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Can anybody learn how to sing? Ribbon Microphones
Old 16th August 2007
  #31
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There are people who don't have great voices who can really put a song across and people with great voices who can't. Not everyone can be a great singer. But anyone with innate musicality can learn to do something useful vocally.

But there are absolutely people who flat out cannot sing. I know people with no sense of pitch and no ability to count to four in measured units.
Old 16th August 2007
  #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swisha31 View Post
i dont know bash, people can try and learn all they want but if you dont have the tools, you just wont be a good singer. ultimately it comes down to your voice. you and I could seek the best teacher on earth and work everyday as hard as hell but if we werent born with the gift then it just wont happen. then you have people like Donny Hathaway. He was born with that my friend. thats sheer greatness. there is no technique or formula behind him, all talent. talent is still a prerequisite and if you lack that key component, sorry but no luck for you. The voice isnt a piano, guitar, or drums. you can learn those. you can practice those and learn chords, technique, the right way to hold the sticks, finger placement and get better and better. imagination makes some better than others such as a thelonious monk but the voice is completely different. you have to be born with it which is why so few people can do it.
I hear where you're coming from. I don't want to take away from the appreciation of god-given greatness that somebody like DH or Stevie or Aretha etc. has, but I guess I'm also suggesting a nature-nurture argument here. If I wasn't necessarily born into a great singing church, maybe I've still got some pipes I could learn how to use.

Plus it was my own experience to be able, after taking some wrong turns, to find some smoking teachers who really helped me. So I feel kind of like a poster child for the possibility of learning it. What it comes down to is--just because people like Donny H exist, why should I not try?
Old 16th August 2007
  #33
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swisha31's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
There are people who don't have great voices who can really put a song across and people with great voices who can't. Not everyone can be a great singer. But anyone with innate musicality can learn to do something useful vocally.

But there are absolutely people who flat out cannot sing. I know people with no sense of pitch and no ability to count to four in measured units.

whether they can put a song together or not isnt what this is about though. tons of people in rock can't sing to save their lives but they put together songs. this is about whether you can sing or not. I know a girl that can sing her ass off but can't put a song together. she was still born with a gift to sing as great as she does.
Old 16th August 2007
  #34
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swisha31's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bashville View Post
I hear where you're coming from. I don't want to take away from the appreciation of god-given greatness that somebody like DH or Stevie or Aretha etc. has, but I guess I'm also suggesting a nature-nurture argument here. If I wasn't necessarily born into a great singing church, maybe I've still got some pipes I could learn how to use.

Plus it was my own experience to be able, after taking some wrong turns, to find some smoking teachers who really helped me. So I feel kind of like a poster child for the possibility of learning it. What it comes down to is--just because people like Donny H exist, why should I not try?

yeah but thats different bash. I said earlier that if you have a great voice that needs to be tamed then a coach is relevant but he isnt teaching you how to sing. he is teaching you to tame your voice. growin up in the church or listening to soul music growing up is doing the same thing actually. listening to people like sam cooke and donny hathaway helped somebody with raw skill like gavin degraw and john legend and shaped them up to where they are now but they were born with the skill first. the raw skill is there and if you can blow, you can blow. there may be a couple of rough edges that need to be treated but as i said before, he isnt teaching you how to sing.

quietdrive is actually saying anybody can learn to sing, including people with no voice at all. that's impossible.
Old 16th August 2007
  #35
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lord_bunny's Avatar
 

i don't know what it is. my buddy cramer just can't sing. he just can't. not two notes stung together. bupkis.

someone told me sometime: about a language (vietnamese?) where you needed perfect pitch to speak it, because of the changes in meaning depending on the pitch of the word. is this true?

if it is true my buddy cramer should never move there. he should only sing to people being punished, to help exterminators control vermin or to ward off predatory animals on safari. his favourite thing to warble is the opening to welcome to the jungle in a corrosive falsetto. god bless him, he loves music.
Old 16th August 2007
  #36
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swisha31's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_bunny View Post
i don't know what it is. my buddy cramer just can't sing. he just can't. not two notes stung together. bupkis.

someone told me sometime: about a language (vietnamese?) where you needed perfect pitch to speak it, because of the changes in meaning depending on the pitch of the word. is this true?

if it is true my buddy cramer should never move there. he should only sing to people being punished, to help exterminators control vermin or to ward off predatory animals on safari. his favourite thing to warble is the opening to welcome to the jungle in a corrosive falsetto. god bless him, he loves music.

i dont know about that mate. he could learn the language but speaking it would sound horrible because his accent would just slaughter the language. might wanna stay away from that
Old 16th August 2007
  #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swisha31 View Post
whether they can put a song together or not isnt what this is about though. .
To me, it's the only thing it's about.
Old 16th August 2007
  #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swisha31 View Post
yeah but thats different bash. I said earlier that if you have a great voice that needs to be tamed then a coach is relevant but he isnt teaching you how to sing. he is teaching you to tame your voice. growin up in the church or listening to soul music growing up is doing the same thing actually. listening to people like sam cooke and donny hathaway helped somebody with raw skill like gavin degraw and john legend and shaped them up to where they are now but they were born with the skill first. the raw skill is there and if you can blow, you can blow. there may be a couple of rough edges that need to be treated but as i said before, he isnt teaching you how to sing.

quietdrive is actually saying anybody can learn to sing, including people with no voice at all. that's impossible.
I agree that in some cases there might be actual physical limitations, and in even more cases people who just aren't inherently musical who can't carry a tune but want to be stars. I guess I'm just trying to say that if you think you have something to contribute, don't give up because you realize you'll never sound like your favorite singer. They get paid for being who they are, and you can't have their money. You have to go make your own.
Old 16th August 2007
  #39
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swisha31's Avatar
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Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
To me, it's the only thing it's about.

umm................why?? there are lots of people either way that dont care to go into a studio and even try to make songs. Songs have nothing to do with this.
Old 16th August 2007
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swisha31 View Post
umm................why?? there are lots of people either way that dont care to go into a studio and even try to make songs. Songs have nothing to do with this.
There might be a misunderstanding here. I didn't say put a song together, I said put a song across, meaning communicate the intention of the song. The ability to serve the song is the core of what singing is about.
Old 16th August 2007
  #41
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swisha31's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by bashville View Post
I agree that in some cases there might be actual physical limitations, and in even more cases people who just aren't inherently musical who can't carry a tune but want to be stars. I guess I'm just trying to say that if you think you have something to contribute, don't give up because you realize you'll never sound like your favorite singer. They get paid for being who they are, and you can't have their money. You have to go make your own.

yeah i guess. people who use vocal coaches just sound too robotic anyway. theres never any variation, no nothing. eventually people will see that you cant sing and wont like you.
Old 16th August 2007
  #42
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If you want to sing out, sing out....

I think most people (maybe even everyone) can learn to sing in their own voice. I don't think 'great vocal sound' (quoting from original post) is necessarily achievable by everyone, though I think the difficulty is in the definition, and that's true whether we're defining 'great vocal sound' individually/subjectively or collectively/according-to-most. I don't know...it's difficult to define 'great vocal sound/tone', isn't it?

I think the key is singing well in your own voice, in your own style, with your own emotion, in your own context as defined and supported by the other elements of the song. Technique training and practice can probably elevate how 'well' you can do that.

I've recently rediscovered Songs:Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co and am overwhelmed with the performances, particularly Jason Molina's vocals in the context of his lyrics and the rest of the music. I'd guess this is not likely classed by most as 'great vocal tone'...but in my opinion based on much ecstatic listening the past 2 weeks, his vocals are 'just right' for the art that I'm experiencing listening to the songs. And maybe that's a better way to define 'great vocal sound/tone'...emotional effectiveness within the context of the art, or artistic effectiveness in the context of the song.

Hmmm...just musing aloud....

I actually popped into this thread to say that there was a great thread about singing with a particularly memorable post or two from ubk...he may even have started the thread. It was maybe 2 years ago now...but for the original poster (and anyone else who missed it), it may be worth a search. It was a real gem...heartful and mindful at once.

Edit: Here's the thread: The Art Of Singing

Last edited by Metatone; 16th August 2007 at 07:11 AM.. Reason: Added thread link.
Old 16th August 2007
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bashville View Post
I agree that in some cases there might be actual physical limitations, and in even more cases people who just aren't inherently musical who can't carry a tune but want to be stars. I guess I'm just trying to say that if you think you have something to contribute, don't give up because you realize you'll never sound like your favorite singer. They get paid for being who they are, and you can't have their money. You have to go make your own.
We've all seen people who five seconds into the session (or the American Idol appearance) you know it just ain't gonna happen.
Old 16th August 2007
  #44
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swisha31's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PRobb View Post
There might be a misunderstanding here. I didn't say put a song together, I said put a song across, meaning communicate the intention of the song. The ability to serve the song is the core of what singing is about.

well in that case, who do you know that cant sing that can perform a song better than a person that can sing?????? i've never seen that happen EVER. get brittney spears to sing a song and get aguilera to sing the same song after. wont even be a comparison
Old 16th August 2007
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swisha31 View Post
A person like scarlett johansson that needs a vocal coach will never sound like whitney houston who doesnt need a vocal coach. Countless people in hollywood right now are taking voice lessons to learn to sing but they will never sound like gavin degraw, john legend, aguilera. just werent born with it man.

You're misinformed, big time! All those people you mentioned have vocal coaches. For instance, Christina trains with Don Lawrence, and Gavin DeGraw had lessons for a long time, and even studied voice for a short time in college. There's nobody on this planet who doesnt need a good vocal coach. You arent born with good vocal technique. It's something you learn, comparable to driving a career. You arent born with the ability to drive a career. Yes, you may have a certain talent for it, which will make the learning process easier for you, but that's about it.

In fact, I have yet to come across a GREAT professional singer who doesnt have a coach and doesnt do warm up exercises before studio recordings or live shows. The ability of being professional and smart enough to get outside help is oftentimes what makes the difference between a singer who is doomed to play local pubs for the rest of his life, and somebody who will eventually get signed.

It's the same with bands who think they can do everything on their own and self-record/produce their material. Some are able to pull it off, but most need outside help. How many bands actually invest into professional studio recordings with a producer and engineer? Not a lot. But those who do, usually have a big edge over the ton of bands who self-produce their material and think they know it all... just cause they own a pair of sm57s and a firepod.
Old 16th August 2007
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JPM View Post
I have to disagree with a previous poster and say Kelly Clarkson is a real natural. True, she's a belter but she's an example of someone who varies her annunciation and phrasing according to the big picture (song as a whole) to give things forward direction, tension/release, overall build, color variety, etc.
She aint a natural, she just has good tone. Big difference. But she has messed up technique. Listen to her voice (in the bridge and chorus), she strains and pushes. It hurts even watching her sing.

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Old 17th August 2007
  #47
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swisha31's Avatar
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Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
You're misinformed, big time! All those people you mentioned have vocal coaches. For instance, Christina trains with Don Lawrence, and Gavin DeGraw had lessons for a long time, and even studied voice for a short time in college. There's nobody on this planet who doesnt need a good vocal coach. You arent born with good vocal technique. It's something you learn, comparable to driving a career. You arent born with the ability to drive a career. Yes, you may have a certain talent for it, which will make the learning process easier for you, but that's about it.

In fact, I have yet to come across a GREAT professional singer who doesnt have a coach and doesnt do warm up exercises before studio recordings or live shows. The ability of being professional and smart enough to get outside help is oftentimes what makes the difference between a singer who is doomed to play local pubs for the rest of his life, and somebody who will eventually get signed.

It's the same with bands who think they can do everything on their own and self-record/produce their material. Some are able to pull it off, but most need outside help. How many bands actually invest into professional studio recordings with a producer and engineer? Not a lot. But those who do, usually have a big edge over the ton of bands who self-produce their material and think they know it all... just cause they own a pair of sm57s and a firepod.

nah you are misinformed. these people that i mentioned dont need vocal coaches as i said. they dont need people to teach them to sing. screw technique. aguilera sounded like this in her adolescence and teenage days when she went in for interviews for mouse club days. She didnt need that and the people at the mouse club have vouched for her ability. this is actually documented and you can watch it. Gavin degraw also doesnt NEED a coach. He used to go to clubs and lie about his age just be able to sing at bars for people. This is before there was a vocal coach involved, IF there is one involved. This is how he was discovered. Furthermore, he didnt even graduate college or get into core classes. he only went to berklee for a year. as i said before, people like brittney spears need vocal coaches. Have you listened to heidi montag's new song???? she is someone that needs a vocal coach to teach her technique(which the only technique you can only have is singing from the diaphragm and dont need a coach to tell u this). Just as i said before, some people are born with a gift and if they do get coaches, its to tame the raw skill that they have, not to teach them what they dont know how to do. People grow up in churches all the time singing their hearts out and sound better than over half of the people signed right now. you ever been to a church or at a family reunion or in the neighborhood and just heard somebody blow, it's natural for people born with the gift. for most of them, listening to artists that i have already named when they were children showed what it was to be a great singer and they imitated them so if anything, the record player was the teacher. they dont need vocal coaches to teach them to sing quietdrive. they can do that already. to give them exercises to help preserve their voice and warm voices up, maybe. you are sadly mistaken.
Old 17th August 2007
  #48
JPM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quietdrive View Post
She aint a natural, she just has good tone. Big difference. But she has messed up technique. Listen to her voice (in the bridge and chorus), she strains and pushes. It hurts even watching her sing.

o.k. i'm not going to spend a lot of time defending her cause i'm not a fan and there are much better but this was an "off" performance. i've heard her nail stuff and really shine. a bad night doesn't mean someone isn't a good singer. Plus, this is her trying to do the rock thing for which she's not a good fit. She sounds much better on the poppy more lyrical stuff.

JPM
Old 17th August 2007
  #49
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Nature vs Nuture

I know of no human characteristic that hasn't been hotly debated at to whether or not people are born with it or whether they learn it. We are a culture of "fairness" and our society pretends that everybody can do anything they he/she puts his/her mind to. Doesn't it just seem right that we are all "equal." Well, it just ain't so we all aren't equal-- all of our characteristics are a blend of what we are born with and what we have learned or developed. Natural talent can take a person a long ways but so can drive and perseverance. The person that has both is very fortunate. On the other hand, I think that there are some blessed people that have vocal magic and they are just born with it. Some folks seem to have the ability to speak to the heart as they sing. Perhaps they have charismic voices. Some of these folks have voices that would be graded D minus by a singing teacher (Dylan, Waits, etc) and others may have A+ voices (Seals and Croft).

Can any person learn to be a singer? That all depends on what the person is trying to accomplish. Imagine Bob Dylan singing a Frankie Vali song or visa versa. I personally enjoy almost any type of voice if it seems to be genuinely reflecting from their soul.

I laugh as I recall a high energy dance band that I played with 20 years ago. When we had fun and played rock and roll we sounded good and people liked us. Several members of the band insisted that we do "Color My World" by Chicago. We slaughtered the song so bad that I would cringe when we played it. I finally quit the band because members of the band wanted to be something that we just were not. Our strength and blessing was as a hoppin dance band and when we did pretty ballads it was worse that ****ting the bed-- have you ever been there?
Old 17th August 2007
  #50
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Beermaster's Avatar
 

I think that one thing that needs to be said here ( going back to the original topic of this thread ) - is: 'your mental state when going to sing' - I've seen many singers who clam up when the lights are on them. They don't relax and they become unsure about how they actually sing normaly - the result- a strained sound which is utterly useless.

You need to be utterly at ease when singing and more than this you need to feel the good and love the music you're singing aswell as the sound you're making. Take a look at the great Soul singers ( not that I'm saying we can all achieve that kind of sound ) a lot of them have roots in gospel music and the passion of their voices comes from this joy of life. It has to be a joy or else it will show up in the sound you make - its a direct link to your sound and it affects all aspects of the mechanics of singing too.

As for the debate on whether lessons can make you sing: YES YES YES ! - but only if you WANT to in your heart and you have the right teacher and time to make it happen.

A good singing teacher ( I mean a top shelf teacher ) will often want to break down a persons whole way of singing back to fundamental diaphragm huffs and grunts in order to build up a new way of singing - Much in the same way as in high end music colleges wind players ( who've already attained a high standard of playing to get in to these colleges ) have to go back to learning new embouchers and start to learn how to play from scratch with simple long notes and new mouth positions/breathing/tonguing etc.

All too many people have got themselves in to bad habits when trying to sing and these simple mistakes shape the sound of their voices into bad voices. Lessons with a good teacher can radically changes these things.

It is possible !

Beer
Old 17th August 2007
  #51
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AllAboutTone's Avatar
 

I think as a artist, sometimes its a gift. Keep it up thought, never say never.
Old 17th August 2007
  #52
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as student of jazz-singing i say definitely YES.

everyone can, except one´s with voice-injuries or health-problems.

it´s mostly a brain-thing how fast you can learn. if you´re "special" is another thing.
Old 17th August 2007
  #53
Gear Nut
 

Interesting

This is an interesting thread. I write songs but don't have a very good voice. I can usually hit the notes. I certainly know when I am missing them. I figure a vocal coach can teach me enough technique to get better control, no? (The RIGHT teacher of course). There are days when i sit down and sing one of my songs and more or less "nail it". I can absolutely hear the difference, day to day in my voice. So wouldn't the right teacher be able to help me develop.? I think some people here are responding to the initial question in regard to becoming a great or truly gifted singer. I'm not sure that was the intention of the thread. Short of being tone deaf, (which indeed some folks are) I'm thinking that people can be taught to sing. Maybe no one will wanna hear them.. but it's a little like playing any instrument.. (minus the guitars tone versus your natural vocal sound factor of course, which I know is a BIG factor) I'm pretty good on guitar, but there are many many people that are better...
It's a matter of degrees, right?
Old 17th August 2007
  #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swisha31 View Post
nah you are misinformed. these people that i mentioned dont need vocal coaches as i said.
Yes, as you said master!

I wont waste any more time on this, since you're obviously not a professional... but let me just say this: If none of these people need a vocal coach, then why do they all have one? Nuff said.
Old 17th August 2007
  #55
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firby's Avatar
 

You must embrace your strengths and weaknesses and use them to your advantage. This is the musician way.

If you have a weakness first focus on it and try to eliminate it. Then. later, find a way to use it to your advantage.

Regards.

Sage Music Ninja
Old 17th August 2007
  #56
Gear Nut
 

I Personally think a great singer is someone who has a voice unique to them. Who after all sets the rules? Look at the artists who have furthered the progression of pop/rock over the years. technically there are not so many of note but feel,emotion and bravery abounds. Many of these artists would have been told 'forget it, you'll never sing' by those focused on the technicalities of music
Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Lee hooker, John Lennon, John Lydon, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Morrisey....the list goes on. Don't be afraid, have the nerve to make YOUR sound,express YOUR feeling the way you were meant to. Don't try and be someone else.
I mean imagine the nerve it must have taken Morrisey or Lou Reed to stand up when they were teenagers and sing in front of others. I bet they were given a hard time, nobody gives them a hard time now.
when John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) was in the studio recording vocals for one of Public Images early albums Miles Davis walked in stood and listened and at the end said 'you use your voice like I use my Trumpet' apparently he then did a session with them. I bet many here think John Lydon is a s**t singer but Miles Davis could see its worth!
If we stuck to the rules (and who made these rules?) We would be listening to Andy Williams/Matt Monroe clones over and over ad naseum
Old 17th August 2007
  #57
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lofi's Avatar
 

Quote:
But there are absolutely people who flat out cannot sing. I know people with no sense of pitch and no ability to count to four in measured units.
i never met such people. maybe im just plain lucky.

but im pretty sure everyone CAN learn how to sing. and sing ok at least.

infact some of my customers improve during the recording sessions especially young/unexperienced ones...

some are naturals and fast learners true.

Old 17th August 2007
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spons View Post
I Personally think a great singer is someone who has a voice unique to them. Who after all sets the rules?
Exactly, that's what I said before. Embrace your voice and try to sound like nobody but yourself. John Lennon doesnt have the most pleasing voice either. Very nasal at times. He has a unique tone, but you first need to get used to it. Same with Billy Corgan.
Old 17th August 2007
  #59
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henryrobinett's Avatar
If you learn to embrace how you sound. If you can accept yourself, you can sing. You can learn to hear pitch distinctions and timing. You can gain better control. You can learn phrasing and, within parameters, can even change the tone of your voice. But your voice will always be your voice.

Sometimes other people can hear our voices better than we can. Often ones own voice grates on our nerves in ways it doesn't other people. But if you're Robert Plant and want to sound like Lou Rawls, you're sunk unless you can accept the fact that your voice sounds like Robert Plant.
Old 17th August 2007
  #60
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andychamp's Avatar
There's a technical side (breath management, articulation, pitch, projection, etc...) that can be learned by most singers, and it goes a long way towards g o o d singing.

And then there's the side where you learn to recognize exactly what your voice is and learn to get the most out of it (as opposed to despairing because it's not what you think it should be)

Mastering the latter is, IMHO, what leads to g r e a t singing.
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