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What's a 'good voice'?

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Sourdough 14 Jan 00 - 09:49 PM
Jon Freeman 14 Jan 00 - 10:12 PM
kendall 14 Jan 00 - 10:22 PM
MMario 14 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM
JamesJim 14 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM
DonMeixner 14 Jan 00 - 10:25 PM
Michael 14 Jan 00 - 10:44 PM
Little Neophyte 14 Jan 00 - 10:48 PM
MMario 14 Jan 00 - 10:50 PM
emily rain 14 Jan 00 - 10:50 PM
Little Neophyte 14 Jan 00 - 10:57 PM
Sorcha 14 Jan 00 - 11:04 PM
Victoria 14 Jan 00 - 11:08 PM
fulurum 14 Jan 00 - 11:16 PM
sophocleese 14 Jan 00 - 11:28 PM
Robo 15 Jan 00 - 12:10 AM
Escamillo 15 Jan 00 - 12:16 AM
Sorcha 15 Jan 00 - 12:26 AM
catspaw49 15 Jan 00 - 01:12 AM
roopoo 15 Jan 00 - 02:43 AM
Doctor John 15 Jan 00 - 06:29 AM
Alice 15 Jan 00 - 07:51 AM
Margo 15 Jan 00 - 10:29 AM
Peter T. 15 Jan 00 - 10:52 AM
Peter T. 15 Jan 00 - 11:07 AM
Jon Freeman 15 Jan 00 - 11:13 AM
DougR 15 Jan 00 - 12:00 PM
Clinton Hammond2 15 Jan 00 - 12:08 PM
Alice 15 Jan 00 - 01:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 Jan 00 - 01:58 PM
Little Dorritt 15 Jan 00 - 05:28 PM
paddymac 15 Jan 00 - 05:36 PM
Art Thieme 15 Jan 00 - 05:39 PM
Jon Freeman 15 Jan 00 - 06:34 PM
Escamillo 15 Jan 00 - 11:24 PM
roopoo 16 Jan 00 - 01:43 AM
Escamillo 16 Jan 00 - 04:59 AM
Escamillo 16 Jan 00 - 05:26 AM
Alice 16 Jan 00 - 10:09 AM
paddymac 16 Jan 00 - 11:31 AM
Peter T. 16 Jan 00 - 12:55 PM
Margo 16 Jan 00 - 01:48 PM
Joan 16 Jan 00 - 04:09 PM
Alice 16 Jan 00 - 04:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Jan 00 - 10:02 PM
Bill D 16 Jan 00 - 10:15 PM
sophocleese 16 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM
Kristi H 17 Jan 00 - 01:02 AM
Escamillo 17 Jan 00 - 01:13 AM
Barry Finn 17 Jan 00 - 03:07 AM
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lamarca 17 Jan 00 - 11:54 PM
Escamillo 18 Jan 00 - 12:34 AM
ddw 18 Jan 00 - 01:07 AM
Sourdough 18 Jan 00 - 04:13 AM
Auxiris 18 Jan 00 - 09:24 AM
Roger in Baltimore 18 Jan 00 - 09:33 AM
Escamillo 18 Jan 00 - 07:22 PM
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Alice 18 Jan 00 - 09:58 PM
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Subject: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Sourdough
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 09:49 PM

Every so often there is a reference in a thread to a "good voice". Often, it is the writer, disparaging his own voice. That set me wondering about what is a good voice.

Some people swear they "couldn't carry a tune in a 10 gallon bucket". I don't know that I've ever met anyone who was so tonally lacking that they couldn't carry a tune as soon as they got a little confidence. Maybe their range wasn't very good but they could sing well enough to join in with friends and know some of that kind of joy. I think, without having a whole lot of experience to back it up, that almost everyone can sing well enough for an awful lot of traditional music. Would you consider that Woody Guthrie had a good voice? or Bob Dylan? Play a Leadbelly recording for people who don't have a sensitivity towards that music and they will think he sounds awful. I guess that's why the line, "Old Time Traditional Music: Better Than it Sounds", is so funny.

Maybe it is better to think in terms of "a good voice for what?" It would be real clear that few people are blessed with the kind of voice that can fill a concert hall, bringing words and melody clearly through the tangle of orchestral sounds but few of us ever feel that need.

Part of singing successfully, and by that I mean being enjoyed by whomever you choose for your audience, is must be choosing your material with some sensitivity to their intersts and to your technical abilities, strengths and weaknesses, but isn't a part of it also similar to what makes a man or woman attractive; a projection of a clear sense of self, some degree of confidence, the ability to carry emotion in your voice and the sense that you are having a good time. I think that there are people who do not have "good voices" who are terrific entertainers and whom we enjoy listening sing because of qualities other than their bare, unadorned voice.

I had a chance a long time ago to spend a little time with Alan Lerner and the subject of Rex Harrison's voice came up. He told me that he and his partner, Lowe, asked Harrison to sing some scales so they could get an idea of his range. They wanted to write his songs in My Fair Lady in a key and range he could handle. They were stunned to find out what that range was. I don't recall but I think it was only about five steps. Because Harrison "chose" the right material and mostly because his presence as a performer is so formidable, his voice is of far less importance and he starred in one of the great musicals of all time.

Having run on this much, I have to add that I am not a performer so I haven't been faced with htese issues as much as those of you who regularly chooses to get up and give paying customers their money's worth, whatever that is. I would be really interested to hear what others think about what is a "good voice". It has to be more than great vocal cords and an ear.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:12 PM

Opinion: A good voice is one that keeps in tune for starters. Some voices do more for me than others and I can't really qualify it. One thing I will say is that I prefer a voice like say Ronnie Drew's to a very highly trained classical voice.

Jon


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: kendall
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:22 PM

I agree, but, he has a very annoying habit..saying uh after every word


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: MMario
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM

a very good question. I have been complimented a great deal in the last few years, but still don't like the sound of my recorded voice. And I'm still trying to get over almost forty years of "shut up, you sound like a dying cow" comments. But since total strangers will come up to me and compliment my voice, I have begun to believe them.

Oddly enough, it is frequently times when I feel my voice has been "off" that I get the most spontaneous compliments.

MMario


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: JamesJim
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM

Some very interesting thoughts Sourdough. I must say, I do have several friends who sing "off-key." I think that is fairly common. However, it doesn't stop them from joining in (in the least). I do make it a point not to have one of them positioned behind me (ugh!). It can throw you off terribly.

There aren't many people with what I would call a trained" voice. From what I've experienced, I believe a person is born with some sort of raw talent to sing and it can be developed (either through formal training, or just a lot of practice). I believe I have a rather decent singing voice, but so does/did everyone in my family, except my father (however, he could carry a tune). As I think back, I was singing from the time I was able to talk. We had a piano in the living room and two of my three older sisters played. I grew up in the forties (sheet music era), so we entertained ourselves with singing most every night. I am not an authority, but I would think the vocal cords are like any other muscle. Exercise them and they will improve. That had to help me in my early years. SO IT'S ALRIGHT TO SING, NO MATTER HOW YOU SOUND - HEY - YOU COULD GET BETTER WITH PRACTICE! Regards, Jim


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:25 PM

There are lots of perfomers with a small range but are great singers. Bing Crosby had not a lot of range but amazing control and great power. Johnny Rivers was is the same way. No great range but good style. Kenny Rogers has a week voice but is a unique stylist which makes hom bankable, And anyone who remembers Malvina Reynolds remembers a great writer and a no generous voice. But she had a way with it. Jim Post has amazing Range power and control over a voice I can take or leave.

Joni Mitchell has a very good voce which I can't stand. I know its a good voice because my sister says so and Martha wouldn't lie.

I know a woman who can sing in three keys at once, none of which is anyone playing in. She is totally tone deaf but she is enthusiastic.

I think you may have aske d the wrong question, What makes a good singer may be better than what is a good voice,

Don


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Michael
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:44 PM

...one that compels the listener into wanting to hear MORE...


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:48 PM

When I first started taking music lessons from Rick Fielding, I had never tried to use my voice much. I told him I thought I sounded like a transvestite.
Having been told as a kid "you sound funny", I stopped singing.
What Rick explained to me is, I have a larger range than I realize, I just have never used it.
As I explore my upper range, I am pretty shakey. But I can see as I build my confidence with time and practice this will improve.

BB


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: MMario
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:50 PM

BB - you going to send in a tape to MC radio?


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: emily rain
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:50 PM

Sourdough,

i'd love to gab on and on about this subject, but unfortunately i find that i agree with everything you said. i don't know if i can add more than a good hearty nod.

the woman in my area whose voice i love best (Susan Welch, may god bless and protect her) sings with a rough, scratchy tone that would never get past a bel canto enthusiast. her range is not all that spectacular, either. but man, does she know how to move that voice... her greatest vocal assets are all things that can be learned, making her voice the servant of her musicianship. and she's a musician in the best sense of the word: she takes the music within her, makes it a part of herself, then opens the gates and throws it back out to us transformed, enlivened, and filled with love.

i'd choose her over a host of "purer" voices anyday.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 10:57 PM

Hopefully one day I will MMario
I just need to get more of that practice & confidence thing going.
BB


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 11:04 PM

Several points about "good voice"---I am totally deaf in my right ear, and only have about 65% in the left. I CANNOT hear myself as others hear me. I have listened to myself on tape and it's not the quality that bothers people, it's the fact that I cannot hear and make the correct intervals. I'll be doing just fine, and then all of a sudden, WHAM--I am way flat or sharp, or clear off key altogether. This doesn't bother ME, but it does bother people I am singing with. I play fiddle mostly by seeing my fingers, and by sympathetic vibration, and do OK. However, when our daughter was 2 days old, I tried to sing her a lullaby.......she OPENED her eye, let go the teat, and stuck her little tiny fist as far in my mouth as it would go! Needless to say, I have never sung to her again. She is now 15, and has almost perfect pitch. My deafness is congenital, but disease related rather than genetic. (My Mom had rubella when I was in utero) I played in a civic orchestra the whole time I was preggers with the daughter, and I KNOW she could hear what was going on, and I am sure it has affected her musical development.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Victoria
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 11:08 PM

Perhaps it's that "good voice" has more to do with heart than with than with vocal chords ???? (And you can do it, BB!)


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: fulurum
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 11:16 PM

if you can sing well enough to entertain yourself, then your good enough.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: sophocleese
Date: 14 Jan 00 - 11:28 PM

I don't know Don about the wrong question bit...I've had three glasses of wine so I may ramble a bit here. Different voices are useful in different types of music, that's partly why there are so many different names for sopranos. I have what I, and others, call a sweet soprano voice, its clear and often pure, sometimes it can sound shrill, it doesn't have a lot of vibrato, its a good choir voice, but its not strong enough to carry over orchestras. I have a clear memory of a drunken acquaintance saying "Its a nice voice but you've got to get raunchy." It limits somewhat the material that I can sing; but its also fun to take a raunchy bar song and sing it in a sweet soprano, can be a little sarcastic ofr ironic. As I get older my voice is developing its richness. Voices are often best when the singers are in their 30s and 40s. The advantage with trained voices is that they will, generally, last longer.

What people think of as a good voice will depend on what they grew up listening to. I'm not a fan of vibrato but some people love it. At a choir festival years ago there seemed almost a national character to how choirs sounded; what attributes they most enjoyed in a choir. The French tended to be more nasal, the English were sweet and ethereal, the eastern europeans were dramatic and strong, the Americans were brassier.

I personally prefer singers who have clearly thought a lot about their singing and invested the same amount of time learning to sing as they would learning any other instrument. Staying on pitch is good, but some people can sound effective being a little off the pitch, there's a roughness to it than can work well in some songs. I like hearing a voice that moves easily between the lower and higher notes of its range. I notice when I'm trying to learn a song off a tape or CD that if its high in the singer's range and they are straining at the top notes I will also strain even if the key is technically one I should be able to sing in easily, I mimic the strain, not just the note. Therefore I like voices that are comfortable in the range of the song they are singing.

Voices have colour to them and warmth, tenors can be sweet and light, floating on the note, but they can also be very warm and strong, or sound a little anguished and strangulated. People prefer different colours. There's a woman in our song circle who has what I call a smoky alto voice. Its strong and very effective and expressive; its completely different from mine. We sometimes like singing the same songs but the audience will never experience them the same way because we are different people with different voices and approaches. I think that over the last three years we have learned from listening to each other, I've experimented more in the lower part of my range and she's gained confidence in her upper range. We're both better for the learning.

I think most good singers are driven by a desire to sing and express themselves through song. Thus they tend to develop whatever voice they are born with to as a high a degree as they wish. Those with small ranges develop full expression within them and those with larger ranges ripple up and down them. Those with weaker voices exploit their dynamic range to full advantage and those with power belt it out and stun the birds in the trees. They can all sound good.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Robo
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 12:10 AM

I couldn't agree more, Victoria. Run the voice pipes through the heart valves and everything flows. On a different note, I think the best voices are the most distinctive ones, those that are near impossible to imitate. Think Roy Orbison. Van Morrison. Rod Stewart. Any others?


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 12:16 AM

Sophocleese, this phrase of yours is a pleasure for me: "I personally prefer singers who have clearly thought a lot about their singing and invested the same amount of time learning to sing as they would learning any other instrument."
I'll never regret to have invested a lot of time and money in studying vocal technique, and will always repeat to beginnners that there's a whole universe of difference between STUDYING and NOT STUDYING with a good, classic teacher, doesn't matter wether you are facing a popular or classical career. There are lots of good voices ruined by singing out of their natural range, full of vicious habits, of people convinced that a rusty emission is good for their repertoire, or a weak one is more expressive.
Un abrazo - Andrés (a bass who happened to be a baritone and later a tenor)


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 12:26 AM

A good voice.......John McCutcheon. Nuff said


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: catspaw49
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 01:12 AM

Interesting thread. I personally have a lousy voice, so let's skip that. I bought two tapes awhile back from Sandy & Caroline at Folk Legacy Records.....Both are excellent and REAL representations of the music and sound of the Appalachians. The voices could not be more different. Frank Proffitt was a tremendous talent, but by most standards of "good"...he isn't. But what he plays and sings and the "delivery" of the songs is so authentic that I am literally compelled to listen. Karen looks at me like I'm nuts. The other is by Edna Ritchie (one of Jean's older sisters). Her voice is positively angelic and possesses that same quality that Jean has. But where years of public performing and recording has "toned" Jean, this recording of Edna is like sitting in a settlement school in Kentucky and hearing the traditions of the mountains.

Two different voices. Both have merit, but would get differing views from "outsiders." But they both share in the all important delivery and the "truth" comes through.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: roopoo
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 02:43 AM

I agree with everything Sourdough has said. I once went to a series of singing workshops at Whitby festival, run by a guy I know who is a performing arts teacher, folk singer, musician, dancer and researcher. He said that many people try to sing in a voice that is not really their natural one, but one that tends to get forced upon them by school choirs, hymns in church and even singing along with popular music where you are presented with a set pitch and singing style and that's that. He gave many examples of the old singers from recordings, made by song collectors and others, of old solo singers such as "Pop" Maynard, Phoebe Smith, Walter Pardon and the like, who could carry a tune unaccompanied, but who were untrained singers. The tip he gave to help find your natural singing voice was to allow yourself an unrestricted sneeze! If you just let it out freely, the air passes over relaxed vocal cords and will therefore ensure the noise produced is really "you". Even posture will help (as you all probably know). If you are sitting, lean slightly forward so that your throat will stretch slightly to keep the same eye-level. This helps open the windpipe and also free-up the vocal cords. If you don't then clasp your hands on your lap you will also find that your chest is able to expand a litle more.

Aside from all this, I still maintain that I sing like a bullfrog, as at some point in my past, my voice seems to have broken. And I am not a bloke. I've been told I should always sing in the lower register, but much relies on me getting the first couple of notes right. If I fail, the earplugs come free!

mouldy


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Doctor John
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 06:29 AM

Everyone seems to be aggreeing with everyone for once! I think one question that hasn't been asked is "good for what?" Trained tenors and the like are said to have "good" voices but it's often impossible to hear what they are singing about and the yardstick here appears to be ability to perform vocal gymnastics. Not "good" for folk singing and especially ballad singing: OK for opera where it doesn't matter as the words are often Italian or banal or both! Lead Belly would not make a good long ballad singer either but is unbeatable in his own music. Paul Clayton was a good ballad singer as his diction is so clear; but his voice may be too colourless for some tastes. Richard Dyer Bennet? Not rough enough for me. I find Woody Guthrie just about right - listen to his "Harriet Tubman" - long but not tedious. Frankie Armstrong is said by almost everybody to be an outstanding ballad singer but I can well do without the drama. I think Cisco Houston and Isla StClair probably have the right balance for most listeners. Dr John


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 07:51 AM

I agree with Escamillo. And the comment that it "doesn't matter" what the words are because they are in Italian? So, Dr. John, you think opera is banal and only English is acceptable for singing? The world is filled with many styles of singing. I have studied classical voice technique and it was very useful in giving my voice more power, volume and range as well as clarity of diction to understand the words when I sing any kind of music, including folk music.

The voice that fits the song being sung is the good voice. Regarding leaning over to sing... it cuts off the ability to pull the muscles of the floor of the abdomen down in order to have breath support. Expanding the chest is not the most important part of breath control.

Here is a list of threads I put together last year on previous discussions we have had on THE SINGING VOICE. click here


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Margo
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 10:29 AM

I think we're talking about several different things here.

THE VOICE. You are born with your voice and the raw potential. I have always been a singer, even as a child. I must have some ability I was born with because I have always sung on key, and complained when my siblings would go off key. So I hear the tones and can reproduce them. Classical training was FUN and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to gain control and discover what your voice can do.

THE TECHNIQUE. Oh boy, a raw scratchy voice, and a very moving performance. Both possible. Some people can really make a song come to life. For me, it's Lou Killen. He's not technically a great singer, as far as voice goes. But he has such passion, such energy, I love listening to him.

Isn't it great when someone has both?


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 10:52 AM

Question: what should people who haven't got time to go to a voice teacher do to improve, shape their voice? Anyone found a good book or some words of advice? For popular or folk or jazz styles, not classical. How would you practice? -- I sing all the time, but have no structure at all.

Random thoughts:
One of the most interesting phenomena is listening to people grow into their voice, or learn what to do with it. Patsy Cline is really fascinating: she had this almost operatic voice that no one knew what to do with, so until about a year before her death, her voice has this kind of big, one dimensional sound; and then just before she got killed, the whole bottom of her voice changes beautifully, and she starts really singing. Then she gets killed: proof that there is mindless stupidity in the universe.

I think Willie Nelson's singing, like his guitar playing, is underrated. It is a bit like Fred Astaire: every songwriter wanted to write for him, because although he had not much of a voice, he just made it look so easy.
In terms of natural instruments in today's music, to me Sinead O'Connor has by far the most amazing voice: "Nothing Compares 2 U" is an incredible record. It is a terrible pity she is so traumatized. Sometimes the way.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 11:07 AM

whew, thanks Alice, I remember reading those threads when they came out, but forgot how much was in them. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 11:13 AM

OK, personal feeling on classical voices: Yes, I agree that proper trainig used sensibly can and does help but when it reches the point that words are distorted and that "operatic" accent is achieved, I switch off. The words are incomprehensible to me (even in English) and although these singers may have great power and range, as a general rule, I find the tones produced distinctly unpleastant.

This is my purely subjective opinion but that is effect it has on me.

Jon


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: DougR
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 12:00 PM

Sourdough, a good Thread. I find little to disagree with here but would just add one thing. I believe that the person who is "commercially successful" as a volcalist has a "distinctive" voice. When you hear that voice on the radio or a recording, you immediately know who is singing. Many examples can be given and most of them have already been named: Willie Nelson, Burl Ives, Hank Snow, Eddy Arnold, Jim Reeves, Dina Shore, Doris Day, Mama Cass, Mary Travers and on and on. I think, after listening to his CD, Rick Fielding has that quality. You hear them, you know who is singing. To me, that separates the good solo voice (commercially successful) from the good choral voice that may blend beautifully with others. I am not implying, however, that only commercially successful voices are the only "good" voices. There are pleanty out there that sing well (good timber, resonance, on pitch) that will never be commercially succesfull for other reasons.

I certainly agree with Alice that good vocal training can improve almost any voice. DougR


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 12:08 PM

Who was it wrote this???

Sometimes I wish I had a better voice
To singmy songs to you
A voice so brillian, rich and clear
Soaring and gliding throught the air
Placing the melody in your ear
The way good singers do
My voice cracks like a back-porch chair
Growls and groans like a big black bear
Full of whispers, kinks and snares
And I sometimes miss the key
But nobody sings my songs like me

kinda sums it all up eh? I get a awfull lot of mileage out of this one...


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 01:54 PM

Training your voice to sound "operatic" is not the main purpose of voice training. And for those who say they don't like opera, how many of you have heard a live opera performance, how many know a classical singer and have sat in a room and talked about singing with them and listened to their singing? This is a reverse snobbery, and I wish people would just get over it. There are real ways that you can ruin your vocal cords forever, create permanent nodules, lose your range, etc, by not knowing some of the basic techniques that the opera singers have developed over time. On the other hand, there are styles of singing - look at the Balkans - that are so different from ballad type folk music that Americans are used to that to talk about 'a good voice' in such general terms does not make sense. I state again, the good voice is the one that is right for the type of song being sung.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 01:58 PM

Mouldy's remark about allowing yourseelf an unrestricted sneezing as a way of finding out about your natural singing voice intrigues me.

A good sneeze is one of the great pleasures of life, and mine tend to be so unrestricted that they can bring public places to a srtandstill, and my wife tells me off. But I've never found a way of learning anything from them so far.

So could you please elaborate, mouldy? I'd love an excuse to justify my sneezing.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Little Dorritt
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 05:28 PM

This is very interesting -I think half the battle is accepting that your voice may suit some types of music and not others- I love opera but dislike operatic stars singing contempory songs without changing their style. I have a reasonable voice for folk music and stick to traditional but I can't sing a pop song or jazz piece to save my life and so I don not try. Sean Keane sings some amazing,hauntng folk songs but I find his C & W stuff a bit of a turn off. A good voice I would probably define as one that can adapt to any style of music.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: paddymac
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 05:36 PM

Voices are a lot like wine. One might be perfectly suited to one set of circumstances (venue, mood, style of music, emotion, etc, etc) on any given night, but the very same voice might be completely unsuited to the circumstances of another setting. And, like wine, too much of a voice can leave you feeling ill.

There is also the reality that vocal intervals within any octave are not the same as the "concert pitch" instrumentalists are accustomed to. An experienced vocalist will usually adjust to the instruments, since the instruments can not adjust to the voice. Instrumentalists will sometimes criticize an unaccompanied singer when they hear the difference in vocal intervals in contrast to what their "concert pitch ear" tells them they should hear. There is a current thread on "perfect pitch" that nicely complements this one.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 05:39 PM

Jim Ringer

Jo Stafford

(no kidding)

Art


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 06:34 PM

Alice, while I didn't say I don't like opera (my comments were on the voices), I will reply. I have only been to one opera (The Barber Of Seville as a child) which I thoroughly enjoyed and while I wouldn't pay to hear one (I'm like that with most things) if somebody offered me a free ticket, I would go and expect to enjoy it but there is more to opera than the voices of the singers and I would be enjoying the spectacle rather than the singing. My father loves opera and regularly used to play his record collection at home and I can assure you that I found many of the voices, particulary sopranos, very hard on my ears...

Up until 2 years ago, I used to chat in a pub practically every night with a classically trained singer and although I rarely try to sing these days, he did give me a couple of tips that I found useful at the time. He is retired but I he did actually bring me a recording of him at the time when he was working professionally and one that I particulary enjoyed (much to my surprise - I thought he would murder it) was "I Dream Of Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair".

I like what I like and dislike what I dislike and I don't consider the fact that I don't like most of the "operatic" voices that I have heard to be a form of reverse snobbery.

Jon


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 15 Jan 00 - 11:24 PM

Let's not confuse a good voice with a good ARTIST. One may have Louis Armstrong voice and make miracles with it and with the songs, and may have Domingo's voice and be unable to sing a tango acceptably.
BUT, the most important, in my opinion, is to never assume that a good voice is not necessary for a singer, or not necessary for certain repertoire. For example, listen to Kiri Te Kanawa - she is an "operatic" voice indeed, and possibly her high pitch will sound hard to the ears of Jon and many people who dislike this form of singing, but HOW SWEET she is when she comes to intimate songs, even to popular and maori native songs, and so many different kinds of music!
On the other side, listen to Shakira (one of top sellers in Latin America, hope you know her): she seems to have a good timbre, but insists, purposely, in a nasal sound full of unnecesary "breaks" which will ruin her voice in a couple of years. Of course she sings things A LOT EASIER than classics or even jazz.
One word about the "operatic" sound: this is the sound of human voice, magnified only by vocal technique, in order to fill a theatre (you should never sing in open air) as it was known until amplification arrived. One should understand this before comparing the sound with any popular singer of the XX century, who were born with a Mic on their hands. Did you hear old Italian songs, English madrigals, Spanish romanzas ? They were the popular music by those times AND THE VOICES WERE TRULY "operatic" TOO ! Because there were no mics.
As the electric amplification comes to our lives, we start to hear NOT the human voice, but an imitation made by an electric circuit and a paper cone activated by a piece of carbon. Even we hear the same when we attend our artist's presentations. Then EVERYBODY , even who did neither have the VOICE nor the TECHNIQUE, could raise his voice and it was necessary only the art and the sensibility, to reach the audience ears and hearts. I find this is NOT BAD at all, but it is not THE voice, not THE singing.
Hope I had contributed to a deeper confussion :))
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: roopoo
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 01:43 AM

McGrath, I can't say if it's true or not. It sort of sounds logical. Best to allow one or two brave souls in the room with you to hear, when you have a cold! Or it could be: "Hurry, Mavis, with the cassette recorder - there's a sneeze a-comin'!" An alternative is to carry a memo-recorder with you and fascinate the public by recording your own sneezes! I never really had to try it out because I have a fairly low speaking voice, and accepted what I was told. But on the odd occasions I have tried to hear, it seems to be "something like". I mean, when the mother of all sneezes is on the way, you don't start to think, "Oh, I had better listen to this," do you?

How considerate will your wife be if you tell her you are conducting scientific research?

mouldy


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 04:59 AM

Mouldy, if you allow me, I would try to make it clearer what that musician wanted to say when talking about sneezing to let your voice be emitted freely, etc. I think the term is YAWNING and not sneezing. If this is what he said, it is absolutely true (according to several serious teachers and books I know) because when you yawn you get your larynge in the most relaxed position and the upper (most internal) palate in a high position, allowing for the formation of a large cavity in the inner mouth.
It is a known trick of the teachers to tell you "get the yawning sensation" to make us feel the correct position for a maximum flow and minimal effort. Those who learn to manage muscles to obtain this effect, do not need to yawn - they start to sing with their real voice. At first the sound is strange, feels too artificial, but so is this business, to look for beauty in the artificial fact of making music with an instrument that has been made up to speak, scream, curse and drink gallons of beer (oops sorry ladies, of course you don't curse).
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 05:26 AM

(Why I get so involved in "voice" threads ?) Sorry for posting too much.
There's one last question from my friend El Pedro which I would like to answer:
.................
Question: what should people who haven't got time to go to a voice teacher do to improve, shape their voice? Anyone found a good book or some words of advice? For popular or folk or jazz styles, not classical. How would you practice? -- I sing all the time, but have no structure at all.
.................
There are many good books, for example The Art of Singing by Madeleine Mansion, about 1950, but the problem is that this is a highly physical process of learning. If no teacher hears your exercises, nobody tells you when it is good to stop, when you are forcing your voice, when you are obtaining the correct sound, how gradually you should attempt the high notes, etc., the process may be more harmful than beneficiary. I would recommend to go to a teacher who has a classic education and experience, and tell him the truth, that you are not starting a career in opera, but want to improve. If he/she is reasonable, and has had experience with pop and folk singers, will surely accept the opportunity of making together a good job . If he/she tells you that only classic students are accepted, don't feel disappointed, cause each one has his own speciality, just look for another. Avoid those who have never had a classic experience.
And see you at La Scala !
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 10:09 AM

Andrés, thank you for posting because you wrote everything I had been thinking, too, but I feel like I am repeating myself again from all the other singing threads I linked to with my earlier message. Peter, I will send you a private message on this, but my voice teacher says that for free you can send her a tape of your singing and she will respond with some analysis of the direction in which you need to seek guidance (singing in the back of the throat, scooping the notes, blocking the sound on the roof of the mouth, breath support or whatever it is she can hear from a tape). BUT, again, I repeat what Andrés wrote. One cannot really learn how to use your singing voice to its maximum ability from a book or tape, although you can learn information about singing from a good source as Andrés referred to. Each individual is different and a teacher needs to be able to listen to what you are doing and hear how your voice improves as you work on what you need to learn. Don't worry about being turned into an opera singer!! Only a person born with the type of vocal cords that could create the operatic sound can learn to sing that way, and learning the good techniques that will protect your voice is not going to make you sound like you are singing opera. If you are serious about protecting your vocal cords from damage and having a lifelong ability of singing with endurance, then learning vocal skills is important. Another advantage of studying singing is that you HEAR what other singers are doing when you understand the mechanics. You listen to recordings and suddenly realize which singers do not have enough air to get through a phrase, which ones are off key or blocking the sound in the roof of their mouth. The advent of microphones and studio manipulation makes up for alot of weaknesses in singers.

Right now I am listening to an NPR radio story on Bessie Smith and the St. Louis Blues with Louis Armstrong on coronet (1925) with a harmonium, also! She had a voice with power and control and support. It's a great performance. The perfect voice for that song.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: paddymac
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 11:31 AM

Excellent thread - special thanks to Andres for his most insightful comments, particularly as to not confusing the voice with the artistry.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 12:55 PM

Andres, why did we just not go off into a corner of that hotel and sing for an hour or two? Damn it all to hell. Now we have to meet again so that you can give me a lesson or two!
For sheer volume, I remember the first time I heard Birgit Nilsson at Covent Garden, I really thought the walls would come off. Once I heard her from the back row at the Albert Hall, which is a huge barn, and you could almost feel the pressure of her voice on your face. She was recently interviewed prior to the Heppner/Eaglen Tristan, and was really interesting about technique (she was giving a master class). I had always assumed she just had a vast natural voice, opened her mouth and sang.

The most wonderful singer I have ever heard live is still Pavarotti when he was young, doing La Boheme or Tosca. Just for the sheer Italianness of it all, hurling himself at you. Has anyone ever really enjoyed the whole thing as much as Pavarotti and his audiences, everyone including Pavarotti just being thrilled at what was going on?
Your opera house is so good, you must have heard a lot of good singers come to town, or locally. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Margo
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 01:48 PM

Jon, I think it will be very interesting for me when I finally get set up with a mike and can sing for you on the HearMe chat. I will appreciate your opinion (blunt and honest) because I make a great effort to sing plainly and not to sound "operatic". It'll be fun! :o) Margo


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Joan
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 04:09 PM

At the risk of sounding crass, I think there are two kinds of voices, too: The Constipated Voice and The Open Voice. If you hear an open voice, there seems to be nothing between you and a steady, sure, flexible stream of sound. Now if that sound is divided into clear words and phrases, then it's even better, since you not only have free and open tones, but you can understand what the song has to say, AND if the singer goes a step beyond that and thinks about meanings, then you get passion and nuance, which makes it still better.

The constipated voice gets constricted inside somewhere: the throat, the jaw, the chest.... It comes out breathy and tight. (When I did school programs I'd get the kids to yell..then when they finally did, told them I wanted to hear them sing like that.)

Anyway, I really don't feel the owners of lovely, mellow voices make for the best singers; two different things. Sometimes the passion, diction and phrasing make up for everything else, as long as it starts free and easy.

Joan


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 04:27 PM

For anyone interested, you can hear my voice at the beginning of Mudcat Radio XIII (13) singing some of the verses I wrote on the Mudcat song thread (Come All You Loyal Mudcats). - Alice


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 10:02 PM

There really are different ways of using the voice, it's not just a question of lacking the technique.

It's the same way that a fiddle playing in a folk tradition is essentially a different instrument from a violin being played classically. The very things that a clasasical violinist will have learned to avoid may be an essential part of a traditional way of playing.

So what classically trained singers may hear as failure to use the voice right - a head voice rather than an open voice - may be a very important element in a traditional singer's technique.

Learning how to avoid hurting your voice is useful - but someone who sings for the pleasure of it in a small setting isn't making the same demands on the vocal mechanisms as a professional trying to achieve a maximum volume.

Opera sounds best with classically trained singers, I think - but I don't find that true for folk songs - including classical arrangements. Vaughan Williams arrangements of "Linden Lea" (which is a dialect poem by William Barnes t=rather than a folk song)for example sounds just wrong to me when I've heard it sung by concert singers. But Dave Goulder's singing of it (on a CD "Stone, Steam and Starlings" Harbourtown Records, HARCD 017) I think is very powerful and moving.

Incidentally, "Linden Lea" doesn't seem to be in the DT. So here is a link to a midi of the tune used by Vaughan Williams and here is a link to the words of William Barnes's poem, in broad Dorset (since Dick Greenhaus rightly pointed out the other day on a thread somewhere it is discourteous mentioning a song without putting the words in).


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 10:15 PM

I have heard...live, Pete Seeger, Frankie Armstrong, Jean Redpath, Lou Killen, John McCutcheon, Sara Cleveland, and more, including some local folk with AMAZING voices that are not famous.....and, 40 years ago, I heard Mahalia Jackson, whose voice made the hair stand up on my neck!.

..and some of those voices were 'purer;..and some were rough...but they all grabbed your attention. I have also heard a few folk who simply could NOT hit a note, or who had no 'life' in their voice...and seemed NOT to be able to improve...so, I think a lot of it is just the luck of the draw. I am one who is not great, but who can manage ok with a little practice..(and now has hearing aids to boost those 'lost' high notes and clarify tones, so I know better what I am singing)


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: sophocleese
Date: 16 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM

Good points McGrath. Those singers I find most irritating aren't necessarily those without classical training but those who think that they don't need to spend any time THINKING about their singing. I do wince sometimes if I hear somebody consistently doing something that I feel must be painful, screeching like the lead in AC/DC for instance. Good fiddlers, like good violinists, need to practice and learn what makes music and expresses the song and what is just a mindless exercise in running through the necessary notes. I am not a fan of country and western singers singing traditional, usually English, christmas carols: singing through your nose just doesn't sound good there although its highly approriate in country and western songs where an Anglican hoot would be awful. Generally speaking a singer with training can learn to sing in a greater variety of styles if he or she wishes to than somebody who isn't trained.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Kristi H
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 01:02 AM

How long does it take to get a handle on what your voice really is? I'm relatively new to singing, a couple of years. I hadn't sang to anything but along with the radio from a very young age, 9, and am now 33. I started some informal singing lessons a few months ago. My fellow musicians have all played and sang for 20-30 years. They tell me the voice I have now is the only voice I can have and to basically give it up and concentrate solely on my instrument. They don't understand the phobia about singing that I am trying to overcome. So,from the wealth of people out here, my question is: For a person working on their singing a couple of times a week(due to the time constaints of family, work, etc.)how long should a person give before just accepting the limitations the fellow musicains are setting for me? Also, Where does the line between playing technically correctly versus with feeling and commitment fall? Kristi


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 01:13 AM

Peter, I am no teacher, so I hardly could give lessons, but if you wait until I grow up, it could be possible!
I like your comments about Birgit Nilsson's performance, it gives me another reason to understand what happens to people who don't like opera singers (even when they like the melodies and expression involved) : they generally hear opera singers through a CD, an amplifier and the ominous speakers or headphones. Then what happens when the great Nilsson sings to her maximum power, in a voice and orchestra climax of drama, and you are not in the theatre? You turn it off. Me too. You don't feel raised up from your seat with emotion, you just feel pain in your ears.

One of the possible exceptions I know of, is the recordings made by Herbert Von Karajan, because he always spent half his time in the recording studio, and what we hear in his CDs is what Karajan wanted us to hear.

Yes, our opera house (Teatro Colón) is one of the best in the world, told by top performers. I've sung there, just in the choir, and it is an incredible experience. After my pants dried up a little, I started to enjoy the rehearsals and concerts, because I could hear MYSELF among the other voices, that phenomenal is the acoustics.
One last thing regarding classical voices: there's not only opera (which is musical theatre). There's oratorium, chamber music (where you'll never feel anything hard on your ears), French and English and Russian and American songs, German lieder, AND of course, there's Paul Robeson.
Thanks, Alice, I always enjoy your valuable contributions, and will try to hear you.
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 03:07 AM

Hi Kristi, pay them no mind & continue, if your just starting to sing you'll have no idea how far you can go with it unless you keep at it. No matter what voice you have there's always room for improvement. If you think you've a fair voice now (or even if you don't ) then it's worth every moment you spend trying to improve it & you'll always be paid back two fold. As for those who tell a singer they should try something else, it's a shame they were given a talent at all then maybe they'd have more respect for those who are trying to develop theirs. In 7th grade I had a nun for a band leader, I tried out & after I had sung the scale for her she rudly shouted for the next victum (had no idea what singing would have to do with playing an instrument). It took years to get over what she had crushed in seconds. I always sang anyways (just fooling around stuff) but it wasn't until I was at a worksong workshop in the 70's that someone mentioned that I should do a bit more singing & that she (Barbara Karns) liked what I did (that was a 1st). A couple of years ago this same women came to a workshop on worksongs I was doing & later came up & said how much she enjoyed herself, she had no idea of ever meeting me before & I had to turn the complement around & thanked her for the few words of encourgement, decades earlier, that gave me the little bit that I needed & that in this case she should only need to thank herself. Barry


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 10:37 AM

Kristi, even a busy person can sing in the shower or bath every day. There is a running joke on the Mudcat about me singing in the shower, because in a thread on how we learn songs I said I print out lyrics and tape them to the shower wall and practice there every day. (I do, really.) Choose the songs you want to sing and find the most comfortable key for you. Use a tape recorder to practice sometimes and listen back to yourself critically. Take a tape recorder to your lessons and listen to yourself later. Turn the radio off in the car and sing the songs you are trying to learn. Practice singing scales. Every voice can sound better with practice. Gradually expand the range of the scales every day and the range of the songs you are singing (move up a key) and you will be able to stretch your voice to reach higher and lower notes over time as you develop those muscles. Keep going even if the tone sounds bad because it will improve over time. It takes months, but if you are consistent you will get there. It is just like working any other muscles... you have to do it routinely on a regular basis (like every day). The stronger your muscles become in placing them in the right way to make the sound, it will become easier to stay in pitch and get the best tone your voice can make. Whatever voice you were born with, you can learn to use it in a pleasing way. I love to listen to Louis Armstrong sing What A Wonderful World. What if he had shut up when people heard him sing in his rough voice? What a loss that would have been.

Whenever I bring up learning vocal technique people knee-jerk react thinking I am talking about everyone having to learn opera to be a singer ---- I AM NOT SAYING THAT! And I have never said that. That isn't possible anyway, because not everyone is born with the kind of vocal cords that can make that type of sound, and as I stated earlier in this thread, there are MANY types of singing styles in the world and they all have their rightful place. I mostly listen to traditional Irish, and Scottish recordings, although I do have a couple of Andrea Bocelli CD's that I like, but as Andrés said, opera is meant to be heard live.

My latest favorite recording to listen to is the sean nós singing of Robbie McMahon (of Spancilhill) on his tape The Black Sheep. Since it is Robert Burns time again, I got out the CD's of Jean Redpath singing Robert Burns songs.

alice flynn


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 01:50 PM

I think we probably are in agreement, sophocleese - but there are some pretty nasal accents in England, and the carols sound alright with them. I think people should always feel free to take a song such as a carol and sing itnwithin their own tradition - but need to show respect while they are doing, and recognise where change is needed, and where it's not.

I think Americans often aren't aware quite how widely accents still vary within short geographical areas in England. I once got lost in Birmingham and had to stop and ask the way half a dozen times. Each time it was a drastically different (though unmistakably Birmingham) accent. And pretty nasal at that.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Áine
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 01:58 PM

What's a good voice? Two words - Mahalia Jackson.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Allan C.
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 03:35 PM

Above it was said that the voice should be suited to the kind of music. I couldn't agree more. It makes about as much sense to have Beverly Sills sing "Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down" as it does to have Jo Stafford (I totally agree, Art!) sing "Sourwood Mountain". Each could do the job. But their vocal styles are not best suited to the purpose. By the same token, I doubt that Ronnie Milsap could do a very good job with a Wagner opera. Nor could Ian and Sylvia (together or separately) do very well with "Speak Low".

This isn't to say that with training, someone couldn't "change their spots". Does the name, Jim Nabors ring a bell?

I once had a music teacher who, as a part of his thesis, created an a cappella choir made up of people who thought they could not carry a tune. At the end of a semester, the choir put on an admirable performance. Oh, and the music teacher got an "A" on his thesis.

This is why I believe that if it doesn't make a chicken cry, it is a good voice.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Bill D
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 04:31 PM

Áine...yep..*smile*...I actually found some sound bytes of Mahalia after I posted my note above..and they STLL made me shiver...


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Áine
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 04:40 PM

Bill D.,

Did you hear her sing 'Precious Lord'? I've heard several people sing that hymn; but no one has ever sung it like her. Her rendition is the ultimate 'come to Jesus' song, whether you're religious or not. It will evoke a spiritual response from any one of any belief.

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: lamarca
Date: 17 Jan 00 - 11:54 PM

Working with a supportive teacher who can listen to your voice and help you correct problems that can hurt your vocal chords, do justice to the kinds of songs you're interested in or steer you gently to repertoire more suited to your voice and give you tips on how to do the things you'd like to be able to do with your voice can be invaluable. Here in DC a bunch of us have been very lucky to have Lisa Null willing to give us voice lessons and vocal coaching over the past few years. Lisa asks us "What do you feel are your problems, and what would you like to work on?" She has had voice training herself, and is familiar with a vast array of vocal styles: folk, classical and popular. She has helped me work on broadening my range and strengthening that tricky transition from chest to head voice to extend the range of songs I can sing.

No matter what kind of music you'd like to sing, treat your voice the same way you'd treat any musical instrument - learn to use it properly and practice to give yourself and your listeners a whole lot more pleasure!


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 12:34 AM

Kristi, what can I say after that has been told above ? Be patient, open your mouth and your mind widely, feel that you are a vehicle of a wonder, and let the music flow without restraints.
By the way, where is Sourdough, who started all this ?
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: ddw
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 01:07 AM

I've never had any formal training, so I can't really add much to some of the above discussion, but it seems to me that timing has more to do with a "good" voice than actual tonal quality, range, etc.

Somebody mentioned several singers whose voices aren't musically good ? apart from being able to stay on pitch ? and I think that list could be expaned enormously. Ray Charles didn't have that good a voice if you're talking tone, but his timing was superb. Neither did a lot of the old blues men. Or, for that matter, a lot of country singers. Is Bill Monroe's voice "good"?

And I even find staying on key suspect as a criterion. Buffy St. Marie made a career of singing half a tone flat from whatever instrumentation she had.

I agree with some of the defense of technique, but I still can't stand most trained voices doing anything other than what they were trained for ? which usually isn't a type of music I like. My wife is an opera fan and ? when I can't avoid it ? I hear quite a bit of it. She marvels at the purity, power, range, emotion, etc. of many singers, but to me they all sound (as they seem to be trained to) like they've just been given an enema in the wrong end.

(Sorry, opera fans ? guess there's no accounting for taste, or lack of it.)

david


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Sourdough
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 04:13 AM

Andrés, I'm here, reading and very interested by the variety in the answers. I'm an interviewer by trade and by inclnation. I love to get a good conversation started.

When I was in college, a friend took me to a local high school. He said there was a singer whom I ought to hear. THe performance was in a high school auditorium in what was then called the Negro part of New Haven. Our two white ovals shone in a sea black faces but we were soon forgotten when the sionger who turned out to be Mahalia Jackason came on stage.

It would probably help to understand that I had never heard Mahalia Jackson before, I'd mnever heard of her, and I had extremely little exposure to African-American Gospel music - there hadn't been much of it around in New Hamshire, that I knew of.

I don't remember what I thought when she first started to sing but it wasn't long before I realized that I was taking part in something wspecial. The audience was a part of this concert, not by shouting although sometimes by clapping in the rhythmn of the singer and the accompanyoing piano but mostly just by somehow resting within the music, as though they were cradled in the rhythmn, words and melody. Their, our, attention was riveted on the singer. She might have been singing "he holds the whole world in his arms" but she she was holding her audience in the palms of her hands and she knew what to do with us.

She had the ability to use her voice and presence to raise the audience up to the edge of frenzy and then she would turn the power down a bit, letting us gather ourselves back together. Slowly, she would begin to raise us again to the edge of wildness. It was an almost sexual experience.

Did she have a great voice? I would say that without question she did but, as with all great performers, she had something else, something that was hers alone and she had learned how to make the best of it.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Auxiris
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 09:24 AM

I think that a "good voice" is, above all, one that you enjoy listening too.

cheers, Auxiris


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 09:33 AM

For those who feel they can't sing, there is hope. Practice and feedback from others can help to improve a voice. I was the only one of my siblings who could not carry a tune. But I loved to sing, I kept on singing, and somewhere down the road, I went through a sea change that turned me into a singer who regularly receives compliments for his voice. Of course, some say I sound like Leon Redbone, but I take that as a compliment.

We all have different abilities. The muscles that Alice talks about developing are definitely different for different people and there will be limits on development.

Some say they can teach you perfect pitch (another singing skill), so perhaps that can be learned as well. Ask guitar players and many will say they couldn't tune their instrument well in the beginning, but they can do so now.

Finally, there is the interpretive part. This is what makes voices like Willie Nelson and Louis Armstrong distinctive and pleasureable voices. Some of this can be developed. Much of it must be innate.

I know there are people whose voices "grate" on my ears. Usually it is both poor pitch and tone quality. With many of these, I cannot even recognize the tune which they are trying to sing. Could they get better? I would guess they could, but it might take a large amount of vocal training and many will not do that

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 07:22 PM

Geezz.. David ! Yo make me open my eyes. I KNEW THAT SOMETHING WAS WRONG WITH OUR TRAINING !!
uuuuUUUUUnn AAABRRRAAAAAhhhzOOOOOOOOOHHHH!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 07:59 PM

Rick once told me "if I thought I sounded like a transvestite, then be the best transvestite singer you can" He also said "there is something interesting about someone with a unique voice". Those words really gave me a lift.
This thread has also been inspiring. Since it was started I have been working on my voice. I keep moving the capo up one fret and singer a bit higher just to see that I can. Still quite shakey, but it is there and it makes me smile & brings me much joy to discover my voice.
Victoria, thanks for the encouragement.
BB


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 09:58 PM

Keep it up, Bonnie, day by day you will stretch the voice you have. It will grow and change with time and practice.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 10:32 PM

Thanks Alice. That is actually a great exercise that Rick taught me. Moving the capo up each fret to stretch your voice.
BB


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 10:53 PM

Bonnie, as you develop your voice, it is always part of the exercises to go higher and higher (or lower) in vocal exercises and also in adding songs that are more demanding. Each new challenge to your voice builds on the last challenge that you have met. You're building a structure block by block.

Here are some tapes that are available on the internet. I don't know anything about the these voice coaches, but for those without a personal teacher, they may be useful.
click here

-alice


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 11:00 PM

Thanks Alice!


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: MTed
Date: 19 Jan 00 - 02:26 AM

I am probably too late to contribute much, but I have a few thoughts, for what they are worth--

singing is the most universal element in music, and singing styles vary more than the performance styles of any other instrument, so it is very hard to get any kind of consensus on what good singing really is--To make matters worse, singers can learn most, or all of their craft by intuition and osmosis(even "classical" singers!!), and this is is often a great drawback for them, since they often lack the technical understanding of what they are doing that most other instrumentalists have--and this limits their ability to grow and develop--

Still, some singers seem to take their achievements, their aspirations, and, perhaps themselves, more seriously than other musicians do--without naming names, I have noted that one or two of the contributors have lacked a bit of the humility that tends to run rampant in other discussions--

Perhaps singers need to be more self absorbed and self posessed than other performers simply because there is no button, key or string to push, punch, or squeeze in order to extract the desired pitch--they have to come up with it totally on their own(there aren't even any markings to let them know where to find the right note--they pretty much have to just hope its going to be where they think it is)

It requires a particularly tenacious confidence to stand up in front of a room of people and to believe that, given the diversity of tastes in the world, they will be pleased by the particular sort of noise that you plan to emit...

Even the Three Tenors, with all their talent and popularity, approach the stage with the knowledge that a large percentage of the audience likes the other two better than they like them, and must pretend that it isn't true when they perform--

Those who have anxiety about singing really have apprehensions about the truths that they may be forced to confront when they stand up in front of a full house(no matter how small the house)--and the ones who can't manage it often have no less talent or technical ability than the ones who can--they just have thicker skin--


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 19 Jan 00 - 07:50 PM

There are vocal musicians, and then there are singers.

It's fine if you can be both, but if I could only be one or the other I'd rather be a singer: that is, one who can SELL a song. I have an old 10 inch LP of Carl Sandburg singing folksongs. No voice to speak of, but he's got his own style, and the songs sound authentic in his mouth. That's a singer, by me.

Dave O.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 19 Jan 00 - 09:54 PM

Thanks MTed for your contribution. I would remark something of your phrases:
"singers can learn most, or all of their craft by intuition and osmosis(even "classical" singers!!), and this is is often a great drawback for them, since they often lack the technical understanding of what they are doing that most other instrumentalists have--and this limits their ability to grow and develop--
I agree on everything except about classical singers. I don't want to mean they are more responsible or serious than others, but simply that classical singers had made THE contact with their instrument. Once they have learnt where the notes are, how they sound, how the instrument plays smoothly without being hurt, then they can face the aria Celeste Aida, or A Closer Walk With Thee. Of course the latter will never sound as the aria (this will be a disrespect to the nature of the song) but the singer will KNOW how to sing it. Wether he/she has the ART to sing, it is another matter.
Un abrazo (a hug) - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Willie-O
Date: 19 Jan 00 - 11:43 PM

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Sam Cooke.

And Connie Dover.

And Ian Tyson

. That SOB is 66 now fer chrissakes and has a sound that is simultaneously mature and frisky as a yearling calf.

All of these folks have both the pipes and just tremendous phrasing--and think about what they're singing about!

As for those of us without a great natural sound, we can still do pretty well if we believe it ourselves (and learn some of that technique). I came to accept that every time I sang for an audience, a lot of people would like it, and some wouldn't, and some of each group were liable to tell me so.

It's what you do with what you've got.

Willie-O


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: GUEST,MTed
Date: 20 Jan 00 - 01:42 AM

Andres,

There are a good many "classical singers" who simply have a "beautiful" voice and a good ear(and often the looks to match)--and I have worked with a few of them, and saw many of them in music school--they are taught their parts, note-for-note with someone holding their hand, and lessons that are free because they have such great talent(much to the chagrin of some of the other singers, who have voices that are only "good" and must work to pay for lessons, often from a less prestigious teacher)--

Sooner or later, they always advance to a place where their talent is not so exceptional as it seemed to be in the local music society, the church or school choir, or the Young Peoples Musical Theatre Ensemble--anyway, you know they type--


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 20 Jan 00 - 03:55 AM

MTed, I understand, there are indeed those beautiful voices without the talent, and as you say, they don't go very far in a singing career. It's up to the teachers to develop the sense of equilibrium to decide who deserves their efforts and possibly their preference, but it is yet another story !

Banjo Bonnie, could it be possible that your voice is naturally grave and bulky ? Does it sound clear and healthy in the low notes, for example an A4 ? If you were so lucky, may be you have a CONTRALTO voice, which is the hardest to find in women, and most appreciated by conductors of pop and classics. With a proper education, your voice would give you more than a reward.

I keep reading all opinions, and learning something new each time - nice thread.
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 20 Jan 00 - 04:30 AM

Again, sorry for posting too much -
Don't miss the song at the Mudcat Radio Episode 13. Alice's voice is so sweet and firm, it's a pleasure to hear, and the song is beatiful ! Look (or listen) how she does not miss a note, and does not rely on artificial effects, even singin "a capella", which is a difficult art. Hope to hear more from you Alice !
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: GUEST,The Duck of the Irish
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 03:15 PM

If you hear singing, and you want to hear a lot more of it, the singer has a good voice.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: BDenz
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 03:37 PM

For me, there are good lyric voices and good non-lyric [mostly operatic, but some just come that way]. The world may define lyric as "folky" or "musicals," but for me, good lyrical voices know how to stay on pitch and to blend. The difference is the vocal vibrato.

I think having perfect pitch is bad for these kinds of musicians -- if the group or an instrument goes flat, singers with perfect pitch can't cope.

Good a cappella voices stay on pitch. Emily has one of those voices -- it's honey sweet, strong, and true.

Good group singers keep the group on pitch or [barring that] continue to blend. I have one of those voices [or so I'm told].

Good instrumental singers stay in pitch with their instruments. Emily's choice upstream of Susan Welch is a prime example of that. there are lots of solo musicians these days who fall in this group.

Operatic voices don't do well unless there's an orchestra behind them and are a real annoyance for any of us who try to blend a group. They're the ones that stand out in choral or church choirs. And that is NOT a compliment.

But, mostly What Duck Said above.

Just my humble opinion.

Barb


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: GUEST,emily rain at the U Dub
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 03:38 PM

up to my ears in academics, i came upon the words of John Maguire, a northern irish farmer:

"The way the air can be turned and lowered and ris [sic], that was a very good thing in our young days. they'd tell you about how much a man could turn a song, like raise it and lower, and the way their voices could change a lot. there was some very good singers you know about this country. if you knowed music you'd know he had an air to start with, and if you were fond of music you'll know it. then a man that can use the words and pronounce them right, when he has a good air, he's a good singer."

ca. 1971 _Come Day, Go Day, God Send Sunday_ by John Maguire, published under the name of his collator, Robin Morton


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: GUEST,Bartholomew
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 06:30 PM

A "good voice" is like a "good guitar" - it's no more than an instrument with a certain amount of musical potential. In the hands of a hack, it's more than annoying; in the hands of an artist it can be a joy supreme. But then again, for an artist any voice can be a "good voice". And genius can pull beauty out of the least promising of instruments.

Perhaps what is more critical to being a "good singer" is having a "good ear". Listening is a skill. Knowing which sounds are on pitch, which are pleasant, which are compelling can elicit a positive response even when the vocal range is limited and the tone quality is lacking.

Choosing what to sing is another critical element to being successful as a singer. Figuring out the songs that suit your voice is an often underrated part of the learning process.

Not everyone can sing well. Unfortunately there are people who are tone deaf. But 'most everyone can sing some. As to whether your voice is "good" or not, don't trust your critics or your fans; trust your own voice. Listen your voice with an honest ear. Chances are, if you like what you hear you've taken the most important step. Sing on.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: GUEST,MTed
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 09:06 PM

Emily Rain, maybe someday I will get to meet you, which I would like enormously, because you always seem to contribute something of interest and substance to a discussion--and your taste in music and ideas is rare--

The quote is a jewel, and, in a few lines, tells us about so many things, not just music--


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 02:20 AM

Emily, agreeing with MTed, I would like to underscore this phrase:
"then a man that can use the words and pronounce them right, when he has a good air, he's a good singer."
This brings my attention to the fact that many times we listen to a singer (man or woman) and feel that something is missing, something is unpleasant and we can't guess what is wrong. That's the good air, or the lack of it ! Perhaps digging into that phrase, which is indeed very rich, we may find that "good air" is not only a smooth, firm and clean emission, but also a FLOW of an emotional current, a waterfall of a human being in its entirety. Technique is necessary to find the way, the art is up to you, whatever the voice you have, may it be Joe Cocker's or Andrea Bocelli's.
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 10:23 AM

I think we're running out of steam here, which is too bad, because, at least as far as I can tell, this is a thread about music, and there are several active threads complaining about how there are too few threads on music--

But anyway, Andres has summed it up all nicely--


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 22 Jan 00 - 01:56 PM

This brings up one of my slight frustrations with this format, which is that there should be a permanent ongoing space for discussions about fundamental topics like voice, guitar playing, music theory, whatever. Maybe we need to adopt a thread and refresh it or something. I have been reading this thread with great enjoyment, learning a lot, and my problem is that I don't know what questions to ask to keep the experts like Andres and Alice and others going. I sort of want to just let them talk and be able to overhear, and add in a question or two every once in awhile, so I can learn more and keep you going. Threads like this shouldn't disappear when the immediate topic is exhausted -- I know there is a search engine, but maybe we need to do more of what Alice did -- summarize and link earlier voice threads -- I have no solution, I am just typing out loud here. But it is a fine discussion.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 01:18 AM

Thanks for calling me an expert, Pedro, but I'm only an advanced student (my teacher says I'm advanced, ,because of my age) and of course I love this matter of the singing voice, that's why sometimes I feel that I am posting too much, and unconsciously try to "sum up". This could leave the impression that one wants to leave the discussion, while it's the contrary. Next time I'll end my messages with another question, opening new or old channels for the discussion, and I suggest we all do the same.
Next thing I would like to know is how was the influence of British and Irish academic and popular singing over the development of American folk singing. Do you like it?
Un abrazo - Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 03:12 AM

Well, that is a question for someone's doctoral thesis, Andres!!! Of course current American popular music evolved out of folk music, but the American popular music of 100 years ago was very much rooted in classical music--

Classical composers have always been interested in folk music, and for a period of time, much of the recorded folk music was actually "classical", or composed arrangements of folk songs, performed in a classical style, rather than in ethnic styles--

Folk songs were often collected and published from the early part of the nineteenth century on(including songs from the slave traditions) but played and performed by people who had studied music in the european classical tradition (having a piano in the parlor was popular symbol of affluence in nineteenth century America, and it was the custom for children to study voice and an instrument and to perform for friends and family on sundays--this unfortunate custom is probably responsible for the wide-spread dislike of classical music in America, even today)

Anyway, it was not until the nineteen twenties that record labels began to go out into the countryside to record "real" folk and ethnic artists performing this music as opposed to classically trained performers--and that is how all of this of rock and roll and hillbilly music and blues got started in the first place--

I know about this only superficially, but there are many here in Mudcat who have collected and recordings and sheet music and done various things to document the evolution of both popular music and folk music--

I have a never ending fascination with American Popular music, and it's twisting and peculiar relationships with both classical and folk music, and could talk about this all nite--but I really must go to bed now--Aloha!!

Ted


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: GUEST,Judy Predmore
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 03:32 AM

For people who don't think they can sing well or sing at all, I'd like to share a few of my experiences. I used to hide in my folk song club, singing only on choruses. Then I went to a workshop by Jeff Davis, where he played recordings of screechy 70 & 80 year old Appalachian singers. He spoke so enthusiastically about certain aspects of each of their singing, & marvelled over how unique they all were. I thought he was crazy, but I kept thinking of what he said in the workshop, & I finally realized if there's something wonderfully unique in each of their voices, there must be something wonderfully unique in mine. So I bravely attempted to lead a few songs in my song circles, to varying degrees of "success".

After dozens more workshops on singing, I finally had the courage to take voice lessons. During my first lesson, I kept thinking "this poor woman, what she has to put up with to make a living, listening to people with such pitiful voices". I now know she heard me as a sculptor might look at a piece of clay. She carved away things that were in my way, & she shaped what had been hidden. And most amazing of all, she taught me how to experiment with sounds, so that I'd keep learning on my own. After only 15 or 20 lessonss, in less than a year, I started getting complements on my "new voice."

It took another couple of years before people would actually request me to sing a song they'd heard me sing before, & that kind of stuff. I'm constantly amazed at how my voice keeps improving. I've got a long way to go, but I never in a million years would've believed that I'd be singing in the kinds of situations I'm singing now. I doubt if I'll ever be paid to sing, but the joy of singing, sharing songs, inspiring people who are now where I was just a few years ago - that's the best payment in the world!


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Peter T.
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 11:46 AM

Andres, I think one of the most interesting aspects of American pop/folk music is how it gradually freed itself from the "artificial" structures of classical, opera, etc., into the kind of "conversational music" that is the contemporary norm. It is, of course, artificial in its own way, but we have become so used to it, that it seems to be "natural", and is therefore very hard to describe. The general style, probably deriving from people like Bing Crosby and the arrival of the microphone, is to use the melody line and play over it with variations from the harmony (jazz like), but to do it in such a way that it seems like someone is just playing with the song very freely, not working. The microphone lets you do it without vocal effort, so again, it seems conversational. I suspect there is also some influence from musicals: in many of those forms you have to be able to shift seamlessly from speaking into song, just as you do in a recitative before an aria. That again puts an emphasis on casualness. Behind it all is probably the strange melange of the English gentleman (excellence carried out casually) and the honest Gary Cooper Yankee, with no pretence. It is a very strange style, when you come to think of it.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 02:08 PM

There are so many different styles of vocalization that are used in pop/folk music today that I am afraid I am not sure which style you are talking about--can you give examples, by artist and song?


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Alice
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 02:19 PM

I provided a link to a website on the history of singing at the previous list of links I referred to in this thread. Here is a quote from that history regarding the advent of popular recorded and amplified singing. I've mentioned this in other threads, but it is worth quoting here.
click here

"Until about the 1920s there was no essential difference between 'classical' and 'popular' singing, though a fuller voice and greater technical accomplishment were demanded of opera singers than of those who sang operetta and popular songs.  During and after the 1920s the two styles became separate as popular singers began to use the microphone, for which a technique aimed at projecting the voice was no longer called for.  At the same time, Afro-American blues and vaudeville singers such as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters were making their earliest recordings, which taught white singers to shift pitch and metre over a steady beat.  This oratorical or conversational style of singing, exploiting the contours and cadences of speech, was less concerned than 'classical' singing with vocal display or a sustained melodic line and was particularly suited to the radio and later to public-address systems in ballrooms and auditoriums which emphasized the projection of text rather than tone.  Because it was harder for sound engineers to accommodate a loud, resonant voice than to amplify a soft one, early radio performers had light, mellow, intimate voices (see CROONING).  Later singers like Bing Crosby, Perry Como and Mildred Bailey adapted their bigger voices to Afro-American phrasing and to the microphone by using half voice or head voice in the middle range and by singing, throughout their range, with less intensity of pressure on the vocal cords. " go to the website on the history of singing for the full article.

Although the article mentions that many popular singers do not depend on having vocal training but rather "on style, promotion and association with a popular repertory than on any refinement of the voice", many popular singers (and we are talking about the genre called American Popular music) DO use vocal training to protect their voice in long, successful careers, such as Tony Bennett.

Again, I come back to my statement that the good voice is the one that fits the song being sung. There are alot of singers who will eventually lose their voice by the style they are singing. There are some people who are born with pleasant sounding voices and natural talent that do not require as much guidance as others to stay on pitch or make a good sounding tone. There are some types of music that do have a nasal sound to them, that do have shouting, groaning, sounds that are a part of that particular type of tradition. This should not be in conflict with a person learning to use their voice the best way they can, no matter what type of music they want to sing.

THANK YOU Judy for providing your story on the development of your voice. Judy's testimony should give insight into the value of those who want to sing ANY type of music, including folk music, jazz, blues, and to have the PHYSICAL ability to sing the notes you need, the confidence to stand up in a crowd and sing, and the knowledge to protect your vocal cords from damage so that your voice gets better and better, singing all your life long.

Here is a link to "Singing" and related articles (the one I quoted) by Owen Jander and Henry Pleasants in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.click here

-Alice


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 23 Jan 00 - 11:44 PM

Ha ! I threw out a question and got several conferences ! Who said that this was going non-musical ? Please give me one day to digest this rich information so kindly offered.
Un abrazo - Andrés P.S. Judy, your experience is very similar to mine


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Escamillo
Date: 24 Jan 00 - 11:36 PM

According to what you said, there was a notoriously parallel process in Latin American folk, with some difference (as I can see) in the influence of African and native rythms and singing. It seems that white patrons were somehow more permissive in the South, thus you may find a lot of South American folk music that is directly based on African, or is plain African, like Uruguay's CANDOMBE or Brazilian BATUCADA. These rythms and songs influenced by indian native music, established a base for the most popular, most "country" and less internationally known of our folk. Musicians of the cities, many of them educated in European centers of culture, developed the outstanding traditional music that crossed our borders.

The singing voice then evolved from Spanish music which required educated voices indeed, and this "classical" era lasted much longer than in the North, perhaps for two reasons: 1) the culture of the microphone and the society of the big city took longer to develop in the South, and 2) since the second half of the 19th century there was a strong migratory current from Italy, bringing a popular tradition of "bel canto" to these lands.
Then the most traditional songs of South America are still based in the loud and brilliant (if not educated) voice, as you may appreciate in Mexican songs, Venezuelan joropos (remember Alma Llanera?), Paraguayan guaranias, and even Argentine tango-song. (Tango is a history by itself).
Besides the fact that black population in South America, particularly in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay, was much lower than that in the North, it may be possible that the strict Catholic church in these countries never allowed black people to bring their songs to the church. (It did allow natives to sing in church, as long as they learnt Spanish-origin psalms). Meanwhile in North America, black people were giving origin (or making great contributions )to gospel, spirituals, blues and jazz and fervorously adopting their master's religion and enriching North American music for singing.
But then, are North-NorthAmerican folk songs a separate branch as it refers to the singing voice ? Is the folk singer different from the gospel and blues singer of the South ?
Thanks for an enlightening conversation - Un Abrazo
Andrés


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Frankham
Date: 17 Aug 03 - 05:01 PM

There are elements that define a good voice. Many interesting singers don't have what would be clinically classified by voice teachers as having great voices but they have something. They may or not have 1. Good diction 2. Good vowel sounds 3. Ample breath support
4. Flexible and consistent register 5. Ability to navigate the "passagio" (the place where the chest voice becomes a head voice)
6. Have good dynamics, 7. Intonation 8. Ease in singing, 9. Ability to maintain a "legato" sound, 10. Last but not least, good interpretive skills for the music they sing. 11. Also, a healthy and natural vibrato.

Try to get voice lessons with the best teacher you can particularly if you are a professional singer. It'll keep your voice from dying.

Two good books widely different but instructive are: The Art of Singsing by Richard Miller. The other (controversial) Singing For The Stars by Seth Riggs. They both have some important information.
But there is no substitution of getting good vocal lessons.

Each singer that you like has one of the above characteristics at least. For example, Woody and Pete..... good diction. Burl had a lot of voice training which served him well. Black singers interpret their music often phenomenally. (Mahalia, Louis, Lady Day, Stevie Wonder et.al). Opera performance seems almost diametrically opposed to the intimacy of folk music. Oranges and apples. (Both great when great). Jazz singers have remarkable flexibility in their registers and vocal range. (Ella, Sarah Vaughan). Judy Collins can sing.
John Jacob Niles had one of the weirdest voices ever known and yet when you saw him live and get into his peculiar style, he is arresting (an acquired taste, believe me). Russell Oberlin floats. Dyer-Bennett coordinates thoughtful singing with his guitar accompaniments. Josh White integrates playing and singing so that you sometimes don't know where the voice leaves off and the guitar begins. Lead Belly and the blues shouters can really belt with support......well you can go on and on but every singer that is somewhat successful and received by an audience has something that carries them.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: What's a 'good voice'?
From: Amos
Date: 17 Aug 03 - 07:10 PM

Frank,

I'm delighted you opened up this thread again and added so insightfully to it. What possessed you to resuscitate it after 3 1/2 years? Thanks!


A


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