

Do what it is your voice can do. Don't do what it cannot do. As stated by Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, Ron Keel, Geoff Tate, and a few others. But hey, what do they know? They've only been singing for several decades, successfully, and making lots of money at it.

And yes, I have violated the last statement, learning to sing songs that don't fit my voice. And, whenever I do that, I usually receive my harshest criticisms.

One day, I may just learn the lesson to work with what my voice can do. Though that perspective does get me a rep of "not doing enough."

Then, again, I am on the highway to Hell, so, what is one more sin?

:lol:

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jay, the pros know, some instinctively, others by advice and consultation (like others have said) what not to sing.

steve perry, as great as he is, moved his voice into a corner. he has that beautiful, open, gorgeous, medium level loudness voice.....but it came at a price i.m.o., but could he have sung a raspy growly thing off the top...probably not just as much as the raspy gravelly singer isn't likely (although there are exceptions to every rule) going to sing his open way.

or how jeff scott soto was not accepted by the public for a steve perry replacement. but he was (i was told by dan formica) a contender for lead vocalist in foreigner.

the voice will develop richness and tone quality if you keep on with your exercises...guaranteed.

but the voice, the "it" factor is to me a combination of how well you speak, then in song how you capture an audience's hearts with your sincerity and truth when you sing.

it's passion, intensity, sincerity, and most of all truth...plus a desire to sound sexy.....lol!!!...i swear, it works..lol!!!

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Check out any one of ken Tamplins videos "how to sing like". Notice that when he is singing He has a big resonant sound. At the end when he is explaing some things and again starts singing he doesn't sound Big and resonant. He sounds like any one of us. He still sounds great. But just not as great as when he is singing to the backing track. Some of the effects are turned off.

A little reverb goes a long way. Record your voice singing a song. If you have the capability to add a little reverb, do it just to see what a differece it makes.

Exactly he sings it over and over line by line gets a good comp of vocals together then throws the delay verb compressor preamp on it. That's how records are made.

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Exactly he sings it over and over line by line gets a good comp of vocals together then throws the delay verb compressor preamp on it. That's how records are made.

I think you said that in your outside voice.

Join me, Daniel, on the highway .....

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Let's say the hopeful student chooses the latter... to CREATE a beautiful voice... then what is the plan of attack? How do you create something beautiful from something ugly? I'm sure I'm going to get many useless responses to this thread but I feel like someone had to bring this up. You technical geniuses must have something up your sleeve right?

JayMC: Yep. The teacher helps the student release the voice from whatever is causing the 'ugly'. That's when both discover the beauty that was underneath, whatever that may be.

What is impossible to tell until explored is the native musicality or musical sensibility of the individual, a very important part of talent. Talent can emerge early in life (as in Michael Jackson's entire family, the Osmonds, and others mentioned in this thread) or it can emerge late, as in Susan Boyd. Scott Bakula had his first starring stage role in 6th grade, and went on to Broadway and starring in 2 TV shows. Each path is unique. Some folks do not grow up singing... they discover it in their 20s and 30s, when it is much harder to find an agent :-)

JayMC: Are you asking this question rhetorically, or do you want to learn how to sing beautifully?

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Methinks the origin of the thread is rhetorical. Like the skit on SNL "Coffee Talk".

"Naythca vusus nutcha, that is the topic. Discuss. The numba is fahv, fahv, fahv, foh, foh - foh, foh."

Then Mike Meyers takes a fake sip of coffee from an oversized mug.

But once again, Steven, you rock, as usual.

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