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#2186245 - 11/21/13 10:42 AM What to do When Your Voice is Too Low?
aTallGuyNH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 468
I have an ongoing struggle with the fact that my vocal range (roughly from G3 to D5) is much lower than the typical pop song, not to mention being pretty narrow.

I'm working on Phil Collins' "Against All Odds" (sheet here), which is in Db and has a range from Gb4 to Bb5.

I could drop the whole thing (meaning including the piano) down by an octave, but it sounds terribly muddy. If I drop down just my vocal, I have two issues: one is that the vocal gets lost in the middle of the piano, and the other is that I really can't hold a tune -- I need to sing along with the melody being played.

I noticed that in the 1st few chords simply singing the top note of the chords (which are a 4th below the sung melody) sounds pretty good. From there, there are some chords where this doesn't work, but they can be inverted to fix that.

So, here's my question, before I invest a lot of time figuring this out (I'm a beginner, I can't just rip through doing a bunch of inversions on the fly, and my music theory knowledge is fairly basic):

1) Is this just dumb luck that it appears to work for the 1st few chords? There are a lot of sus & add4's in the song in general, so it does make sense for those chords in particular.

2) Is there a general principal here that I can leverage. Basically, what I'm trying to do is keep the chords "the same" (of course inversions are OK) and move the melody lower, while maintaining the overall character/feel of the song.

3) Any other advice on this "my voice is too low" conundrum in general?

Even if the above works, at Db the top notes will still be above my range... so I'd probably drop it down to B in order to get a bit closer. I believe that is the original recording key as well.
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2186286 - 11/21/13 12:00 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
Farmerjones Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 179
Loc: USA
I went to chordie.com and selected Against All Odds.
Over on the left is a transpose tool. Mind you, it's just guitar chords and lyrics. This may be all you need.

Indeed, one's range is what it is. Jump to the lower harmony note or phrase in a logical fashion is what I try to do. Best of Luck


Edited by Farmerjones (11/21/13 12:01 PM)

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#2186332 - 11/21/13 01:11 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
aTallGuyNH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 468
Thanks... that's the thing though: I know I can (and how to) transpose down, but I don't like the way that sounds. And singing the harmony of each chord would leave me without a melody (unless it's consistently a certain number of steps below the melody).

So I'm trying to figure out how to have my cake and eat it too. smile
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2186354 - 11/21/13 01:39 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1039
Loc: uk south
That high Bb is pretty much at the top of his range. You'd need to be at the top of yours to give the chorus enough power. That would put you in the key of E or F max - but an octave lower. Have you tried singing the chorus in that key? Best to tackle that first for feasibility.


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#2186406 - 11/21/13 03:13 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: dire tonic]
aTallGuyNH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/22/12
Posts: 468
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
That high Bb is pretty much at the top of his range. You'd need to be at the top of yours to give the chorus enough power. That would put you in the key of E or F max - but an octave lower. Have you tried singing the chorus in that key? Best to tackle that first for feasibility.

Good point...

One point though, the top note is a 6th above the key, which I'm noting as much for my own benefit as anything (I keep getting confused re: how to determine that note in any given key).

I just checked, and yes, it's feasible. I'm sick at the moment so it sounds pretty rough, but when healthy I can hit the neighborhood of D5 & E5 with enough of a stretch to make it sound interesting, but without it sounding awful -- to the degree I can sing at all, but that's another story. smile

Using my wacky idea of having the melody a 4th below the melody as written (without dropping the key for the piano as well), transposing down a whole step from Db to B would put the top note at D#.

Not using my wacky idea, then I'd need to transpose all the way down to F# in order to have D# as the top note. That low I think it is just too muddy (I mean the piano, my voice would be the same in either of these two scenarios).
_________________________
"...when you do practice properly, it seems to take no time at all. Just do it right five times or so, and then stop." -- JimF

Working on: my aversion to practicing in front of my wife

1978 Vose & Sons spinet "Rufus"
1914 Huntington upright "Mabel"

XXIX-XXXII

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#2186620 - 11/21/13 11:29 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 507
Loc: Louisiana
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Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2186633 - 11/22/13 12:00 AM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5277
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
How Great Thou Art was my mother's favorite hymn. Wetherington uses his "morning voice" doesn't he laugh You know, the one you have when you first get up.

These are great examples of how the piano can be higher than the voice -

Cathy
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#2186712 - 11/22/13 04:07 AM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
dire tonic Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/17/11
Posts: 1039
Loc: uk south
(On a lighter note, one possible remedy for a voice too low would be to inhale from a bag of helium immediately prior to each public performance. That should give you a half-octave edge, while bringing tears to the eyes of your audience.)

I was thinking of the Righteous Brothers (Lost that Lovin' Feeling) who were definitely in the low vocal range but were still able to vent the frustration and regret of lost love. It's probably more about putting in a 'performance' than relying on a high key. Also, Phil Spector's productions were always muddy. So lots of low LH octaves (try very low) while inverting the RH chords for your key in order to keep them hovering round the middle C range should do the trick.

This is where a digital piano scores for vocalists, being able to quickly audition keys and/or harmony by simply using the transpose button. OTOH, when you talk about investing a lot of time, I do think it's time well spent when the end result will be increased familiarity with transpositions and getting used to the shape of chords on the piano. Every little helps.

Quote:
the top note is a 6th above the key, which I'm noting as much for my own benefit as anything (I keep getting confused re: how to determine that note in any given key).

No magic formula, just practise based on familiarity with the scale. Visualise the scale or look directly at the keyboard, see the 6th and name it. After a while A = the 6th of C becomes second nature and the visualising falls away as an unnecessary intermediate step. That'll happen in no time if you've been hopping between two or three alternative keys and you're memorising specifically the 6th.

I'm not convinced that using a harmony instead of the original melody is going to work for an audience. As you're singing you might well be 'hearing' or 'filling in' the main melodic line in your mind's ear but I don't think the listener will get it.

Best to wait until you're well before trying anything serious.

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#2186736 - 11/22/13 07:08 AM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: jotur]
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 507
Loc: Louisiana
Originally Posted By: jotur
How Great Thou Art was my mother's favorite hymn. Wetherington uses his "morning voice" doesn't he laugh You know, the one you have when you first get up.

These are great examples of how the piano can be higher than the voice -

Cathy


It's one of my favorites too ... yep, those gospel singers must record even earlier than I get up in the am.

I'd tried to find a Trace Adkins tape with a piano only but didn't have much luck.
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2186738 - 11/22/13 07:11 AM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: Rerun]
Rerun Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 507
Loc: Louisiana
Quote:
.... inhale from a bag of helium immediately prior to each public performance.


Heh, heh, heh ... good one! grin
_________________________
Rerun

"Seat of the pants piano player" DMD







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#2191543 - 12/02/13 05:50 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
lolatu Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/01/13
Posts: 222
Loc: UK
1) It may sound OK to you, but it's not the "right" notes, as composed. It's something else.

2) No - singing at a 4th below will just sound out of key, because it literally is!

3) Don't worry, you're not alone. Bb4 is near the top of the tenor range, and since most men are in the baritone range, they won't be able to reach that high. Phil Collins has a pretty high voice.

BTW I think your voice really goes to D4, not D5. Although it's written in the treble cleff, a male voice would sing the melody an octave lower, so what's written as Bb5 is sung by Phil as Bb4.

I have the same problem since I'm a bass, and a lot of songs are in the tenor range. Maybe because it cuts through the piano better.

I guess the conventional answer would be to find a different song to sing, or get someone else to do the singing.

Another thing you could do is to sing falsetto if there's the odd note you need to hit. This is what I'd do for this song, as I can just about reach a G and can get to most of the notes save a few. It's a challenge to blend it in with the rest of the singing and to add enough grit, and it'd sound silly if you were doing this for most of the song, but it can work for the odd note.

Otherwise, you'll have to change the key. This is a really good exercise. You could transpose down a 4th if you want to keep most of the black notes, or 6 semitones like white notes. You can change the chord voicings around if you want as well, if it sounds muddy. Maybe start by writing down the chords in universal key.

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#2191852 - 12/03/13 11:25 AM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: dire tonic]
de cajon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/13
Posts: 163
Loc: London, UK
Originally Posted By: dire tonic
... inhale from a bag of helium immediately prior to each public performance...

At long last this news item might now be explained. Perhaps they were frustrated Art Garfunkel tribute artists.
_________________________
Yamaha C3X SH

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#2196228 - 12/11/13 06:33 PM Re: What to do When Your Voice is Too Low? [Re: aTallGuyNH]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Just play it in the key that works for your range
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"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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