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By admin

How To Sing With More Swag

 

Have you ever struggled singing faster paced songs in tempo and with attitude?

If you’ve always found yourself singing groovier songs only to sound anything but groovy, you’re not alone.

While many singers may have successfully increased their vocal ranges wide enough to give them the vocal flexibility to take on any (or most) songs, many still struggle to sing songs with swag convincingly. Why? Because singing with swag boils down to adding “feels” to a song through variations of phrasing, dynamics, punctuation, tempo, improvisations & etc.

As you can see, it’ll take more than 5 minutes to cover all of these. Which is why, today we’ll only focus on singing with swag from the aspect of punctuation 😉

Let’s use Gnarl’s Barkley’s “Crazy” as an example.

Check out the first way I sang it in the video – that is an example of singing without swag. Singing like that not only kills the song (in a bad way), but it also lacks character and does not inspire confidence in a singer because it’s so easy to run out of tempo at any time.

The Key: Punctuation

To give the song the groove it deserves, and to add attitude to the singing and making sure that you stay in tempo, there is one thing we can work on for a start. Yup, you guessed it – punctuation.

Determine The Parts You Wanna ‘Punch’

To add punctuation to a song simply means to give certain parts a little more of punch (accent/emphasis). The punch can be delivered with an increase of volume and attack. Most groovy/funky/fast-paced songs have punctuations and when we pay attention to where these punctuations are added and follow them, you’ll find that it’ll be far easier to keep in tempo and give the song the groovy feel it deserves.

Clap or ‘Da’ The ‘Punches’

Once you determine the parts that should have more ‘punch’, it’s time to clap out the feel of these punches. Alternatively, you can scat it out with “da” for now. Watch the video to get a better idea on how to do this. If you’re not familiar with the song I used as an example, it’s best you have a listen to the original first. Click here to listen to the original.

By clapping out or “da-ing” the feel of these punches, we get ourselves use to not only the rhythm of the song, but also the accents we’re gonna add to certain parts of the song as we sing it. When we do get use to feeling the song in this way, musically, it would translate quite naturally as we deliver it in lyrical form.

You’ll notice that punctuation is not only used in faster parts of the song, but even in the slower (or more “stretched-out”) parts of the song, like the chorus. By adding the punches, we can even do the vocal riffs better, as not all notes in a vocal riff is sung with equal emphasis. Some are punched with a little more volume, attack and hold, before we trickle to the other parts of the vocal riff. For example, the second time we sing “Cray zeh eh eh eh eh…”. The parts in bold are punched and sustained more than the rest of the word.

This will take some practice, but in time, as we add more punctuation into the singing, it’ll definitely help you sing with more swag, keep in tempo no matter how complicated the groove of a song may be, and even help you scat better in future.

We’ll talk about other ways to add swag into singing another day 😉

 

By admin

How To Sing Vocal Harmonies

 

This week’s vocal tip is gonna come in handy the next time someone starts the “Happy Birthday” song in a key you don’t fancy but you’d still like to sing along “fashionably” – vocal harmonies.

If you’ve always wondered how people like Alladin & Jasmine sing duets in such harmonies or how group artistes like Boyz2Men sing magically in perfect harmony, this video’s gonna help you get started down that very same path!

Of course, there’s much more to mastering vocal harmonies, but this would be a great place to start.

Let’s do this!

Step 1: Identifying Vocal Harmonies

In singing vocal harmonies, it’s important to first identify what notes would make the harmonies to the melody of a song. If this already sounds incredibly daunting to you, not to worry, it really isn’t all that terrifying 😉

The notes that would normally be the harmonies are the thirds and/or fifths. Although in some songs, depending on what type of mood we’re trying to achieve, the harmonies might be sung in the fourth, sixth or seventh.

The third means the third tone counting from the current tone played or sung. So for example, if the note sung is C, the third would be the E. If the song’s in a major chord, we’d normally be harmonising the note in E, where as if the song’s in a minor chord, we’d be singing it the Eb instead. If musical terms are completely alien to you, a major chord is a chord that generally sounds happier, while the minor sounds sadder. Of course, there are many other chords. In any case, any understanding of the basics of chords would help in harmonising.

Why?

Because chords are usually played by playing the root (the first note), the third and the fifth. So for example, a C chord would be played with C-E-G. And singing harmonies along to the lead vocals are pretty much like adding ‘chords’ along to the original melody, because we sing the thirds and the fifths of the melody.

Watch the video to see how you can figure out the vocal harmonies of song by memorising the arpeggio scale I demonstrated. You can apply the scale to any note and find the third and fifth of any note sung to you, just like that!

So to identify the vocal harmonies, you really have to identify the vocal melodies first (the original melody of the song). And then figure out what notes to sing using the arpeggio scale to help you find the third or the fifths.

Step 2: Focus On Singing The Harmony (Not The Melody)

Once you figure out the series of notes you have to sing in singing in harmony, the next thing to do is to be able to hear the melody (the original melody of the song), but sing the harmony.

This will take quite a bit of concentration, and to a certain extent, selective hearing, if you’re performing with a group of singers who are singing more than one vocal harmony part.

Single out the notes that make your vocal harmony part, play it on the piano a couple of times (if you play the piano), if not sing it out a couple of times to memorise the melodic pattern of your part. In a way, this will feel like you’re singing a different song of which will somehow blend in nicely with the original song.

Step 3: Practice With A Song & Someone

Once you figured out the vocal harmony and memorised it, it time to sing it along with the song or with someone who’ll sing the lead melody of the song.

At the first few attempts, you might find yourself easily distracted and wanting to follow the singer in the song or the lead singer’s part, but it just takes practice. Singing out of tune as a result of this is perfectly normal – you don’t have to kill yourself over this.

Start with a simple song, such as “Happy Birthday”, which is a song you can sing with anyone 🙂 And if harmonising is new to you, you don’t even have to start by harmonising the whole song, but single out parts of the song to harmonise instead.

Check out the video to see how you cant start!

For instance,  you can harmonise just the parts highlighted in blue to start with…

Happy birthday to you…

Happy birthday to you…

Happy birthday, happy birthday…

Happy birthday to you….

So again, start with steps 1 & 2 – identify what the harmonies are and then memorise the harmony parts.

Then, it’s time to practice with someone!

In case you don’t have a singing buddy to do just that, there’s always the recording app on your phone you can depend on (as shown in the video).

Record the lead vocals (yourself singing the original melody of the song) to create your singing buddy 😛

Then play it back, and while it’s playing, sing the harmony part you’ve memorised! The advantage of having a recording is that you can replay it as often as you want without your singing buddy complaining…muahahaha.

Do this a couple of times and as often as you can. Master harmonising that one song first before you go on to harmonise others – this will help you get the hang of it faster and instill in you more confidence to harmonise other songs sponatenously eventually 🙂

And that’s it!

Drop your comments below and share how your first harmonising attempt went.

By admin

How To Sustain Falsetto Successfully

 

Anyone who’s a fan of Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande are usually fans of breathy-sounding high notes sung in falsetto. That said, these two great divas also often belt out their high notes 🙂

Very often is the combination of singing both the gentle falsetto and strong high belts in a song that moves a listener emotionally. I personally think it’s important for any singer to be able to do both, so they can fully express themselves when singing, especially if it’s a sentimental song. The dynamics and contrast between the two is what usually stirs emotions.

I’ve done a Vlog on belting high notes previously, if you’d like to check that out, click here.

Today, I’ll drop 3 quick tips on how to sustain falsetto successfully. It’s gonna help you avoid that abrupt crack, scratch and/or disappearance of your voice as you try to hold those high notes in falsetto 🙂

Before I carry on, let’s make sure we’re on the same page in our understanding of what falsetto is.

Falsetto is often used to describe the high voice used by male singers, of which is often higher than the usual male vocal range. However, it is often also used to describe a weaker sounding high voice.

Here’s the thing, falsetto is actually the head voice. Something of which both men and women have, and it can be sung gently (to sound like a voice that is completely different from your speaking range) or powerfully to sound like your high chest voice.

That said, I often get asked “How can I sustain falsetto properly?”, and many are often referring to singing those high notes gently (breathily even) without the voice cracking, sounding rough or disappearing abruptly while they’re at it. So this is what this post is gonna be about.

HOW TO SUSTAIN FALSETTO SUCCESSFULLY

And in this context, we’re talking about the softer-sounding falsetto.

Step 1: Use Your Head Voice

First, to be able to sing and sustain falsetto comfortably, what more successfully, we’d have to use the head voice. This would be the higher-pitched voice you’d feel resonating in the head area, rather than the chest. It feels and also sounds much lighter than the chest voice, which in most cases, are often used as our speaking voices.

To find your head voice, you can try speaking higher pitched and/or in your ‘girlier’ voice. Once you established where your head voice is, try to remember the sensation so you can place your voice there again the moment you want to sing in your falsetto.

Step 2: Apply The Inner Smile

The next thing to do is to make sure you’ve got an open throat to let the resonance of your head voice ring with better timbre!

To do this, you can apply the ‘inner smile’. You can do this by lifting your soft palate – it’s the back part of the ceiling of your mouth, which can be modified when genuinely smile, or even act surprised. Watch the video above to get a better  idea on how to do this.

The inner smile help you produce a better vocal tone and also help you hit the higher notes more accurately.

Step 3: Direct The ‘Airiness’ Into The Nasal Tract

When singing gently in the falsetto, there’s somewhat an airy/breathy quality to the voice.

It is important to note that this ‘airiness’ should not be done heavily, and definitely not entirely through the vocal tract, which can result in throat dryness and also a scratchy sound. It can also cause the loss of phonation (sound) – which is not ideal when you’re trying to end the song with a nice gentle falsetto. Very often this is what causes a singer’s falsetto be cut short abruptly.

The ‘airiness’ instead can be directed through the nasal tract, but again, not too heavily. When directing the air through the nasal tract instead, the falsetto will have the breathy quality, but without the strain and unwanted effects above.

Try blowing air through your nose as you exhale to get the hang of directing air through your nasal tract. Then try singing in your falsetto while directing the ‘airiness’ through the nasal tract. Watch the video above for a clearer idea on how to do this 🙂

Once you’ve got these 3 steps in place, singing and sustaining the gentle-sounding falsetto should be easy! Try it out and let me know how it goes.

By admin

How To Quickly Bridge The Gaps In Your Voice/Singing

One of the worst things a singer can ever experience is to start a song and be filled with worry all the way through if he or she’s gonna make it to the end safely.

“Will I be able to hit the note?”

“Will my voice crack before I get there?”

“Am I gonna make it?”

It’s impossible for a singer to perform with confidence, what more focus on expressing themselves or in delivering the message of the song with any of these questions at the back of their minds!

Most singers who struggle with these concerns are singers who have “gaps” in their voices or singing. In other words, they have parts in their voice or vocal range where it suddenly diminishes in tone quality or power, resulting in a voice that sounds like it’s cracking in some parts. This can make singing feel incredibly daunting and dreadful.

While I’ve dropped many tips on vocal connection and developing the vocal mix previously, here is yet another vocal exercise that you can try to quickly bridge the gaps in your voice!

To bridge the gaps in your voice simply means to iron out the transitions between the vocal registers so that you can go from your low to high notes seamlessly. If you ever felt like you’re constantly switching from your ‘real’ voice to a ‘fake’ one, this exercise is gonna help too. If you’re wondering why you’ve got a ‘real’ and ‘fake’ voice, remember to check out my previous Vlog here.

Let the bridging begin!

This vocal exercise will be focused on vowels. I call this the Vowelising™.

We’ll be paying attention to all the vowels (A, E, I, O & U’s) in the words that we’ll be singing, and every syllable that is ‘vowel-sounding/pronounced’, though not spelled with a vowel.

The song example we’ll use is “All I Ask” by Adele.

HOW TO QUICKLY BRIDGE THE GAPS IN YOUR VOICE/SINGING VIA VOWELISING™

Step 1: Determine The Vowels 

In “All I Ask”, most singers would start noticing the gaps in their voices when they hit the chorus, particularly if they don’t have a strong vocal mix or vocal connection just yet.

We’re gonna use the chorus of this song as an example on how to vowelise ourselves to better singing 🙂

If this is my last night with you
Hold me like I‘m more than just a friend
Give me a memory I can use
Take me by the hand while we do what lovers do
It matters how this ends
‘Cause what if I never love again?

The vowels in every line should be noted (as above), as they will be our focus!

Step 2: Sing Without The Consonants (Focus on connecting the vowels)

Next, we’ll single out the vowels and sing through the chorus without the consonants. Focus on vocalising the vowels while maintaining a connected sound. You’ll find it much easier to stay connected without the consonants in the way. Remember to allow your voice to switch from your low and high registers as necessary. If you’re new to vocal registers, read my post about it here.

Ehhh  iiiih ih aiiii aehhh aiii ihhh ouuuuu
Ohh eee aii aiii oh aaa uh a eeh
Eh ee a e-oh-ay I eh ooo
A e ai eh eh ai ee oo aa uh uh oo
Eh eh-er ow ih eh
Au at ib ai eh-er uh a-ain?

Step 3: Sing With Consonants & Vowels (While maintaining “connected” vowels)

After you’ve pretty much connected all the vowels successfully in the chorus (you’re not cracking anywhere and no gaps are longer audible in your singing), we’ll fit the consonants back.

It’ll be best to check out my video above to get a clear idea on how to do this.

The important part to note here is to first memorise how it feels like when you were singing with all the vowels connected in Step 2. Then, as we bring the consonants back (sing with the consonants), we wanna make sure we don’t change how we’re pronuncing the vowels as we did when we were connected. Fit the consonants around the “connected” vowels – it’ll take some time to master this 🙂

And that’s it! A quick and easy way to bridge the gaps in your voice and/or singing!

Remember to like the video if you’ve found it helpful and share it with your friends.

Also, if you’ve got questions, just post them in the comments section below – I’d be happy to help.

Happy bridging!

 

 

Singing with real voice or fake voice

By admin

Are you singing with your real or fake voice? (And how to sing better with your REAL voice)

Have you ever felt like you have two voices? One ‘real’ and one ‘fake’?

As a vocal coach, very often I am asked questions such as these:

  • Should I sing with my real voice or fake voice?
  • Am I singing with my real or fake voice?
  • How can I sing the high notes with my real voice?

So let’s talk about it!

What is the real and fake voice? And which one are you using?

Very often, when people say they have a real and fake voice, what they really mean is the chest and the head voice. Both of which, in fact, are equally your real voice.

The ‘real’ voice is normally the one we associate as the voice closer to our speaking voice, in pitch and in resonance. For most people, they speak from their chest register, which resonates in the chest area. Hence, the chest voice is often thought of as the ‘real’ voice, because it feels and sounds familiar to us. It generally feels more solid and somewhat heavier than the ‘fake’ voice.

The ‘fake’ voice is on the other hand, the voice that we rarely use in speaking. It feels much lighter (like it doesn’t resonate in the chest register), sounds higher-pitched and somewhat more superficial or ‘put-on’ as compared the voice we use in our daily speech. While most people are unaware, this ‘fake’ voice has resonance too – and it’s mostly in our head register. One only has to speak louder and sustain his or her ‘fake’ voice, to notice the resonance in this area.

Why are they both (your chest and head voice) equally your real voice?

They are both part of your full vocal range. The chest voice is your lower range, while the head voice is the higher range.

The reason why people often feel like they have these two different voices that don’t connect is because they have not developed their mix (of their middle register/middle voice). The mix is the bridge between the low and high vocal range.  What happens to a voice with an undeveloped mix is there is a huge contrast between the chest and the head voice in terms of vocal tone quality and volume, often resulting in a huge flip of sound from one voice to another, that sounds like the voice is cracking or breaking in transition from one to the other.

By developing the mix, we can bridge the gap between the two voices and make the transition between the voices more seamless. We can connect these two voices so that truely sound like one REAL voice, from the lower to your higher vocal range.

One easy way to do this is through the Ju-on vocal exercise. I named it such after the Japanese horror movie, Ju-on: The Grudge 😛

If you’ve watched the film, you’d notice that every time that damn ghost-boy appears on screen to scare you, they’d cue in that same sound effect. If you can’t recall, or you’ve never watched the film, check out my video above. That sound effect is pretty much a vocal fry, which sounds somewhat like a door-creaking in most horror films. Perhaps they decided to use an actual vocal fry sound effect to stand out from other horror films – only God knows.

The vocal fry, or as I prefer to call it, the Ju-on vocal exercise, is one you can use to work on your developing your mix and strengthen your overall vocal connection from your ‘real’ to ‘fake’ voice (chest to head voice).

When we do the vocal fry from our low to high range, you’ll find it easy to transition seamlessly through out your chest, middle and head registers. Practicing this exercise often can help us familiarise the muscle-coordination required to mix well from our chest to head voice. Once we get in the habit of practising the right muscle-coordination, we can then vocalise the same way, but much louder while maintaining a seamless transition between all of the vocal registers.

I’ve found this really helpful not only in developing my mix, but also in helping my students develop theirs and overcome their vocal breaks.

Try out the Ju-on exercise as shown in my video – when done correctly and often enough, it will help you develop a strong vocal mix which will change how you use your voice tremendously. It will also eliminate the feeling of having a ‘real’ and ‘fake’ voice and help you sing in one REAL voice with a wide vocal range 🙂

Got questions or comments? You know what to do – post them below!

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How To Sing With More Swag
How To Sing Vocal Harmonies
How To Sustain Falsetto Successfully
How To Quickly Bridge The Gaps In Your Voice/Singing
Singing with real voice or fake voice
Are you singing with your real or fake voice? (And how to sing better with your REAL voice)