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-   -   So what's with the whole tenor obsession? (http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1222682)

Cheeseman07 10-28-2009 08:14 PM

So what's with the whole tenor obsession?
 
I'm more or less a tenor myself, but I never got why every singer seems to want to be a tenor. A Baritone's high G will sound just as powerful as a Tenor's high C to most listeners, and I know a lot of listeners tend to dislike tenors for sounding too "girly" or "whiny". And it's not like tenors are particulary rare or anything, a true bass is a lot rarer than a tenor and most males are only a few semitones below a natural tenor range anyway.

So why is it that so many singers seem to wish they were tenors? The whole thing never made much sense to me.

MelodicSlap 10-28-2009 08:17 PM

ask chuck norris

Flummery 10-28-2009 08:18 PM

I believe a tenor's voice resonates in the ear canals in a better fashion than most other voices. Thus, their voice appears to be louder and more pleasurable due to the nice vibrating sensation in your ears. It may also have to due with people thinking that a tenor is the most versatile voice, thus is perfect for all genres.

axemanchris 10-28-2009 10:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeseman07
A Baritone's high G will sound just as powerful as a Tenor's high C to most listeners,


Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeseman07
and I know a lot of listeners tend to dislike tenors for sounding too "girly" or "whiny".


That may be true for tenors who aren't quite tenors who tend to sing more in falsetto. When I think tenor, I think of singers ranging from Pavarotti to Bruce Dickenson. Far from girly or whiny.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeseman07
And it's not like tenors are particulary rare or anything, a true bass is a lot rarer than a tenor and most males are only a few semitones below a natural tenor range anyway.


You sort of addressed your own point there. A true bass is no more or less rare than a true tenor who can reach that tenor high C. Most people who call themselves (or get labeled by others as) tenors can only hit an A or a Bb.... which widens the pool considerably.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeseman07
So why is it that so many singers seem to wish they were tenors? The whole thing never made much sense to me.


I think there are a couple of things at work here.

1. Regardless of instrument, people tend to associate high notes with skill. High notes on trumpets will get the applause. People love to see people doing guitar solos up the neck and squealing out those high notes. And people love to hear a singer crank it up and wail out an impressive high note. Why? I dunno, but my point is that it isn't just singers.

2. Turn on the radio or MTV or whatever. Most pop repertoire emphasizes upper mid range notes towards higher notes. When was the last time a pop star was ever a low baritone or a bass? It rarely happens. So, people want to sing what they like to listen to.... and the cycle repeats. This is also genre-dependent too. Hair-metal fans LOOOOOVE those good old fashioned Vince Neil style hair metal wails. The harmonic and melodic artistry of Boston could never be fully realized by a baritone singer. On the other hand, your grandparents really wish they'd all stop screaming and sing like the true masters - Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc. Most country artists are baritones. I'm not sure how well a true tenor would go over in country.... even in new country.

CT

Jimbosandwich 10-28-2009 10:27 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheeseman07
I'm more or less a tenor myself, but I never got why every singer seems to want to be a tenor. A Baritone's high G will sound just as powerful as a Tenor's high C to most listeners, and I know a lot of listeners tend to dislike tenors for sounding too "girly" or "whiny". And it's not like tenors are particulary rare or anything, a true bass is a lot rarer than a tenor and most males are only a few semitones below a natural tenor range anyway.

So why is it that so many singers seem to wish they were tenors? The whole thing never made much sense to me.


It depends on what genre you like. I, as a pop-punk artist, LOOOVE high notes. A well trained head voice hitting a spot-on A#, to me, is the coolest sound in existence.

To address the whiny thing, I think singers that "cry on pitch" have the coolest style. But then again, my voice is whiny. Maybe I'm biased? :haha:

Cheeseman07 10-28-2009 11:02 PM

I love that whole cry on pitch thing too, though funnily enough I couldn't do that at all myself for over a year.

Chaingarden 10-29-2009 04:05 AM

I dunno, I've always preferred baritones, especially when they can sing convincingly in a tenor range. A strong upper mix in a baritone will beat out a tenor any day in my book. I just happen to think baritones have more mystery to their sound, and have a little more depth. I guess it's a personal thing.

Guitartist 10-29-2009 06:51 AM

Rarities almost always become coveted.

Diamonds, Gold, etc...
Rare trading cards...

In the days when fat people were a rarity, the ideal woman was on the plump side...

So, the bottom line is: People like tenors because proportionally, there's not so many of them.

That, and people tend to admire what they can't do themselves.

Most people are baritones, so naturally they aren't as impressed by fellow baritones...

axemanchris 10-29-2009 07:14 AM

Based on that logic, though, basses would be just as esteemed by the general public, and just as many singers would be worried about becoming basses... and they aren't.

CT

JacobTheMe 10-30-2009 11:03 AM

Bass and baritones were the big deal back with all the 80's new wave and 90's grunge bands.

I think that mostly everything has already been said in this thread. Also I noticed that tenors sound happier naturally.

Spoony_Bard 10-30-2009 11:13 AM

I used to wish I had a higher, tenor-range voice, but I got around to listening to vocalists that really make the most of their deeper baritone range. Examples include MJK and Mikael Akerfeldt.

dmiwshicldply 10-30-2009 01:00 PM

I actually prefer a baritone, i think. When i say i like baritone im talking about guys like eddie vedder and jim morrison, im assuming they're both baritones anyway

food1010 10-30-2009 05:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by axemanchris
When was the last time a pop star was ever a low baritone or a bass?
Not to try to disprove you or anything, but John Mayer. He uses falsetto a lot, but he can't go any higher than G in modal voice.

Then you have Jack Johnson who usually uses a pretty limited bass range. He could be a baritone, but he never really pushes the top of his range, so it's hard to tell.

KasanDude 10-31-2009 08:55 PM

I think that its just to do with what some here said, how people associate high notes with skill. Though I tend lean towards baritones that push up towards the limits of their voice. For me, they posses that sort of richness that bass/baritone has and the cutting-through that a lot of tenors do.

I also think that the tenors that sound "girly" or "whiney" are those of scrawny little child-rockers. Usually, whenever I hear a tenor, it is usually coming from a band where the singer is quite thin, and I think that this affects the tone quite a bit. So i think that if you listened to a tenor with a decent build, they wouldn't sound so "girly."

But then again, I'm an amateur and I'm probably wrong...

kevinmask 01-02-2010 12:06 AM

cause rock music is ruled by tenors, that's the kind of voice you need for rock, baritones have a hard time to sing most of the rock songs unless you're born with a gifted extended baritone vocal range (E.G david coverdale, eddie vedder, axl rose, Elvis Presley).
Rock is noisy, distorted guitars are loud so is the drum, let alone metal, a low pitched voice would be overwhelmed by such loud instruments, so if you wanna emerge you need high pitched notes, that's why rock singing often includes screams, it's the genre that calls for the tenor's tessitura just like it calls for distorted guitars, besides the tenor voice is indeed the most versatile voice type, why? simple stated:

the schemes says that the range of a baritone goes from a G2 (third fret E bass string of the guitar) to a high G4 (third fret thin E)

the tenor range goes from a C2 to a high C5

you hardly ever hear notes below C2 in a song, in a rock or metal chorus they wouldn't even be heard, but even in a country song you'd never sing such bass notes, of course a baritone would sing middle range notes with more body and with a thicker tone compared to a tenor, but a tenor can easily manage middle bass notes as well, less body but he can still hit them with ease, a baritone has to strangle himself to sing hard rock songs, and the result would be shit.
I'm a baritone myself and feel very frustrated cause I love rock songs and punk rock, but I often have a hard time even with green day songs cause they already feel highish for me, so you can imagine myself singing a led zeppelin song, or U2, police, AC/DC, iron maiden etc, I can't even think about it.

michaelwalsh123 01-03-2010 09:37 AM

True Basses (I'm talking about down to C below Baritone Low G, but higher than Basso Profundi, which can go down to G below that) are even rarer than proper Tenors, but there is no call for them whatsoever in Rock Music, which really leaves me high and dry completely.

I can hit an Eb above Middle C fairly consistently, but couldn't really keep it up for a full song, or even a few times. As far as high notes go, it's so so much harder when the tessitura (general range of a song) of a song is all high, as sustaining many individual notes above Middle C for a while is quite difficult for me. Like, the odd time, I can hit the High A in Creep spot on, but that's resorting to some fairly clean screaming (a far cry from my classically trained lower range), and it's only once in the song. Keeping that up for any longer would be hell for me.

As people have said, it's because the high tone with Tenors (even when Baritones, Bass/Baritones or Basses are singing the same notes), that makes them stick out of the range of the chords that guitars generally play at. Unless it's done very well, it's quite difficult to get the other voices stick out quite as well.

kevinmask 01-03-2010 11:13 AM

Quote:

As people have said, it's because the high tone with Tenors (even when Baritones, Bass/Baritones or Basses are singing the same notes), that makes them stick out of the range of the chords that guitars generally play at. Unless it's done very well, it's quite difficult to get the other voices stick out quite as well.


yep, in a nutshell, in a rock or heavy metal band, the bass guitar covers the bass range, the guitar power chords cover the baritone range, so of course the lead vocal has to cover the tenor range to be heard, or it would stick behind.
High notes have nothing to do with skill, but they are more pleasent to be heard and have more clarity, when you play a solo with your guitar and jam in the first position what you do is not as clear as when you're at the bottom of the fingerboard, same with the voice, in a noisy rock background the only way to stick out with the voice is singing high notes or screaming, and that's the way rock has always been.
I really hate to say this but after so many years of practising in rock songs I have to admit that typical bass and baritones notes are useless in modern songs, the lowest note you hear in the 99% of modern songs can be pulled off by any stupid tenor as well, we can't say the same thing with baritones or basses when it's time to pull off the very frequent high notes we hear in pop music, rock, metal etc

bry0n 01-03-2010 07:26 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by whoever said this, I accidently cut it out

2. Turn on the radio or MTV or whatever. Most pop repertoire emphasizes upper mid range notes towards higher notes. When was the last time a pop star was ever a low baritone or a bass? It rarely happens. So, people want to sing what they like to listen to.... and the cycle repeats. This is also genre-dependent too. Hair-metal fans LOOOOOVE those good old fashioned Vince Neil style hair metal wails. The harmonic and melodic artistry of Boston could never be fully realized by a baritone singer. On the other hand, your grandparents really wish they'd all stop screaming and sing like the true masters - Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc. Most country artists are baritones. I'm not sure how well a true tenor would go over in country.... even in new country.

CT

Well, we're no strangers to love. Honestly, listen to rick's voice. It is LOW.

Blind In 1 Ear 01-04-2010 12:22 AM

i think i prefer more baritones who can get into the tenor range. kinda like david bowie. he can get some low note but he can belt out some decent notes too.

but i also like tenors like stevie wonder or mark farner (grand funk). although, if you ever hear mark in an inerview, you might think hes a baritone.

i think there are just a lot of good rock and pop songs that have tenors for their singers. i guess there is just something about belting out those high notes.

kevinmask 01-04-2010 06:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blind In 1 Ear
i think i prefer more baritones who can get into the tenor range. kinda like david bowie. he can get some low note but he can belt out some decent notes too.

but i also like tenors like stevie wonder or mark farner (grand funk). although, if you ever hear mark in an inerview, you might think hes a baritone.

i think there are just a lot of good rock and pop songs that have tenors for their singers. i guess there is just something about belting out those high notes.


yeah, but you need to be naturally gifted with 3 octaves or so, that's why those baritones are famous, even ian gillan is listed as a baritone but everybody knows the high notes he can pull off, another one is bruce springsteen, but baritones like that are born one over one thousands, even placido domingo when he was young started as a baritone, but studying he happened to have the tenor range at his disposal too, so he can sing both registers with no problem, but these people are aliens


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