To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=123283
14 messages

Singing question - voice characteristics

31 Aug 09 - 05:55 AM (#2712763)
Subject: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Tangledwood

A social choir that I belong to is predominantly female with only two of us males regularly in the tenor section. The leader and other members say that we both sing in tune but the other always sounds "off" to me. I can usually match a note with the others with no difficulty but not with him. Similarly at the folk club I can make a fair attempt at singing a harmony with most other singers but not, unfortunately, with the woman that I most often sing with although she is in the alto range.

Is there some particular quality in a voice, that make some difficult to follow, or some kind of "blind spot" in good hearing that doesn't show any signs of deafness in any frequency ranges?


31 Aug 09 - 12:13 PM (#2712965)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego

I remember singing with a small group many years ago. The lead tenor had a soaring voice and great confidence in it. My difficulty was that he always sounded about 1/8 tone flat on the high notes - just enough to be like nails on a blackboard to me. It became a sore point with both of us, young and headstrong as we were.

I have heard a number of passages in vocal recordings over the years, some from very admired and respected groups and soloists, which had that same effect on me. To this day, I am not entirely certain whose ear was just so slightly off. I CAN say that when I hear a chord that is spot-on, vocal or instrumental, it is crystal clear to my ear and quite pleasant.


31 Aug 09 - 08:05 PM (#2713344)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: M.Ted

A possible cause of the problem:soloist try to make their voices stand out, and often uses a lot of vibrato, which amounts to moving on and off the pitch, while the ensemble singers concentrate on making their voices blend, which often emphasizes straight tone. Each of these can sound great on it's own, but they don't mix, and it's always the ensemble singer who hears it--


31 Aug 09 - 10:08 PM (#2713382)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Tangledwood

Thank you, I don't think it's the situation with the choir but might be with the folky. I'll watch out for it.


01 Sep 09 - 01:14 AM (#2713459)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: M.Ted

One thing I'd suggest--get a tape or digital recorder and place it where it can pick up both your voices. You'll learn very quickly what the problem is--By the way, if you have an iPod, there are now a number of microphones that you can plug in and record--depending on the microphone, the quality can be really good--


01 Sep 09 - 12:41 PM (#2713783)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Stringsinger

Often pitch is a vocal problem not an ear one. You might be thinking your on it but you
hear it back on the recording later and cringe.

Recording studios today use pitch correctors such as Antares. John McCutcheon calls
Antares the "pitch bitch".

A live concert situation is often different than a recording session. The mic is a microscope.

If you hear some live concerts of certain artists we know and love, you can hear they
are not spot on either.


01 Sep 09 - 12:54 PM (#2713798)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Taconicus

I'm not sure why this should work, but one fellow in our chorus, who often sang flat, was instructed by our musical director to raise his eyebrows while singing. It worked!


01 Sep 09 - 01:30 PM (#2713832)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Don Firth

My first voice teacher had me smile, or at least lift my upper lip off my front teeth, which also had the side-effect of lifting my cheeks. I noticed that a lot of singers do this, especially classical or opera singers. It turned out that it raises the soft palate, allowing an increase in nasal resonance. Makes the tone "warmer," among other things--like allowing you to fine-tune the pitch.

Don Firth


01 Sep 09 - 03:39 PM (#2713942)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: GUEST,pattyClink

Tremendous number of singer sing slightly flat, often if their breath support is poor or vocal resonance is poor.   Also I have found those trained to sing with a piano can come off slightly flat, whereas those trained on guitar come off on pitch or even slightly sharp. Difference between being used to a tempered-pitch instrument or a non-tempered.
Certain vocal combinations just 'don't work', and we really haven't much control over it.


01 Sep 09 - 03:59 PM (#2713957)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Songbob

"Difference between being used to a tempered-pitch instrument or a non-tempered."

I'm confused. I though both guitars and pianos were well-tempered. That's what frets are for, after all (except those oddball experiments in fretting you see sometimes, one of which, the Buzz Feiten System, is used by some instrument makers). Even those other fretting system are for the purpose of spreading the error across the octave, making it possible to play in different keys without going sour in some.

Or is that not true? I know piano tuners tweak notes, but (given the Buzz Feiten System and other fretting schemes) so do guitar makers. Fiddle players can fudge a note, putting a finger-tip slightly sharp or flat of its position in a different key, I know, but the fiddle is hardly a tempered instrument, is it?

So what am I missing?

Bob


01 Sep 09 - 04:23 PM (#2713979)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Don Firth

Yes, the frets of a guitar are set for even temperment. Considering the fact that you can find the same note a number of different places on the fingerboard, if it were not that way, not all of these notes would be in tune with each other. No matter how you tried to tune it, it would be one sour sounding instrument!

Don Firth


01 Sep 09 - 06:42 PM (#2714090)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Tangledwood

Often pitch is a vocal problem not an ear one. You might be thinking your on it but you hear it back on the recording later and cringe.

Certainly, there is always the element of doubt there. Trouble is I cringe at my speaking voice, let alone the singing one.
What has me confused though is that the choir leader says that we're both on pitch. I will try some recording again, haven't done it for a while. Thanks for the ipod suggestion M.Ted but I have a zoom H2 which will do the job.


01 Sep 09 - 10:32 PM (#2714225)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: Ron Davies

M Ted has it right. If people want to blend or sing harmony, #1 goal has to be straight tone. Vibrato makes it dramatically more difficult to blend. Very rarely does any choral conductor actually ask for vibrato. Our choral group is officially off for the summer but I was recently in a little subset of the large group, providing the chorus for a performance of "La Boheme". Our conductor said he wanted a rich tone--including vibrato.   But he hastened to add that he recognized this was a dangerous request--since in virtually all other circumstances he wanted no vibrato.

Garrison Keillor had a skit in which various composers had the position of choir director/organist at a little church.   Gershwin was a failure since when they passed the collection plate, they tended to get responses like "I'll have a Manhattan".   Messaien was also one of the composers who didn't last. Reason:   he "believed in chance elements in music and we already had that with the older sopranos".


02 Sep 09 - 12:20 AM (#2714282)
Subject: RE: Singing question - voice characteristics
From: M.Ted

Tangledwood-I've got my trusty little Edirol, which I recommend, and which seems to be comparable to the Zoom, though is smaller. I find that the small size allows me to carry it even when I don't plan on using it, which keeps me from wishing I'd brought it along.

I hope you find a way to work this issue out, social choirs and choruses are a waning tradition, and, to my mind, joining ones friends and neighbors in song is only slightly less important to human survival than potable water and green space.