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Anyone doing "Man of Constant Sorrow"?

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  • Anyone doing "Man of Constant Sorrow"?

    My duo is looking into this one, I usually sing backup but the harmonies are just out of reach for me. It's my cross, I can hear harmonies and sing them in my head but my voice won't always cooperate in the higher registers.

    Anyhoo, those high harmonies are sort of signature with this song, is anybody doing something different there? I suppose I could drop an octave but meh, sometimes that just gets lost in the mix anyway if it's too low.
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  • #2
    There's two parts, right? Just sing the lower one.
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    • #3
      There's two parts, right? Just sing the lower one.


      Neither of us can hit the harmony.
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      • #4
        I love the song but we can't pull it off for some reason.
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        • #5
          My old bluegrassy band used to do it in 3 part, I would do a high harmony on it (5th), another would do the 3rd, and we'd all 'roll it up' (me to an octave higher than the melody) and hold it on each chorus, if that makes sense. 'In constant sorrow^^^^ooooooooooo', kind of in slow motion, then 'all through my days' was back to normal tempo. We always got a great response.

          Ahh, but I guess that doesn't help you with the high parts.
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          • #6
            I do Man of Constant sorrow in a three piece, where I play guitar, my buddy plays guitar, manolin and banjo, and a girl sings/plays some percussion instruments. The other two members are really strong singers, the female being classically trained for musical theatre, choir and jazz, plus growing up in northern vt and singing folk songs all her life. The other guy grew up playing and singing lead in bands and used to sing harmony with his older sister. I grew up singing along to the radio however I pleased

            This works for us: I have a lower voice while the other two are fairly high. They trade off the high parts on most songs, and I hold down the bass side of things. The hardest part for me was keeping my line seperate from theirs. From singing to the radio so much I just got used to matching pitch, not harmonizing. This has been a struggle for me. If we can't all sing our harmony parts, we'll change the key to make it work. Sometimes the line is too low for the girl to sing, but the octave would be too high, so we move it up a half or whole step and try it. It works pretty well for us.

            Also, with man of constant sorrow, i'd look at arranging it slightly different to better accomodate two singers instead of three. What instruments are you using? Keep in mind you aren't in a five piece bluegrass band. Try moving away from the 'high n' lonesome' and shift it a little towards the bluesier end of the spectrum, the two voices working together to create a lower, smoother sound.

            If I had to do it with just two people, i'd consider playing it that way, one regular guitar and the other a dobro or slide guitar, and work it that way.


            The alternative, of course, is to keep it the same and practice until you can hit the harmony

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            • #7
              I love the song but we can't pull it off for some reason.


              I could never remember all the verses--we had a lot of solo breaks in that one while I plumbed the depths of my brain for what came next.
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              <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>gennation</strong>
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              • #8
                That's not what I meant--There's a lead vocal and TWO harmony vocals. If you can't do the high part, do the lower part

                .


                Ah, I need to revisit it I guess...the high harmony always stands out to me the most but will check out the other one.
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                • #9
                  I have no shame when I comes to transposing tunes to suit my voice. My range isn't great, so I do what I have to. I'd say about half of the material I play isn't done in the original key.

                  MoCS is pretty simple chord-wise. With a little work and maybe a capo, you should be able to get it in a key that suits your voices yet still retains the "top of my voice" feel.
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                  • #10
                    How close do you get to the high part? The tune is in Drop D with a capo on the 2nd fret. Would shifting it down a whole tone make it doable?
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                    • #11
                      The other guys in the band wanted to do this.
                      We're pretty much a straight up blues band
                      I put my foot down.
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                      • #12
                        Falsetto?
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                        • #13
                          How close do you get to the high part? The tune is in Drop D with a capo on the 2nd fret. Would shifting it down a whole tone make it doable?
                          that's what I was thinking, drop the key to one where you can get the harmonies... the song itself is simple enough to play in any key.
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                          • #14
                            that's what I was thinking, drop the key to one where you can get the harmonies... the song itself is simple enough to play in any key.


                            Yea that is the plan, have not had a chance to get together on this yet but we have some experimenting to do.
                            <div class="signaturecontainer"><font color="royalblue">Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity into the dream.</font> <br />
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                            • #15
                              Just drop the key to where everyone can hit it.
                              Heck its a bluegrass song, you can play it in any key.
                              Put it where the singers can sing it.

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