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#735443 - 07/06/09 11:28 AM A question about octaves??  
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Everett Adams Online content
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How many are there and what are they called? How do you determine what you are? How many octaves is it normal for a male to be able to do?

#735456 - 07/06/09 12:35 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Hi Everett
There are as many octaves as the human ear is capable of hearing and beyond.
Voices do vary from person to person and there are many factors to take into consideration to establish range. Some exceptional singers can cover several octaves and some struggle with capturing just one. Below are some links to interesting info re octaves and the range of the human voice and ear.

http://cnx.org/content/m10862/latest/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vocal_range

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_range

#735509 - 07/06/09 04:06 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Roy Orbison had at least a three octave range, some say four. Very unusual to have that much range.

#735516 - 07/06/09 04:34 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: DakLander]  
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Everett,

For songwriting, I'd keep the range of a song well under an octave and a half, with one octave being better.


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#735529 - 07/06/09 05:14 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Mike Dunbar]  
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The piano keyboard contains all the notes we're likely to be interested in. From C to shining C, an octave contains 12 notes:
7 of 'em are Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti (nevermind that last Do)
5 of 'em are those black keys.

88 keys divided by 12 tones = 7.33 octaves available on a piano.

Not many people can sing all that. But "octave" is just the distance from any note to it's next instance...maybe C to C, or maybe F to the next highest F. So it's hard to say how many there are...kind of like saying "how many inches are there?"

The science behind the vibrations that make these sounds is fascinating to me. If you pluck one guitar string, you have a tone. If you press that string down at its exact midway point, you hear the same tone one octave higher. It's like if you cut it in half, you get twice the vibrations, and twice the pitch. The faster the vibrations, the higher the pitch.

#735545 - 07/06/09 07:20 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Mark Kaufman]  
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Mike's right. If you keep it under an octave, both me and Ernest Tubbs can probably sing it. We can't sing most songs.

Joe

#735685 - 07/07/09 01:45 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Thanks: I'm trying to figure out what I am as a singer( Iknow, the not great octave Haha) I've been told I am a tenor (ten or twelve miles away) lol When singing in church with the congregation, I sing my normal voice, I can go higher if the song calls for it, but I can't go the next step higher, when the song goes there, I drop back below my tenor(normal) range to bass. Is this what they call three octave range? Is it normal to sing bass to a higher range song if you can't reach the higher notes? I know I get some strange looks from those around me when I do, maybe I should shut up then LOL. I don't profess to be a singer so these questions may seem stupid.


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#735721 - 07/07/09 04:40 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Hi Everett from what you are saying you may be a tenor but have a limited range. Your range is decided by the distance between the lowest note you can sing comfortably and the highest. Most people have between one and three octaves. Some exeptional folk can sing several octaves.

In classical music types of voice are described as follows

Soprano: C4 – C6
Mezzo-soprano: A3 – A5
Contralto: F3 – F5
Tenor: C3 – C5
Baritone: F2 – F4
Bass / Basso: E2 – E4


Most males have a tenor voice and those with lower pitched voices are bass. The important thing is to be comfortable with the key and not to try to sing outside your range as this can strain your voice and damage vocal cords. Sometimes a keychange of a semi or tone can make all the difference between handling the song comfortably and singing "sausages" (a term my pal Dave affectionately uses when a singer is unable to hit notes in a song because it is in the wrong key for the voice)

#735744 - 07/07/09 06:27 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Originally Posted by Everett Adams
How many are there and what are they called? How do you determine what you are? How many octaves is it normal for a male to be able to do?


Everett, at first, I didn't understand what you were trying to ask...... "How do you determine what you are"? Answer, Look south with no clothes on. smile

OK,,,so once I got what you were really meant....: I think "Range" is what you are really after here.

1. Start to sing any sound at the lowest sound possible. Play the piano or guitar to find where you went down to,,,,OR, start somewhere on the piano and match it, going lower and lower till you can't sing. Do the same for going up to the high notes of your voice/piano. (in natural voice). Once you have those extreme low and high notes, take off a few notes till you actually sound listenable. That will be your singing range, and you can then see how many octaves, including the fraction needed to then say you can sing so many octaves,,,,from this note to that, (low to high).

2. You can then start from the highest note of yours and sing falsetto, to keep going up to find your falsetto range, with the same principle of taking off a few notes so it's listenable to most people,,,not just screaming to say you hit that note!

It's the "range" I think you are really asking about, with octaves just another way of saying what your range is. The notes named (Count the note from the end of the piano to determine what specific pitch of that note is. (Like A3, the third A on the piano, or whatever note is your good low note). Do the same for the high note of your GOOD range, say am F4. That would be almost be two octaves, but better info to know and to tell anyone who needs to know what your range actually is. (Specific notes).

John


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#735753 - 07/07/09 06:42 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Just wanted to mention that range, in and of itself, does not determine voice type (bass, baritone, tenor), but, generally speaking,

the high note for a bass is E above middle C,

the high note for a baritone is A above middle C,

the high note for a tenor is C above middle C.

voice type is actually determined by 'tessitura' which is, 'where the voice sits'.

How I explain it to my students is... the house of 'range' has 4 stories. The Basses live in the basement, the Baritones live on the main floor, the Tenors live on the second floor... and the CounterTenors are in the attic. The Bass can visit the Baritones often, but finds it hard to get up to see the Tenors. The Tenors can visit the Baritones but finds it hard to get down to the Basses. The Baritones may visit with some of the 'higher' Basses or some of the 'lower' Tenors. But each of them is "at home" on their floor.

When the song you're singing gets too high, you go back to your floor and sing it an octave lower.

Range can be strengthened and lengthened through training. Through training, one finds one's true tessitura. Many women come to me thinking they are altos because they can't sing above the C-above-middle-C. After working for some months they are surprised to find their tessitura is higher and they are mezzos and sometimes even sopranos.

Thus ends today's lesson, lol


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#735936 - 07/08/09 12:31 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Now you are speaking a foreign language to me. I think I have a better grasp on it from the way Vikki explained it, the house thing. So maybe I am a Baritone and I can reach Tenor but not the Counter Tenors, when it goes there I slip back into the Bass in the basement. Does that sound right. So that would be my range, from high Bass to low Tenor with Baritone being my comfort zone, hey that rhymes. Thanks you guys and gals, especially Vikki.


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May the flowers of love forever bloom in your garden of life

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#736099 - 07/08/09 10:08 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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What puzzles me is how you can jump three floors from the basement straight to the second floor. What happened to the ground floor and the first floor? Also in any house I have been in the attic is the top floor.

#736574 - 07/10/09 06:14 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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I fixed that Jim. It was an error in describing the house, lol


Vikki Flawith: Songwriter/Composer, Singer/Voice Teacher

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#736584 - 07/10/09 08:18 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Thanks Vikki. Now what puzzles me is how Everett understood the original explanation with the weird house floors but could not grasp the traditional explanantion simply naming the notes. LOL

#736616 - 07/10/09 11:22 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Everett Adams Online content
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Oh I noticed the mistake in the house layout but still understood what she meant. I don't profess to be a musician, I play a few chords on a guitar, half the time I'm playing chords and don't even know their names, let alone the notes that make up the chords.LOL


The more you taste the bitterness of defeat, the sweeter final victory will be

May the flowers of love forever bloom in your garden of life

http://www.soundclick.com/newsflashsounds

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#736642 - 07/10/09 01:14 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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On a serious note Everett it might help your songwriting, musical knowledge and understanding if you get a small electronic keyboard. This would help you recognise and understand chords, octaves and single notes etc. They are not expensive to buy and can be plugged in to most amps and recording setups. You can teach yourself chords in no time. Most even have built in adjustable drum rhythms and auto accompaniment which helps with arranging your songs.

#736644 - 07/10/09 01:22 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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And there are many sites and books on starting to read and play music. They show the notes on the piano and or guitar, and all the chords and their fingering options.

Knowing the basics would sure help you to understand answers about music, and then to know how to ask questions to better help us help you,,,and even vice versa!

It's fun, even if challenging, to learn about what you are interested in. Goes for anything. Look how you are well "versed" in religion. Just applying some of that time it took to anything else will soon have you "knowing"!

The more you do, the more you will be able to do.

John


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
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#737186 - 07/12/09 07:17 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Actually, there's no such thing as octaves - There is only sound :-) But of course we have theoretically agreed to register sound as waves, and divide the waves into pitches. That way it is way more workable for us songwriters.. LOL

But I'd go with Mike, Joe and many others about one octave, unless you are writing for Carrie Underwood or Celine Dion.. But even they do songs within that range :-)


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#737454 - 07/13/09 02:06 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Everett Adams]  
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Originally Posted by Everett Adams
How many are there and what are they called? How do you determine what you are? How many octaves is it normal for a male to be able to do?


Well...that depends. If you're out to impress a lady, your range will be as wide as Montana. However, iffin you're married and your wife demands you to sing your range...it'll be like taking out the garbage to you. You'll grumble and tell her your throat is sore, you don't feel like it, then you'll half-heartedly sing her favorite song to appease her. At least you'll get lucky with her that nignt! smile

Seriously though, I've often had the same question about range. Hummingbird kind of answered it, but I still don't quite get it. I missed something in one of these posts. Is there a certain universal key to start out at to judge how high or low you can go? Sorry again if I missed the explanation.


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#737477 - 07/13/09 05:04 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Polly Hager]  
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Just start at middle C if you are a woman, or the C below middle C if you are a man.



Vikki Flawith: Songwriter/Composer, Singer/Voice Teacher

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#737523 - 07/13/09 11:32 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Polly we all have different ranges. Some people can sing notes others cannot reach. I think the important thing is to find your own limitations and make sure you sing in a key that suits your voice and does not strain it. What makes a good singer is not the octave range but the quality and tones of the notes you can sing.

#737716 - 07/14/09 12:22 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Polly Hager Offline
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Polly Hager  Offline
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Cincinnati, OH USA
Originally Posted by BIG JIM MERRILEES
Polly we all have different ranges. Some people can sing notes others cannot reach. I think the important thing is to find your own limitations and make sure you sing in a key that suits your voice and does not strain it. What makes a good singer is not the octave range but the quality and tones of the notes you can sing.


I agree with you Jim, but I've also noticed that vocalists who are most successful in the music industry are those that do have a wide range, and can sing in a strong tone and perfect pitch throughout those ranges. I think expanding one's range is really important. I mean, you're right about not straining, and I try very hard not to myself, but I think that's the trick. Finding a way to expand without straining. I guess that's where a vocal coach comes in. If you try to teach yourself to swim you'll probably always only be able to dog paddle. If you have a swim coach, you learn different strokes to strengthen your muscles and increase your ability to go farther. I reckon a vocal coach does the same thing with your vocal chords.


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You're supposed to be grooving as hard as you can, all of the time. - Stephen Gaskin
#737815 - 07/14/09 08:54 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Polly Hager]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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I agree but a word of warning..... make sure they teach you properly and that they know their stuff. We are rock singers and our staple techniques often go against the rules and teachings of most classic styles. You could learn bad habits that would spoil your voice and delivery. We do not want to pick up any more bad habits Polly. LOL

#738217 - 07/15/09 03:24 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Polly Hager Offline
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Agreed. I have enough bad habits as it is! grin


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You're supposed to be grooving as hard as you can, all of the time. - Stephen Gaskin
#766821 - 11/04/09 10:03 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Polly Hager]  
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JulesBloeth Offline
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Hey Everett,

All you really need to do is determine what your ideal key is and go from there (mine is actually Bb and it took some hits and misses to determine it, though I can also sing in G and D# depending upon the chord structure). If you play an instrument, it's certainly easier, but even if you don't, you can still find your comfort zone.

There is no "normal" for men or women. For us women, wouldn't we love to all have the range of Christina Aguilera?! Not gonna happen. My range has (sadly) changed from year to year and even lessoned over time. Outside factors have contributed to it.

My best advice is to find your comfort zone and don't worry about the rest. Find your ideal key and go from there.

JMO.

#767595 - 11/06/09 11:40 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JulesBloeth]  
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Rick Heenan Offline
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I read an article that stated, scientists had discovered the lowest note found in nature. It was a Bflat 54 octaves below middle C.

#767642 - 11/07/09 03:18 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Rick Heenan]  
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JulesBloeth Offline
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OMG!! : o LOL. I wonder who sang it?

#767669 - 11/07/09 06:54 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JulesBloeth]  
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Kevin Edward Rose Offline
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It had to be J.D. Sumner!


Kevin Edward Rose
Celtic, Americana, whatever the folk.
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#767680 - 11/07/09 10:15 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Kevin Edward Rose]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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I bet it was one of my farts.....

#767776 - 11/07/09 04:52 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Hummingbird]  
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Sausagelink Offline
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Sausagelink  Offline
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Originally Posted by Hummingbird
Just start at middle C if you are a woman, or the C below middle C if you are a man.


What if you're metrosexual? gender neutral?

What if you're gender challenged?

What if you're gender has changed due to
hormone therapy and surgery?

What if you're one gender trapped in the other
gender's body with no means of escape?

What if you were in an accident and now have memory
loss and bandages on your hands and over your
eyes and you can't check your gender member that
was rendered tender in the fender bender to find
out which gender you belong to?


#767955 - 11/08/09 10:44 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Sausagelink]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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If you are any of the things you mention then you have more to worry about than vocal range...LOL

#773930 - 11/27/09 11:09 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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Lady Fitzgerald Offline
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Lady Fitzgerald  Offline
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A few years ago, this was brought up on another forum. My reply is below. Jean Bullock had a much better response. Mayhap she will chime in.

Voice Ranges

This is a loaded question. It depends very heavily on the singers you have and the style of music.

Most of my recent experience has been SSAA. The female voice ranges tend (notice I said tend) to range differently than in SATB. In the female chorale I use to sing with the first sopranos would range from about the F at the bottom of the staff (they hated that note!) to the G or A above the staff. The seconds went from about middle C up to the E at the upper end of the staff (although they would occasionally sing in unison with the firsts as high as G; in my case they usually lost me at E).

The first altos would range from about the A below middle C up to the C at the middle of the staff. They weren't especially happy up there, though. The seconds rarely ranged above the A on the lower end of the staff (unless they were singing in unison with the firsts, then we lost many of them after A; we had some killer seconds). The seconds would go as low as the G below the staff.

All our music was confined to the trebel clef. Although range was a factor in determining if one was a second or a first, often one's comfort zone had a lot to do with it. I consider myself to be a first alto because my range falls a little short for second soprano. I was placed in second soprano because I sound better in the upper part of my range (except the top note where I tend to get screechy). It helped to balance the other seconds when they were at the lower part of their range (I was happy because S2 had the neatest parts).

My SATB experience has been limited to a cappella shaped note style congregational type singing. The sopranos would rarely go as high as the G at the top of the staff. E or F was more normally the high end. Song leaders would frequently transpose down songs with E (or even C or D) or higher to avoid losing the sopranos or to keep them from screeching. The low end for the sopranos would rarely go below the E at the bottom of the staff but it could go as low as middle C (not a happy place for sopranos).

Altos would typically range from middle B, the one just below the first ledger line under the staff, (or, very rarely, middle A) up to the A on the staff. If singing in unison with the sopranos, they might be called upon to go up to the C on the staff but that usually brought looks of terror and tended to sound screechy if they actually made it.

Moving to the bass staff, the tenors almost never would go above the F above middle C. E was usually the high end. They would rarely drop below the F on the staff unless doubling with the bass then they might drop down to the C on the staff. Basses would go as low as the F under the staff to as high the G or A at the upper end of the staff.

Sopranos and tenors generally were more comfortable singing in the upper half of their range. Altos and basses generally were happier in the lower half of their range. I'm weird so this old alto is happier in the upper half of her range.

Opera and classical ranges tend to be much wider and go higher.

People are often surprised to find out how much overlap there is between the voices. A tenor singing the same note as an alto generally sounds much higher. I've known many tenors who could handle alto parts and many altos who could sing tenor. I remember once hearing a gospel quartet singing on TV that sounded like it was SAAB. When I got a chance to look at the screen, the deep, resonant bass was a woman! Whoa! I was at a folk music festival up in Prescott once and heard a tenor singing Irish and Scottish songs from a distance. Being part Irish, I just had to find out who he was and was shocked to find out it was a woman singing.


Jeannie

#821579 - 05/30/10 04:45 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Lady Fitzgerald]  
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JesseH Offline
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Oregon Coast
Maybe this should be a new topic but.......

How do you go about increasing your range with out hurting your voice by pushing it. My daughter and I wrote a country song with a high note in the chorus that sounds like it is just out of her range. She can hit it, but its not great. We tried to change the note, but the note is perfect for the song and nothing else works as well.

Now she wants to keep singing it with the hope that she will nail the note eventually but I am worried that it will hurt her voice. What do we do?


Life's a journey, enjoy the ride.
#821583 - 05/30/10 04:54 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JesseH]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Joe Wrabek  Offline
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Garibaldi, OR USA
Jesse, I just practice. A lot. After 30-plus years, I can maybe hit a note or two either side of my one-octave voice range. (Most folks can do way better.)

Where on the Oregon Coast are you? I live in Garibaldi.

Joe

#821601 - 05/30/10 06:39 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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JesseH Offline
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Oregon Coast
Hey Joe,
Yeah practice is key I just want to make sure we practice right. I have given up any hope of becoming a good singer my self but I don't want her to mess up her voice.

I am a little south of you in Coos Bay. Are there any good open mics in Garibaldi?


Life's a journey, enjoy the ride.
#821603 - 05/30/10 07:01 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JesseH]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Joe Wrabek  Offline
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Coos Bay is *way* farther south.

There aren't any open mikes around here--so years ago, we done something different. 8 years ago, a couple other musicians and myself got tired of there being no place to play, so we started getting together on Friday nights to play with each other. Other musicians kept showing up, and an audience, and now it's on the Dance Floor at Garibaldi City Hall (second-biggest meeting hall in the county--it'll hold 500 people, not that we get that many). 6-8 p.m. Fridays (we have to shut down by 8 so people can get to the Dairy Queen before it closes). We do the Circle Thing--each person leads something, and everybody else follows if they can.

And it's spawned a couple of imitators, which are also successful. There's one at the Main Library in Tillamook on Saturdays, 3-5 p.m., which attracts a lot of the same musicians (when the new library was built, the head librarian, a musician herself, had a sound system built in to the conference room), and there's an all-acoustic one at a local tavern, the Garibaldi pub, Wednesday afternoons 4-6. It's billed as a "jam session," but they do the Circle Thing, too. it's become a habit, I think.

Chance you might get to visit?

joe

#821633 - 05/30/10 10:15 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Joe Wrabek]  
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JesseH Offline
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Yeah we are looking to play as many open mics between here and Portland as possible this summer so we will certainly drive up your way. Is it all ages?

Its funny you mentioned DQ. Hitting up DQ after open mics is a regular thing for us now.


Life's a journey, enjoy the ride.
#821641 - 05/30/10 11:57 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JesseH]  
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Joe Wrabek Offline
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Joe Wrabek  Offline
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Garibaldi, OR USA
Yes, Jesse, all ages. Sometimes audience folks will bring little kids. (And that gives me an excuse to play "When They Die, I Put Them in the Cookies." Kids love it, parents hate it.) Good idea to get there early if you want to park near the City Hall building.

I should say that Garibaldi City Hall and the Tillamook Library are all ages. The Garibaldi Pub is a tavern (21 years old, yada yada).

Joe

Last edited by Joe Wrabek; 05/31/10 12:08 AM.
#821650 - 05/31/10 01:16 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JesseH]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Originally Posted by JesseH
My daughter and I wrote a country song with a high note in the chorus that sounds like it is just out of her range. What do we do?


She has to figure out what her peak GOOD note is, then make THAT note that high note you spoke about, and for any future song, by playing in a key that would have that happen.

(Change the key of the song to make her good peak note be the highest note she has to sing in any song). If her peak good note is two notes down from the original note she was trying to hit, then that song would need to be played two semi-tones down, (a whole note), to have her not strain and sound good for that high note.

To increase her range, look up the threads in the Vocal forums on that topic, and have her read all that Vikki and others have to say.





Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
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#821653 - 05/31/10 01:34 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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JesseH Offline
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Oregon Coast
thanks Johnny. We will just have to play with the song a little. We can't drop the whole song down because the low parts are at the low end of her range as it is. We just wrote too big of a range into the song I guess.


Life's a journey, enjoy the ride.
#822034 - 06/02/10 12:32 AM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: JesseH]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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Edinburgh, Scotland. UK
Interesting lesson I hope you have learned......Every singer should know their vocal range and what keys to sing certain songs in. When writing songs for yourself you should know the range limit of notes to use....the same principal applies when writing songs for other people. Many folk have sent me demos of songs to record my vocals on only to find that the backing track provided is in the wrong key.

#860171 - 11/25/10 06:14 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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Awesome thread...best lesson I learned in our early JPF gatherings (Detroit, Pineyfest I and II ) was to pick material that showcases what you have within the limits of your capabilities....not stuff that pushes the envelope. It's hard enough as it is.

Most important is to make sure it is in a comfortable key. Nothing makes you go pitchy like being uncomfortable (well maybe an out of tune guitar smile ). I'm not a strong vocalist, but if all is right with the song, I can hold my own.







If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#860197 - 11/25/10 09:43 PM Re: A question about octaves?? [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
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I agree.....the important thing is to practice what you are good at..I hear singers trying to push the boundaries...the result is oversinging and bum notes....better to sing within range and make it quality of notes rather than quantity.


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