#1
Hi, I'm posting this here rather than the Vocals sub-forum because I think it applies not only to vocal technique, but rather the part vocals play within a band or performance/musical setting.

So, as a guitar player/song writer I've kind of always thought singing wasn't my strength, that I was better off leaving it to the "singers". But what I've came across in my experience in bands/jam sessions is most "singers" I've played with aren't the trained/technical singers, they just got that confidence that they can do it.

My question for the singers is, do you rely solely on confidence to push your vocal performance? I know doing scale warmups, proper breathing technique, and diaphragm technique is important, but I see these things as supplements or being supportive to an already great voice. I kind think of it like a guitar players finger warm ups or scale practice, it makes the fingers move easier and loosened up, but if you don't know how to play the songs, you can do warm ups for a week, its not going to help you play the actual song.

As I said, I'm not a natural singer so this is something I'm working towards (making my voice better). I always wrote lyrics to my music but handed the singing duties off to someone else (again, usually not fantastic singers), but what the heck, if they can do it, I can too.

I want to know if theres anybody out there who was able to take a not-so natural singing voice, and improve it to the point of being able to go out and play live/record music. What are some of your approaches to vocals? When did you notice your vocals started sounding good?

Cheers
Last edited by Humbug808 at Feb 15, 2016,
#2
Hey man, great question. For myself I've never liked the sound of my own voice but a key thing here was learning timbre.

So say you play a note on piano and also say that you can match it in perfect pitch - the difference in tone or being able to distinguish the two is what timbre is. The sound of a piano and your voice is different regardless if they can hit the same note.

What I'm getting at here is if you aren't comfortable with the sound of your own voice this will be your biggest fall because it's not really in your control to modify UNTIL you are singing in tune and then you can start to alter your voice.

It's funny you mention the singers that aren't really great but just have the confidence to do it because this is what made me start practicing. I would play with someone and think "F***, I can do this better" - and not in an arrogant way, just as a drive.

My advice simplified is this;
Sing along to everything you enjoy, vocals, beat box, trumpets, whatever. Focus on being in tune, and then you can start to mess with timbre and turn your not so great sounding voice into something distinguishable.

EDIT:
Censored a swear word, not sure if these are still against the rules but it slipped through.
*shrugs* I don't know...
Last edited by Jaykib at Feb 15, 2016,
#3
It is certainly possible to improve your ability to sing, through learning about vocal technique, and how the voice works (vocal chords, and control over them). I started an online course with Per Bristow. Ain't cheap, but has quickly given me a much wider range.

But I was the same ... didn't like the sound of my own voice. But now ... I don't like the sound of my voice un this wider range :-)
#4
Good point with timbre. One thing I realized in singing is most singers alter their "natural" voice dramatically, they'll almost put on an accent of sort. In other words, its not just their regular day to day voice singing notes, its an exaggerated timbre. Come to think of it, I think all good singers do this. Everyone from Freddie Mercury to Ozzy to the random pop singer.

For another example, I sang vocals for a song awhile back in a band (I wasn't the lead singer though), I literally exaggerated my voice to not sound like my normal talking voice and all of a sudden the bass player said "So when did you learn to sing?". I think people just don't want to hear you talk the notes.

Again, in reference to learning techniques, I've practiced so much of that for years and never noticed anything improving in my singing. All the books say breathing and posture, but then the second you watch a performer onstage all that pretty much gets proven wrong. I've seen so many great singers face down with terrible posture walking across the stage and flawlessly hit notes and sweet timbres.
#5
I became a singer because in many bands I have been in over the years no one else wanted to do it or could do it. I also love good harmony and nothing makes me happier than singing with good harmony singers and doing three part harmony. I also find that no matter how good or bad your band plays, everyone is generally blown away by good strong harmony vocals.

I am in no way a great singer but I sing in tune (99% of the time) and I can find and remember my harmony parts very well. When I do sing a lead I rely on dynamics to make what I sing more effective. Dynamics are my crutch. For the past 20 years I have been fortunate to be working with a very good powerful singer who can do it all from rock to jazz and has a really great voice so a lot of what I do is harmony but I do 3-4 songs a set on lead. Over the years (and hundreds of gigs) my confidence grew and my voice got stronger, I now enjoy singing leads. I don't do any vocal exercises but it's not that I don't think it would be helpful, I think that what I do now is good as it's gonna get. Like Jaykib said just sing all the time.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Feb 16, 2016,
#6
Some singers are able to blend their voice to their music even though their not really singers, others unfortunately can't do it.
#7
I'm not a decent singer at all (I hate my singing voice and think it sounds like a "drunk nerd with allergies") but I respect those with a good voice and the confidence to sing in public. I've been thinking about forming a band myself. Anyway if you enjoy singing and can stand hearing your voice, go for it.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#8
Quote by Jaykib
Hey man, great question. For myself I've never liked the sound of my own voice but a key thing here was learning timbre.

So say you play a note on piano and also say that you can match it in perfect pitch - the difference in tone or being able to distinguish the two is what timbre is. The sound of a piano and your voice is different regardless if they can hit the same note.
That reminds me of when I was auditioned for the school choir, aged around 12. The teacher played a piano note and asked us to sing it back. I had no idea what he meant: how could I make my voice sound like a piano?
Of course I just said "aah", totally out of tune. No choir place for me!
Naturally he didn't explain the difference between pitch and timbre - and it probably wouldn't have helped anyway.
I was simply something I'd never tried doing before: tuning my voice to an instrument. Singing - pitching my voice - was an alien concept. Of course, I'd sung in school assemblies as a kid, with everyone else - probably out of tune, but nobody cared. Most of us just mumbled our way through hymns.

It wasn't until I started learning guitar that I started trying to pitch my voice. I found I could do it, but it was like kick-starting a rusty old motor. I certainly couldn't do it well enough to attempt it in public. It would probably take me a second or two to find each pitch!

I'm a firm believer that it's one of those abilities that depend on having done it in childhood, with some kind of guidance and encouragement (not necessarily proper singing lessons).
Very few people are so tone-deaf that they can't tell when they're singing out of tune. If you can tell you're not in tune, that's a good sign. You can then train yourself to improve your accuracy - which is about voice control as much as (maybe more than) ear training.
And of course beyond the basic pitching skill, there's power and tone - sounding musical, as opposed to just hitting the right notes - which is definitely where proper lessons can help.

Personally, I'm happy when I can just hit the right note....