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Setting a mood when singing.

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MDEW
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I have no creds. Just strugglin' to get by singing "Eagles" and such.

But I still have a valid point to make.

Sing the songs to express the songs. Not to show your skill at overlay distortion or vibrato or whatever. You trained that. stop thinking about it when singing.

Putting emotion into a song is not about "Be breathy here" "Sing softer there" "put vibrato here".

And to tell someone exactly why it isn't working is harder than telling when something is too soft or the pitch is off.

It is just a feeling that you get. But when the feeling is off it doesn't work.

You don't make a somber sound by dampening your larynx. The larynx dampens because you are somber.

If you are singing a song about being sad about a break up and you are ready to jump off a bridge because you miss them so much. Do not be thinking "Yes! I hit that note. Awesome". The mood of the song is going to suffer and the song will not work. Every one will be thinking "Why is he so happy? I thought it was supposed to be the end of his world."

Conversely if you are supposed to be singing a happy song do not think about your mate being off somewhere with another man or woman. BE IN THE MOOD OF THE SONG. Not only are you a singer but you are an actor also.

If your mood does not fit the mood of the song it will not work no matter how great your singing voice is.

Adele is not great because she has a fantastic voice but because her emotions and mood match the song.

These are things that cannot be taught. You must Feel it. Be in it.

Sugarland

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I have no creds. Just strugglin' to get by singing "Eagles" and such.

But I still have a valid point to make.

Sing the songs to express the songs. Not to show your skill at overlay distortion or vibrato or whatever. You trained that. stop thinking about it when singing.

Putting emotion into a song is not about "Be breathy here" "Sing softer there" "put vibrato here".

And to tell someone exactly why it isn't working is harder than telling when something is too soft or the pitch is off.

It is just a feeling that you get. But when the feeling is off it doesn't work.

You don't make a somber sound by dampening your larynx. The larynx dampens because you are somber.

If you are singing a song about being sad about a break up and you are ready to jump off a bridge because you miss them so much. Do not be thinking "Yes! I hit that note. Awesome". The mood of the song is going to suffer and the song will not work. Every one will be thinking "Why is he so happy? I thought it was supposed to be the end of his world."

Conversely if you are supposed to be singing a happy song do not think about your mate being off somewhere with another man or woman. BE IN THE MOOD OF THE SONG. Not only are you a singer but you are an actor also.

If your mood does not fit the mood of the song it will not work no matter how great your singing voice is.

Adele is not great because she has a fantastic voice but because her emotions and mood match the song.

These are things that cannot be taught. You must Feel it. Be in it.

Sugarland

Very well said. Sometimes technique gets in the way of conveying emotion. In fact, imperfections actually help convey the message or mood you're trying to capture.

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Good point MDEW. But truthfully I think there is a balance between technicality and emotion in this art and how much of which depends on so many variables. I think in many ways they are so closely connected.

Opera singers talk a lot about not getting too emotional as it can interrupt control. But they still need to present emotional performance. So they work it in technically. If done correctly, the audience cannot tell the difference.

Think of it like an actor crying. They still need to be in control of when they stop crying. But they also cannot appear as though they are forcing a cry.

I wouldn't want anyone to think there is anything wrong with "making a somber sound by dampening your larynx." IMO, doing that is better than trying to make a somber sound just by feeling somber, but having it not actually come out since your technique is not yet developed to the point where it is connected with your emotion. That is IMO less effective than making an obvious technical change in an attempt to show emotion. If you can't get emotion to manipulate your technique, you can use technique to manipulate the emotion. But is that the end goal, not really. I think you really need to ride the fine line where you are always between emotion and technique, where they coexist in a balance, at a point where you are just vulnerable enough to move an audience but not so much as to risk butchering your performance.

If you do the using technique to create emotion approach, you must not remain entirely detached from the resulting emotion. Just the change isn't going to cut it. You must actually feel it as much as you can without the performance falling apart. I think that is the key.

At the end of the day, you just cannot tell unless you hear it from the audience's perspective. That is why critique is so important. If they feel the emotion, you are doing something right. Simple as that.

I don't have creds either. But I have performed live many a time, and I think I have moved audiences once or twice. And I feel as though, this must be the way it works. It's not all emotion not all technique it's a strategic blend, that to the audience, makes you come across as a singer who mysteriously has both great technique and great emotion.

But you know, now you've got me thinking about all the times I could have performed with more emotion. I really think it one of those things that's so easy to forget to do. When your mind has to focus on technique too, technique tends to take first priority. Maybe it shouldn't. I haven't really thought about that much. And sometimes, you feel like you can sing a song on autopilot, but then you forget that your mind is now free to add further emotion. At which point, you should.

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There is a fine line to walk and it is highly subjective. Some listeners may get the mood of the song and others may not. Most songs it really doesn't matter but there are some that fall apart without the proper emotional setup.

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I have no creds. Just strugglin' to get by singing "Eagles" and such.

But I still have a valid point to make.

Sing the songs to express the songs. Not to show your skill at overlay distortion or vibrato or whatever. You trained that. stop thinking about it when singing.

Putting emotion into a song is not about "Be breathy here" "Sing softer there" "put vibrato here".

And to tell someone exactly why it isn't working is harder than telling when something is too soft or the pitch is off.

It is just a feeling that you get. But when the feeling is off it doesn't work.

You don't make a somber sound by dampening your larynx. The larynx dampens because you are somber.

If you are singing a song about being sad about a break up and you are ready to jump off a bridge because you miss them so much. Do not be thinking "Yes! I hit that note. Awesome". The mood of the song is going to suffer and the song will not work. Every one will be thinking "Why is he so happy? I thought it was supposed to be the end of his world."

Conversely if you are supposed to be singing a happy song do not think about your mate being off somewhere with another man or woman. BE IN THE MOOD OF THE SONG. Not only are you a singer but you are an actor also.

If your mood does not fit the mood of the song it will not work no matter how great your singing voice is.

Adele is not great because she has a fantastic voice but because her emotions and mood match the song.

These are things that cannot be taught. You must Feel it. Be in it.

Sugarland

Preaching to the choir, brother M.

My big "technical" secret to singing "Hurt", even though I am a tenor?

Feel. I sing that song with the regret for the hurt that I have caused others.

Indeed, "I will make you hurt." Because I have. Sub-text is everything.

I know technique is important, practice of basics is important. But when I listen to someone's song submission, technical accuracy is not on my mind. If the pitch and volume is good, then I have no distractions to find if the singing "moves" me.

Just like your cover of "Leader of the Band." I could care less that you don't sound like Dan Fogelberg. What mattered is that you captured the spirit of the song. And you did. That's "singing."

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Training techniques gives us the ability to just sing and EMOTE without worrying too much. But how can you teach emotion? It is something that must come from inside of the person.

And when someone is asking for critique or help in singing, What if that person is technically accurate and pitch perfect but the delivery feels wrong. How do you express that. After all that is a subjective thing. It just feels wrong to the listener.

In songs like Johnny B. Goode or Bad Bad Leroy Brown it doesn't matter much. But a song like MY WAY it can make or break the song even if every pitch is perfect.

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Just wanna thank you for this thread MDEW. It's a great reminder. I am personally one who gets too caught up in technique. I should find a way to persistently remind myself to sing with more emotion. Hang up a poster or something...

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the last thing i'm thinking about on stage is technique. performing is the time to tell the audience a story and make them feel it.

you have to be honest...when you're honest with yourself, you're believable.

i make a point of studying many early singers, especially the early black singers...they were so vulnerable and honest with their singing.

they bled when they sang and we identified with their anguish and pain.

you have these singers with perfect vibrato, perfect technique, perfect perfect.... but they're as sterile as can be.

just listen to the original "unchained melody" vs. the remake, and you'll see the difference (except bobby hatfield was technically great too), but he bled when he sang)....

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Things I have done for my life as a professional before each gig:

1.warmup

2.vocalize/work on technique (run through scales on all vowels, pitches,consonants,patterns and intensities)

3.run through a song or 3 think about the vowels the intensity at which you are going to sing at.

4. Throw away the last 3 points and just sing. Your technique shouldn't fail you now

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Technique is there to FREE the voice not to hinder it.

The holy scripture of singing, as far as I am concerned. I don't talk a lot about technique or practice or how many scales to do. But whatever I do any given day is with the aim in mind to make my voice free and endurable.

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In my opinion when you are performing you are creating an illusion by utilizing your craft. The audience don't care about your emotions they care about the illusion. :)

I do agree but the best way to create the illusion is by using your own experiences. Use the emotion that you felt in a similer situation. Incorperate that into you singing.

Whether a person realises it or not your thoughts and moods are perceived through the sound of your voice and your facial expressions.

Incorperating emotion is part of the craft that a lot of people overlook.

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MDEW,

In my opinion it's still an illusion. Your emotions are mostly irrelevant to the audience. It's like the work of a magician. If the magician is skilled, his craft creates an illusion and the audience believes it and are entertained. If not they don't. In either case, the emotion of the magician is irrelevant.

I've been a musical actor for over 10 years and what you describe is the usual thinking of beginning actors (no disrespect intended). :)

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MDEW,

In my opinion it's still an illusion. Your emotions are mostly irrelevant to the audience. It's like the work of a magician. If the magician is skilled, his craft creates an illusion and the audience believes it and are entertained. If not they don't. In either case, the emotion of the magician is irrelevant.

I've been a musical actor for over 10 years and what you describe is the usual thinking of beginning actors (no disrespect intended). :)

I understand. Expession of the emotion or mood whether real or illusion can make or break a song.

But when the wrong intent is being potrayed the song suffers.

Part of the craft is representing the proper mood.

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If you sing a song like "I'm wakling on sunshine" and you sound depressed, Something is wrong. Even if your pitch and timing is spot on the song will still suffer. It helps with a song like this to have felt that way at least once in your life.

To create the illusion you still have to know what the mood looks like and sounds like and feels to recreate it.

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MDEW,

Sure, you have to know how to create the right illusion. But you don't have to have experienced it. If so.... I'm sorry for the actors.

There's a reason why it's called acting and not living. It's an illusion not reality. :)

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MDEW,

Sure, you have to know how to create the right illusion. But you don't have to have experienced it. If so.... I'm sorry for the actors.

There's a reason why it's called acting and not living. It's an illusion not reality. :)

You are correct. You do not have to live through the terror of a shark attack to express that terror and make it feel real. But it helps to imagine being attacked by one. And if you cannot imagine that, remember a time when you were terrorised by something even if it was just your younger brother jumping out from behind a door.

Your subconscious cannot tell the difference between real and imagined. Your subconscious is what governs the microexpressions and subtle shades and inflections of your voice.

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MDEW,

Again, your thoughts are the typical "beginners ideal" (again no disrespect intended). I've seen it many times, and I also am guilty myself, doing it in the past.

I don't know your background. But are you used to perform on the stage? Have you employed the "method acting" you describe? :)

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No I have not performed on stage. I have sang in public many times.

My main point is only that the presentation is as important as the Pitch, support, intencity and so forth.

A song that should be representing saddness and reflection is ruined if what is presented is cockiness and self approval or fear and timidity.

Presentation is part of the techniques that must also be addressed.

How you create the illusion is up to the artist but the illusion must be there. If the mood is misrepresented it effects the song just as much, if not more, than pitchiness and timing issues.

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martin, i have had some acting experience.........the actor needs to be believable, whether by illusion or not. if he's not believable or perceived as "honest" the audience will see right through him.

also sometimes you are prejudged by an audience for example as cocky, or arrogant, and it's difficult to get around, unless some p.r. guy or image consultant can turn things around.

you won't get too far i.m.o. only by crafty illusions.

i remember singing blues songs in smoke filled bars....no airconditioning, filled with mostly black folks, and i can tell you these people are not there to see an illusion.

they are reacting to your honesty.....

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