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A Few Questions From a Beginner About Sting and Phil Collins

-AJ--AJ- Posts: 14Pro, 2.0 PRO
Hey, what's up. I'm brand new to Ken's course, so I'm just trying to get my head around a lot of it, and I have a long way to go. But I wanted to throw out a couple of questions about a couple of singers I'm interested in that Ken doesn't seem to have covered, Sting and Phil Collins.

When it comes to Phil Collins, I tried to come up with the best examples I could of my questions, and settled on these two songs:

Genesis - Just a Job To Do

Phil Collins - I Don't Care Anymore

I don't think I even know the correct terminology yet, but I'm curious about what he's doing, and whether it's something I should emulate, or whether he's "doing it wrong". Especially when he goes up into a very loud and aggressive, distorted or "raspy" sound as he does on the chorus of "Just a Job To Do" and especially at the end of "I Don't Care Anymore", where he sounds like he's practically screaming. Is that good or bad? I like Collins as a singer, and I'm curious for any technical insight people (or Ken) might have about him. He seems to move around between a lot of different approaches in the same song, from a more pure tone to falsetto, to the aforementioned "yelling" (if that's the right word).

Sting (I think) is a bit more straightforward, but even more of a challenge:

The Police: Roxanne

In his case, I'd be interested in any insights into his style. I find it impressive that he can sing that high with that much of a solid sound and clarity, without falsetto, seemingly with ease. Recognizing that early on Bob Marley was a big influence.

In both cases, I'm just looking for any insights or direction about what they're doing in case I want to study them more closely. Thanks in advance for any answers.


  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 14,569Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro


    The distorted notes on Just a Job to do can be done safely, as long as you use the right techniques to make it safe.  Similarly, you can do a lot of damage to your voice in just a short time if you do it wrong.  You'll get to that later in Volume 3.   Don't try that now.  You'll learn to cut back the air and make it sound big, but you'll be doing it with a smaller voice.

    It's bad if you do it wrong.  Phil's voice held up pretty well for him, so he probably knew how to cut back the sound.  Up there at B4 where he's getting raspy, you can hurt your voice and take out your upper mids really fast if you don't know what you're doing.  Screaming can be really bad, really quickly.

    The yelling you are referring to is called "call voice".  It's like what you do when you see someone down the block breaking into your car.  You yell in a high voice to get the thief's attention to get them to get away from your car.  You can blow out your voice doing that without the right technique.

    Sting is a good example of someone who is really throttling down his voice in order to keep his high notes from blowing out.  It sounds as if he's blasting out, but if he did, he wouldn't have his high register anymore.  Instead he's holding back the air pressure, babying his vocal cords with just the right amount of air that it takes to produce the note, and not one microbar more pressure.

    Great singers learn to support their singing breath and use their body as a "governor" for their air pressure, regulating the pressure to the optimum amount of air and no more.  High notes are sung on the thin edges of the vocal cords, and if you use too much force on them, they will swell, and you won't be able to get to those high notes.

    It's an art form, it's finesse... not brute force, that allows you to sing in those registers, and to be able to do it for hours every night, year after year.

    Ken teaches this, but it's advanced techniques.  You will get to them, but you've got a lot of ground work to do first.  Get the foundation right.  We'll work on the roof later. 


    Nice to meet you!






  • -AJ--AJ- Posts: 14Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited March 2015
    Thanks for the response and info. I doubt I'll ever be able to sing like Sting because my natural range is lower, and I like the grit and expressiveness that Phil Collins was capable of, but trying to do what he did right now is painful. I want to make sure I don't study the wrong people in my own attempt to improve. 

    I've done a fair amount of singing, but never with any training. Ken seems like a solid guy, and hopefully his course will help me gain more control and technique to do what I need to do, even though my style might be not be exactly what he does. I'm aiming for more pop/rock and blues/R&B elements, and not as much the kind of operatic metal that Ken can do, but it looks like his method will work for anybody so I'm going to give it a real try. 

    Thanks again.
  • highmtnhighmtn Posts: 14,569Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro


    You will find that your voice grows in range and consistency in every way if you follow Ken's instructions and do the exercises faithfully.  You will be very happy with the improvements you will make!


  • ragnarragnar Posts: 410Pro
    edited March 2015
    I really like Sting, fantastic overall musician and writer, but was he able to really do Roxanne live - either back in his prime or now?

    In any case, check out this dude. Blew my mind:

  • rcrosierrcrosier Posts: 275Pro
    edited March 2015
    Interesting question @ragnar.  I just watched a video of The Police in 1979 and 2008, and he definitely did not sing it in 2008 the same, and even in 1979, I could hear how he would/could trash his voice singing it back then... I find it hard to believe that he could sing like the 1979 video very often without hurting himself...

    Watch these:


    (This one, from 2007, however, sounds like he wasn't carrying so much weight up high, and might get through it...)

    (BTW, I think this dude is singing it in a higher key than the Police videos above, too!)
  • -AJ--AJ- Posts: 14Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited March 2015
    The early days of The Police were a little before my time, but I am a fan of theirs, and now that you all mention it, I'm not sure I've ever seen him sing that chorus live at that pitch (the "put on the red light" part). Still he sings in that general way all the time, even today. I'd like to learn what he's doing, even if I can't quite get there myself. I'd like to see Ken's dissection of it some time.

    Phil Collins is a little bit different, but I think he was really good at bringing the right feeling for the song, and using a variety of techniques to convey the emotion of the lyrics. That kind of edge he brings in the examples I gave is something I want to be able to do safely, within my own voice. 

    I guess the thing I'm not totally clear about yet in both cases is which part of it is just how you're made physically, and how much can be learned through vocal training.
  • -AJ--AJ- Posts: 14Pro, 2.0 PRO
    I partially answered my own question - Sting and Phil Collins are both tenors. I'm definitely a baritone, so I probably won't be hitting some of those notes unless I completely master Ken's technique. Still, the stylistic and technical approach they use is useful information. Since I write songs for myself, I can adopt whatever I learn within my range.
  • -AJ--AJ- Posts: 14Pro, 2.0 PRO
    By the way, here's a live video I was watching. 

    It's interesting once you listen to some of Ken's instruction. There are a few spots where you can see him strain without enough air, and miss the pitch a bit. Still, he's a great singer. Probably not given enough credit for how good he was/is in my opinion.
  • -AJ--AJ- Posts: 14Pro, 2.0 PRO
    edited April 2015
    As I've learned a bit more, I think what I'm realizing is that the things I like about Phil Collins are more musical, and less technical. It's the tone, articulation, emotion and interpretation of the song (along with songwriting and melody) that set him apart. The conscious choices he made in his delivery. He's naturally a tenor, and that accounts for his ability to sing higher notes. Technically, he may not be "doing it right" all the time. He probably hurt his voice doing some of what he did.

    I'd probably be more interested to see Ken's take on Sting, who is pretty unique. But either one would be cool.
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