By using a few different techniques you can dramatically enhance parts of a song that really appeal to you, or that you think will appeal to the audience! Check out today’s lesson as we give you a few different ways to change a song around to suit your style and personality. Things like timing, the key a song is in, rhythm, note changes and lyrical emphases are key to producing a different performance that is both professional and memorable. So read onto discover how you can take control of a song and get ready to hear those all important words….”well done, you really made that song your own”!
Taking a Drone and not making a Clone
How to remake an old song to suit you.
A good singer must be able to understand a song from the inside out and be able to sing it well technically. But what makes a great singer a step apart from the rest is his or her personal interpretation of the song. You have probably heard judges in singing competitions, or singers themselves, talk about “making a song your own.”
If you’re singing a song that’s already been performed before, copying everything the original singer did verbatim would be uninteresting and repetitive. You need to sing a song in your own style and add your own touches to it. The best way to do so is to learn the song from scratch, using the musical score rather than listening to previous performances of it. If you haven’t heard how the original singer interpreted the song, you will have a completely fresh mind.
Don’t start adding twists and turns to a song until you feel comfortable singing it as it was written, however! Changing a song into your own interpretation before you understand it completely can only confuse you.
Your interpretation will be based on your knowledge of your own voice as well as the technical requirements of the song. It is completely subjective, so not everyone may agree with how you think the song should be performed. Don’t worry! That’s what personalization is about: it’s an artistic choice that you make for yourself rather than for others.
Making a song your own can be done in several ways. You can make technical changes to the song itself, such as syncopation, changing the key, or increasing or decreasing the tempo. Second, you can make stylistic changes. For example, you can sing a country song as a pop tune, or change an upbeat song into a ballad. For example, think of Whitney Houston’s 1993 pop/R&B remake of Dolly Parton’s country song, “I Will Always Love You.” Whitney Houston’s remake became the one of the best-selling singles of all time, despite the fact that everyone had already heard the song before!
Looking at the remakes of previous songs can help you think of ways in you can personalize your song. Think of old songs that have been reproduced by other artists and ask yourself how the versions differ. Besides musical qualities (such as instruments and style), analyze the singer’s own style.
In the process of personalization, not only will you create a unique interpretation of the song itself, but you will also develop your own personal musical style. Have you ever noticed how you can recognize who sings a song you’ve never heard before, simply by the way in which they sing and the songs they choose, as well as their vocal qualities? A distinctive singer makes any tune immediately recognizable as his or her own. This may take some time. You may feel at first as if you are copying your favorite singers and creating a hodgepodge of their styles. Nevertheless, don’t despair! Doing this is actually a great way to practice. The more you sing, the more you’ll discover what you can do best, those things that other singers can’t.
If you are singing a song that is already recorded and well-known, one easy way to make it “new” and interesting is to experiment with technical changes, or changing the technical elements of the song. You can make technical changes through improvisation, or simply playing around and altering the written musical score.
For example, you can make changes to:
• Timing (or tempo). Make the song faster or slower.
• Key. Make it higher or lower to suit your voice.
• Rhythm. You can use syncopation of a phrase. For example, instead of having each word sung on a beat, sing them every beat and a half. You can also hold notes longer, or cut them off to shorten them.
• Entries into phrases. You can start singing a phrase late (e.g., come in on beat #2 rather than beat #1) or come into a phrase early.
• Lyrical emphases. This can change both the technical sounds of a song, as well as its meaning.
• Notes. In most pop music, singers take great liberties with the notes! For
example, they will embellish the end of a song by singing notes that are not written in the melody, but yet fit in with the chords being played. Singing around an extended note is called a melisma. Artists like Celine Dion and Mariah Carey makes extensive use of the melisma.
When you choose a song, you need to spend some time thinking about its meaning.
Is it a sad ballad? Or an excited, upbeat pop tune? Once you have found your own overall style, then you can make each song your own, depending on what type of song you are singing.
Style is the genre to which a certain type of music belongs: classical, opera, choral, pop, rock, punk, grunge, country, jazz, blues, gospel, soul, R&B, etc. Although many singing books give you descriptions of each of these types, We’re going to assume that you know what they are! Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last century, you’ll know what real rock ‘n roll sounds like … and probably have a good idea about the difference between punk and grunge, or classical and opera. If you don’t, visit your local music store and listen to some samples in each section.
When you begin singing, you may want to leap immediately into the style that you enjoy listening to most. Use a style which suits your voice! Don’t force your voice into a style that doesn’t sound right. For example, a low, rich voice would be great for jazz or blues, but it may not sound as nice in a classical opera style. Pop music can suit almost any voice, because there are pop versions of all the other styles, e.g., jazz pop, pop opera, pop country.
Although you should focus on one genre in the beginning, you should note that great singers aren’t limited by style. Think of the number of crossover artists who achieve success in multiple genres, such as Madonna or Garth Brooks . Versatility and an open mind will keep you from restricting yourself as a singer … and may lead you to discover a genre that you’d never considered singing before, but which suits your voice to a T.
Once you’ve decided on a genre of music that you want to focus on, it always helps to study a few singers in that genre to learn the common stylistic tendencies. Study the musical variations each singer uses in order to take the song from technically good to musically great.
Remember: although you may focus on the style you like best for your voice, you will still have to be able to sing all different kinds of songs—slow, fast, angry, happy, sad, etc. The best way to make a song memorable is to pour your emotion into it!
In the next lesson we will give you a much needed review on the whole process of learning a song like a professional. This abridged version will be great to stick on your wall somewhere to remind you just how easy it is to be the professional performer you always dreamed of being.
Another Singorama Success Story!
Columbus OH , USA
When we developed Singorama 2.0 we asked ourselves what would be fun to know AND what would be fun to actually sing and do!. So as well as all the theory we spent heaps of time, developing lessons on styles and genres of music. In them we have included heaps of audio and fun examples to inspire you to search out what is enjoyable for you and really go for it! So check it out. We know you will be inspired and make the most of this invaluable tool at your fingertips.