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What do you think about changing keys for certain songs during live performance?

My band is going to play a little show this summer for our friends and family. In our setlist we will be performing Let it Be and Pumped Up Kicks. Even though I can "sing" these songs with the right technique (correct vowel mods and light bright vowel sounds) and hit the notes, they just simply sound weird because they are sung by tenors and I am a high baritone. It sounds more natural and is more comfortable to sing when I perform them one key lower. Is this cheating?


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    micjmicj Pro Posts: 7
    Hey mate

    Singers regularly change the key of a song to suit their voice - up or down.  Key selection is actually a really important consideration when choosing how to approach a song and it's most certainly not cheating. Regardless of your overall range everyone's voice has a subrange in which it's strongest.  I would say try several keys for each song until you figure out which one allows you to deliver it best.  Do it by yourself at first - not with the band as they'll get frustrated with the experimenting. Once you work out which key is best for you try it at rehearsal.

    Not only will the right key make the song work best for you, it might allow you to deliver your own spin on the cover which will make it so much cooler than just imitating the original.

    In the past I've raised the key of the music so I can actually sing lower, or dropped the music so I can sing use a higher range with a soft and sweet delivery.  Key selection isn't just about getting the song within your range, it's also about choosing the key that matches how you want to deliver it.

    Good luck experimenting
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    matt53matt53 Pro Posts: 189
    Thanks. I really believe that dropping keys is sometimes the best way to express the original flavor and emotion of a song. For example, I don't know if even Ken Tamplin could sing Let it Be in the EXACT same way that Paul did, as amazing as Ken's version was. In his Paul McCartney demo, Ken belted the song in a hard rock style. Paul basically croons the entire song. If Ken were to sing the song just like Paul in the same key, it might have sounded a bit "weird" because Ken's voice type (and mine too) are naturally lower than Paul's and we could never EXACTLY match the same timbre. That being said, one of my goals are to someday sing the song in the same key as Paul and still make it sound just as smooth and awesome. Btw I loved Ken's entire Paul McCartney demo. 
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    NoGutsNoGloryNoGutsNoGlory Member Posts: 4
    If it is more comfortable for you to sing in a lower key then do it. Most people won't even know your playing it in a different key but they will notice if you are uncomfortable or reaching for notes you have difficulty with. A lot of bands will tune down a half step to make life easier for the singer and it mostly goes unnoticed by the audience. Good luck!
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