First of all people… AMAZING NEWS!!! We are confirmed attendees of the VocalizeU Winter Retreat in February this year. It will be an amazing event for both teachers and artists who want to expand knowledge, skills and be totally inspired! If you happen to be available from the 19th to the 25th February 2014 then come with us!!
Into the workshop….
BEYONCE – IF I WERE A BOY
This song is in the key of F# major. The initial challenge with this song is the low notes of the verse (which are F#3). Some of the lower female voices may be able to hit those notes but need some help getting more purchase. In this situation we try and widen the vowels and get some more width on the mouth and keep a brighter tone (listen to the podcast recording for examples). Some higher voices who can’t physiologically get that low may need to adjust the melody, or change the key (the latter isn’t recommended as it may leave the chorus unachievable).
On to the chorus…
The notes of the chorus pass right through the female first bridge or passagio and the lyrics ‘Boy’ hits the C#, which is the first note of the head register. This means that singers need to be familiar with the transition, how it feels and not be put off by it. Without some experience of this area the chorus becomes increasingly hard to pull off, and chest pulling, or yelling, will be likely.
A great vowel choice to substitute ‘Boy’ with is BUG to encourage the right resonance and sensation. The close the lips around that vowel to get a more ‘Boy’ sound but keeping the feeling from BUG.
Watch out for the ‘I think I could understand’ too. We could say it like this to help be freer: ‘uh think uh cud undustend’.
ROBBIE WILLIAMS – ANGELS
This song is in the key of E major. We play two contrasting version of this song. One from 2013:
And one from 10 years earlier:
Robbie’s voice had changed over 10 years and his ability to sing it that area has been impaired for whatever reason. When either illness or potential technical problems present themselves, there are always ways and means of accommodating that and changing a melody or giving the melody to the crowd. Even the pros need some quick fixes.
Looking at the technical side of things, men have a strong tendency to yell to these pitches so beginning to exercise these areas with sounds that can free you up would be a great start. The sound ‘ONE-ONE-ONE’ is a great choice for achieving that, but consult your voice coach for the best one for your voice.
The long sustained ‘All’ at the start of the chorus isn’t a bad vowel for a guy to sing if they can relax enough and not be tempted to drag up chest voice and strain. The vowel UH, changing the lyric sound to ‘Ull’ may work for some, but the habit of not allowing yourself to relax into that bridge will leave any vowel change you make ineffective.
The next few lyrics read like this: ‘she offers me protection’. The main pain in the butt here is ‘protection’. Using a slack low jaw, that lyrics could be said like ‘protiction’ to help the transition of resonance.
The ‘waterFALL’ part can be treated the same as line 1 of the chorus. But then it reads: ‘wherever it may take me’. Here we can adjust one of those lyrics from ‘take’ to ‘tik’ for a moment to train the change.
BEYONCE – LOVE ON TOP
This song begins in C major, but goes through 4 key changes during the end choruses. The first high lyric of the chorus is on C5 and the word is ‘You’. Because this vowel is so closed it often needs opening a bit to free the instrument of any pressure and prevent flipping to head voice. That adjust will go towards the sound ‘Yo’. The next bunch of lyrics could easily be adjusted to ‘Yuh the wun uh’ with a very loose jaw, and open ‘need’ to ‘nid’ dropping the jaw lots as that pitch hits the 2nd passagio.
Most of the advice when you’re up there is to say those vowels as if they are sitting on top of the ‘UH’, which is a common singing teacher technique but may not always work for you. As the song continues to key change the jaw and vowel movements need to move with the pitches, and singers need to be aware of the changing sensations that are felt through Eb5 and E5 in the last choruses. Many singers get put off by these and jam up unnecessarily.
One part of preparation that you can’t miss out is your warm up. These song ARE HARD!! You will need you to be on top form to even attempt them. If you use these techniques we would love to hear from you, maybe in the form of a recording or video. Let us know!
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