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What's a 'good voice'?

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Amos 17 Aug 03 - 07:10 PM
Frankham 17 Aug 03 - 05:01 PM
Escamillo 24 Jan 00 - 11:36 PM
Escamillo 23 Jan 00 - 11:44 PM
Alice 23 Jan 00 - 02:19 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Jan 00 - 02:08 PM
Peter T. 23 Jan 00 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Judy Predmore 23 Jan 00 - 03:32 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 23 Jan 00 - 03:12 AM
Escamillo 23 Jan 00 - 01:18 AM
Peter T. 22 Jan 00 - 01:56 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 22 Jan 00 - 10:23 AM
Escamillo 22 Jan 00 - 02:20 AM
GUEST,MTed 21 Jan 00 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,Bartholomew 21 Jan 00 - 06:30 PM
GUEST,emily rain at the U Dub 21 Jan 00 - 03:38 PM
BDenz 21 Jan 00 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,The Duck of the Irish 21 Jan 00 - 03:15 PM
Escamillo 20 Jan 00 - 04:30 AM
Escamillo 20 Jan 00 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,MTed 20 Jan 00 - 01:42 AM
Willie-O 19 Jan 00 - 11:43 PM
Escamillo 19 Jan 00 - 09:54 PM
Uncle_DaveO 19 Jan 00 - 07:50 PM
MTed 19 Jan 00 - 02:26 AM
Little Neophyte 18 Jan 00 - 11:00 PM
Alice 18 Jan 00 - 10:53 PM
Little Neophyte 18 Jan 00 - 10:32 PM
Alice 18 Jan 00 - 09:58 PM
Little Neophyte 18 Jan 00 - 07:59 PM
Escamillo 18 Jan 00 - 07:22 PM
Roger in Baltimore 18 Jan 00 - 09:33 AM
Auxiris 18 Jan 00 - 09:24 AM
Sourdough 18 Jan 00 - 04:13 AM
ddw 18 Jan 00 - 01:07 AM
Escamillo 18 Jan 00 - 12:34 AM
lamarca 17 Jan 00 - 11:54 PM
Áine 17 Jan 00 - 04:40 PM
Bill D 17 Jan 00 - 04:31 PM
Allan C. 17 Jan 00 - 03:35 PM
Áine 17 Jan 00 - 01:58 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Jan 00 - 01:50 PM
Alice 17 Jan 00 - 10:37 AM
Barry Finn 17 Jan 00 - 03:07 AM
Escamillo 17 Jan 00 - 01:13 AM
Kristi H 17 Jan 00 - 01:02 AM
sophocleese 16 Jan 00 - 10:23 PM
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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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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Little Neophyte
Date: 18 Jan 00 - 11:00 PM

Thanks Alice!


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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 - 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 - 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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