1. JTheGreat
    Offline

    JTheGreat Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Everywhere and Nowhere

    Singing/Guitar Tips?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by JTheGreat, Jun 21, 2010.

    Oh noes.... I'm asking for musical help on WritingForums. Ah well, I'm too lazy to make an account to a music-based forum, and most writers are multi-talented.

    I'm very skilled at flute (well, that's what my instructor says), but last year I started dabbling in acoustic guitar. I'm good at chords, but I don't have the "Cobain calluses" to make them sound really clear (they sound very squeaky and horrible).

    I also enjoy doing covers, but my voice sounds very nasally and high-pitched (which is odd because my voice sounds low-pitched compared to other girls when speaking) when they are recorded. The only time my voice sounds good is when I sing along to previously recorded songs, because I can easily change the pitch to match with that kind of reference. But I ca't do it listening with earphones, because I find it distracting. Maybe it's just my webcam's audio quality, but I don't know.

    Other than practicing, any tips from some tried-and-true musicians out there? As far as I know, there are no rules against threads asking for musical help. But, there also isn't a rule against making a thread asking for a word that rhymes with "orange" (it does have to do with writing...). So, sorry if I'm breaking any rules, and any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    The nasal voice is probably from singing in your mouth. You need to let the music rise from your core, which is difficult to explain in writing. A lot of it is breathing from the diaphragm, and relaxing your throat muscles. You'll feel it when the sound resonates down deep in your thoracic cavity, but the best way to learn is to get some live lessons from a voice coach.
     
  3. Nobeler Than Lettuce
    Offline

    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Anytown USA
    True dat!

    You've got to get your whole mouth open when you sign, get it wide, and hit the perfect pitch. It should be easy to tell when you're singing well because your eyes will water and your face will get a little strange numb feeling, almost like the feeling you get when you hear "the perfect moment" in a song.

    But if you're interested in learning, a voice coach is one way, another way is to match the pitch of the chord's you are playing with various "di's" "de's" "do's" and "doh's" or whatever random stuff you want to say.

    I'm sorry if that wasn't enough info, but I'll keep watching this thread. :)
     
  4. JTheGreat
    Offline

    JTheGreat Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    Messages:
    381
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Everywhere and Nowhere
    I was in the school choir from 1st to 5th grade (I'm in 8th now) so I've built a habit of subconsciously breathing from the diaphragm whether it be in flute or regular singing. Is singing from the diaphragm different than breathing from it?
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Breathing from the diaphagm is one component, but opening and relaxing your throat and esophagus is also necessary. You want to extend the resonating column of air, and not form all the sound in your mouth and nasal cavity.
     
  6. Aconite
    Offline

    Aconite Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2010
    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Albany, NY, USA
    Since this never got any guitar help: Check your hand position. Your chords are probably squeaky because you're dampening the higher strings with the second joint/base of the tip of your fingers. Make sure the actual structure of your finger (middle joint and knuckle joint) is arched high and away from the fretboard. You can achieve that by bringing your thumb further across the base of the neck (further from the low strings, closer to the high ones, which will help your fingers to raise themselves more easily.)
     
  7. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I've been playing guitar and singing for over 35 years. Here are the pearls of wisdom I can think of right now:

    1) Buy a capo. It lets you play in different keys without changing what you're doing with your left hand. For singing, it's great, because it lets you find a key you're comfortable singing in.

    2) Don't try to show off how high you can sing. Pick keys that let you sing in a comfortably low part of your range. Untrained voices don't usually sound very good at the top of their ranges, and straining for a high note and not hitting it sounds terrible. Once your voice is strong up high, go ahead and hit those notes, because they can be thrilling to hear, but if your voice isn't trained to do it, I suggest avoiding them.

    3) Sing with confidence. Sing like you're proud of your voice and you're happy to be singing. It's easy for beginning singers to be ashamed, or at least uncertain, of their voices, so they sing too quietly and diffidently, as if they're apologizing with every note and syllable. I sang like that when I was young. Well, the truth is that we're all stuck with the voices we're born with, and all the hoping and wishing in the world isn't going to give you the voice of your favorite singer. You sound like you and there's nothing you can do about that, so you might as well enjoy it.

    4) Realize that there may be some songs you love that you can't sing well yet, and there may be other songs your voice fits so well it sounds like you were born to sing them. You may love how Singer X sounds singing Song Y, and you may try your whole life and never sing that song that well, but gosh darn it, on Song Z you might sound 100 times better than Singer X ever could. You have strengths as a singer even when you're just starting out, and you should try to learn what they are and use them.

    5) Learn lots of songs, and learn all the words! Tons of people know the first verse of a song, and they sing it with gusto, but they're reduced to going "la da da da" for the second and subsequent verses. Don't be one of those. I remember when I was a kid and my dad would ask me to sing songs by the fireplace at our cottage, and I'd sing one or two and have to stop, because that was all I knew. My uncle would take the guitar from me and proceed to sing song after song after song. I was, even then, probably a better guitar player than he was in terms of pure technique, but he knew a million songs and I hardly knew any. So he won. (Not that there was any competition going on, but dammit, the guy who knows the songs wins. That's just the way it is.)

    I hope this helps. Good luck!
     
  8. jacklondonsghost
    Offline

    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    1,039
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Play, play, play, play, play.

    Best advice I can give you. Sit down in front of your iTunes and play along for hours and hours. I spent years trying lessons and classes and while they helped, the only way I ever got better was playing, and playing, and playing some more.

    I know you asked for different tips besides practice, but that's the best I can give you. Callouses will come with time; your fingers WILL get ripped open and bleed if you're doing it right. Force yourself to hold the proper hand positions; you'll be glad you did when you have perfect technique and get good sound out of the guitar.

    (This is my advice after playing e. bass for 8 years and dabbling in guitar).

    Also, doorhinge kind of rhymes with orange. A little. Unfortunately I don't think it's actually a word.
     
  9. Zane
    Offline

    Zane Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2010
    Messages:
    277
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Far away from someone...
    I suggest you, to try out, youtube.

    Just type things like, singingn techniques, tutorials, lessons, and with the guitar type the same.

    Some of the videos are helpfull
     
  10. Lavarian
    Offline

    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    93
    A bit more on guitar- Be sure you're playing on the tips of your fingers and not the pads. If you've got nails on your fretting hand, you'll probably need to trim them down so that you can play with your fingertips. Callouses come slowly but surely, depending on how high the action of your guitar is.
    The action on my first guitar was way too high and caused my fingers to get extremely sore. I kept up with that for a while until I got my new one. I tell you- my new one feels like sex on my fingers compared to the old. I think the months on my old crappy one actually made me a better player all around.

    As far as singing goes, Cogito is correct. One thing that might help (and I don't really know why) is to relax your throat and try to imagine the sound spinning out into the air. My old vocal coach taught me that and it helped. I don't really know why...
     
  11. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Lavarian makes a good point I'd like to second: the action on the guitar is important. Which means, in the world of acoustic guitars, GET A DECENT GUITAR! I don't mean an expensive one; there are decent acoustics available for less than $400. But if you have an el cheapo piece of crap guitar with lousy action, it will impede your progress in learning to play. (It also isn't likely to play in tune as you move up the neck.)

    Also, a good guitar will sound good, and that in itself will encourage you to practice. A lousy guitar will be endlessly frustrating to you might even influence you to give the instrument up. A friend of mine stopped taking guitar lessons and I asked him why and he said he just couldn't get it to sound right. I tried his guitar and it was an awful piece of garbage - practically untunable, strings buzzing against the frets, the horrible works. I was amazed his teacher let him play it. The best sound that guitar could make would be when you back over it with a pickup truck.

    A decent guitar is a must. If you haven't got one, get one; it's worth every dime you spend on it.
     
  12. jacklondonsghost
    Offline

    jacklondonsghost Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    Messages:
    1,039
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Seconded. With electric instruments you can get away with a cheaper, poorly made instrument a lot easier than you can with acoustic ones. My first bass I bought used for seventy dollars, amp included, and it still sounds decent to this day. Acoustic, it's important to get a decent instrument otherwise it will not sound so good.
     
  13. Mooski
    Offline

    Mooski New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hull, East Yorkshire, England
    I myself am a performing musician. I play guitar, harmonica and the saxophone as well as a little singing now and again - and I have found developing my singing voice the hardest due to incorrect practices. I highly recommend taking lessons from a reputable vocal coach that can tailor their training programme to your needs exactly. Different styles of singing demand different styles of training and it pays to do your homework on vocal coaches. More often than not, the little advert in the local newspaper from a guy claiming he can teach all styles of singing well and can add an octave range onto your voice in three months should be avoided. :)

    If vocal coaching isn't an option, then the two main facets of singing I would look at to begin with are pitch (ensuring you're singing in tune) and 'tone and timbre' (the tonal qualities of your voice). For the former, I'd advise researching solfege to begin with. The latter can be much harder to focus on without a coach, but look into breathing exercises tailored to singing, and relax. Please bear in mind however, that singing is not my area of expertise. I may not be right on the money with my recommendations, but purely from a teach-your-self point of view it makes sense to develop these two aspects of your vocals.

    Just a note: be wary of any kind of pitch exercises (such as solfege) in combination with a guitar. The equal temperament tuning system coupled with the fact that guitars are so easily taken out of tune (and harder to actually tune 100%!) means that trying to sing and match your pitch with notes on the guitar may do you more harm than good; pitches, but moreso intervals, will likely be out. Much better if you're serious about developing your voice without spending a lot of money, is an electronic piano/keyboard. You're guaranteed that each note and each interval will be exactly how it should be.

    As for the guitar, I will echo the posts that have advised ensuring you have a decent, workable guitar. Please note that this does not mean spending a lot of money, or even purchasing a new one. I have had quite a selection of guitars ranging from all over in the price spectrum, but the best acoustic I've ever had cost me £110 and was an ex-display Vintage acoustic from a local store. This thing was very well made, played like a dream and sounded fantastic. Sometimes, a guitar just needs the action adjusting and a new set of strings. If you have any guitar-playing friends, ask them to take a look and give their opinion.

    This should not suggest that if you're struggling, it is the fault of the guitar. When I started playing the guitar, I made the mistake of thinking purchasing an £900 Gibson guitar to replace my £90 Squier starter kit would make a world of difference to my playing. I sounded just as dreadful with the Gibson as with the cheap Squier and to make matters worse, I was stuck with a guitar I didn't really like that much (Cherry Sunburst Les Paul - Eurgh!) and couldn't afford guitar lessons for some time, further hindering my progress! Practice makes perfect holds true provided you're practicing correctly and those chords will start to sound clearer in time, your muscles not tiring as much, requiring that little less force to hold them.

    As with singing, there is no substitute for a great teacher; they will point out and be able to correct flaws you may miss and help give direction to your learning, but it is a much more accessible instrument these days. Ensure you're pressing down on the fretboard as close to the fret (the raised metal strip) as possible; this is often overlooked and can greatly improve clarity and help preventing the dreaded fret buzz. Be brutal - pick out the individual notes of each chord and ensure each one rings out clearly. If not? Re-position your hand, and start again. Repeat ad nauseum! ;)

    Sorry for the wall of text. Music is something I'm very passionate about! :D
     

Share This Page