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soulful vocals....can it be "learned"?


Crustee

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Buy a Ray Charles' greatest hits, put it in the car, sing along for a year.

 

A cool thing about a lot of Ray's songs, they are phrased with gaps. It's really easy on a lot of them to just echo his line in the hole.

 

Unchain my heart (unchain my heart)

 

Georgia (Georgia) Ge... or...gee ahhhh (Ge... or...gee ahhhh)

 

The better you learn them, the more you sing along with him. But the repeating in the gaps is fun as hell and the changes lend themselves to this working out fine.

 

He doesn't have a particularly high voice either. So, that's what I did. Of course, I'd been singing along with those songs for years anyway. But for conscious development, Ray Charles is a hoot to emulate. That phrasing and attitude works great on modern pop. So, it's not like you're learning something that can't be used for everything. Ray's perfect for everything.

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It's a gift to sing like Ray Charles, Etta James, George Strait, insert name of artist here. However, they wouldn't be as good as they are if they didn't work at putting the feeling in there, and you won't be as good as you can be if you don't.

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...in order to truly pull it off you need to just feel it.

 

 

Of course!!! ^^^^

 

But most soulful singers sang that way by emulating what they hear in church. Or on the radio. So, Ray Charles for instance, what an original!!! Except that he sounded like Nat Kink Cole at first. Then decided to copy his gospel roots upbringing and combine the two. Soul just doesn't come out of your ass. It comes from you listening to soulful singers and incorporating that... into what you do.

 

It's not mystical or magical. But you do have to breath it in on such a frequent basis that it becomes you and yours.

 

Any singer, just "feeling it" without having arsenal of ideas incorporated into their skill set, is going to come off pretty sad when they just start "feeling it".

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Of course!!! ^^^^


But most soulful singers sang that way by emulating what they hear in church. Or on the radio. So, Ray Charles for instance, what an original!!! Except that he sounded like Nat Kink Cole at first. Then decided to copy his gospel roots upbringing and combine the two. Soul just doesn't come out of your ass. It comes from you listening to soulful singers and incorporating
that...
into what you do.


It's not mystical or magical. But you do have to breath it in on such a frequent basis that it becomes you and yours.


Any singer, just "feeling it" without having arsenal of ideas incorporated into their skill set, is going to come off pretty sad when they just start "feeling it".

 

 

I agree, but I'm not sure Ray Charles and "soul" singing is really the best comparison for what this clip is. This guy obviously has great technique, but I don't think Joe singer could ever learn to do it just the same.

 

But obviously, you need both, so really we agree.

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Of course!!! ^^^^


But most soulful singers sang that way by emulating what they hear in church. Or on the radio. So, Ray Charles for instance, what an original!!! Except that he sounded like Nat Kink Cole at first. Then decided to copy his gospel roots upbringing and combine the two. Soul just doesn't come out of your ass. It comes from you listening to soulful singers and incorporating
that...
into what you do.


It's not mystical or magical. But you do have to breath it in on such a frequent basis that it becomes you and yours.


Any singer, just "feeling it" without having arsenal of ideas incorporated into their skill set, is going to come off pretty sad when they just start "feeling it".

 

 

I like this line of thinking because it means there's still hope for me...hehe!

:D

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Oh, and for Guido, the guy's name is Jeffrey Foucault, and it's funny you mention Steve Earle, as I'm pretty sure this guy was influenced by him. I heard him do a great cover of Earle's tune "Goodbye".

 

One thing I've noticed is that, on songs I REALLY connect with, the crowd notices and pays attention. The bass player does the lions share of singing in our unit. Some things he does great, like the harder hitting stuff. The more mellow, soulful stuff he has a bit more trouble with.

 

One of the tunes I've always done well with is Pink Houses by Mellencamp. When I'm really feeling it and getting into it, we always get a GREAT reaction from the crowd, like the energy and emotion I'm projecting really IS reaching them, and they really DO take notice, if even only on an unconscious level.

 

Same thing with the bass player. When he sings Rock & Roll by Zep, he puts it all out there and we as a band respond, which in turn gets the crowd to respond.

 

It's really cool being in a unit with such complementary skillsets.

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Oh, and for Guido, the guy's name is Jeffrey Foucault, and it's funny you mention Steve Earle, as I'm pretty sure this guy was influenced by him.

 

 

No doubt. The reason I asked is because I presumed it wasn't Earle, but this guy definately spent a lot of time listening to him and copping his mannerisms and soulfulness. So yes, it CAN be learned.

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I agree, but I'm not sure Ray Charles and "soul" singing is really the best comparison for what this clip is. This guy obviously has great technique, but I don't think Joe singer could ever learn to do it just the same.


But obviously, you need both, so really we agree.

 

 

Well, Ray was one example and Ray does country too. If I wanted to learn how to be as soulful as that clip, I'd sing along with that clip endlessly. And Hank Williams, Solomon Burke, Steave Earle, Lyle Lovett, Billy Joe Royal, Mavis Staple and Charlie Rich. Listen to the guys he listened to.

 

In that clip the singer is executing his riffs well, singing in pitch and time. He's using a pretty laid back feel pulling him behind the beat in a cool way, he's relaxing his vocal chords and letting the gravel in. His enunciation is lazy in a nice way too. All of that can be ingested over time.

 

Like I said, it's not magical. It's first mechanics, and second... getting those mechanics out of the way come performance time and "feeling it". But, quite literally, the only way to get the mechanics out of the way is to work at them so much you can allow yourself to not concern yourself with them when it comes time to perform.

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Like I said, it's not magical. It's first
mechanics
, and second... getting those mechanics out of the way come performance time and "feeling it". But, quite literally, the only way to get the mechanics out of the way is to work at them so much you can allow yourself to not concern yourself with them when it comes time to perform.

 

 

Which is pretty much how I learned to sing and play at the same time. I usually get the guitar part down to where I don't have to think about it, because the vocal inflections use up a lot more of my brains processing power.

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Anya, the singer I'm working with teaches singing. She says that even if you are "born with it" you still have to work a lot. And a person who works a lot always gets better that a person who is "born with it" but doesn't work.

 

And she says that the perceived "soul" and "feeling" in music by the audience can be studied and, achieving it, has every thing do with good Technic. How in tune you are, your timing, your voice projection (dynamics), vibrato, etc.. can all be studied and applied.

 

I believe her! Just because she is really successful with the audience and everyone says she is "born with it" and she always says that she's not! LOL

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Anya, the singer I'm working with teaches singing. She says that even if you are "born with it" you still have to work a lot. And a person who works a lot always gets better that a person who is "born with it" but doesn't work.


And she says that the perceived "soul" and "feeling" in music by the audience can be studied and, achieving it, has every thing do with good Technic. How in tune you are, your timing, your voice projection (dynamics), vibrato, etc.. can all be studied and applied.


I believe her! Just because she is really successful with the audience and everyone says she is "born with it" and she always says that she's not! LOL

 

 

Exactly!!!! It's like the notion of "talent". For me, talent is interest and work over time. It's tough to work at it if you don't have the genuine interest. But if you are on fire for the topic at hand, let's say, "singing with soul", and you were to put a Ray Charles CD in your car and sing it everyday, or a Mavis Staples, or Lyle Lovett or Percy Sledge or Waylon or Willie or whoever you love... if you're that interested, it won't be "work".

 

Then all of a sudden you're deemed "talented" and "born with it". As if the time spent loving it had no effect on you being able to do it.

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Exactly!!!! It's like the notion of "talent". For me, talent is interest and work over time. It's tough to work at it if you don't have the genuine interest. But if you are on fire for the topic at hand, let's say, "singing with soul", and you were to put a Ray Charles CD in your car and sing it everyday, or a Mavis Staples, or Lyle Lovett or Percy Sledge or Waylon or Willie or whoever you love... if you're that interested, it won't be "work".


Then all of a sudden you're deemed "talented" and "born with it". As if the time spent loving it had no effect on you being able to
do it.

 

 

but, how can one explain someone like that little 16 year old girl on Idol who got beat out by the Dave Matthews clone?

 

Granted, not everyone like the style of music she sang, but good Lord, what a mature set of pipes she had!

 

I think she had a whole lot more of the "born with it" going for her than most, because she's not old enough to have had a lot of time to work at it.

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I think she had a whole lot more of the "born with it" going for her than most, because she's not old enough to have had a lot of time to work at it.

 

 

That girl has done nothing but sing her entire short life. If you watched the show you would have noticed that she never had anything to say besides "I've worked so hard for this my entire life" and the other contestants had nothing to say about her except "Jessica is an amazing singer". I saw nothing to indicate to me she had any other desire for anything else in her life and seems to know nothing at all except singing. No doubt this girl was out in front with the family karaoke machine before she could probably walk and her parents probably had her taking voice lessons as soon as she was able. She did "America's Got Talent" when she was 10. This girl has been bred to be a singer in the same way Tiger Woods' dad bred him to play golf and the Williams sisters' father had them playing tennis their entire lives. Born with some talent? Probably. Born with incredible desire to sing? Absolutely. Where that "born with" part comes from and what it is exactly? Who knows. But I have no doubt that little Jessica had more vocal training and experience than most of the singers twice her age on that show.

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but, how can one explain someone like that little 16 year old girl on Idol who got beat out by the Dave Matthews clone?


Granted, not everyone like the style of music she sang, but good Lord, what a mature set of pipes she had!


I think she had a whole lot more of the "born with it" going for her than most, because she's not old enough to have had a lot of time to work at it.

 

 

Naw, she's had plenty of time to work at it. That's what kids do. That's what I did. I played bass 10 hours a day for 4 years straight. I was driven, clearly she is.

 

When I started singing at 17, I sang everyday to my vinyl records. The singers I could emulate and who I loved. I wrote out the lyrics, I used a short hand for their riffs, little symbols... and I sang everyday for years to those records. Until I realized I wanted to write. Then I wrote... and sitll am.

 

How does one sing with soul?

 

Or restated, was that girl born with it? If she was born with anything, it was enough interest to spend copious amounts of time doing it. Emulating and forging her own thing as well.

 

The concept of "born with it" and "God given talent" are just excuses to not try. Because... well, we know we weren't "born with it". So why bother? Meanwhile this little kid is devouring her mom's Whitney CD collection.

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Yeah, I agree with Lee - the actual emotion, the love of the music, can't be taught. It's that love that drives you to develop talent, which is something that requires a lot of work.

 

There are people who develop a certain musical skill set to a high level without having that soulful attachment to it - it's more like learning a job skill. And somebody can be really good coming from that mindset, but they won't have "it" - that soufulness, charisma, whatever that can't be taught.

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How much are you born with and how much is learned? That's an interesting topic that certainly no one has the answer to. Even if it is all about desire--why would one person be born with more desire to sing than somebody else?

 

But I don't think it's just about desire. Talk to any vocal teacher and they'll certainly be able to tell you stories about some people have all the desire in the world and have been trying to sing for years but just simply can't. And no doubt you can find people with equal degrees of desire and experience who have completely different levels of ability. I've never been able to sing particularly well. I've loved music and wanted to sing and sang along with my favorite records my whole life. When I was 14 and started my first band, the kid I started with sang really well. I could barely carry a tune. I don't think he spent any more time or had any more desire to sing than I did. He could just naturally do it better than me. After all these years I've learned a lot about singing and have developed my ear quite well, but the best I've been able to achieve is the ability to not suck. No one is ever going to consider me a "good" singer.

 

Another factor is tone. Tone can be affected to a certain degree, but it's largely a function of the body you're born with.

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My mother in law was a chorus girl/dancer in the resort town of Bournemouth, England. When a star's show would hit town, her troupe would learn the show and supplement it. So... Shirley Bassey, early 60's. At the encore my mother in law overhears Bassey backstage,

 

"watch me milk these tears."

 

She goes out, stoically stands under the spot, looks up at the balcony of the Bournemouth Auditorium. They can see tears in her eyes as the piano plays the intro. Bassey milks the tears just as promised. The house is moved and as they say, not a dry eye in the place. Bassey walks backstage after this moving encore and the house erupts... and side stage she looks at her manager shaking her head smiling and says, "Works every time".

 

My mother in law loves to use her knowledge of the backstage Bassey as a way of saying, "Isn't it horrible!!! What a fake!!!"

 

Not really. She's a performer. She doesn't die a little every night. She taps into that emotion and uses it to move a crowd. It's tough moving a crowd when you're bawling like a baby. You have to have the mechanics of it down to use them for your own means.

 

Even soulful vocals. Can't fake it? I'm not really sure what that means.

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Yeah, I agree with Lee - the actual emotion, the love of the music, can't be taught. It's that love that drives you to develop talent, which is something that requires a lot of work.


There are people who develop a certain musical skill set to a high level without having that soulful attachment to it - it's more like learning a job skill. And somebody can be really good coming from that mindset, but they won't have "it" - that soufulness, charisma, whatever that can't be taught.

 

Wow, there's a blast from the past!

I didn't know you still lurked here!

:wave:

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My mother in law was a chorus girl/dancer in the resort town of Bournemouth, England. When a star's show would hit town, her troupe would learn the show and supplement it. So... Shirley Bassey, early 60's. At the encore my mother in law overhears Bassey backstage,


"watch me milk these tears."


She goes out, stoically stands under the spot, looks up at the balcony of the Bournemouth Auditorium. They can see tears in her eyes as the piano plays the intro. Bassey milks the tears just as promised. The house is moved and as they say, not a dry eye in the place. Bassey walks backstage after this moving encore and the house erupts... and side stage she looks at her manager shaking her head smiling and says, "Works every time".


My mother in law loves to use her knowledge of the backstage Bassey as a way of saying, "Isn't it horrible!!! What a fake!!!"


Not really. She's a performer. She doesn't die a little every night. She taps into that emotion and uses it to move a crowd. It's tough moving a crowd when you're bawling like a baby. You have to have the mechanics of it down to use them for your own means.


Even soulful vocals. Can't fake it? I'm not really sure what that means.

 

Exactly! I fact, actors get paid to fake emotions!

 

This is the entertainment business. People want to be entertained. With real emotions or acting? No body cares. As long as it is entertaining.

 

Now, acting is a fine art that has been taken to a very high level. If you're going to try it better be good! And, of course, acting and performing music at the same time... well.. it's hard work! ;)

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I think it's a lot of what you are exposed to early on. My first piano teacher from the time I was 3 until I was 12 was a gospel singer who played stride piano on a big upright player piano. After the lesson was over she would put a roll on and sing with some wonderful old tune. I don't call myself a great singer but people seem to like to hear me sing in my sort of Gregg Allman/Joe Cocker style.

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