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Thread: Non-mando question - singing

  1. #26

    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I am not a good singer, but I keep reminding myself that voice in an instrument and it can be trained and improved.

    Some of the ear training apps have voice modes. I have found that helpful.

  2. #27
    harvester of clams Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    I have attempted to join some bluegrass jams, where its expected that I sing. I never sang before and I am not very good.....
    Lessons or apps can be quite helpful.

    I used to know a group of singers who all used Erol Studio Singer (App Store for Apple and Android) to practice with at home, in addition to their singing lessons. It has a free demo, but the purchase is not cheap, last I knew it was about $50. But it's a very good teacher/app. The demo should give you an idea of where you are with voice and ear, training the ear is at least as important as training the voice.

    Or, if you can record yourself, practice playing a note, and singing the note. You'll learn the pitch recognition and where your range is. Start with just a scale and graduate to the classics, Twinkle Twinkle, Happy Birthday and Mary had a little lamb.

    And I've been to many jams where singers couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and it's fine, if awkward. We all take turns in the role. Everybody's trying to do their best and have a good time. You should too. No notes will be injured in the effort.
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Lessons or apps can be quite helpful.

    I used to know a group of singers who all used Erol Studio Singer (App Store for Apple and Android) to practice with at home, in addition to their singing lessons. It has a free demo, but the purchase is not cheap, last I knew it was about $50. But it's a very good teacher/app. The demo should give you an idea of where you are with voice and ear, training the ear is at least as important as training the voice.

    Or, if you can record yourself, practice playing a note, and singing the note. You'll learn the pitch recognition and where your range is. Start with just a scale and graduate to the classics, Twinkle Twinkle, Happy Birthday and Mary had a little lamb.

    And I've been to many jams where singers couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and it's fine, if awkward. We all take turns in the role. Everybody's trying to do their best and have a good time. You should too. No notes will be injured in the effort.
    Thanks. Downloaded the app and will give it a try

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post
    I was being a wee bit circumspect for the purpose of humor, but neglected to add the wink. It is funny though - maybe not - that it seems people in jam sessions spend a lot of time in G and A, but B? Not too often, that I've encountered. Seems those playing in a key that high get a bit lonesome.


    "A key that high"? The key is not the range. Bobby Osborne and Tony Rice both did "Doin' My Time in B, highest note d#, or possibly a blue note I believe. By contrast Bill Monroe's first recording of Molly and Tenbrooks, also in B, reached a high g# (and Pee Wee Lambert did it in C, and J Skinner, I believe, in Ab). Quite a difference in range. And what is high, medium or low to the individual singer depends not only on the highest and lowest notes of the melody, but just as much on the shape of the melody, e.g., if it progresses by small steps at the high end it may present huge problems to the singer.

    Maybe the real problem, to the fiddler or mandolinist, would be inexperience in that particular key.

    One thing I found boring at the jams I attended, was the insistence on a small number of "easy" keys.

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Bill Monroe's son, James, singing with the Bluegrass Boys at 6:12, isn't high-voiced like his dad.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRXt...nAcousticMusic

    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by DaveGinNJ View Post
    I have attempted to join some bluegrass jams, where its expected that I sing.
    I don't sing, and have taken voice lessons I did not enjoy.

    So if I am going to be required to sing, I'm out.

    More than a few great mandolinners, even bluegrassers, that don't sing, or at least are not known to. (What you do in the shower stays in the shower AFAIAC.)
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    This thread really hits home. I’ve been attending a jam where one of the ‘requirements’ is that everybody sings, I’ve played in bluegrass jams on and off since the late 70’s and not once have I ever had to sing. Not only can I not sing but I have a terrible voice. Talk about being way out of my comfort zone. But.., The group is supportive and I continue to try to sing, and haven’t been asked not to sing. Best things I’ve read in this thread and heard from my jam partners:

    Sing in a Key that fits your voice.

    Sing songs you know. I need to work more on memorizing the lyrics.

    Songs with short verses and broken up by the chorus so that everybody can join in to help move the lyrics along.

    I have trouble holding pitch, so don’t sustain a note. Cut it off when I know the word/note cannot by maintained. (Advice from one of my jam partners)

    Record your self practicing so you know where you need to improve.

    I also don’t take a break when I try to sing; to distracting.

    As hard as it is when being tentative; “Sing it like you mean it!”
    Play em like you know em!

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    That's a great list, especially the last item IMO.
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post

    The higher you sing, the more relaxed you have to be.
    This is probably the essence of singing right there!!!
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by grassrootphilosopher View Post
    This is probably the essence of singing right there!!!

    Peace and love to you too, my friend.

  12. #36

    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I'm not a fan of the high screechy sound. In fact, my favourite singer is the late Vladimir Pasyukov.

    But as many have said, the right key is the one that is good for whoever the singer is, including when it's you.

    To the OP: Last year, my brother joined a choir. You, he and I are all in the same age range. I went over all the warmup exercises that I had accumulated when singing barbershop, picked the ones that I found the most helpful, wrote them up and sent them to him. If you would like them, just send me a message.

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  14. #37
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Nice, thanks!!

    (No mandolin content, but pretty cool all the same!)


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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    We tend to forget that the voice is an instrument, and needs practice, and the more you use it, the better it gets. I had problems with my voice a few years ago, and went to a voice coach for advice. Simple things helped me - warm up properly, stand straight and tall, breathe deeply, and know when to breathe in each phrase.
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  16. #39

    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Thanks for posting that, Simon. I listen to that video quite often.

    For Russian oktavists, The Legend of the Twelve Thieves is like Orange Blossom Special for American fiddlers: They HAVE to sing it.

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Are you going to be playing mandolin while you are singing? After years of playing guitar, it took me a long time and a lot of practice to be able to sing and chop on the offbeat at the same time. I would say practice both, and practice them both, together.
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by RobP View Post
    Are you going to be playing mandolin while you are singing? After years of playing guitar, it took me a long time and a lot of practice to be able to sing and chop on the offbeat at the same time. I would say practice both, and practice them both, together.
    There's more to rhythm mandolin than chopping on the offbeat; I think of chopping as varying rhythmic patterns accenting the offbeat. Johansson's Rule: In a group, harmonically and rhythmically, the mandolin comes on top of everything else.

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Adams View Post
    This thread really hits home. I’ve been attending a jam where one of the ‘requirements’ is that everybody sings, I’ve played in bluegrass jams on and off since the late 70’s and not once have I ever had to sing. Not only can I not sing but I have a terrible voice. Talk about being way out of my comfort zone. But.., The group is supportive and I continue to try to sing, and haven’t been asked not to sing. Best things I’ve read in this thread and heard from my jam partners:

    Sing in a Key that fits your voice....

    I have trouble holding pitch, so don’t sustain a note. Cut it off when I know the word/note cannot by maintained. (Advice from one of my jam partners)


    Again, "fits your voice". To me it makes about as much sense as "fits your sense of rhythm" or "fits yout intonation ability." Using one's voice as a musical instrument requires training, and not the least important aspect of this is developing a reasonably large range.

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    A joke inserted here:

    When do you know that your singer has arrived?

    When he's still at the door. Can't find the key. And doesn't know when to come in.
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  23. #44
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Again, "fits your voice". To me it makes about as much sense as "fits your sense of rhythm" or "fits yout intonation ability." Using one's voice as a musical instrument requires training, and not the least important aspect of this is developing a reasonably large range.
    “Fits your voice” - No offense intended, Ralph, but IMHO, you are engaging in a Quiotic charging of the the windmills here. There is nothing wrong with playing in a key that “fits your voice.”

    1. In some ways, individual human’s voices can be likened to various musical instruments, for example, the saxophone. Baritone, Alto, etc.

    2. Some keys, depending on the vocal range of the specific piece, are better suited to one voice than to another.

    3. Not everyone can attain the vocal range of a Joni Mitchell, no matter how much they train.

    4. While the “key” is only one aspect of the piece, (entire vocal range of the piece is another, for instance,) a change of the key can make singing either more or less comfortable, and sometimes nearly impossible, for the individual singer, despite how often they train.

    What I mean to convey is that in my own view, I have no argument with the way people are using the phrase in this thread, and find little merit, personally, with your objection. If there is any more meat to your objection besides “train yourself to expand your vocal range and forget about changing keys to fit your voice”, then please enlighten me.
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Again, "fits your voice". To me it makes about as much sense as "fits your sense of rhythm" or "fits you intonation ability." Using one's voice as a musical instrument requires training, and not the least important aspect of this is developing a reasonably large range.
    I agree with Mark's comments here regarding 'fits your voice'. Training involves knowing what you are doing and what you are capable of doing. So the argument is framed as not making the situation fit your talents as opposed to adapting to the situation. It takes both. As a practical matter if you can't sing that tune in A major because it is too high then G may be an option. But you also have to get good enough to sing most of it.
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  26. #46

    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I would even go a step further to say that the best singers are fanatical about finding a key that fits their voice. I have known some that were way beyond being particular about it.

    They still worked to always improve range and intonation and expression and everything else. But finding the right key was an important tool in their box.

  27. #47
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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I think Ralph was saying that 'fits your voice' sounds a bit lackadaisical, that with a modicum of training most people can sing most keys.
    I don't train, myself but I can sing all the notes of a fiddle tune, from G, to b.

    Anyone know the average range of the average person who doesn't usually sing? I think women generally have a narrower range, but not much narrower.

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I'm not sure what the average range is. (I have some friends who teach voice and should ask, ha, ha.) But the size of the instrument matters. I'm a small guy and guess what, I sing tenor. As for range, it probably changes as to how much you've been singing.
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  29. #49

    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I’m no singing expert. But from what I’ve observed, Simon, I think your range is fairly typical for a man. I suspect you can add a note or two on each end when you warm up well.

    Doing warmup exercises regularly is really good. A lot of them help extend your range. Many years ago I started with a typical range of an octave and a fifth, but I’m close to two octaves now. Warmup required first!

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    Default Re: Non-mando question - singing

    I didn’t really want to get into offering advice when this thread was first posted, but here goes. Another helpful resource would be Peter Rowan’s Homespun video series on singing. One thing that he covers, and I practice, is taking the guitar and finding the lowest note you’re comfortable singing, then go up chromatically to find the highest note you can sing. This gives you your current range. Practice this way as often as you can. Add to this some work at extending your range. You can work on improving your falsetto beyond your highest vocal range.

    Peter also discusses the breath to some extent, and very helpfully discusses how to tactically plan your breathing between phrases.

    There is much more to learn about good singing that a voice coach can help with. But establishing your own range and practicing singing each note up and down in tune will yield immeasurable benefits over time.
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