Playing and singing | The Canadian Guitar Forum

Playing and singing

Discussion in 'Theory and Technique' started by mawmow, Jan 8, 2020.

  1. mawmow

    mawmow

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2017
    Location:
    Levis, Qc
    Since another thread threw in a possible mismatch between keys as singing and guitar arrangement are concerned, I wonder how guitar players manage this issue.

    In other words, did you have to find your singing range and most comfortable key ?
    Did it occur naturally or did you have to adjust because you did hit a wall ?

    I once read one could take his guitar, vocalize along the notes to find his/her lower and higher notes and define comfortable key somewhere in the middle of these extremes.

    How did you do ?
     
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  2. High/Deaf

    High/Deaf Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2009
    Location:
    LM,BC,CAN
    I always thought it strange when people said they 'could only sing songs in G and A' or whatever.

    IME, the melody of a song modulates around a key (that's the tune of the song). One song in G may use a very different range of notes above or below G that the next one won't.

    I'm not a great singer so I just find songs that work for my range and abilities, regardless of key. And I've been known to transpose songs to help either myself or other singers. For example, it's pretty common in my crowd to play Long Train Runnin' in E instead of G, because G's bloody high. Not Geddy Lee high, but pretty high none-the-less.
     
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  3. CathodeRay

    CathodeRay

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2018
    Location:
    Toronto
    Vocal range in the livingroom w/ an acoustic is a lot different than when belting it out 'live'.
    A vocal teacher taught me that first thing.
    That was an aha moment, because previously I'd transpose to my livingroom range, and it wouldn't work at a jam.
     
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  4. CathodeRay

    CathodeRay

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2018
    Location:
    Toronto

    Agreed, it's finding out if you're a comfortable Alto etc. not any particular key.
     
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  5. High/Deaf

    High/Deaf Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2009
    Location:
    LM,BC,CAN
    Is that ever true!
     
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  6. nbs2005

    nbs2005 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2018
    Location:
    Dundas, Ontario
    As others have said; figure out what your most comfortable spot is and work around it. I had a big breakthrough when I took a couple of singing lessons. There's so much pressure (real or imagined) to sing at or near the top of your range. I'm a bass as a singer; my voice works better in the lower range. Once I got comfortable with that, my singing got much better.
     
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  7. mawmow

    mawmow

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2017
    Location:
    Levis, Qc
    Thanks for these experienced hints.

    But how did you come to find your range ?
    Trials and errors ?

    I discussed that a bit with my guitar teacher (he also acts as back vocal) this morning :
    He used to sing in a choir many years ago, so got help from the director.
     
  8. nbs2005

    nbs2005 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2018
    Location:
    Dundas, Ontario
    My voice teacher took me through some exercises and we found the top and bottom of my range (we did it on the piano, but you can do it on a guitar). It was bit of an eye opener how low I could go and still get a solid tone (your notes do get a bit weaker and usually flatter at the extreme; that's OK and expected). Then it's just a matter of concentrating on singing in that comfort zone. I sing/play songs in all keys but I know I sound best if I sing a C (for example for the key of C) note in the middle of my range, not a higher C.

    And I'm in no way an expert at this stuff. I'd suggest a couple of lessons with a dedicated voice instructor. I got 4 50min lessons for $180 and it was absolutely worth it.
     
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  9. knight_yyz

    knight_yyz Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2015
    Location:
    Hamilton, Ontario
    Isn't this what a capo is for? Lol
     
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  10. KapnKrunch

    KapnKrunch Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2016
    Location:
    Yes
    I have been working on my singing for the past year or so. I am bored with trying to be a guitar god.

    No lessons, but I think I am getting better.

    At my high range limit I just try to hit the note accurately with decent expression of feeling. I have not been a fan of "power" singing since Janice Joplin died. I like the way Dolly Parton hold back on her volume as her pitch rises on each reptition of the name "Jolene". Most singers rise in pitch AND volume effectively ruining the song.

    I am working on breath control today. I use "Slip Sliding Away" (Paul Simon) and "VeraCruz" (Warren Zevon) as practice pieces.

    Also, I use the Bare Naked Ladies: "Say you'll never love another 'til you love yourself, well brother, I'm in love with everyone I see!" (All one breath, loud as possible)

    When going to falsetto, it's sometimes important to find the correct place to switch for a subtle transition. Therefore, work on the low end of your falsetto as well. Example: "Don't Dream It's Over" (Crowded House), I start my chorus in falsetto so there is no noticeable change at the word "dream".

    Be sure to carefully and respectfully try songs with melody that use tricky notes that could easily be changed to something else (by mistake). "Been to Canaan" (Carol King), "Loves Shines" (Ron Sexsmith), "VeraCruz".

    These comments subject to revision by real singers of course. Lol.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
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  11. Guitar101

    Guitar101 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2011
    Location:
    Gores Landing, Ontario
    This guy has a lot of free videos out there you can check out. More about singing than playing and singing though.

     
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  12. Doug Gifford

    Doug Gifford

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2019
    Location:
    Gananoque
    If your full singing voice (not indoor voice) gets thin and squeaky on the high notes, that's too high. Try the song in a lower key. If you're inaudible on the low notes, try raising the key.

    And find a voice teacher. A good voice teacher is worth his/her weight in gold and you will never lose what you've learned.
     
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  13. laristotle

    laristotle Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2019
    Location:
    acton
    I can sing while playing guitar, including tough syncopations like Hendrix/Lynott, but,
    I find it a more difficult with bass. I'm comfortable with back up/harmonies there.
     
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  14. Scottone

    Scottone Gold Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Yep, I actually never used a capo until I started singing :)
     
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  15. Wardo

    Wardo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2010
    Location:
    South Ontario
    So what's this about a living room voice and a difference if you are at a jam or something and maybe requiring a transpose for this.

    I switch some songs into to different keys for vocal but not many and I sing fairly loud at home on either electric or acoustic - but I'm not finding any big difference at a jam other than what the PA adds and nothing that would suggest to me that I need to switch that to a different key if there's a band involved.
     
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