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Old 04-30-2013, 04:11 PM   #1
ArtistLion
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Do singers only sing individual notes or can they also sing chords?

I'm reading a book about the voice, cause John Rheznik from the Goo Goo Dolls really makes me anxious about my own voice. Suddenly the topic question popped up.

If a singer can sing a chord, is that the 'hard powerful raspy-ish' sound you get in rock songs?

Also in this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2xeaGFi2q0; at 2:44-3:02; Is the singer singing chords?

Any help would be appreciated?
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:23 PM   #2
Sickz
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You can't sing chords by yourself. What you are hearing in that The Calling song is him singing one line and then recording a line over it, it's another part a third away. However, yes, you can sing "chords", depending on how you mean.

A solo singer can only sing one line, so he might be able to sing a G. But if you get 2 other singers in there they can sing a B and a D, and thus all of them together will form a G major chord.

You can also sing arpeggios by yourself. That's singing the notes of a chord one at the time. Like if i would sing a G note, then go up to B and then go up to D.
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:03 PM   #3
ArtistLion
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Ow so that's how singers do it in the studio versions of songs. So I take it that, during live performances, they can have i.e. another band member sing a fifth higher so the passage will sound like a power chord.
Thx alot.
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:21 PM   #4
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I can sing two notes at the same time. It sounds really weird and I don't really know how I do it. I just learned to do it. (You don't believe me, do you?) It really doesn't sound like harmonized vocal parts though and yeah, in studio people use overdubbing (and when they perform it live, there are usually background singers and you can also have a harmonizer effect). But there's one song that I know where the singer sings two notes at the same time. Listen to the part at 0:31.

http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/I+m...+And+So/7342129
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:26 PM   #5
Sickz
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Originally Posted by MaggaraMarine
I can sing two notes at the same time. It sounds really weird and I don't really know how I do it. I just learned to do it. (You don't believe me, do you?) It really doesn't sound like harmonized vocal parts though and yeah, in studio people use overdubbing (and when they perform it live, there are usually background singers and you can also have a harmonizer effect). But there's one song that I know where the singer sings two notes at the same time. Listen to the part at 0:31.

http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/I+m...+And+So/7342129


So can i. I just said you can't sing a chord by yourself, which is 3 notes minimum. (Well, probably mongolian folksingers can, but they are an exception!)
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Old 04-30-2013, 06:58 PM   #6
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Yeah, it's called "throat singing". We learned about it in my World Music class. Paul Pena went to Tuva to learn about it, and even won some Tuvan throat singing contests.

There was no Tuvan to English dictionary, and the nearest thing was Russian. So, this blind singer/songwriter/blues guitarist had to learn Russian, and then translate that into Tuvan. Talk about dedication.

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Old 04-30-2013, 07:33 PM   #7
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Yes, the maximum amount of notes one can sing at the same time? 2, so technically that's a chord, although as it stands, most people that sing two notes at a time (often called throat singing), doesn't sound like something that would be desirable in modern music. Most singers sing one note at a time. There are also vocal effects one can apply to vocals to make the end result sound like more than one voice, or a "chord".

EDIT: I will add that sometimes when a singer belts, it can most certainly feel like a chord, or two notes an octave a part. It's more about how strong that note is. It's not necessarily two separate notes, but the singer sings powerfully enough as to infer more than one note.

It's almost like if you were to get a keyboard that plays percussion instruments through midi. Although each "note" seems to be slightly different, they are only inferring those notes. They're not true "notes". So if you were to play a note on top of a percussion note, you'd be playing the note with another inferred tone over it.

EDIT 2: just listened to the video you linked. What you're hearing is definitely a backing vocal track. If you were trying to do this live, I'd recommend either a vocal processor or have one of the other members of your group providing the harmonized vocals.

Last edited by mjones1992 : 04-30-2013 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 04-30-2013, 07:52 PM   #8
Nero Galon
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Yeah backing vocals i'd guess.

I would rather have backing than overdub if it was me. Overdub just isn't natural.
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:56 PM   #9
lennonenglish
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there are some singers that can sing chords. Lalah Hathaway does it in a live performance with Snarky Puppy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SJIgTLe0hc (at around the 6.10 mark. Rachelle Farrell is rumored to be able to do it and I've heard rumors of Ray Charles doing it, however i haven't found a live version of either to support those rumors. either way... what one human can do... so can another. I've been researching this phenomena for about a month and have yet figured out how to do it. The mere fact that our muscles that enable us to speak are called "vocal chords" give me hope. I'll post an update if i figure it out.
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