Your Voice: The Final Frontier

Hi Everyone – welcome to my second week of the VoiceCouncil Residency!

Like the mysteries behind the next range of mountains, you will never discover the secrets of your voice unless you GO THERE. Stay warm in your comfort zone and you leave the treasures of the voice for others to claim.

Variety is the spice of life. Even if you perform a specific kind of music in a specific way, you can still find ways to vary your performance. Dynamics, voice placement, tempo, stylistic fusion, coloring specific words… variety is the spice, and spice brings out the flavor. You are on a journey through a wasteland littered with the bones of mediocre singer/songwriters and average voices. To survive, you must find a way to stand out while staying true to what makes you who you are.

Try This:

An exercise to help you on your journey of vocal discovery: pick two songs that you know SO WELL that you don’t have to think about them. Sing them in at least four styles different than the regular style (rock, country, reggae, 18th century art song…). Also sing them at extreme dynamic ranges. Also sing them completely falsetto, or completely in chest voice.

To make this work, you need find a place you can really let loose and be as loud (or quiet) as you want to be, a place where you can experiment and sound ridiculous without fear of criticism (or angry neighbors). Give yourself permission to fail miserably (and enjoy it!), and, of course, be mindful that you sing with good technique so you don’t hurt yourself.

The purpose of this exercise is not to sound brilliant. The purpose is to have fun and open up areas of your voice you don’t usually use, and to break you out of the rigid expectations of how you are “supposed” to sound. Record yourself, listen back with an open mind, and really think about your sound. You just might find some things you can use!

My Reactions to This Past Week’s Peer Review Vids

Chris TidestromStanding On Your Doorstep
Your voice is like a rustic mountain cabin. I love the sound, and I love the song. Your voice is a perfect match for this. Pitch is fantastic, too.
I don’t want to second-guess your vocal choices, because I think they work for the song, but I do wonder what you could do with a little variety… a little punch, or moan, or growl on certain meaningful words. Nice work!

Katrina MarieDown – Jay Sean
Classy cover, and sung so well. You have wonderful colors in your voice, and great command over your range. Just sounds good! I don’t feel like you are really landing on most of the pitches, just brushing past them. Don’t run away from them, embrace them! It’s such a good voice, we want to hear you linger on the notes.

Shawn Michael HutchSometimes
Good song, nice work! Your singing is a bit pitchy at the beginning, which may be because of the balance of voice vs. guitar in the headphones. You can try taking off one half of the headphones while recording so you can self-monitor your pitch better. I would like to hear some variation throughout the song. You could think about dynamic changes, and varying your vocal lines to match the dynamics; shaping of lines and individual notes, especially at the ends of lines; some kind of build to the end, or rise and fall of energy.

– Mister Tim

See Mister Tim’s Exclusive Interview for VoiceCouncil Magazine

Mister Tim is the mastermind behind more than a dozen award-winning a cappella groups, including 2010 Harmony Sweepstakes champions Plumbers of Rome, internet sensations moosebutter, beatbox quartet Mouth Beats, and all-original vocal bands VoxBom and THROAT. He is a published composer and arranger, a dedicated teacher, and a solo artist, most recently with his solo vocal live looping show “Vocal Magic.” He was a headline performer in the Las Vegas Strip production of “Toxic Audio,” is in demand for speciality corporate music projects, and is an active educator, coach, and clinician.

  • Jeannie Deva

    Your article is most beautifully written with good solid directions. Thanks Mister Tim! Warm Regards, Jeannie Deva

  • Videohere

    I love what you are saying here…I so totally agree.

  • This is a cool exercise!! I think I’ll try it myself!!