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The Inverse Relationship b/w Technical Singing Abilities and Lyric-Writing Abilities


DukeOfBoom

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I could produce a list of song writers who are also expert singers as long as my arm.

 

 

Yes, there are outliers. But these guys are literally ten-sigma occurences, like WAY outside the bell curve.

 

 

The comment about instrumentalists is totally unfounded. With sufficient background checking it is possible to establish that the vast majority of people who contribute to pop-rock, overall, have received some sort of serious training or have practiced so diligently as to have reached an expert standard, in whatever it is they do be it playing or some involvement in the production process. Where someone with little or no experience has a major success this is usually the exception rather than the norm.

 

 

I believe you misinterpreted me? I mean to say that there are MANY MANY overtrained individuals. You know how some people just love to hear themselves talk even though they say nothing (e.g. any David Lee Roth interview)? The same is true for many guitarists/vocalists who are, well, overtrained. They just love to hear themselves play guitar. In the 80s/90s, you know, it was all those shredders who couped in for hours learning 16th note runs at 250bpm. Then they take that to a record and play it on record.

 

Examples of these guitarists include: all Yngwie, Kim Thayil's solo on Black Hole Sun, any Billy Corgan wank-fest solo, and any Zakk Wylde BLS solo these days (unfortunately, because I like Zakk).

 

These guys are a case of the guitarist being technically over-qualified, but not having either the sense or the inner ear to show some restraint in playing. They just LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear themselves play.

 

This similar phenomenom is present in the vocalists who are trained, trained trained and you have mastered, you know, all aspects of voice (including chest/head/grit/vibrato/pitch/are super smooth/can sing anything). I think a lot of these guys are just say anxious to SING that they don't really focus on the lyrics. They just want to open their mouths and make sounds - i.e. James LaBrie, all the Power Metal guys, etc. I mean, their technique is top-notch, but they have no sense of how to write lyrics. My explanation is that they want to just sing rather than concentrate on the art of lyric-writing.

 

I only listen to rock & pop (and the occassional Leo Kottke, Cherry Poppin Daddies, NWA, etc) , so I don't know about jazz or modern folk/bluegrass/etc. So the rock/pop (since the 50s) is what I used to formulate Duke Hypothesis #44: "There is an Inverse Relationship b/w Vocal Training and Lyric-Writing Skills."

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Yes, there are outliers. But these guys are literally ten-sigma occurences, like WAY outside the bell curve.

 

 

I'm sorry, that's just not true. What you are claiming, in a nutshell, is that in general a person who is initially a good lyricist is turned into a poor one because of vocal training. This is, quite simply, a silly thing to say. I suppose it is conceivable, but it isn't what normally happens.

 

Instead if you were to say, "some people who are poor lyricists pursue vocal training and, although they become good vocalists, remain poor lyricists," or "vocal training does not usually improve one's ability as a lyricist," then I would be more inclined to agree. But I don't think that's what you mean because they are very unremarkable statements.

 

 

These guys are a case of the guitarist being technically over-qualified, but not having either the sense or the inner ear to show some restraint in playing. They just LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear themselves play.

 

 

Once again it seems to me you are confused... I would agree with you if you said "some guitarists shred in a way which is distasteful or inartistic," but you are in fact saying "not just occasionally but in general, instrumental training invariably leads to distasteful and overly busy playing." This is a very different thing to say and is just not true.

 

Moreover, of those few you mentioned, many people actually do enjoy their solos...

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This similar phenomenom is present in the vocalists who are trained, trained trained and you have mastered, you know, all aspects of voice (including chest/head/grit/vibrato/pitch/are super smooth/can sing anything). I think a lot of these guys are just say anxious to SING that they don't really focus on the lyrics. They just want to open their mouths and make sounds - i.e. James LaBrie, all the Power Metal guys, etc. I mean, their technique is top-notch, but they have no sense of how to write lyrics. My explanation is that they want to just sing rather than concentrate on the art of lyric-writing.

 

 

Have you ever been to karaoke night? This lack of restraint and failure to connect with the lyric doesn't have anything to do with technical ability.

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Well, she ain't no Oscar Peterson, but she looks like she's enjoying herself. :D

 

 

I have to admit that all that 70s funk/fusion must have pretty well burned out my ability to really get into this kind of music -- even though when the fusion of rock and jazz first emerged, I was tremendously excited by it and went to see just about every fusion band I could find locally in the early 70s from Hiroshima to Honk to Mahivishnu Orchestra.

 

I can appreciate the skill of the performers, it's not unpleasant, but it doesn't really grab me the way that trad, hot, cool, and bebop do. That said, having listened to countless thousands of hours (probably tens of thousands) of jazz radio, I've heard hundreds of artists from all eras that don't really grab me, no matter the style or competence. The great jazz, like any great music, has something more...

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There's too many artist that I know of that put the shut-up to the original argument.

 

Robert Fripp?

Django Rheinhardt?

Jaki Byard?

Ella Fitzgerald?

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan?

Shara Worden?

Sam Cook?

Toumani Diabate?

Nas?

Ray Brown?

Booker Ervin?

Caetano Veloso?

 

There's metric tons more. I'm not sure where this particular sentiment even comes from.

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Yawn.... I'll take a good singer over a good lyricist any day of the week... I swear, Bob Dylan ruined music... People that can't sing obsessively emoting their boring, arty lyrics is one of the reasons nobody gives a crap about guitar-driven pop music anymore...

 

Every time you hear someone on the radio that clearly can't sing very good? Thank Bob Dylan...

 

And Sam Cooke & Chuck Berry & Ray Charles were some of the best singers and pop lyricists to walk the face of the earth... I know Ray was intensely trained... but Sam & Chuck were raw talent's of the highest calibre...

 

People that sing well... don't need to sing a lot of words to make their point.

 

But the idea that training is somehow destructive to raw ability is an asinine idea perpetuated by clueless hacks and hobbyists... It's all part of this "I-don't-need-to-be-qualified-to-be-a-famous-person-on-TV mentality" that's become culturally pervasive in the last five or ten years... PUKE...

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Every time you hear someone on the radio that clearly can't sing very good? Thank Bob Dylan...

 

While, for the most part, I agree with your post... the Dylan thing is a bit off. You can go to Jimmy Durante, Satchmo, Maurice Calvalier and many others to show emoting over vocal quality. No need to fixate on Bob. Hatcha-cha-cha :)

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People that sing well... don't need to sing a lot of words to make their point.

 

 

That's it. Actually, the song is made up of an inseparable combination of the vocal delivery, the melody and the lyrics. It's not at all uncommon to find lyrics which seem quite plain when taken out of the context of the song... it doesn't mean that they aren't good, in the sense that they fit that particular song perfectly. Likewise, abstracting a melody from the song often shows it to be very simple and plain... once again, this doesn't suggest it's flawed.

 

 

But the idea that training is somehow destructive to raw ability is an asinine idea perpetuated by clueless hacks and hobbyists... It's all part of this "I-don't-need-to-be-qualified-to-be-a-famous-person-on-TV mentality" that's become culturally pervasive in the last five or ten years... PUKE...

 

The worst thing about this is that it doesn't take much investigation to discover that even in pop the majority of exponents (at any point in the music production) are extensively trained with a heap of industry experience. This is probably even more true in the case of top 40 pop - the featured artists are usually strongly capable, and everyone else who contribute to the production are experts. Of course that isn't always true, but it is for the majority.

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300 years ago no one believed Galielo that the earth orbited the sun. Today, no one believes the Duke Theory of Lyric Writing Ability vs. Vocal Training. In 300 years, the scientists will have developed a way to empirically test my hypothesis and they will find it to be true.

 

I should also add that the fine print excludes "natural" singers from my hypothesis, since the gods decided that they would be born gifted, they don't count.

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Yawn.... I'll take a good singer over a good lyricist any day of the week... I swear, Bob Dylan ruined music... People that can't sing obsessively emoting their boring, arty lyrics is one of the reasons nobody gives a crap about guitar-driven pop music anymore...


Every time you hear someone on the radio that clearly can't sing very good? Thank Bob Dylan...


And
Sam Cooke
& Chuck Berry & Ray Charles were some of the best singers and pop lyricists to walk the face of the earth... I know Ray was intensely trained... but
Sam
& Chuck were raw talent's of the highest calibre...


People that sing well... don't need to sing a lot of words to make their point.


But the idea that training is somehow destructive to raw ability is an asinine idea perpetuated by clueless hacks and hobbyists... It's all part of this "I-don't-need-to-be-qualified-to-be-a-famous-person-on-TV mentality" that's become culturally pervasive in the last five or ten years... PUKE...

[bold added]

 

 

"In 1963,
Sam Cooke
-- America's first great soul singer and one of the most successful pop acts in the nation, with eighteen Top Thirty hits since 1957 --
heard a song that profoundly inspired and disturbed him: Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind."
What struck Cooke was the challenge implicit in Dylan's anthem. "Jeez," Cooke mused at the time, "a white boy writing a song like that?"


Cooke's response, "A Change Is Gonna Come," recorded on January 30th, 1964
, with a sumptuous orchestral arrangement by Rene Hall, was more personal: in its first-person language and the experiences that preceded its creation. On October 8th, 1963, while on tour in the South, Cooke and members of his entourage were arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana, for disturbing the peace after they tried to register at a white motel -- an incident reflected in the song's third verse. And Cooke's mourning for his eighteen-month-old son, Vincent, who died that June in a drowning accident, resonates in the final verse: "There have been times that I thought/I couldn't last for long."


On December 11th, 1964, nearly a year after he recorded the song, Cooke was fatally shot at a Los Angeles motel. Two weeks later, "A Change Is Gonna Come" was released as a single -- Cooke's farewell address and final hit.

-- Rolling Stone

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I like the early Bill Winters. As soon as he introduced all the orchestration and funk elements...meh. The stripped down stuff like Use Me, Grandma's Hands, Ain't No Sunshine was great though. Then the more "wall of sound" he got, the worse he got. He's one of the few soul singers who always sang in the baritone range, which made him unique.

 

IMO, Sam Cooke was like the Bruno Mars of today. Not as much "weight," depth, and darkness as the good stuff.

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I think we need a points system that penalizes those who table their stake early in the game... :D

 

Last in before the lock should be the winner.

 

 

But we're a ways from that. I mean, so far, everyone's civil, if occasionally pointed.

 

All the same, it does seem that whenever personalities come up, toes get stepped on. I'll admit, I'm relieved to see it's not me ticking people off.

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Using the inverse relationship theory about vocals and songwriting ability, Mick Jagger is a better songwriter than Paul McCartney. Therefore, the Stones are better than the Beatles. And the Kinks are better than Yes, but not quite as good as Jethro Tull. Furthermore, your favorite band sucks. Q.E.D.

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Using the inverse relationship theory about vocals and songwriting ability, Mick Jagger is a better songwriter than Paul McCartney. Therefore, the Stones are better than the Beatles. And the Kinks are better than Yes, but not quite as good as Jethro Tull. Furthermore, your favorite band sucks. Q.E.D.

I was good right up 'til just before Tull. But I'm definitely there for the conclusion.

 

 

(I will say that I'll admit, overall, Sir Paul is probably a better melodicist than Mick. ;) But, while Paul does seem to have written some quite good lyrics [judging from sources like the Lennon interview in Playboy for attribution, since he and Lennon usually shared credit and reportedly both wrote lyrics and music] overall, I'll take Jagger's lyrics most days.)

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