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Need advice from other Vocalists

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posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 12:34 AM
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Hey folks...

I sing. I'm working with an excellent foundation for a band. With the requisite covers, we're also excitedly working on original pieces.

This being said, is where I am having a problem.

After years of shower and car singing with working on basically parroting the sounds I heard...now....I'm being asked to improvise?

A number of the musicians I am working with are really rather talented. They'll start jamming, things sound awesome...and they're wanting me to just "dive in" and start singing on top of what they're doing. Nowhere near as easy as one might think.

Now, some of you may remember from other posts I've made, I do write. I'm actively working on converting my writing to lyrics. But this is a process that takes time and one where I get a chance to sit and listen, let the notes sink in with my fingers on the keyboard.

But how in the living daylights do you do this on the fly?


I realize this is not a "If you do X you'll get Y as a result" situation with regards to my asking for advice. This being said, any thoughts on how you might have overcome this or similar issues?


Also, making things your own. Any thoughts on doing cover tunes and not having it become a xerox copy of the original from a vocal perspective?


Again, any input or experiences offered up here will be greatly appreciated!




posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 12:54 AM
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Start by making small changes at the end of a verse. You'll figure out what sounds right. Don't go changing to much in one go or it will sound like crap or sound like you're over singing it. Pellek does this sometimes, he'll throw in a high optive simply because he can, but ruins it in the process. Little steps grasshopper.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 12:59 AM
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originally posted by: weirdguy
Start by making small changes at the end of a verse. You'll figure out what sounds right. Don't go changing to much in one go or it will sound like crap or sound like you're over singing it. Pellek does this sometimes, he'll throw in a high optive simply because he can, but ruins it in the process. Little steps grasshopper.



Thanks for the advice



Any thoughts on the creativity aspect of "jamming" and improvising? I just don't see it as easy to blend words with music as it is instruments because with instruments it's a measure of tempo and notes....not as complicated I would think as trying to do this with vocals and lyrics...



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 01:07 AM
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a reply to: nullafides



But how in the living daylights do you do this on the fly?


i'm not a vocalist, but my perspective as an improvising guitarist is that the best way to learn to be spontaneously creative is to do it - it can be difficult just jumping right in with other musicians when you haven't developed the confidence yet - i'd advise practicing improvising over instrumental music on your own - recording yourself doing it and listening back will help you figure out what works for you and what doesn't

when working with other musicians i find it best not to overthink it - there's a natural 'vibe' that you need to tap into and just let it happen - but first you need the confidence to allow it to happen

and the key thing is to listen - listen to the whole thing - be as aware of what everyone else is doing as much as what you're doing (if not more so)

the whole is greater than the parts - the biggest danger is focusing to much on what your doing rather than the thing that's spontaneously emerging around you

when it works it's pretty mind-blowing


edit on 26-2-2015 by aynock because: filled out

edit on 26-2-2015 by aynock because: filled out



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 01:15 AM
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a reply to: nullafides

To me, singing anything over some random jam session is unrealistic. You at least need to know the melody so you, as the vocalist can make it all fit. You'll notice this when you're writing your own songs with the keyboard, it's a different deal for the bass or guitar you are correct. If the tunes that you guys are jamming with don't have names then simply number them for now, record them then write your lyrics at your own pace.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 01:20 AM
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a reply to: aynock



Good food for thought.


Here's another aspect of "diving in" with just coming up with off the cuff lyrics...

None of us working on this want quick and dirty "yeah baby" type lyrics. We are in agreement that lyrics are as important as the voice that sings them and the instruments that act as a framework...

Now, I'm not writing about War & Peace, but the kind of stuff I write is usually the kind of thing that is thought provoking. It would take Dennis Miller to be able to come close to just riffing out intellectual (or anything remotely close) factoids to music...

Now, one could say "well, do this first, THEN go back and use what you did come up with as a foundation to build on from a lyric standpoint".... I get this...but, it's not second nature nor is it very obvious as to how to achieve it.


And, here's a thought...do you think that your thoughts on approach may be a bit biased? And I'm not asking to challenge....just throwing it out there to see what your thoughts are on that bit...



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 01:22 AM
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a reply to: weirdguy

Fair enough. We do have a home based recording studio....but you know how asking musicians to concentrate on one thing correlates to herding cats, right ?



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 01:28 AM
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what you want to do firstly is A.B.W. Always Be Writing (pay attention to your meter and syllables as well as the themes and motifs or message you feel are compelling because that will make totally off the cuff free styling possible and will help make fitting into the groove pocket with band eventually feel like second nature) now the more you write the more you'll start to see individual lines as puzzle pieces that you just have to fit together with the music in some logical manner. So just write really really simple short lines at first like "ABC.. Easy as 1,2,3". The longer you keep at it you'll eventually just start throwing in more and more interesting word play with little to no effort. Now the second thing is you should google vocal scales, warm ups and tutorials if not for anything but for inspiration for creating your own vocal warm up routine. Practicing with a metronome and starting to learn the basics of music theory would definitely help to tune your musical intuition. Essentially you just gotta be in song mode 24/7 and don't be afraid to sound horrible at first just try to keep a flow going because all music boils down to tuning a handful of waves so they fit with one another



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 01:36 AM
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a reply to: nullafides

my approach is based on my experience and also from what i've read by other improvising musicians - in that sense it's biased

my experience with good improvising vocalists is that they often have a good idea of what they want to say - a clear philosophical framework as it were

it's something you need to get a feel for through experience imo

i don't think there are a set of simple rules you can follow and hey presto it works

it's more like a state of mind you and your bandmates need to develop together


edit on 26-2-2015 by aynock because: filled out



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 02:18 AM
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I am classically vocal trained and logged many hours in a recording studio myself personally, besides the fact I was practically raised in recording studios due to family and friends being in the industry.

Personally, I would familiarize yourself with Scat if you aren't already. Screw actual lyrics (during a jam session) for now, do that until you get comfortable just letting what ever comes to your heart flow. If your band members don't like it, well, tough, they are asking of you what very, very few people can pull off.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 02:18 AM
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I'm a lyricist and drummer. Not a singer.
I don't come up with lyrics the first time through. Play with your vocals. Play on the notes and harmonies. Play with the beats.
If you've not studied jazz or improvising with a coach I would recommend it. You can always scat the line until you find the words.

From what I've seen in over 20 years of playing is that the words will come. Get the melody. Find the through line.
edit on 26-2-2015 by randomtangentsrme because: spelling



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 02:21 AM
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originally posted by: nullafides
a reply to: weirdguy

Fair enough. We do have a home based recording studio....but you know how asking musicians to concentrate on one thing correlates to herding cats, right ?


ha ha yep

Any recording device will do mate, just record the jam then write your lyrics through the week so the next session you'll have something prepared. Being a story teller, you will smash it no worries.
edit on 26-2-2015 by weirdguy because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 02:35 AM
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a reply to: nullafides

Sing words to poems or books you know, doesnt have to rhyme. Or, just say esoteric sounding bs that makes people think you're deep! Words dont have to make sense in practice



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 05:42 AM
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www.coursera.org

Go there and take the songwriting course...wont take long. Highly worth it.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 05:49 AM
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as others have said asking you to jam on vocals is a tall order, When a guitarist jam's he's not making it up he is using scales and licks that he knows work and mixing them up, it's the same with a drummer using different fills, he's not just randomly hitting stuff hoping it will sound good.

Instead of writing songs you could try writing down lots of phrases on a certain theme and then "jamming" the lines to try and get the flow and melody working, Record everything you do as you might do something that works and then forget what you did, thats really annoying.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 06:08 AM
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a reply to: nullafides


That was one issue I always had, just jamming.
It's all well and good when you're doing covers or even have stuff you've written down... but when people start playing and say "Just sing whatever man, just come in when you feel it" it can be very intimidating.
I know it sounds funny but even making some noises or humming can help lead you into it... or some "Oh's" or "yeahs" or whatever.

I've always had issues singing in front of people too, it goes beyond stage fright LOL


It's tough man.


edit on 26/2/15 by blupblup because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 10:00 AM
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As a songwriter I advise you to use another method of songwriting. My cycle is: inspiration strikes (1%, the other 99% is transpiration), I'll sit down and play a chord progression while singing gibberish over it. Meanwhile I think about the arrangement and production. What are the bass and guitar doing here? Yes, unless you're trying to make 'jam' music, the band has to follow your sound and vision. Most bands have a primary songwriter. I usually finish a song in under 3 hours, it's my job. The more you'll do it, the easier it will go. Take your time. Writing while practicing won't get you a great song, the harmony should support the melody and it won't magically fall out of the sky while practicing with other musicians. You can't expect others to think exactly the same as you do, so make sure it's finished before rehearsing. Trust me, it'll save you precious time. Write-rehearse-recordAs a songwriter I advise you to use another method of songwriting. My cycle is: inspiration strikes (1%, the other 99% is transpiration), I'll sit down and play a chord progression while singing gibberish over it. Meanwhile I think about the arrangement and production. What are the bass and guitar doing here? Yes, unless you're trying to make 'jam' music, the band has to follow your sound and vision. Most bands have a primary songwriter. I usually finish a song in under 3 hours, it's my job. The more you'll do it, the easier it will go. Take your time. Writing while practicing won't get you a great song, so make sure it's finished before rehearsing. Letting other musicians work out their own part (so its fair) is common with amateur bands, but a waste of time when you've already finished the song. Write-rehearse-record/produce-promote (release/tour)/produce-promote (release/tour)



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 10:24 AM
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originally posted by: nullafides
But how in the living daylights do you do this on the fly?


I'm in the same boat as you. I also sing and I'm an artist, but in neither can I "do it on the fly". I'm very structured and planned. I think people who can "jam" especially with instruments, are simply more talented than I am in that arena. I see people pick up a paint brush and start drawing something they see in their heads and I'm amazed! I can't do it. I have to plan it all out and then I'm a pretty good artist.

Same with music. Some can jam, but not this one.
So, unfortunately, I am no help with this.



Also, making things your own. Any thoughts on doing cover tunes and not having it become a xerox copy of the original from a vocal perspective?


Try slowing the tune down and spend some time with it. Leaving yourself some room to improvise can lead you to find some interesting ways to play with a song. Great advice by weirdguy.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 09:32 PM
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a reply to: nullafides

If you don't know how to make up a tune as you go along, I'm afraid there is no-one who can teach you. You may improve with practice, but if improvisation doesn't come naturally it's best to stick to an arrangement you've already practised.

I would offer instrumentalists the same advice. It's much easier to learn to 'improvise' on an instrument by simply playing scale patterns or chord shapes, but the result is always rubbish. If you can't make up tunes in your head, don't improvise.

This advice brought to you by 44 years of singing and 38 years of playing the guitar.



posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 09:36 PM
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a reply to: Benevolent Heretic

As I always thought: you're Carole King.

Consider yourself rumbled, outed, caught red-handed, in flagrante delicto, got bang to rights.



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