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Can anybody learn how to sing? Ribbon Microphones
Old 26th July 2010
  #151
Can anyone learn how to type?
Old 26th July 2010
  #152
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
Can anyone learn how to type?
Yes, but if it's a drummer you have to teach him to read first.
Old 26th July 2010
  #153
I'd think drummers would have an unfair advantage, used as they are to smacking things...?
Old 26th July 2010
  #154
I cannot say for certain that everybody can learn to sing, but anybody who hopes to make a living at music should try to. It makes them 20 times more valuable. I book several hundred live music events each year and I'll take a competent bass player who sings over a monster instrumentalist every time.
Old 26th July 2010
  #155
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Yes, I guess drummers would have an advantage there. Your point is well taken. And if you tried to teach a guitar player to type you'd prolly have about 200 other guitar players standing around watching and saying "I could do that!"
Old 26th July 2010
  #156
Quote:
Originally Posted by E-Irizarry View Post
Like Cassie's non-singing-ass "sang", "Ditto/Ditto/Ditto". thumbsup



I never got into Aretha Franklin. She's a screamer with a certain pitch i.e. "loud singing" in some's eyes.
.
Yeah, and that Jimi Hendrix? What's up with all those weird notes?
Old 26th July 2010
  #157
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Anyone can learn to sing, the question is are they going to be any good at it. Some folks just don't have the voice for it, or perhaps they have a good voice but not for what they are tring to do.
Old 26th July 2010
  #158
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I think like a lot of things having to do with rock and roll or other popular art forms, this is a very complex subject that most people think about rather simplistically. Singing is not just about the technical side of things (tone, pitch, breathing, technique) but about character, delivery, accent, pronunciation, and persona. Most singers don't consciously think about all of these factors at a high level and intentionally develop their own style. Certainly not by the age of 20 anyway.

So most successful singers get there by accident. They happen to have the right combination of character, tone, accent, etc. that sounds right for the material at the right time. And so it seems like they're just "talented." Then you have all of the singers who get there by either mimicking somebody else exactly, or trying to mimic somebody else and ending up doing something new when they fail.

Then of course you have all of those millions of uninteresting American Idol types of singers who have all of the technique down but lack any of the character or point of view that would actually make them into an artist.
Old 26th July 2010
  #159
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
I think like a lot of things having to do with rock and roll or other popular art forms, this is a very complex subject that most people think about rather simplistically. Singing is not just about the technical side of things (tone, pitch, breathing, technique) but about character, delivery, accent, pronunciation, and persona. Most singers don't consciously think about all of these factors at a high level and intentionally develop their own style. Certainly not by the age of 20 anyway.

So most successful singers get there by accident. They happen to have the right combination of character, tone, accent, etc. that sounds right for the material at the right time. And so it seems like they're just "talented." Then you have all of the singers who get there by either mimicking somebody else exactly, or trying to mimic somebody else and ending up doing something new when they fail.

Then of course you have all of those millions of uninteresting American Idol types of singers who have all of the technique down but lack any of the character or point of view that would actually make them into an artist.
+1. Well said.
Old 26th July 2010
  #160
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There are many very big differences between the requirements of being able to sing well and use you voice as a musical instrument and those of being an entertainer.
As you know, there are many successful entertainers who are not very good singers.

The image and persona and other things are what make up an entertainer or musical "act."

One thing that many people need to do is quit analyzing and mimicking famous pop artists when they discuss or try to learn how to sing.
Old 26th July 2010
  #161
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To become a truly great singer (Michael McDonald, Karen Carpenter etc) as opposed to a great vocalist (Tom Waits, Bob Dylan etc) you need 3 things:

1. Great technique
2. Great musicality
3. A great instrument

The first 2 are simply a matter of practice and taste. The last is a matter of genetics.

My wife and my daughter were born with great instruments. They had pitch, tuning, vibrato and timbre by the time they were 10 years old. My wife has never practiced or had vocal lessons in her life and she earns her living as a freelance singer.

I was born with a lousy instrument but, through years of singing 6 nights a week in cover bands I became a good singer with range, pitch, vibrato and musicality. Through constant use of my voice I got to the stage where I could get backing vocal sessions and tours. I never had a great sound, though and I never will - genetics.

So, no. Not everyone can learn to become a great singer. If you don't have a great instrument, the best you'll be is good... or you could become a great vocalist instead.
Old 26th July 2010
  #162
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
There are many very big differences between the requirements of being able to sing well and use you voice as a musical instrument and those of being an entertainer.
As you know, there are many successful entertainers who are not very good singers.

The image and persona and other things are what make up an entertainer or musical "act."

One thing that many people need to do is quit analyzing and mimicking famous pop artists when they discuss or try to learn how to sing.
I think aspiring singers need to analyze successful entertainers with much more scrutiny than most do. This is precisely the problem with the American Idol-ization of singing. People treat it like a sport that's all technique and inborn ability, and they're entirely missing out on the actual art of singing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
To become a truly great singer (Michael McDonald, Karen Carpenter etc) as opposed to a great vocalist (Tom Waits, Bob Dylan etc) you need 3 things:

1. Great technique
2. Great musicality
3. A great instrument
See, I think you have the categories backwards. McDonald and Carpenter are nice singers. Nice singers are a dime a dozen. Waits and Dylan are artists and very few reach that level.
Old 26th July 2010
  #163
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
See, I think you have the categories backwards. McDonald and Carpenter are nice singers. Nice singers are a dime a dozen. Waits and Dylan are artists and very few reach that level.
Well then again I think you have it backwards here. You're equating personal taste, aesthetic taste and how you interpret emotion. McDonald is a great singer in my book. Karen Carpenter never did anything for me personally but I think she was a very good singer. Not my taste, but my taste is another matter.

Dylan and Waits may have great character in their voice but neither could be considered to have great technique. Basically they'd have to do their own music or music hat was designed for them specifically. Dylan wouldn't be in anyone's top 10 choices to sing an orchestral version of Bridge Over Troubled Water, being true to the actual melody.

Technique, like with anything, is generally considered to be a strong component when thinking someone has mastered something. Technique, in singing, means in part, being able to get and hold pitch and to be able to dynamically engage those pitches in anyway directed. I don't think Dylan can do that, or Waits. But for what they do, they do it great.
Old 26th July 2010
  #164
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
Well then again I think you have it backwards here. You're equating personal taste, aesthetic taste and how you interpret emotion.
Personal taste has nothing to do with it. I love both McDonald and Carpenter. Michael McDonald has an amazing voice. But as an artist he's nowhere near as important as Dylan. McDonald wasn't a "voice of a generation" type who had a major influence over all of his contemporaries. If Dylan did a cover of What A Fool Believes he may actually bring something new to it and the result might be pretty interesting. But McDonald singing Like a Rolling Stone would probably be embarrassing.

If you say Michael McDonald is a better singer than Bob Dylan, you're only looking at one narrow aspect of the art of singing (pitch, technique, etc.). It would be like judging an actor based on their diction or whether or not they can cry on cue. But I probably shouldn't bring acting into it, since most people totally misunderstand and underestimate the art of acting as well.

This reminds me of when I was a kid in the '80s and an older metalhead dude told me how Hendrix wasn't really any good because he could easily play everything Hendrix played. He was hung up on technique, and thought that by copying another artist's playing he understood all there was to know about that artist.
Old 26th July 2010
  #165
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Wait, wait! We're not talking about who the most important ARTIST is/was. We're not talking who was more IMPORTANT artistically. We're talking singing. Two wholly and entirely different subjects.
Old 26th July 2010
  #166
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And if I may expand further...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
1. Great technique
Is totally irrelevant to being a great artist. You can take it or leave it. All other factors being equal, an artist with better technique is going to have some advantages over the artist with lesser technique, but it's certainly not any kind of prerequisite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
2. Great musicality
I think this is subjective to the point of meaninglessness. What is "musicality"? From the point of view of an opera singer, no rock or pop music singers are "musical" ("it's all a bunch of noise, etc.") and vice versa. Someone else might think that opera is nothing but a bunch of unmusical, overwrought caterwauling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted User View Post
3. A great instrument
Again, ultimately irrelevant as so many famous counter examples prove. Or rather, it's again totally subjective. I suspect that by "great instrument" you're referring to a rather narrow range of what is considered to be nice singing.
Old 26th July 2010
  #167
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
Wait, wait! We're not talking about who the most important ARTIST is/was. We're not talking who was more IMPORTANT artistically. We're talking singing. Two wholly and entirely different subjects.
Sorry, I disagree. I'm only interested in singing as an art form. Not a sport judged by arbitrary technical considerations.
Old 26th July 2010
  #168
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Once again I think you're confusing two things: art and craft.

Certainly art is not a sport. That's a phrase I use quite a bit myself. But if you're talking about singing, or playing guitar or the piano, each have certain technical challenges that must be met for the ARTIST to be able to express himself fully. If he writes his own stuff and only performs within a limited frame then his technique, whatever it may be, might be adequate for him. If he is judged as a SINGER or a GUITARIST there's a standard by which to judge, or standards, irrespective of art. Once is considered ART and the other is considered CRAFT. Some craftsmen never becomes artist. Some artists, while being great artists, never become great craftsmen.

If you are hiring a singer to sing a stop for a TV commercial you want someone who can SING and give you what you want in a variety of keys, inflections, styles, dynamic ranges. You want someone who has great technique, probably, and someone who can take direction. He may or may not be a great artist.
Old 26th July 2010
  #169
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
If you are hiring a singer to sing a stop for a TV commercial you want someone who can SING and give you what you want in a variety of keys, inflections, styles, dynamic ranges. You want someone who has great technique, probably, and someone who can take direction. He may or may not be a great artist.
I understand, and agree with what you're saying. I think you can only apply these judgments in a limited way though. So if you're saying "I need a singer who can sing in a variety of keys, inflections, styles, dynamic ranges" then you can judge a given singer and say that he or she doesn't have the technique you're requiring. But you can't then place those judgments on somebody else. You can't criticize Dylan for not living up to that arbitrary bar, because he's not trying to be a session singer doing jingles.

And what you're referring to as technique, is just a certain limited range of techniques that are necessary for certain types of singing. A Tuvan throat singer is going to have a whole different range of techniques, and he's not going to be able to hack it in the commercial session. But does that mean he's less of a singer? Michael McDonald most likely wouldn't be able to hack the Tuvan throat singing session.

If you kind of step back and try to look at the thing objectively, you might say that singing is just the art of making sounds with our throats and mouths. Western vocal traditions emphasize certain types of vocalizations and have developed a language to describe them and techniques to teach and practice them. But at the same time that tradition ignores things like different variations of screaming, or character and pronunciation. Think about how an accent can say so much in a pop song (where the singer is from, what kind of person they are, etc.) while opera has almost become a unintelligible, wordless form where that's not a concern. That's a whole area that traditional vocal techniques don't describe, yet it's every bit as much a part of the art and craft of singing.
Old 26th July 2010
  #170
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One is not the other. Dylan was great not BECAUSE of his singing, but in spite of it. In my mind he was great the moment he wrote Blowing In The Wind and Hard Rain's Gonna Fall. But it was his poetry and the effect he had on college campuses across the country in 1963 America that made him great. Blowing In The Wind was great even when Peter, Paul and Mary did it prior to the world ever knowing who Bob Dylan was. As great as he was you'd never say he was one of the worlds greatest guitar players. One is not the other. Yes he was a great artist. Yes he sang. Yes he played guitar. But that doesn't mean he was a great singer and a great guitarist. He did both of those adequately enough to convey his message as an artist. Not everything a great artist touches or does is great.

Most people cannot stand the sound of his voice. And he certainly has very limited control of it. He tends to song most phrases the same and is not great with pitch. But that's his style.
Old 26th July 2010
  #171
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MOST everyone can learn how to sing...and there are some that are simply hopeless. (Rather than argue with me on that opinion, please help those people instead. heh ) But even a technically excellent singer can suck on a recording. It's relatively easy for a good vocal teacher to coax correct notes and tones out of people...now if only more people could learn how to "carry" a song.
Old 26th July 2010
  #172
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There are people who need technique to be great singers and there are people who don't. Dylan is the latter and is one of the greatest singers of the last century hands down. And I don't mean artist or musician or songwriter... I'm talking just singing.

Singing is about conveying meaning and intent with your voice for various purposes. That's the whole thing. There's nothing more to it. Dylan's voice, tone, delivery, enunciation all come together to make a vicious barb that cuts through all the bullsh*t. Truly great singing.
Old 26th July 2010
  #173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
Western vocal traditions emphasize certain types of vocalizations and have developed a language to describe them and techniques to teach and practice them. But at the same time that tradition ignores things like different variations of screaming, or character and pronunciation.
On a side note from your conversation...I think screaming has become fairly accepted...and I believe most or many vocal teachers take screaming and "rock" singing into account...

and amusingly enough, there are many tutorials on the internet that teach screaming...not the soulful Ray Charles/Joe Cocker kind, the various screamo guttural death growl pig squeal kinds...

can anybody learn to scream? practice makes perfect!







(best info at 2:15 on this last one...)
Old 26th July 2010
  #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
Dylan was great not BECAUSE of his singing, but in spite of it. In my mind he was great the moment he wrote Blowing In The Wind and Hard Rain's Gonna Fall.
Dylan is a tough example because the greatness of his songwriting certainly overshadows his singing. But he was clearly a great singer. It's not like he was a pure, behind-the-scenes songwriter who never put out his own records. And a song like Blowin In the Wind is a great example of how his own "bad singing" could be far more effective than "better" singers like P, P, & M doing the same song.

Quote:
Originally Posted by creegstor View Post
There are people who need technique to be great singers and there are people who don't. Dylan is the latter
Even then, I think that's a really narrow view of what constitutes "technique." Peter Paul and Mary may have had the technique to stay in tune, but they obviously hadn't mastered the technique of how to sound like a wizened old hobo whose voice cuts directly into your soul.

Technique always has to follow art. You have to know what you want to say before you can learn how to say it. That's the problem with a lot of young musicians focusing on technique before they have an actual point of view. It's like what if I spent 10 years studying fingerpicking before realizing that I really wanted to be a heavy metal shredder? Techniques are just a means to an end. Obviously you have to start somewhere with some basic technique, and certainly it's great to always be expanding and developing further techniques throughout your life. But in the end they constitute a very small fraction of what it actually means to be good.
Old 26th July 2010
  #175
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP11 View Post
On a side note from your conversation...I think screaming has become fairly accepted...and I believe most or many vocal teachers take screaming and "rock" singing into account...
Yeah, exactly and I think that's really interesting. It shows to me that techniques are after-the-fact descriptions of things that artists spontaneously create. It's easy to imagine that 100 years of development down that path would lead to new, almost unrecognizable forms of technique with totally new values and measures of greatness.
Old 26th July 2010
  #176
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine Room View Post
[off key and struggling]

quietdrive!, oh quietdrive!!

I'm trying sooooo hard to believe you, but I just don't know...

I've heard some people that couldn't carry a tune with a bucket and a few friends.

I'd rather beat nails into the wall with my head than try to teach some of these bad Nirvana-wannabes about scale...

/dirty

ps. Only Eddie Vedder is allowed to yarl. Everyone else can pike it.
i have to agree. unfortunately there are a lot of people who just can't sing, regardless of the training they've had.. you could see that watching american idol as some of contestants share how they've been taking lessons for x amount of time, but yields really no satisfactory results.

some people are just tone def.
Old 26th July 2010
  #177
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brill bedroom View Post
Yeah, and that Jimi Hendrix? What's up with all those weird notes?
Bwhahahahahahaha!
Old 26th July 2010
  #178
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I have to agree with Henry on about everything.
Then again, I have been with my wife since '82 and she started classes at the University of North Texas in '83 graduating in '87 with BA in music with voice as her main instrument.

Henry comes from a university music department as well, so he knows what he is talking about.

Schools like UNT separate the wheat from the chaff in the first or second year.
You DO NOT receive that diploma unless you earn it and you have to be very good and have worked your ass off to receive it at all.

I thought that Henry was going to say this but he didn't quite say it plainly, so I will restate it to be clear.
People like Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Maria Callas, Birgit Nillson and to a degree artists like Michael McDonald, Karen Carpenter, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand and people who study or have studied voice are called VOCALISTS.

SINGERS are what the lay people and artists who who are not vocalists are called.
Most, but not all, popular artists are singers.

If you want to not sound like an idiot when you deal with a vocalist don't call them a singer.
It is a BIG deal to them.

Also, artists like Tom Waits and Bob Dylan who write their own material and might have questionable vocal abilities could be somewhat categorized as SONG STYLISTS.
Traditionally that term refers to artist who use their unique talents and vocal STYLING to sing popular songs.
It is possible to be both a vocalist and a song stylist as is Celine Dion's case.
Old 26th July 2010
  #179
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Unclenny's Avatar
The original question....."Can anybody learn how to sing".

I now have the definitive answer. In the interest of......science......I spent the better part of an hour this afternoon trying to get my beautiful and most cooperative 'co-star', Miss Christine, to sing "Blowin' In The Wind.

I have heard her sing....in the shower, in the car, etc......so I knew the challenge I was facing.

Trust me when I say.......not everybody can (or should) learn to sing.

Hmmmm....maybe I should now change my password......
Old 26th July 2010
  #180
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Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
Yeah, exactly and I think that's really interesting. It shows to me that techniques are after-the-fact descriptions of things that artists spontaneously create. It's easy to imagine that 100 years of development down that path would lead to new, almost unrecognizable forms of technique with totally new values and measures of greatness.
True...I suppose you can trace pig squeals, punk, metal and rock back to the blues...what sets this music apart (especially the singing) didn't come from any classroom...





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