Singing / vocals

PelliX

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Hi, this may appear a bit random, but I figured I'd drop the question here - bound to get all kinds of responses ranging from golden to insane.

First the background. I'm not a singer, never aspired to be or become one. Somewhere in my mid to late 20's (I'm now mid 30's) I started singing along with stuff while playing, as well as the usual (vacuuming, the shower, etc). My girlfriend could actually sing and did some stuff on stage (not with me, before we ever met). She never had any training, never aspired to do anything with her voice, I guess she has a natural talent or something. So, over the years (not something I actively pursue, eh) I've improved to the point that I'll sort of rack up 1.000.000 points in SingStar for some stuff (oh, shut up - we all have our guilty pleasures!). During the process of copious drinking and torturing those poor microphones I learned how to trick the vocal detection in those games (same for LIPS and whatnot). Obviously, all they're doing is using a given frequency provided with the track at any given moment (note of the original vocals) and comparing that to your input signal. If you hit it or a harmonic of it, it counts. Yes you can just sing an octave lower, which works well for me. There is some fuzzy detection for vibrato in there, too. It doesn't care about the lyrics, breathing noises, volume, intonation or any other dynamics. In fact, I can fake the vocal line on guitar and get adequate scores, not unsurprising, if you know how it works of course.

What I've learned so far (nutshells):
* playing and singing makes it easier for me to hit the right notes because I'm generally playing them (perhaps as a chord), too. We're talking mainly pop/rock here.
* breathing is difficult. No, not like that, but avoiding especially breathing through the nose coming back in recordings is tough for me. Moving away from the mic works, a baffle does a lot, too.
* the old adage of "you've got to feel the lyrics to sing them" certainly holds true to a degree.
* some things work better sitting down, most standing up.
* I still strongly dislike hearing my own voice back (also just talking, not only singing), but I've got "comfortable" with it.
* purely from a capability perspective, artists I sort of ignored like the Everly Brothers... holy cow.

What I'm struggling with (more nutshells):
* volume control over large jumps in pitch (suddenly going from low to high more than vice versa)
* breathing, see above.
* not banging my nose on the mic - no, I'll deal with that myself :p

Now, the question; presuming I'm not going to pursue this beyond reason, I'm not aiming at ever becoming a lead singer, let alone a truly professional one and I'm not going to invest as much time in this as I do for example the instruments I play. What would your suggestions be on the fastest way to improve and what advice/documentation/videos/whatever would you recommend? Much like fixing engines or plumbing this is a skill that is handy to have, but I'm not going all out on it. Often a few gold nuggets of wisdom and rules of thumb will suffice to master something to a mediocre degree - which is my intention. For the odd occasion it would be handy, as it's a lot easier to get a drummer and bass player than a singer (or so I've found).

Your thoughts?
 

mirrorman

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I'm not a singer either although I did some by default when our singer left the band I was in back in the 80's.
Breathing as you said is very important.
What may be most important though is thinking about your voice as being another instrument. How do you get good at playing any instrument? PRACTICE. Sing the do-re-mi scale and anything else, just keep doing it.
 

PelliX

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I'm not a singer either although I did some by default when our singer left the band I was in back in the 80's.
Breathing as you said is very important.
What may be most important though is thinking about your voice as being another instrument. How do you get good at playing any instrument? PRACTICE. Sing the do-re-mi scale and anything else, just keep doing it.

Yeah, but it's also easy to learn something wrong. I've learned plenty of stuff about playing the guitar wrong at one point or another, and then rectified that. See, what I'm thinking is this; I've probably listened to people waffle about guitar technique for hundreds of hours... all the good stuff could have been conveyed in just a few hours. I don't feel like investing that much in finding out how to do something the wrong way. Sounds lazy, but... it's a side project. Thanks nonetheless! :)
 

Dogs of Doom

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practice scales...

when you practice scales, practice w/ the annunciation of different vowels.

In English (not sure your native tongue), you'd do the scale in:

a
e
i
o
u

not pronouncing the letter, but, the way it would sound in passing in usage, in it's soft form...

Then, also, do the scales using hard consonants.

For instance, play the C maj scale.Then sing along w/ the scale. Up & down. Move up chromatically to C# & sing/play the C# maj scale up/down. The, D maj, D# maj, etc...

Then move down chromatically, & go below C maj, to B maj, Bb maj, A maj, etc.

Start figuring out your range...

Doing the vowels, vs consonants will teach you different breathing techniques. Like singing the scale in using the soft "p", which expels a lot of air on every utterance.

Another breathing excercise, is to expel all of you air. To fully expel it all, you 1st need to take a good, deep breath. So, take a deep breath, then expel it all. Now, sing the letter "a". Ok, do it again & sing it louder. Louder, louder...

Another thing I do is to practice along w/ pedal points. So, you always sing the root, then skip to whatever other note you play. So, if you play, in C maj, you can sing:

1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, etc., up/down. Then you can sing:

8-7, 8-6, 8-5, 8-4, etc., up/down. 8 = 1 (root) Play along & sing along to your playing these things to get your sense of intonation...

The more things you do, the more your breathing will figure it's self out.

One thing I did, that was actually good for breathing is, I learned how to play harmonica. Ironically, playing harmonica, is equally, if not more, sounding while you inhale, rather than exhale. More expressive notes are sucking, rather than blowing...

It's different, as you're not going to sound off, inhaling when you sing, but, it helps you control your breathe & you learn techniques.
 
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RCM 800

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I just started by humming notes/riffs to help me learn the guitar. Really helped me develop my ear. Eventually started playing standards like Johnny B Goode and eventually worked my way up to playing and singing stuff a little more complicated. Never intended to be a singer when I was young but after a few experiences dealing with d. bag singers I decided I wouldnt be in a band with a dedicated singer, I would sing or I would jam with other instrumentalists who could sing. Has worked out most of the time and weve had a lot of fun. I dont have a huge range but I can usually transpose stuff into stuff I can do without too much headache. There are songs I avoid because I try to sound too much like the original and hurt my voice, like I find it hard to cover Social D even though theyre stuff isnt terribly complicated I end up blowing out my voice trying to sound like Mike.
 

PelliX

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In English (not sure your native tongue), you'd do the scale in:

Yup, fortunately don't sing in other languages. Much. Sober at least.

Start figuring out your range...

Ya, got that, sort of...

Doing the vowels, vs consonants will teach you different breathing techniques. Like singing the scale in using the soft "p", which expels a lot of air on every utterance.

Another breathing excercise, is to expel all of you air. To fully expel it all, you 1st need to take a good, deep breathe. So, take a deep breathe, then expel it all. Now, sing the letter "a". Ok, do it again & sing it louder. Louder, louder...

Another thing I do is to practice along w/ pedal points. So, you always sing the root, then skip to whatever other note you play. So, if you play, in C maj, you can sing:

1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, etc., up/down. Then you can sing:

8-7, 8-6, 8-5, 8-4, etc., up/down. 8 = 1 (root) Play along & sing along to your playing these things to get your sense of intonation...

...now _there_ are few handy pointers... makes sense! Think of it like an instrument... :yesway:

One thing I did, that was actually good for breathing is, I learned how to play harmonica. Ironically, playing harmonica, is equally, if not more, sounding while you inhale, rather than exhale. More expressive notes are sucking, rather than blowing...

Ha, that also makes perfect sense. Not my thing, but I completely see how that would work. I'm going to give some of what you suggested a go tomorrow evening, thanks!
 

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