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Am I making progress? (4 new songs)

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Sleeper256
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Hi! Been awhile... So the last time I posted I was doing more dream theater rock-type things that pushed the height of my voice, not so good...

Well I've been sticking with lessons for maybe 3 months now, and I just wanted to get some feedback on what you think maybe I should work on with my teacher for technique. Also, do I typically have pitch problems? Because my teacher says I don't but I think I do. Maybe it's just the whole 'not sounding like those singers' thing still getting to me.

Also around Christmas I had bronchitis and it killed my throat to even talk. But I got my voice back and only have a slight cough now very rarely.

So I eased it up with this, trying to branch out into things I haven't done before. Songs I feel are less demanding. And I'm trying to sing with my diaphragm, but it still feels like I'm singing from my throat.

Enough talk, on to the songs! Each one I did with one take and very minimal effects. In some I tried to remove the voice of the original but some reverb remained. Still recorded with a rockband usb mic. Held sorta to the side to reduce the pops. That's the way to do it right?

Walking in Memphis (I know Marc Cohn is probably a baritone, but if Scott Grimes can do it, why can't I?? ....I'm pretty sure Scott's a tenor...)

Cult Of Personality (Got the Karaoke track off of youtube, and there's some backup vocals on it.)

Drops Of Jupiter (Ugh the end sucks I think I ran out of breath but I wanted to stick to the 1-take policy like it was live....except the Nananas. And I can't mimic his tone...is he raspy??)

Roll With The Changes

So, any progress? Am I ever going to be able to sing better? Thanks

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You can drop the false humility stuff. Man up, stand up. Don't expect flowery praise because you came in with "o, I'm so humble."

Sorry, my day was tough, so I am taking it out on others. :D

So, you have a voice teacher and you want us to second-guess him? Are you paying him? You should listen to him and count yourself lucky to have a voice teacher.

On just about all the songs, your pitch is fine and of course you do not sound like the original singer. Get over it, rejoice in your own sound, though I may be the only one to say that. Evidently, it is epidemic to do whatever one can do to sound like a carbon copy of the original singer, something I could just never get in line with.

Your weak spot is some of the extended notes in "Roll with the Changes." Your breath support is not engaged. You need to control the exhale with your abs. In that song, where you wobble, you are trying to control with your vocal folds and they are wobbling under the load.

On the whole, it sounds like the work with your teacher is doing good things for you. Keep that up.

So, who knows more? You or your teacher? He says your pitch (aside from my comments on "Roll with the Changes) is fine and you disagree with that?

Make up your mind. And realize, you cannot hear yourself as others hear you. And so, you need to re-calibrate how you hear yourself, which means trusting your teacher, something you evidently have a problem with, and that is mental.

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First off sorry you're having a rough day Ron.

"False humility", I actually had to look that up. I didn't think I was being too depreciating up there, but you're right :P

See my logic is just, I pay the voice teacher. But voice teacher contradicts himself on a couple of things, seems he says something the opposite of what he said last week sometimes. Says that pretty much everyone uses auto-tune in order to stay in complete pitch, and that the human voice naturally falters. Whenever he tries to show me what autotune sounds like like in a studio recording on youtube (not the HEAVY autotune) I can never pick up on it. And when I use the tuner inside Logic to try to measure my pitch, it's never on pitch. It's probably broken though.

I know he's a great singer, but I feel it's possible he might've just been born with that natural talent, and I pay him, but because I pay him and know him I feel that might make him bias as opposed to you guys, who can be completely honest and tell me my weaknesses so I can tell my teacher and he can show me exercises that help with that. And also I don't even know where my lessons will end, I'll run out money eventually, or spend a fortune and always sound like I do now, and I'll not know when to stop.

I've said all that before though so I obviously haven't gotten over it. But listening back to the day I started, I hear improvement. My voice is getting stronger, a bit more present. Less wavering. I think I got paranoid of my pitch when a couple different people told me to check my ears and my pitch is way off. But those were the first things I posted, looking back.

Right now I'm noticing that my problems are mostly breaking on notes like "Smiling face on your TV" in Cult of Personality, for one.

I also have a question, since your diaphragm is pretty much the main source of your sound, do ab exercises reflect on your singing? And what about hiccups? Hiccups are a spasm in your diaphragm right?

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1. Don't start with that 'natural talent' crap.

2. Everyone has bias.

The whole diaphragm thing needs to be figured out, like most singing techniques, by you alone. Personally, hiccups make it impossible for me to sing, and ab exercises do reflect on my singing. However I use a peculiar technique, despite people that may doubt me saying so. You will be able to pick up on subtle auto-tune when you naturally train your musical ear. Most people I meet cannot, and will not accept the examples of auto-tune I show them.

Personally I never use auto-tune because I don't need to.

I think you need to not look at your voice teacher as if he has all of the answers, but look at him as if he can help you obtain the answers for yourself.

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Firstly, well done. I didn't hear your previous clips (at least i can't remember if i did!) Your pitch is mostly good, it's not spot on all the time but that's just minor adjustments that you can make as your singing generally improves. That's probably why your teacher says it's fine. It's definitely not the main area you need to work on, so that's great. Anyway, once your support improves your pitch will get better.

As for the autotune thing, It's often very subtle. I don't use it but I did a session a couple of months ago and the producer used auto tune on my voice as well as everyone else's on the album. It's a stylistic thing these days. It's the highly produced pop sound that is commercial at the moment, even if you are in tune. I was horrified when I heard it, I thought it sounded awful but when i played it to people without saying anything first, they couldn't even hear the autotune!? even my musician friends said it wasn't that bad! I think it was just strange hearing my voice with it. Anyway, not sure what my point is anymore but that is my autotune story!! :/

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:) Overall it sounded pretty good. I also agree with the support angle.

Confidence is a factor that gets overlooked sometimes. If you are wondering whether you will nail that note or not chances are good that the note will be shakey. For now be confident that the note is good and it will only get better.

It may seem that your teacher is contradicting himself from week to week because introducing different ideas lead to other areas to be smoothed out. To fix one area you may have to over work it and then readjust from there.

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try to be more relaxed.

and the more relaxed you sing a note...give more volume to it. This will help with the support.

And if you need more volume...you will need more air.

so before you sing a line, take a deep breath --> attack the note relaxed with volume. repeat for next line - more relaxed and more volume.

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Hey guys thanks for all your input, sorry I haven't been here in a few days. Lord Adon, thanks, I've been trying to improve my ear with some exercises and quizzes, but I'm finding I'm still off a little bit. I also find that (today specifically) that I could be singing something I'm absolutely sure is a C note (without any other music) but as soon as I bring up a C on a piano, it turns out I'm actually somewhere in between a B and C, on a note that doesn't exist. But once I hear the C, I can sing it the right way, and the other notes fall into place. Do you have any tips on making this more natural, so that I don't have to refer to something all the time?

Gina, David, MDEW, thanks I'll try to work more on my support. Currently I do take a deep breath in my diaphragm every time I get the chance to, like I'm going back underwater soon. I do find that I get anxious as I'm waiting for each next note. Like once I get to the point where the beeps start counting me in before the song starts I lose some resolve and might mess up the breath, I'll work on that. Also for some reason I think it's harder for me when I'm listening to myself through headphones where I can only hear what's being recorded and nothing else. So sometimes I just hang em on my neck so I can hear both the outside world and the headphones and for some reason this makes me feel better.

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when i'm recording i much prefer to have one ear off and one on, that way you can hear your voice as you're used to hearing it.

Practice the breathing exercises and they will become second nature, you shouldn't have to think to hard about it while actually singing, your trying to build muscle memory and remember that the breath out is more important than the breath in really, you need to be able to control the breath out. Try not to think of taking IN too much air, you don't need it, instead concentrate on breathing in deep and low and controlling the breath out. Good luck:D

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Regarding your uncomfortable experience with recording and struggling to hear yourself properly.

Firstly, are you practicing your songs acapella? (i.e. taking a reference pitch and then singing without a backing track/guide. Checking that you are staying on pitch by resounding your reference note/chord as you work the song)

If so, you should try turning your other tracks (the pitched ones - guitars etc) way down in the mix when recording. Leave some drums or other timing references higher in the mix to help you stay in time. People naturally tune to the bass/bottom end of the sound, be it in singing, trumpet playing (yes, they have to worry about tuning too!) or whatever. So leave some of that if you need it.

Now crank the monitoring of your own voice coming back through the headphones, so you can hear every nuance of what your doing.

You need only hear the pitched tracks loud enough to get your bearings for pitch before you start singing. Then sing it with confidence because you've (hopefully) worked the song acapella, and have the confidence to know you're on pitch.

when i'm recording i much prefer to have one ear off and one on, that way you can hear your voice as you're used to hearing it.

I guess it's that old saying, "horses for courses". Different things work for different people. IMHO I'd stay away from doing funny things with the headphones. Having one ear on, one off, having them half on your ears, around your neck etc. In my experience these things (particularly using one headphone only) can really screw your equilibrium and do weird things to how you hear pitch. Just my opinion though, and no doubt it seems to work for some.

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Hey Gina thanks! Right now I'm working on the breathing exercise of whispering counts to 10 while holding my breath, also the SSSS and ZZZZ noises. Normally I do that one ear off thing to listen to the outside world, because I'm usually singing in a small closet while my roommates aren't home so I listen for them. The clothes make good insulation I think. Sometimes I'm not sure when one of my roommates are home.

I'm working on trying to keep my throat open too.

And Nick, no I haven't tried practicing songs acapella. I usually have some sort of backing/guide. Otherwise my rhythm goes off. And the deal with this 'karaoke' songs is I can't control the volume of any instrument, it's all or nothing. But if it's my own song I usually mute all but a few instruments, maybe drums/piano. Or I make a sequence of notes that beep 8 times on the note that starts whatever I'm singing, before it gets to the part I'm about to record (hit record, then go to where the mic is, fix the wire, put on headphones, take a deep breath and wait for the beeps) and then put more beeps where there's some kind of big change, like maybe verse -> chorus or something, just to make sure I'm on the same track.

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What Adon said. Can't improve on that. Such a smart guy and so darn young. I have a scar on the back of my head that is twice as old as he is.

Oh well, life has surprises.

Anyway, this the place to go for reviews based on personal aesthetics.

I prefer to divide it up to technical, versus interpretation. And interpretation is always open to debate and allows a lot of people to be "critical" and sound knowledgable.

So, I go back to technical as a basis. The first two things you need to worry about, hook or crook, is pitch accuracy, and volume that is right for the part of the song you are in. Everything else is interpretation. Though, I have also found that I prefer a cleaner sound than one that is too nasal. Though some some genres seem to favor nasal. I would prefer to have it as an effect than a default.

You are off to a good start. Just learn to become a pitch nazi, like me.

:D

When I recorded, recently, "Going to California," by Led Zeppelin, I did a few takes. I had one that was pretty good with an ending that I liked but I had a wobble in the middle and I could not just let it go. So, I recorded it again. The one I posted is, I think, the fourth take, though "second version" because it was a different mic.

So, by paying attention to pitch, reviews were more about interpretation, which I can live with, rather than, "dude, you are off pitch."

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