Singing pop music correctly - Part 1
I am not just a teacher of classical technique. I teach all singers of all styles. My current studio roster is pretty split down the middle between classical and pop/musical theater, and you'd probably think that one technique is IMPOSSIBLE to teach to both sets of students right? WRONG!!! The reality is that while there are BIG differences when it comes to style, which functions/resonators to use, the core ideas are the same. Breath control, knowledge of all functions/resonators, and use of proper harmonics are all very important components. There ALWAYS needs to be a balance between the upper and lower partials. Otherwise, you don't get an interesting sound!
I have mentioned it several times before on this blog, but it bears repeating that people don't know how to listen for proper harmonics these days. Digital recording has scrubbed overtones out of our musical recordings, and now things sound static, processed, and not very interesting. Very few singers of popular music are using proper resonators and harmonics. This is part of why pop music has gotten so dull. We've lost the chill-inducing high notes a la Whitney Houston. We've lost the low, sexy rumble of Barry White. In fact, when was the last time we had a pop singer who was a bass? This is a big deal! By losing our connection to the low harmonics and overtones in music, pop has become boring!
Since today is Throwback Thursday, I am going to begin a new series! I will post an old clip of a great singer who is doing it right. Each week, I'll show you a singer who has good technique, exciting sound, and sustainability. Now, none of these singers are perfect, nor should they be. It is my hope that you, the reader and aspiring singer, will learn how the greats became great! "Showbiz" used to be a very small part of the equation. I want you all to learn that it's not all about high notes. It's about a good, complete-sounding voice. My first subject is the beautiful voice of Sheena Easton. She was one of the queens of 80's pop power ballads. Pay no mind to the weird video. Instead listen to how she begins the song. She starts quietly, simply. Using a mix of head and nasal tones. As she gets into the second verse, she adds bottom, more chesty tones. She balances everything using nasal function and a really solid, low-onset of breath. Her high notes in the bridge aren't pushed or strained. She uses a great nasal/head mix that matches her lower tones just enough to sound like she's belting it out really hard. No screaming needed here.
In conclusion, pop singing should be a balanced thing. One can't scream it out or ignore that many resonances need to be used. I want to explore more great singing this fall and hope you all enjoy the journey. By exploring the "old school" styles, I hope to inspire you all to carry on the traditions of great singing and listening!