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best way to match voice to key

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by tedm, Oct 25, 2004.

  1. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    what's the best way to decide what key to sing a tune in?

    I start at what the original music was in, and if it seems high, i drop it down 1/2 step, but i think my range could possibly go down a full or more steps, or maybe even a tad higher.

    i have a vocal clip in the members soundclip area, and am wondering if i should try singing it higher or lower, currently it's 1/2 step below the original.
     
  2. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    Go the other way. Sing the song the way your voice wants to sing it, then figure out what key that is. Don't start with the original and fool around trying to find your key - find your key, and transpose the song to it.
     
  3. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    well i started out singing to the record, but can't go that high, but I can live with a few missed high notes.

    But if I try to center my voice around the particular song to get the high notes, it will be overall way way low, and not so pretty...


     
  4. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    Well, if the song has a wider range than you do, no key will work! However, you can move the "outlying" parts up or down an octave within the key that works best for you overall.

    I sing the chorus of "Can't Find My Way Home" (the "...near the end and I just ain't got the time" section) down an octave, for example.
     
  5. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    would you say i should octave up or down some parts?

     
  6. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    Well, let's see -

    You chose to sing a song written by a woman with a multi-octave range who wasn't afraid to use it - hell, she wrote songs to show it off!

    I think you might have bitten off a bit more than you could chew there. But since you ask, I'd maybe go an octave up on the verse, since you seen more comfortable in the higher register than you sounded in the lower register.

    But again, sing the song without the guitar so it's comfortable for you. Then pick up the guitar and figure out what key you sang it in.

    But mostly, I'd choose an easier song!
     
  7. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    thanks, that's good feedback, i will try it an octave up tomorrow.

    She still sings it or did on a recent CD and her voice is lower with possibly less range than in '69 or when it first came out. There was an interesting interview with her on NPR's Fresh Aire that interested me to look up the chords and her tuning for that song, so I keep one guitar tuned in "Joni tuning"...

    Tomorrow I may do an Aimee Mann song, I think her range is narrower.


     
  8. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    but I don't think I can go as high as I tried in my last clip (bsn3.mp3)


     
  9. Joe

    Joe Senior Member

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    How about taking vocal lessons to increase your range and have the teacher help you select songs that you can do? If a song is in A and you sing it in G it will sound off IMO. If you can't do a song today, work on it in your lessons so that can do it someday.

    To me this is like saying, I want to play this Yngwie tune, but I want to do it in Db instead of Eb and I will skip the solos because they are too hard, think anyone will notice? Either you have to raise yourself up to the lecel of songs you wish to perform, or you must reduce the songs you perform to your ability level. MANY cover bands are forced to play within their limited range, while a $1,000 an hour wedding band does not have the same limitations.
     
  10. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    Wow. You sound like a cross between a pitchy Mr. Rogers and Grover. There may be an angle here!;)
     
  11. Testudo

    Testudo Member

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    Skip octaves, adjust a few passages, do whatever you need to - it's called making the song your own. A lot of professional singers have done just fine without an enormous range or particularly good instrument. Leonard Cohen comes to mind. Juice Newton had a range of an octave on a good day.
    It's nothing like transposing an Yngwie song and leaving out the solos. Well, maybe it is. I don't know. I'd be willing to transpose an Yngwie song and do it without the solos, if the mood ever struck me.
    In my life I have changed meters to songs, taken music with a lot of chords and stripped it down to about three, taken three-chord songs and turned them into songs with a lot of chords, changed melody lines, all kinds of things. Once I multitracked "Happy Birthday" singing it in 8 different keys.

    Here's some ways I find my key for a song:

    First, know the song without having to sing along to the recording.

    Method 1
    Know the opening chord or chords. If you can start singing with only one chord, it's really easy. Keep moving the chord up or down, give yourself a moment to find you tonality, and sing it, a cappella. Don't bother trying to play all the chords because it may take a while to find your key. Do this until you find the best key.

    Method 2:
    Find the highest note in the song, and how it relates to tonic - the key of the piece. Find your highest note. Transpose accordingly.

    Lessons might not give you a bigger range. Lessons might make you sing better, though.
     
  12. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    sounds like some good methods to start with. Ironically I've been offered a wedding job, but am turning it down, i just don't feel comfortable with vocals enough yet. Here are some recent vocal covers:

    neil young:

    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/tgdiv1.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/tgdivide1.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/bandit1.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/campaign1.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/lookfwd1.mp3

    aimee mann:

    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/gw1.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/gw2.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/saveme1a.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/redvines1rev.mp3

    joni mitchell:

    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/bsn1stdn.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/bsn3.mp3
    http://www.tedm.com/mp3s/20041024bnsa.mp3


     
  13. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    I understand about the Yngwie parts, because the solos are the highlights, so you'd better be able to do them.

    I'm not so sure that you can't sing a song in a different key, if you track Neil or Joni's performances over the decades, they've sung their own songs in lower keys as needed. I'll gladly deduct 10% off a wedding performance if there's some major high notes I can't handle ;)


     
  14. juniorspecial

    juniorspecial Member

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    FWIW:

    One thing I think you've got to be able to do:

    keep a solid tempo in your guitar playing while you are singing!

    Your tempo goes way off as soon as you open your mouth!
     
  15. Testudo

    Testudo Member

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    You've got a definite Daniel Johnston vibe going there. I say keep working!
     
  16. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    without bass and drums, i can kind of free form it, but i guess you caught me!!


     
  17. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    Who is Daniel Johnston?? So I don't sound like Neil, Joni, and Aimee?? ;)

     
  18. Testudo

    Testudo Member

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    WHO IS DANIEL JOHNSTON????

    WHO IS DANIEL JOHNSTON????


    Must.....stop.....self..........from........tearing....brain.....out......through....the.......nostrils.......

    Until you know Daniel Johnston and his body of work, you just can't move forward. That goes for all of you.

    And to answer your second question: no.:p
     
  19. tedm

    tedm Gold Supporting Member

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    OK, I googled him, seems like he and Jandek have a lot in common besides being from TX.

    Hey, what's with those shoes you're pimping? The coolest shoes I've seen lately are the ones Uma Thurman wears in Kill Bill V.1


     
  20. Testudo

    Testudo Member

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    Those are the best shoes on earth, man. I put on a pair and was hooked. Most comfortable ever, but unlike other "comfortable" shoes, these are not ugly as sin.
    Of course, I never thought I would be buying shoes more expensive than my wife's.:eek: :NUTS
     

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