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cauthon
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Here's another cover. I don't usually do songs with strong choruses, so I'm trying to strengthen my tone there.

I know I was off-key in the first chorus (the backing I have has a backing singer in the chorus, and he's doing a harmony - so I started to veer towards his notes instead of mine. Corrected it from then on.) My voice also cracks once on a really high note at the end. Various timing issues abound.

Please let me know what you think and/or suggestions for improvement! :)

http://tinyurl.com/k4tpc9l

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Well, you already listed all the problems any one could find in it. Though, I might add, you were pitchy in more places than just the first chorus. The one thing I could hear is that your vowels are not clean. You were speaking more than singing. Get closer to the true vowel sounds, ah, eh, ee, oh, oo. This will clear up a lot of pitchiness issues. As far as timing, anticipate the note, don't wait for it. If you wait for it, you are a microsecond too late.

And I don't like most karaoke tracks because the backing vocals are usually whatever the recording engineer thought should go there and they are usually autotuned.

But I do like the tone of your voice, especially when you do that deep "ole man river" resonance. That is cool.

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Well, you already listed all the problems any one could find in it. Though, I might add, you were pitchy in more places than just the first chorus. The one thing I could hear is that your vowels are not clean. You were speaking more than singing. Get closer to the true vowel sounds, ah, eh, ee, oh, oo. This will clear up a lot of pitchiness issues.

I'm very interested in this concept. I got into singing because I loved a lot of operatic metal bands - Nightwish, Kamelot and the like. Their singers studied opera for years, and I believe opera uses the "true vowels".

In the original version of this song, to my ears, he doesn't use true vowels - though I'm not an expert. Can you confirm whether he does?

So that brings me to my major question - if I learn the 'true' vowels, is that something I can switch between at will, or is it a choice I have to make to learn for life? Also, can they be applied to contemporary music, or will I sing everything sounding like it's opera in terms of vowels?

Interesting that you say that can affect pitch as well. A lot of the pitchiness, now that I think about it, might be attributed to me starting to listen to the backing in headphones while singing a day or two ago - thus not hearing my voice at all while singing. It took away some of my tension on high notes, but apparently affected my pitch as well. I'll probably go back to the backing in headphones with only one ear of them on.

I also have to fight the habit to introduce this fake vibrato that's really just vocal wobble. I tend to induce it without even consciously thinking about it, and it can throw me off pitch at times. When I started singing I had the world's worst caprino goat-cackle fake vibrato, now I have this. Once in awhile true vibrato creeps into my singing, but then it's gone, and I have no idea how or why. Someday...

As far as timing, anticipate the note, don't wait for it. If you wait for it, you are a microsecond too late.

"Anticipating the notes" is something my teacher goes over a lot with me. Real sticking point.

And I don't like most karaoke tracks because the backing vocals are usually whatever the recording engineer thought should go there and they are usually autotuned.

Hate that. Wish I'd bought it on karaoke-version so I could remove the backing vocals, but I bought it on Amazon. Oh well.

But I do like the tone of your voice, especially when you do that deep "ole man river" resonance. That is cool.

Thanks! I love doing low notes, really where I thrive. Comparatively little of the music I like uses much of the low end of chest voice, so I'm working on beefing up my head voice.

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In the original version of this song, to my ears, he doesn't use true vowels - though I'm not an expert. Can you confirm whether he does?

So that brings me to my major question - if I learn the 'true' vowels, is that something I can switch between at will, or is it a choice I have to make to learn for life? Also, can they be applied to contemporary music, or will I sing everything sounding like it's opera in terms of vowels?

Interesting that you say that can affect pitch as well. A lot of the pitchiness, now that I think about it, might be attributed to me starting to listen to the backing in headphones while singing a day or two ago - thus not hearing my voice at all while singing. It took away some of my tension on high notes, but apparently affected my pitch as well. I'll probably go back to the backing in headphones with only one ear of them on.

So, I listened to the song you linked. He is singing mainly with ah, eh, and ee. A vowel sound can also be a formant or throat shape where you don't change much internal structure and use articulation to define the words. For an example, it would be an exercise to sing it all on ah or eh. Not that you would always sing it that way but yes, then you can switch, at will. Actually, you probably already can if you do "funny" voices.

Sometimes, pitchiness really is a matter of not creating the right frequency at the folds. Other times, it is a matter of how the resonance is tuned or mistuned. The latter would be a case of perceived pitch problems.

I also think that sometimes, a problematic vibrato can cause pitchiness mainly because the singer may be concentrating more on that vibrato effect than pitch accuracy. Better to worry about pitch first, sound effects later.

I don't know about Roy from Kamelot but Tarja from Nightwish did take opera lessons, studying at Karlsruhe in Germany between Nightwish tours. I read the history of Nightwish and yes, there was something of a Yoko Ono effect with Tarja's boyfriend/manager, the ability of him to drive a wedge was made easier by the problems in the rest of the band. Miscreant behavior that she should not have had to endure, everyone with their own god-like complex, substance abuse, mental issues. In other words, like most bands.

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That actually helps a LOT. Thank you. I was thinking of it far too restrictively.

"Out of MY" actually sounds better, and works, with "M-AH(Hold the ah)-Y" than "MA-YEEEE" like I was doing. Bottom line, was trying to hold a consonant. Doesn't sound so good.

It even makes 'vibrato' much smoother and easier, though I still can't tell if it's actually vibrato. When I force it it definitely is wobble, but what naturally happens when I hold one of the true vowel sounds seems like the real thing, and is hard *not* to do. I may make a separate thread on that later, with an example recording.

Lots of work to do on this! I really appreciate it.

I don't know about Roy from Kamelot but Tarja from Nightwish did take opera lessons, studying at Karlsruhe in Germany between Nightwish tours. I read the history of Nightwish and yes, there was something of a Yoko Ono effect with Tarja's boyfriend/manager, the ability of him to drive a wedge was made easier by the problems in the rest of the band. Miscreant behavior that she should not have had to endure, everyone with their own god-like complex, substance abuse, mental issues. In other words, like most bands.

Yeah, roller coaster ride. Roy Khan leaves before I get a chance to see him live, then Anette leaves Nightwish literally a week before I see them live, after a spat over a concert in my home state. Fun, fun...

When you watch the behind the scenes, you can see the influence Tarja's boyfriend had, and the tension with the rest of the band. It turned very "us vs. them" very quickly. But the fact that they've lost two vocalists over personality problems in the last few years makes me wonder about the dynamic of the whole band, and not just blame it on diva mentality.

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Here's a few seconds of me trying to correct the vowels. It definitely feels more precise, though I botched a couple of them. Habits die hard.

Forgive the 'lays' mistake at the beginning. I would redo it, but my mic is conking out - it's a miracle it kept working long enough to record the 30 second clip.

Going to try your exercises next. Still need to work on "I" like in "life" - needs to me more like "l-AH-ife" rather than "l-AYYY-fe". Still need to work on "IH" like in "still" - probably should be "st-EEE-l" instead of "st-IHHH-l".

You've given me plenty to think about! Funny how regional accents play into it. I always wondered why I would listen to music from Finland and not notice an accent in their singing. The vowels explains it.

http://tinyurl.com/mhrnxzp

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Way, way better. Almost as if a different singer was singing, except that I recognize the tonality quality of your voice, from before. The pitchiness is gone and I can hear a natural vibrato. It's more subtle than you thought it would be, I imagine.

And yes, sing life as L-ah-f. Unless you really want the dipthong at the end. The american pronunciation of the word or letter, "I" is actually a dipthong of ah and ee. So, if you use the dipthong, let the ee at the end be light, transitory, almost imperceptible, fast. Some singers, however, like Dennis DeYoung from Styx are more comfortable on closed vowels like the ee sound. So, he might sing it more like L - ah - ee - ee -f. However, I think you sound strong and steady on the open vowels like ah and eh. And the reason I say eh is because the spelling ay incorporates a dipthong to ee in american English. People here would pronounce the word "say" as s-eh-ee without thinking about it. Better to leave it at the root, eh, unless you really want the dipthong, like you said, for the effect of accent.

In some styles, like country music, the accent becomes more important. For example, Reba McIntire does not sound as redneck when she talks as she does when she sings because the singing is a "style." Kelly Clarkson, her friend and also a local in Texas, speaks with a texan accent but she does not have that accent when she sings. Because her style of music does not use a regional accent. So, she has to keep her vowels clean and reduce the dipthongs.

Another element of style, Reba often dipthongs to oo at the end of a word or phrase. It increases her nasality and and makes the note smaller, more intimate, also a style thingy.

And yes, "still" should be st - ee-l, though it may sound like a dipthong of st - ee - uh - l because the effect of the L sound.

Sometimes, just trying something a different way gives you insight. An insight once found, you can never lose.

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Way, way better. Almost as if a different singer was singing, except that I recognize the tonality quality of your voice, from before. The pitchiness is gone and I can hear a natural vibrato. It's more subtle than you thought it would be, I imagine.

Thanks! This stuff is blowing my mind, honestly. In the past, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between me speaking and me singing, pronunciation wise. For humor's sake I tried talking with the same pronunciations I now use while singing, and it sounded ridiculous, even comical. Yet somehow it sounds exactly right while singing, and every singer I've listened to for years I now notice using these vowel sounds.

Is the "IH" sound regarded as OK if it's not held? Some things, for instance "in", seem to sound wrong when I try to pronounce them with anything other than the non-kosher "IH" sound. I hear singers pronounce them with "IH" as well - they just don't hold a note on that word. (So it's sung almost like a consonant.)

Definitely different. I'd still love the regular, soaring vibrato you hear in opera, but I'm sure that will come with (lots of) time and work.

And yes, sing life as L-ah-f. Unless you really want the dipthong at the end. The american pronunciation of the word or letter, "I" is actually a dipthong of ah and ee. So, if you use the dipthong, let the ee at the end be light, transitory, almost imperceptible, fast. Some singers, however, like Dennis DeYoung from Styx are more comfortable on closed vowels like the ee sound. So, he might sing it more like L - ah - ee - ee -f. However, I think you sound strong and steady on the open vowels like ah and eh. And the reason I say eh is because the spelling ay incorporates a dipthong to ee in american English. People here would pronounce the word "say" as s-eh-ee without thinking about it. Better to leave it at the root, eh, unless you really want the dipthong, like you said, for the effect of accent.

Dipthongs, hadn't heard of them before now. Learning a lot about speech.

Yeah, I definitely sound better on open vowels. I've noticed my "EE" is particularly weak. Have to work on that.

In some styles, like country music, the accent becomes more important. For example, Reba McIntire does not sound as redneck when she talks as she does when she sings because the singing is a "style." Kelly Clarkson, her friend and also a local in Texas, speaks with a texan accent but she does not have that accent when she sings. Because her style of music does not use a regional accent. So, she has to keep her vowels clean and reduce the dipthongs.

Another element of style, Reba often dipthongs to oo at the end of a word or phrase. It increases her nasality and and makes the note smaller, more intimate, also a style thingy.

I was actually thinking of country music as an exception when I learned about this vowels thing. Very interesting.

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I like you respect your range! :) and I like the tone of your voice, very enjoyable but of course it means you need to work on high notes to not loose the pitch, because stay in the midle range all the song don't work all the time :) and I like your low notes! like a lot! :D keep it up! and post more of your singing. :)

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