Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Do you REALLY want to sing like that?

Complete Vocal Technique makes it clear that anyone can sing in any way. However, that doesn't mean everyone wants to sing in every way.
The choices you make - what sounds you chose to do, and, what sounds you chose not to do - is part of the building of your own unique sound. That is simply part of what makes you You.  

Every now and then a singer gets stuck when approaching a new way to sing a song, despite that they seem to have everything they need to do it. A clear wish has been expressed for how to sing the song, they have the knowledge of what techniques can take them there and the tools for how to do it. Still they can't do it. 
This is a good time to go a bit deeper into the actually wish, to see if it really is what they think it is… 

Let's take an example: The song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", sung by Jennifer Hudson. Let's say a singer wishes to sing it exactly like she does, or at least with similar energy and expression. 
The recipe for this is, simply put; a good amount of volume, which means we will be spending a lot of time in the full metal modes. Then put in some Neutral and Curbing here and there, a lot of twang and some dips into darker sound color to even more increase the great dynamics of the song, a good deal of vocal runs, some splashes of growl (vocal effect) and basically there you have it… 
Anyone can do this if they know how to. But there is something more to it at a deeper level. 

Who sings like this? What kind of character would chose to express themselves in this way? Of course that is a question that can be answered different ways depending on the person, but to simplify it a bit I would say; someone who is really eager to say something and to say it loud! The song is basically a 5 minute scolding. Imagine a long period of stong feelings and effort and build it up to a climax when you are at the top of frustration and everything basically explodes out of you. 5 minutes of screaming, yelling, begging, whining, sobbing… 
It is a great, powerful song and has given joy to many, many listeners. And this is what it is, a 5 minute loud explosion of feelings. 
Then take a singer who never speaks louder than a soft stroke. Who prefers to sing gently, simply and quietly. Now they are in my studio wishing to sing like Jennifer Hudson. Perhaps because they love it and really long to burst out into that kind of expression. Perhaps because they need to learn how to do it cause they got a job where they're gonna perform it like this.. Or perhaps because someone else told them it would be better if they sang like this. Maybe they just have some idea about that this would be good to do, but still, they really don't feel like doing it.. It can be they are not really comfortable with expressing themselves this way because it's just very far away from their own personality. Maybe they want to change both their personality and how they sing, or maybe they actually don't. Being loud is great, but being gentle is also great. It's really just a matter of taste and when a singer is expressing themselves, it is about THEIR taste, no one elses. 
Remember, it is possible, if you really want it. But the question to ask here is, do you REALLY want to sing like this? Are you up for it? Because to sing this song like Jennifer Hudson sings it means to bring out that kind of character. It takes a lot of energy and you need to be ready to give that energy. To be loud, to be angry, to take a lot of space and to not doubt that it is ok to do it. 
When that question is asked and the answer is yes, we are ready to get to work!

- Annika