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Impersonation Vs Interpetation

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KillerKu
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I've been in an impersonating mood as of late, it's a nice way of finding new sound colors, but it's not as expressive as interpretation. I came up with an idea of a topic, where we should all impersonate a singer as closely as possible and then interpret the same song as ourselves.

 

So I'll start with Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone:

 

Impersonation: https://app.box.com/s/n7c9m90xjgkid0ia70xoym0oefppfrt4

 

Subjective analysis of technique: It felt like I was applying a slight plaintive holding sensation while using slightly too much air and nasal vowels to imitate an old nasally man who was wheezing slightly.

 

Intepretation: https://app.box.com/s/8u9qheykdv65oc7hyo2n7b3beqiprzh0

 

Subjective Analysis of Interpretation:

 

Once upon a time you dressed so fine  (Conversationally introducing narrative)

You gave all the bums a dime in your prime didn't you? (with slight sarcasm)

People call say beware doll, You're bound to fall (bordering on schadenfreude)

You thought they were all kidding didn't you? (Starting to confront)

You used to talk and laugh about (Reminiscing)

Everybody that was hanging out (like it's simply a memory)

But now you don't talk so loud (beginning to feel weak)

And now you don't seem so proud (and incredibly small)

Bout having to be scrounging round for your next meal (Winding up to fully confront the issue)

How does it feel? (Asking the impossible)

Oh tell me how does it feel? (Driving home the lack of response)

To be on your own (realizing you're the only one in the narrative)

With no direction home (You're not the one who is homeless)

Like a complete unknown (Have always had family)

Like a Rolling Stone (Shamefully admitting to having harbored negative feelings towards the homeless, but at the same time feeling hopeless to change oneself into someone with more sympathy, like a rolling stone)

 

Anyone else up for this? I thought since we talk about impersonations and 'being your own artist' this could be a great idea. It might improve our voices, technique wise and artistically.

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Yeah Bzean, there's nothing wrong with imitation. Everyone learns to speak through imitation. People who can't speak, can't sing, and if you put all of the pieces together at best you would sing with no words and very primitively without the influence of others.

 

It's still very possible I would make sustained noises at various pitches given my nature, but all modern singing as we know it has at least as much to do with nurture as nature. So if at any given time you feel you need more from either, it's all good.

 

As for the impersonation, it's the best I can do. I ain't him.  :D  I always liked Bowie's impersonation as well:

 

 

Bowie imitated Anthony Newley and imitated Bowie. We're all a bunch of imitators.

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This is a nice topic idea. Reminds me of this video:

 

Jamie Foxx sings his own sexy version of The Brady Bunch theme song and then goes on to impersonate Babyface, Luther Vandross, and Prince all singing it. Priceless.

 

Skip to 2:30 for the part I'm talking about.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wL3QvGmrnOg

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    Not nasal or forward enough  for Bob Dylan. :(   Some elements where there. :) Nobody really wants to imitate Bob anyway. ;)

That  is one of the great things about Bob Dylan songs, They are awesome with Bob singing them but they are even better with someone elses interpretation. The only time I have heard a Bob Dylan song with a different singer and I did not like the song was when they tried to keep Bob's feel and melody intact.... Only Bob can make that work.

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I've been in an impersonating mood as of late, it's a nice way of finding new sound colors, but it's not as expressive as interpretation. I came up with an idea of a topic, where we should all impersonate a singer as closely as possible and then interpret the same song as ourselves.

 

So I'll start with Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone:

 

Impersonation: https://app.box.com/s/n7c9m90xjgkid0ia70xoym0oefppfrt4

 

Subjective analysis of technique: It felt like I was applying a slight plaintive holding sensation while using slightly too much air and nasal vowels to imitate an old nasally man who was wheezing slightly.

 

Intepretation: https://app.box.com/s/8u9qheykdv65oc7hyo2n7b3beqiprzh0

 

Subjective Analysis of Interpretation:

 

Once upon a time you dressed so fine  (Conversationally introducing narrative)

You gave all the bums a dime in your prime didn't you? (with slight sarcasm)

People call say beware doll, You're bound to fall (bordering on schadenfreude)

You thought they were all kidding didn't you? (Starting to confront)

You used to talk and laugh about (Reminiscing)

Everybody that was hanging out (like it's simply a memory)

But now you don't talk so loud (beginning to feel weak)

And now you don't seem so proud (and incredibly small)

Bout having to be scrounging round for your next meal (Winding up to fully confront the issue)

How does it feel? (Asking the impossible)

Oh tell me how does it feel? (Driving home the lack of response)

To be on your own (realizing you're the only one in the narrative)

With no direction home (You're not the one who is homeless)

Like a complete unknown (Have always had family)

Like a Rolling Stone (Shamefully admitting to having harbored negative feelings towards the homeless, but at the same time feeling hopeless to change oneself into someone with more sympathy, like a rolling stone)

 

Anyone else up for this? I thought since we talk about impersonations and 'being your own artist' this could be a great idea. It might improve our voices, technique wise and artistically.

 

 

Listened to your version and I didn't know the original song, so I listened to it. Bob's just sounds  a little more at ease. It's not far apart from what I can hear though. Would probably even sound more like it if you had the instrumental in the background.

 

Alright, my turn I guess. This is actually a song I posted a few weeks back, but when I posted it, I said I was trying to imitate the artist who made the song.

 

http://picosong.com/VZyn/

 

I actually re-did it the other day to clear up some of the falsetto runs., but did it acapella.

 

http://picosong.com/X4UU/

 

Here's the original song:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMfJNHClTXo

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Nice, Gsoul. I took a listen to each version and have never much listened to Maxwell. I actually quite like his voice. I think having one with backing track and one without might offer a bit of a skewed perception with people tending to prefer backing in general.

 

You do sound lightened and more pointy in the imitation version. I like what you're doing with the acapella version. You approached the song with more richness and it has a sombre darkness to it. Your vibrato became more your own, the phrasing was altered and you let more chesty tones emerge. 

 

I do think room acoustics combined with your mic are cutting some of the higher frequencies which might be overly darkening your timbre beyond what it would be like if I were to hear it in person. I don't know if you've ever worked with an EQ, but boosting some of the high frequencies a few decibels (above 8 Khz) and perhaps bringing in a few mid range frequencies (exploring around 1 Khz to 3 hz) some presence (5 Khz) or cutting some of the low mid might help in the meantime until your recording situation improves.  

 

Listening to the original version there, even though Maxwell was recording in a professional studio with a very expensive mic, I can hear high range frequency boosts to add clarity, crispness, and sheen to his voice. It's food for thought, but it's also useful information for people trying to compare you to Maxwell. :D

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Nice, Gsoul. I took a listen to each version and have never much listened to Maxwell. I actually quite like his voice. I think having one with backing track and one without might offer a bit of a skewed perception with people tending to prefer backing in general.

 

You do sound lightened and more pointy in the imitation version. I like what you're doing with the acapella version. You approached the song with more richness and it has a sombre darkness to it. Your vibrato became more your own, the phrasing was altered and you let more chesty tones emerge. 

 

I do think room acoustics combined with your mic are cutting some of the higher frequencies which might be overly darkening your timbre beyond what it would be like if I were to hear it in person. I don't know if you've ever worked with an EQ, but boosting some of the high frequencies a few decibels (above 8 Khz) and perhaps bringing in a few mid range frequencies (exploring around 1 Khz to 3 hz) some presence (5 Khz) or cutting some of the low mid might help in the meantime until your recording situation improves.  

 

Listening to the original version there, even though Maxwell was recording in a professional studio with a very expensive mic, I can hear high range frequency boosts to add clarity, crispness, and sheen to his voice. It's food for thought, but it's also useful information for people trying to compare you to Maxwell. :D

 

Thanks. Yeah, I got a little darker with it when I wasn't singing along to the backing track. Yeah, he's one of my biggest influences. If you like Jazz like I think you do, you should check him out. With the majority of his stuff, he's singing with a jazz band. I actually found this live performance version of the song I covered while I was looking for the studio version, which is what I was trying to imitate. I never heard him perform the song like this. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't pass a drug test after hearing this, LOL. Blew my mind. Especially that ending.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q9IrohTKRg

 

And yeah, you're probably right about the whole acoustics thing and the mic. I think I've said this before, but I don't really have a mic. I wear a pair of Beats by Dre headphones and sing into the little mic they put on the wire so you can answer phone calls. It's not much of a mic at all. And after earlier today, I'm noticing I seem to be sounding like I'm farther away than I was sounding before, so it might be on it's way to failing.

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And yeah, you're probably right about the whole acoustics thing and the mic. I think I've said this before, but I don't really have a mic. I wear a pair of Beats by Dre headphones and sing into the little mic they put on the wire so you can answer phone calls. It's not much of a mic at all. And after earlier today, I'm noticing I seem to be sounding like I'm farther away than I was sounding before, so it might be on it's way to failing.

Not just probably, Killer is right. The wire mic is a small mic designed to convey your voice through any kind of signal degradation and still have some intelligibility. It sacrifices both ends of the human vocal range. It is smaller than the width of my wedding band, which is 5 mm. And sorry to say, from a physics standpoint but when it comes to mics, bigger is better. A mic is a reverse speaker and vice versa, a speaker is a reverse microphone. In addition, that wire mic goes through a compressor circuit to even out the highs and lows of your speaking and then it goes through a limiter circuit to make sure that your voice signal is a solid chunk of data or rf signal.

 

IT WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR SINGING. I probably said that a little loud. Oops, my bad, and assorted other phrases to take the edge off so that I don't hurt feelings ....

 

It would bother me when people said that equip doesn't matter. It does, always does, always will. I started with a mic similar to yours. And when I got a real mic, the difference was like night and day and my singing did not change from one week to the next.

 

Killer is also right about eq, providing your mic is getting those freqs in the first place. Also, don't always add 2 to 2.5 kHz. Many times, your voice already has enough presence. But you can add some around the 10 to 12 kHz by 1 dB if you want more airy presence, which will sound brighter, more sheen. You can drop a few dB around 1 k 1.4 k, as this is where the nasality in the human voice most often lives.

 

That's something else to remember. Most of your favorite singers' music is edited by guys and girls who have spent at least a decade in school or in and around the business of sound manipulation.

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Not just probably, Killer is right. The wire mic is a small mic designed to convey your voice through any kind of signal degradation and still have some intelligibility. It sacrifices both ends of the human vocal range. It is smaller than the width of my wedding band, which is 5 mm. And sorry to say, from a physics standpoint but when it comes to mics, bigger is better. A mic is a reverse speaker and vice versa, a speaker is a reverse microphone. In addition, that wire mic goes through a compressor circuit to even out the highs and lows of your speaking and then it goes through a limiter circuit to make sure that your voice signal is a solid chunk of data or rf signal.

IT WAS NOT DESIGNED FOR SINGING. I probably said that a little loud. Oops, my bad, and assorted other phrases to take the edge off so that I don't hurt feelings ....

It would bother me when people said that equip doesn't matter. It does, always does, always will. I started with a mic similar to yours. And when I got a real mic, the difference was like night and day and my singing did not change from one week to the next.

Killer is also right about eq, providing your mic is getting those freqs in the first place. Also, don't always add 2 to 2.5 kHz. Many times, your voice already has enough presence. But you can add some around the 10 to 12 kHz by 1 dB if you want more airy presence, which will sound brighter, more sheen. You can drop a few dB around 1 k 1.4 k, as this is where the nasality in the human voice most often lives.

That's something else to remember. Most of your favorite singers' music is edited by guys and girls who have spent at least a decade in school or in and around the business of sound manipulation.

Actually, I now realize that second recording was when I wasn't wearing the headphones I'm talking about. That was in the first recording. But it's probably the same idea. The mic that picked up my voice the second time was the mic on my phone. I had it sitting a few feet away on a counter.

I was never debating whether or not my mic was good enough though. I bought those headphones a couple years ago because I liked how they sounded. The mic that came with was an afterthought. I never considered buying any kind of serious mic for recording because I didn't believe my voice was good enough for something like that. I would always just sing into my phone or a pair of headphones that had a mic.

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Trust me, G, you have a voice worth recording. Save some pennies, literally, if you can and eventually, just to start, you could get a USB mic, to start, though I would recommend getting a USB interface and a regular large diaphragm condenser mic. Any interface you can get today already has phantom power (+48 V) and mic pre-amps and even my m-track, considered the low end of interfaces has MIDI in and out, if you do MIDI, though you would have to by the MIDI cable separately.

 

Although, if you were to buy pieces separately, you would end spending more than just buying a bundle. The gear page here has home recording bundles, so you don't have to look far for what is pro gear. And you can pm me for ideas, if you wish.

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Trust me, G, you have a voice worth recording. Save some pennies, literally, if you can and eventually, just to start, you could get a USB mic, to start, though I would recommend getting a USB interface and a regular large diaphragm condenser mic. Any interface you can get today already has phantom power (+48 V) and mic pre-amps and even my m-track, considered the low end of interfaces has MIDI in and out, if you do MIDI, though you would have to by the MIDI cable separately.

 

Although, if you were to buy pieces separately, you would end spending more than just buying a bundle. The gear page here has home recording bundles, so you don't have to look far for what is pro gear. And you can pm me for ideas, if you wish.

 

I guess I'll see about it. I actually do have an MIDI keyboard.

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Killer, You started this off with a Bob Dylan song. I love Bob, he has some great songs but he needs a little help sometimes with the melodies and arrangements.

    Here is my impression of Bob Dylan. I first learned this song from my brother who has a knack for finding the gem in a song and bringing it out.

 

   Bob impression First   

 

 

   My Brothers arrangement with my own influence  

 

 I recorded these quick so please forgive me.

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Well, you still sound like you. But I like the rasp. I think you can make it work for you.

   This time I used my own inflections. I was just playing around while recording the Dylan thing. Maybe next time I will add a different accent. N.Y. or Philly.

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  • 1 month later...

I just saw this last night, and I remembered there was a topic about this stuff today. Jamie Foxx just did an appearance on a late night show and there's a segment where the host will often have a singer on the show and they'll take turns trying to impersonate singers while singing funny songs. There's one with Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and I think a few others.

In this one, he tries to imitate Mick Jagger, John Legend and Jennifer Hudson. His John Legend impression is incredible. His Jennifer Hudson impression is great too, and the interesting thing about it is he kind of sounds like Aretha Franklin because he uses falsetto and it adds an airy quality to things, which reminds me of her.

 

 

 

 

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I love Jamie, he should be considered a national treasure. Talented, smart, yet humble and coming from beginnings more humbling than mine. Thanks for bringing that in, G.

No problem. He's also a fellow Texan :D

 

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I love Jamie, he should be considered a national treasure. Talented, smart, yet humble and coming from beginnings more humbling than mine. Thanks for bringing that in, G.

No problem. He's also a fellow Texan :D

 

​Yep, he was adopted and raised in Terrell, almost 2 hours east of Dallas. You can hear his slight drawl when he is not doing a character.

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