Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Finding Your Voice: Matching Voices

People sing for different reasons, all are valid. Karaoke singing, cover band singing, choir singing, background studio singing... all these involve the singer needing to sound like someone else, or blend with other voices. To do this very well, vocal techniques need to be finely honed to adjust and match tone, rhythm, diction inflection, cutoffs and vocal licks and more.

The best way to do this is to start by ...tracing the masters. Love jazz? Study both legendary jazz voices and current masters ( Jane Monheit or Michael Buble). Love R&B? I'm absolutely sure Adele studied other r&b singers for years. Love country? This is a huge, diverse genre full of sub-genres. For a great, clickable list, check out AllMusic's portal page on country music. Love pop and/or rock? Again.. a huge field with sub-genres.. Try this AllMusic page. From the menu at the top of that page, you can see and explore all kinds of other genres of music's top artists.
Here are the steps:
Get some headphones and listen intensely to your favorite vocalists do their thing. Deeply notice and try to mentally memorize their tone, style, rhythms.
  • MIME
Don't sing out loud, don't make an audible sound... just actively mime, trying to trace the voice exactly, using your face and body language to silently sing.
Then start lightly singing softly but audibly, still mostly listening.
Once you are sure you're tracing the voice accurately, increase your volume til you are singing as loud as they are. 
Then try getting just a track to the song and see if you can sound like that voice. Record yourself to know for sure.

If you want to find your own unique voice, you will need to approach singing differently. That will be my next post...

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  • At January 13, 2012 at 6:54 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Judy, I don't know what your experience as an individual singer is with karaoke, but I think you're missing an important opportunity here. Karaoke is just a backing track with the lyrics visible on a screen, to prompt the memory. It allows singers to explore a song--using their own styling, phrasing, and choice of vocal colour. I think it's a big disservice to suggest that karaoke singers are just out there trying to sound like the original recording. Most singers I know, who actually are there for the singing, really bring something of themself to the song. For those of us that don't have a band ready to try any song any way, it's a great opportunity to develop our own sound.

    Having said that, if a singer wants to work on a certain aspect of vocal technique it is really helpful to imitate another singer who does it well as there is a clear standard of comparison....and a singer listening to their own voice through an amplified sound system hears themself the same way the audience does, and not the "other" sound we normally hear in our heads.

    Just a few thoughts I wanted to share. I look forward to your next issue of All Things Vocal!

    Julie in Mexico

  • At January 13, 2012 at 7:02 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    Julie you have an important point! Many singers of cover songs, including Karaoke tracks, do indeed experiment and try to bring their own original way of singing it. In fact, of course there have been many major label ‘covers’ of older songs which have gone on to become great hits. I covered Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and had a #5 Billboard single with it.

    As to my experience with Karoake… I remember the beginning of the whole thing. I actually produced a ton of Karaoke – I was in charge of recording the background vocals and lead examples. I did all kinds of genres. I don’t know what happened to the company that put them out, wish I did because they were some quality Karaoke, using AFTRA and AFofM singers and musicians.

    But to your point…what you are talking about is actually a level up from just learning the ‘alphabet’. You are doing something that may be even harder… knowing a song was sung a certain way and choosing a different way. Thank you for the great comment, and do keep in touch!


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