There are so many amazing singers and performers out there. Wouldn’t you love to be recognised as one of them? Keep reading and we will give you the foundation to take any song, learn it from scratch and build it back up to be a complete master piece that wows any audience. We are looking at rules that pertain to most styles of music as this will help you master any genre of music and also give you the competitive edge to perform it well!
Learning a Song: The First Few Steps
Singing a song isn’t as easy as following the notes. In addition to all the vocal training a singer must do to get his or her voice to produce the best possible sounds, a singer must study a piece of music like an actor would study a script! Not only must you figure out the key that the music is written in, you must figure out its tempo, dynamics, and style. You must figure out the meaning of the lyrics, where to emphasize certain words or sounds, and where to take a breath.
You may wonder … why bother with all this, when I can just listen to a recording of the song and copy it? That’s perfectly fine—if you don’t want to become a real singer. Could you imagine someone playing Hamlet by copying other actors’ performances rather than reading and understanding the play?
You need to understand what makes a song tick, where its heart lies, and where it offers un-mined opportunities for your unique vocal qualities to shine. By breaking down a song yourself, you’ll become the expert—rather than passing the buck on to another singer. As a result, your vocal interpretation will be creative, unique, and entirely your own.
Fortunately, there’s a simple 8-step process you can use. You’ll need to have the sheet music or musical score for the song first. Starting with figuring out the root Do, you’ll study the lyrics, the rhythm, the phrasing … all the way down to adding your own creative spin to the song.
Step 1. Determining Do with Key Signatures
Remember the Solfeggio method you’re going to have to use it again, this time to determine the tonal center of a song. The tonal center of a song is the “home base” of a song, and it is determined by the key signature at the start of each musical score.
Let’s refresh your memory just a bit. The key note Do in the scale Do, Re, Mi, Fa,
So, La, Ti, Do is the starting note from which you can reach all the other notes in any song, as long as you have practiced your intervals.
Do changes depending on the key of the song. Major keys are named by the letter representing Do followed by the word “Major” or “Minor.” For example, a key may be C Major, E-flat Major, or G Major.
The key signature tells you exactly what scale a song is written in … and what series of notes you’ll be required to sing. The key signature can be found to the right of the clef symbol (treble or bass) at the beginning of a musical score. It appears as agroup of flat or sharp symbols (or, in the case of C Major, nothing at all).
In the musical score, one clue that the song is in a minor key is the regular appearance of accidentals, or sharp or flat marks next to notes.
1. No Key Signature
A blank staff always indicates C major (or its relative minor, A minor).
2. The Rule for Flats
No matter how many flats are in the group (as long as there are more than one), the next to the last flat will be your baseline Do.
The Do in the above example is E… So, the key could either be E…major or its relative minor, C minor.
If there is just one flat in the group, Do will always be F.
The order of flats in a key signature is: B, E, A, D, G, C, F.
3. The Rule for Sharps
Look one half-step up (one space OR one line up) from the right-most sharp. That line or space indicates the note upon which you will base Do.
The Do in the above example is B. So, the key could either be B major or its relative minor, G minor.
The order of sharps in a key signature is F, C, G, D, A, E, B.
Did you notice that the order of sharps is the same as the order for flats … but in reverse?
Phew! That theory is over! We know some of you love theory and some of you hate it. Get ready for the practical application of all this and warm up that voice ready to sing coming up in our next lesson!
Good work! We know theory isnt for everyone. But the serious singers that can learn quickly and take direction fast, are the ones that go futher than they ever dreamed! Next up we continue the series on how to learn a song like a professional.
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