Embrace your tone – it is unique! –says Mark De-Lisser.
Everyone is born with a particular voice. Don’t spend years trying to manufacture a tone which is not genuine.
I’m interested in YOU and what YOU sound like.
This is why I chose the title for this article – too many singers are spending too much of their resources on a quest to increase their range and feeling bad that they can’t sing higher.
Too few singers are spending time embracing the fantastic gifts they have within their range.
How to Discover Your Unique Voice
Young singers go through the process of imitation to learn, but, continue to ask yourself: “who am I?”
Don’t try to be different. Being yourself is different enough. Don’t go against the grain. Embrace what you naturally have.
Everybody has influences. Everybody has been inspired by something. Go through the following process to discover who you really are and what fits nicely within your personality and technical abilities:
- Imitate: As you grow, listen to everything, try everything, eat and breath everything!
- Assimilate: What does that feel like? What does this do? Why does that work?
- Innovate: Combine your natural talent and acquired skills to create something authentic.
Start any warmup or practice slap bang in the middle of your range. Don’t go anywhere that will cause you to work harder, constrict or induce any tension. Just focus on boosting the resonance of your tone with humming, and scales.
Don’t Overdo the Special Effects
Vocal effects such as a creaky onset or breathy offset should only be used to enhance the lyric or enhance the feeling in that moment.
Ask yourself: What am I saying? What is the point of this song? What am I trying to communicate?
If there is a phrase that is angry or frustrated, use belt or growl. Don’t just do it because it feels good, do it because it suits the sentiment of that word or phrase.
Back in the day, everyone copied Britney Spears’ creaky voice. Nowadays young singers are dropping off every note they sing.
are also a lot of cry onsets, which are nice but it’s like using a hammer to saw a piece of wood – you are using the wrong tool to get the job done.
It’s about being tasteful. Start with the lyrics. When you truly understand what you are singing, vocal effects start to strip away to reveal an honest, genuine voice.
Those Who Can Riff, Will Riff
Riffs and runs can be amazing, but many singers use them to hide behind if they don’t have a great tone or understanding of the song.
If I’m having a conversation and I’m feeling passionate about the subject matter, I may emphasise my words with intensity, pitch or rhythm. That could translate as a riff in a song. I want the listener to understand the emotion I feel.
A riff should be used to embellish a thought, lyric or moment, not to simply amaze people!
Take Your Audience On A Journey
How do you want to leave your audience? Do you want them to feel warm, like they understand you better? Or do you want to leave them cold and confused?
When learning a song, look at the journey within the song and allow yourself room to grow throughout.
Listen to Lianne La Havas here. It is all about her tone. She uses a breathy texture in head voice.
Janine Le Clair gives feedback on the competition entries this month:
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Chloe Pandora - Sweet Revenge
Chloe, great job on the originality! You are a true ‘creator’. Your hauntingly beautiful tone is a great match for this style. Having said that, simply as a tool to keep the audience’s attention (as we’re all known to get distracted or bored easily), I would suggest showing us some other sides of your voice periodically throughout the performance. You’re a master of using the harmonizer and knowing how to manipulate it with your voice – but I’d like you to become more of a master of the tools you have within your own voice – specifically thicker tone, and believe it or not – thinner/airy tone. You can go to the extremes of either ends of your resonance even more on this song than you think, and this will take us on a vocal journey.
Why I chose Chloe Pandora as a Finalist
I am choosing Chloe Pandora as a semifinalist in the VoiceCouncil Singing competition because of her vast phrasing skills, good ear and pure tone.
Mark De-Lisser is a vocal coach, vocal arranger, choir leader and vocal producer who has worked with some of the top vocal talent in contemporary music today including Jessie J, Olly Murs and Beverly Knight. Mark has taught at many recognized music institutions and held several high profile TV roles. Mark leads the renowned ACM Gospel Choir and Singology community choirs across London. Find out more on Mark’s website.
Janine Le Clair is a soulful Country recording artist, an international award winning vocalist and renowned vocal coach. A published writer with SSM Nashville since 2009, she has had many cuts with American Country Artists and several Top 15 hits in Australia including Natalie Howard’s ‘The Girlfriend’, 3rd Wheel’s ‘Gettin’ Hitched’ and her own single, ‘Bulletproof’. Le Clair is a dual citizen of Canada and Australia.
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