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Old 03-27-2014, 12:08 PM
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Default Singing

I've been told a lot that I have a good singing voice, but I've also picked up a lot of really bad habits. So, what are some ideas for singing well? What kinds of things should you not do while singing? I try every so often to Google different things about singing, but I never really get much of anywhere.

The main thing I've been struggling with is switching keys while singing. I figured out at some point that if I can't hit a note, I can just switch to another key to hit it, and it's really difficult to unlearn that since I realized that you shouldn't. I think you're supposed to avoid this by specifically using head voice or chest voice, but all the information I find on doing that is just "if you're singing in chest voice, you'll feel the vibrations in your chest!" and I have no clue what vibrations are supposed to feel like. So, instead of that I try to guess what my chest voice sounds like (easier and sounds deeper and less strained) and try to visualize where my voice should be coming from. Also we used to have some really echo-y rooms before we moved and that really helped to see when I went off key since I could tell when my voice "matched" the echo (like the same way you can "match" your humming to, say, a washing machine), but now we don't so it's harder. I can't seem to tell in recordings.

I also get out of breath and strain my voice really easily, so I'm always looking for ways to not do that. So far I've read: sit/stand up straight, relax, don't hold your shoulders up, don't curl your tongue back or hold it on the bottom of your mouth (try doing it while humming vs not doing it, it seems easier to hum that way), and open your mouth wider on longer notes.

Also supposedly cold water tightens your vocal cords which is good for high notes but otherwise bad, and warm water's the opposite. And drinking milk at night is supposed to make your voice deeper when you wake up.

And also I've been told that your singing voice is better when you first wake up, but usually my voice sounds terrible for singing in the morning and better later in the day.

Anyway, so, how are other people at singing? What do you try doing to improve?
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:26 PM
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Default Re: Singing

I'm bad at singing, and I use it to torment my friends constantly. I just discovered this year that I can't sing high notes. What do you mean by vocal keys? I've never heard of those. I imagine those are like piano keys?
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:52 PM
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Default Re: Singing

I sing a lot, and I'm told I'm pretty good at it! /blushes

Apparently, my voice is pretty deep (although I'm pretty sure that isn't true, I'm almost positive I sound like Craig from Parks and Recreation), which is probably bad, because naturally I sing in a higher key. I can hit a lot of high notes; I can't, however, hit the last note in "Take On Me" by A-Ha on a regular basis-- only after drinking something cold!

I sing in the shower a lot. >_< I do the same thing as Hiikaru at certain times, with the switching keys; not particularly because I can't hit a note, but because it sounds strangled and weird sometimes when I try it in the key it belongs in. It really is hard to unlearn!

I've found that with singing, the best thing to do is experiment. I joke around about singing a lot, which resulted in me... now being able to sing opera to an extent, which I think is bad.

My influences are basically Nate Ruess and Freddie Mercury (I quite like Alex Turner, too), although at their best, they're so very vocally different that I end up sounding kind of... weird. Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually ripping them off or making some kind of strange creation containing both of their voices, I just take some of their mannerisms and use them. The thing is, though, that Nate Ruess' voice is really subtle, even when he's singing upbeat songs, when Freddie's is out there and right in your face; I think it's interesting to combine the two, but it's a bit difficult sometimes.

And that probably made no sense because I don't know very much terminology. But it made sense to me! So.
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:53 PM
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Default Re: Singing

Quote:
Originally Posted by I liek Squirtles View Post
I'm bad at singing, and I use it to torment my friends constantly. I just discovered this year that I can't sing high notes. What do you mean by vocal keys? I've never heard of those. I imagine those are like piano keys?
Oh, here is an explanation of keys in singing (bolding mine):

Quote:
Originally Posted by Google Answers
If you sing the first few notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star --
"Twinkle, twinkle, little star"... then, sing the exact same melody,
but start on a different note -- you just changed "keys." Pick a
different starting note, and you change keys again.
Notice, the song
itself -- the relative relationship of one note to another -- didn't
change. Just the "key" (also called key signature) the song is sung
in. All the notes are being "shifted" or "transposed" to another key
{see (1)}. You will notice if you start the song higher, you have to
reach that much higher for some of the notes in the melody. This is
what is meant by whether or not the key is in your "vocal range" or a
"comfortable key for your singing." To accommodate your range, the
entire song would have to be performed in a key in which you're
physically able to sing all of the notes.
And an example from here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lessons Of Piano Transposing For Beginners
For example, the song is written in the key of C. I am going to write out the notes for you to show you how easy it is to transpose music.

Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.
C C, G G A A G, F F E E D D C.

[...]

To transpose this song into the key of D, all you would do is play it in the next key up. So instead of the song starting in C, it would start in D.

Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.
D D, A A B B A, G G F# F# E E D.
Those two samples sound like the same song but the names of the notes are different.

So if I'm singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I start out by doing "CC GG" but then I can't hit A so I switch keys and keep going with "BB A..." instead of "AA G" then I just switched keys. It sounds bad if you're not supposed to do it.

Or, like, try singing some high notes. Notice how if you go too high, your voice gets all squeaky or something and you can't really do it? So, you might change to a deeper voice instead to hit that note. If you'd been singing deep all along, the deep note would be fine, but you weren't, so it sounds like you're singing "off-key". To avoid this, you're supposed to figure out what notes you can't hit and then sing lower or higher the entire time.

So not piano keys (since those are just buttons you press to make notes), but good guess!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Edit: @Mohac Hey I refreshed before posting and you still snuck a post in!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Majora View Post
Apparently, my voice is pretty deep (although I'm pretty sure that isn't true, I'm almost positive I sound like Craig from Parks and Recreation), which is probably bad, because naturally I sing in a higher key. I can hit a lot of high notes; I can't, however, hit the last note in "Take On Me" by A-Ha on a regular basis-- only after drinking something cold!
Maybe you sound like that guy but not all the time? My voice is significantly higher or lower depending on who I'm talking to, how I feel, how long I've been awake, what voices I've been listening to... Also if your impression of your voice is just from how it sounds to you, then that's going to be a lot different than how it sounds to others!

With "Take On Me" do you ever try singing it in a different key to see if you can get the last note then? Although, then you might run into other notes that you can't hit instead. Sometimes it also sounds okay to just change that part of the song, but then that's weird to people who are familiar with it.

Quote:
I sing in the shower a lot. >_< I do the same thing as Hiikaru at certain times, with the switching keys; not particularly because I can't hit a note, but because it sounds strangled and weird sometimes when I try it in the key it belongs in. It really is hard to unlearn!
I consider strangled weird notes to be notes I can't hit! Hitting a note means hitting it properly. Though I guess you could distinguish between notes that you can do really badly and notes where you can't make a sound.

Quote:
I've found that with singing, the best thing to do is experiment. I joke around about singing a lot, which resulted in me... now being able to sing opera to an extent, which I think is bad.
Experimenting is hard if you're not sure what options you even have! Like, I never thought that I could try holding my tongue differently until I randomly read that somewhere.

Also wait, why is singing opera bad? It's super-useful for improv operas about cleaning or shirt sleeves.

Quote:
And that probably made no sense because I don't know very much terminology. But it made sense to me! So.
It makes sense to me, too! Anyway if you use technical music terminology then you can end up alienating other people so it's tricky either way.

I mainly try to sound like whoever did the song I'm singing! Or else just sing in my natural voice, although I like trying to copy different sounds. I wish I could sing in every voice.
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Last edited by Hiikaru; 03-28-2014 at 04:11 AM. Reason: #1 post ninjas, #2 typo.
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  #5  
Old 03-27-2014, 07:50 PM
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Default Re: Singing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiikaru View Post
Edit: @Mohac Hey I refreshed before posting and you still snuck a post in!

Maybe you sound like that guy but not all the time? My voice is significantly higher or lower depending on who I'm talking to, how I feel, how long I've been awake, what voices I've been listening to... Also if your impression of your voice is just from how it sounds to you, then that's going to be a lot different than how it sounds to others!
Definitely possible! I rarely hear my voice, but I sounded really weird when I played back one of my Snapchats, so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiikaru View Post
With "Take On Me" do you ever try singing it in a different key to see if you can get the last note then? Although, then you might run into other notes that you can't hit instead. Sometimes it also sounds okay to just change that part of the song, but then that's weird to people who are familiar with it.
Well, I probably could in a different key. I just can't hit it in the proper key because it's super high! But I know what you mean, yeah.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiikaru View Post
I consider strangled weird notes to be notes I can't hit! Hitting a note means hitting it properly. Though I guess you could distinguish between notes that you can do really badly and notes where you can't make a sound.
Well, I can hit it, but... My throat gets all constricted and it ends up kind of weird if I'm singing loudly! I'm not quite sure how else to explain it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiikaru View Post
Experimenting is hard if you're not sure what options you even have! Like, I never thought that I could try holding my tongue differently until I randomly read that somewhere.
You're right! But I actually happen to come across different things I can do with my voice pretty often, by chance. I actually do a lot of voice imitations, so that might count for something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiikaru View Post
Also wait, why is singing opera bad? It's super-useful for improv operas about cleaning or shirt sleeves.
I... have no idea what that means specifically, but I do use it for stuff similar to that, haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiikaru View Post
I mainly try to sound like whoever did the song I'm singing! Or else just sing in my natural voice, although I like trying to copy different sounds. I wish I could sing in every voice.
Right! That's the trouble with having an original voice; it's really hard sometimes, because you end up sounding like the person who actually sang it! I try to avoid doing that after I've learned the song, because I end up imitating their voice and not using my own, but that's just me.
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Last edited by Nira; 03-27-2014 at 07:59 PM. Reason: Forgot a bracket.
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Old 03-27-2014, 08:10 PM
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Default Re: Singing

I really like singing! :D I've been told that I'm a pretty good singer but I'm not too confident, though I'm getting better with that.

I... am not really sure if I have a good technique. I mean in my comfortable range my voice is deep and loud and I think I'm using mainly my diaphragm, which is supposed to be good? (btw deep to the point that among my friends, most of which are guys, I have like the second lowest singing voice. And no I'm not forcing it, it's very comfortable) A big problem I think I have, though, is that I suck outside of my comfortable range. As in I slip into my head voice too easily, my voice cracks or gets strained, and if I try to sing too much outside of that range my throat starts to feel kinda swollen? Yeah.

When I'm home alone I like to sing a lot! I always have music playing when I'm on my computer and I tend to sing along to whatever song's playing. Sometimes I like to talk a walk around the house while singing really really loudly and my birds freak out because I'm too loud haha.
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Old 03-27-2014, 09:53 PM
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Default Re: Singing

Kiru: In our sightsinging class, the way to avoid starting a song in a key which will eventually get out of our range is to find the highest and lowest notes in the song, and then try to sing the tonic (the "base" note; in your first Twinkle Twinkle example it'd be C) and then move up or down from there toward the high and low notes, and if you can't hit or have trouble hitting one of the notes, then you adjust your tonic accordingly and then sing.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:09 PM
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Default Re: Singing

I've been singing for a while in choir and other things like that, and I really like it. (plus i've been told that i'm good, though I'm less inclined to believe that as much.) I have a wide-ish range, I think - lowest I can hit is around a low d/c#, and the highest changes by the day (I think I have a little less than three octaves, but only around two and a half that I can hit comfortably, because my higher range tends to be really shrill.)

My technique is... um... do I have a technique? I'm not really sure. My higher range tends to be really shrill and to me, at least, it sounds sorta childish, but others have told me it sounds good, so. When I sing, my tongue tends to touch the back of my bottom teeth, and my lips tend to leave my top or bottom teeth uncovered, depending on the note. I'm... really not quite sure why, but that seems to help me sound better for some reason. I can also transition from chest to head voice pretty well, and I like to think I have a good sense of pitch. My biggest problem tends to be breathing, a I tend to run out pretty quick. My voice also gets fatigued fairly quickly as well.

One thing Majora said that I can absolutely confirm is that practice and experimentation is the best thing you can do to get better at singing. Every person is different, and there'll always be things you can't hit, but you really never know exactly what you can't hit until you try. I sing all the time (it's a problem, really) but I think by listening to some higher singers (muse was a big influence there) and attempting to at least match them in pitch has actually helped to improve my range. My taste in music is definitely shaped by some of my favorite artists, but I don't really think I've adopted many mannerisms or anything. I just sorta adapt to something close to the artist i'm singing, or a lot of vibrato by default.

So, as for some of the things that Hiikaru was asking about - for changing keys, I really don't think I've found problems with it, but a lot of my singing comes from memory, so that could explain that. For transitioning keys, the best thing I could think of would be to familiarize yourself with what each key sounds like. Listen to a couple of songs that are in that key (you can find what key a song is in by searching for its sheet music) or just try and memorize key changes in a song you like and see if you can experiment a bit with it. Although, the difference between 'head voice' and 'chest voice' is usually just an octave higher or lower, depending. It's really hard to describe exactly what they are, but chest voice is normally what you can sing comfortably, and head voice tends to be your falsetto.

And as far as the water/milk thing - I don't know about water and changing pitches (I've always found that it just helps refresh my voice if it's strained) and the milk thing sorta makes sense, but I wouldn't drink milk anytime before you want to sing. In my experience it messes up everything when you sing because of mucus build-up.
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Last edited by RespectTheBlade; 03-27-2014 at 10:59 PM. Reason: lim typo -> 0 D.N.E.
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Old 03-27-2014, 10:42 PM
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Default Re: Singing

Never have dairy products before you sing. It coats your vocal folds.

I sang in choir for many years, but I was always very bad at sightsinging and have a very poor range. I'm a pretty sold alto, but I can barely get into mezzo-soprano range some times.

Singing technique depends partly on the style of singing used. You sing differently for a choir piece than you would for a Broadway or rock one. Generally, you want to breathe from your diaphragm. This means that when you breathe in, your stomach, not your chest, should expand. In addition, cut off notes with a quiet and quick inhale. It shouldn't be audible, you just want a clean cut.
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Old 03-28-2014, 05:48 AM
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Default Re: Singing

Man, looking at all that stuff, brings back memories. I was in the a cappella group back in high school, it was huge, like eighty people.

Aside from what's mentioned here, old trick, you forget your place or a word, mouth the word 'watermelon'. You'll end up synching up and looking like you know what you're doing.
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Old 03-29-2014, 11:32 AM
Ether's Bane Ether's Bane is offline
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Default Re: Singing

No idea what my technique is, but I tested out my range once.

I can do A2 to E5, and with falsetto, I can climb to G5, but my comfortable range is only C3 to B4.

Incidentally, I have the exact same non-falsetto range as Meat Loaf.

I'm not really a singer, though - these days, I'm mostly a guitarist (admittedly, I've only been learning guitar for a little under a year and a half, but whatever).
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