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Rhythm In India

There’s a lot more happening in India than the food –says Shlomo

Rhythm is more important than a lot of people realize.

Learning the tune and the lyrics of your song is one thing – but if you have a strong control of rhythm you can add unforgettable flavors to your singing which will linger on in the minds of your audience.

As vocalists I think we need to re-learn this truth again and again; I re-learned it in India.

A Rhythmic Odyssey

I had always wanted to go to India, mostly because of the food.

But I recently had the honor of travelling to India as a part of a British Council sponsored event which included collaborating with accomplished traditional artists and teaching beat-boxing workshops to children.

What hit home to me is that in India there is an entire rhythmic discipline that stretches back for millennia –compared to the 30 year old history of beat-boxing.

Also there are many instruments that one wouldn’t even attempt playing without first speaking the rhythm.

Especially interesting to me is “tabla talk”, a tradition where the beat is processed by the mouth before it is tried out on the drum (the tabla).

My scariest moments on the tour were when I was challenged by fellow musicians to play their music and their instruments just hours before our concerts.

This was humbling not only because many Indian musicians begin their training in early childhood but also because the rhythms were so hard!

A Challenge for All Vocalists

The journey reminded me to never sit on what I’ve got because then I will plateau and my audience will get bored.

That’s the idea I want to pass on to you today: challenge yourself rhythmically by trying to imitate unfamiliar patterns.

Go outside of your comfort zone, outside of your genre, away from your familiar tunes.

Expose yourself to new rhythms and master these as best you can.

And then come back “home”.

This challenge will spark your own familiar music in ways you won’t know until you go on this journey.

As you stretch yourself rhythmically you’ll be fascinated by your new musical interpretations – and so will your audience.


My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Matt Jones – Someone Like You (Cover)

Matt, I like your strong command of the song; you are enjoying your singing and give a good performance. I noticed that you have slightly rephrased the chorus to fit inside your range. This is a good move, yet I found myself waiting for you to go up higher at end the song – closing with a swell of energy. I am wondering if you can hold something back in order to give it later on: a climax at the end. Finally, it’s important that you push your level of engagement – which is not always easy with a video. Don’t be afraid of letting more of your own character shine through.

Steamer Johanson – Hey Little Girl (original)

Steamer: I like it that you are taking some deep and very personal experiences and creating a musical outlet. I found it difficult, however, to hear what you were saying. So, my first suggest is to ensure that you clearly communicate each word. Then, I’d like to add to this more expressive emotion in your singing. Perhaps restructuring your lyrics so that they are more clear about the story being told will help you. If you create a clear narrative journey with your lyrics – which lends itself to verses and choruses – this might set you free to add contrast to your emotions as you sing.


Check out Shlomo’s exclusive VoiceCouncil Interview – he discusses his most embarrassing, challenging and productive moments…

Shlomo gave up astrophysics to perform his amazing vocal pyrotechnics. It was a good move. Since then he has won global acclaim and worked with some of the biggest names in music. He’s the 2011 winner of the World Loopstation Championships in LA and is now knee deep in a dizzying festival season including Glastonbury and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His next project is a brand new vocal project called “Shlomo and the Lip Factory” which launches with a new EP and mini tour in October. You can check out his latest news, tunes, videos and competitions at http://facebook.com/shlomizzle or