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I'm just a singer (not) in a rock and roll band

And that makes my moody blue.


Hello all

Here's my take on a lovely tune from R.E.M.


As you can hear, I'm straining, although I thought I did relatively well here, compared to other files (233 at present) at the link


They're the barest boned recordings - just using my laptop mic to capture my voice and the music out of its speakers, as I'm a stone technoramus. Some are sing alongs; others, karaoke tracks when I find one that's decent. So they're more akin to live performances than polished studio output. I'm not truly satisfied with any of them.

By way of introduction, I'm an old fart who got it into his head that in the music rich environment of Madison, WI, I might be able to find some folks with the same sonic sensibilities to make music for whatever masses we could muster, but that's looking less likely as the days pass.

So this is what I do for now to amuse my muse.

Your thoughts are welcome.


  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    Unfortunately, I can't access cloud storage at work, but I'll give this a listen over the weekend.
    Don't count yourself out, I'm sure there are some like-minded people out there that would love to do some recreational music with you. Maybe try to post an ad to see if anyone bites?


  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    Thanks for the response, Phillip. I'll look forward to hearing what you think.

    I should mention that I have hefty sinus issues, combined with reflux, so that by the time I get to warbling in the evening, often my chords are in sad condition, but I'm "close enough for rock and roll" enough that I soldier on, and sometimes I sound what I'd consider decent.

    Yeah, I've had an ad on craigslist for a couple of years now, I reckon, and it's had numerous nibbles, and I've met with some folks, but nothing's gone beyond that.

    I post an R.E.M. take every few days at a Facebook fan group, which usually garners a smattering of likes and loves, but I need to get back on stage, after the live karaoke band (excellent musicians who knew a slew of songs) went on "hiatus" year before last, after their bass player passed from cancer.

    Nothing compares to that connection with an audience, does it?
  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    Hello ... hello ... hello?
    Is there anybody in there?
    Just nod if you can hear me
    Is there anyone at home?
  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    Sorry mate, this past weekend was a complete bust.
    If you could possibly send that up to either Soundcloud or Youtube, I could listen to it now :smile:

    I agree about the audience feedback, it is very intoxicating... though I am not sure at this stage of the game that I really want to commit to a show schedule for $$ anymore. I just have the feeling that it would change how I feel about it, as it has in times past.
    Luckily, from time to time I get a few solo (and accompaniment) gigs that I really enjoy... those tend to be more intimate than the ones with my (recreational) band.
  • TommyMTommyM Pro Posts: 270
    This isn't too bad, Doug! A lot of pitch issues due to the support stuff again, but your voice sounds much richer here even though it's competing with the backing track due to the way you're recording. I know you've mentioned the sinus and reflux issues, but I think we get more of a glimpse of a really nice voice in there.

    If you can even get your support and pitch sorted out a bit, without worrying too much about expanding range and all that stuff for the moment, I reckon your voice would benefit massively. Even just for doing karaoke stuff or an acoustic duo or something, sticking to songs that are within your range or changing the key to suit would open up a lot of stuff. Sometimes taking a song and transposing it gives it a different flavour and a new edge, so there's no reason why you couldn't be pulling off a beautiful rendition of this song within a few months with some solid practice.

    Once your confidence grows a bit in your voice, you could do stuff like livestreaming your own wee unplugged gigs from home. Even if it's only to three people, you'll still be getting practice in and also being exposed to people who maybe wouldn't have heard you before and may really enjoy your stuff. Nowadays, you could feasibly even accompany yourself and just have backing tracks playing on a laptop while you sing over them. I know people who make money from doing that and they are awful at it! You at least have a sincere, emotional and genuine voice that just needs a bit of work; they're literally going through the motions but getting paid decent money for it!

    The opportunities are endless as long as you're willing to keep on learning.

  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    No worries, Phil, but I don't know from Soundcloud or posting files to YouTube. I imagine it ain't rocket science, but this is as far as I've progressed in this area.

    I'll see if I can suss 'em in the next couple days. If I can't, I'd appreciate it a listen off Google Drive when you've got the opportunity.

    As for performing, the bigger the crowd, the better for me. The highest hoot was being on stage with a couple hundred or more folks in the club, and feeling that reciprocal energy. That said, just the appreciative applause from a dozen denizens after something like "The Boxer" or "Imagine" is likewise gratifying.

    I'm not keen on being the proverbial fallen tree in a vacant forest. -g-
  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    Well, hell ... that wasn't hard a tall

  • Furious_PhilFurious_Phil Moderator, Pro, 2.0 PRO, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 1,421
    You learned something new and cool today! (Soundcloud is your friend :smile: )

    You've actually have got a nice rich tone to your voice!
    However, as Tommy previously mentioned, there are some pitch issues most likely attributable to diaphragmatic support.
    Good news: That is totally fixable via this course!

    I personally find it too easy to get "pitch-lazy" when I sing along to another singer. Because of that, I prefer the piano-only practice recordings, as it allows me to laser-focus in on the pitch I'm trying to replicate; and not deceive myself into thinking that I sound like Ken. This tendency became VERY apparent when I recorded myself singing a scale sequence along with Ken and the inconvenient truth was unveiled LOL

    The same can be said of trying to sing along to an artist's recording... at least for me anyway. To attempt to break that trend, I'm about to attempt to capture myself singing to a very challenging backing track using my newly setup Interface/DAW this weekend, so I fully expect to sound like a dying cat.

    But you know, this is how we grow as artists, so I am facing it head on like the charge of the light brigade >:)
  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    Phil, I prefer not to sing along, but while there are some excellent karaoke tracks on YouTube, often I just can't find anything I think does the song justice, and so I harmonize with Stipe, Gabriel, Simon, Lennon, McCartney, Byrne, Costello, Fagen ... even Joni Mitchell.

    But you're right that it does tempt one to hide behind their voices, and there's a greater sense of accomplishment when I feel I've flown fairly well solo.

    Break a leg this weekend.
  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    That's the problem, Tommy. Some days I can sound half decent; others, if I don't sound like I'm strangling, I count it as an accomplishment.

    And others, I just give up after concluding there's no point.

    We'll see what this evening brings ...

    Could you point me to some useful intel on the livestreaming thingie? This is new to me, and I'm flummoxed as to how one makes any moolah on the deal.
  • TommyMTommyM Pro Posts: 270
    There's clearly physical issues beyond just training your voice, but the fact you're aware of them can be useful too. I'll be totally honest with you, my voice has been majorly inconsistent for a long time too. I take medication for my mental health which has a tendency to exacerbate reflux, and also have a lifelong issue with sinus problems so, to at least some extent, I can understand your frustration.

    I also drink WAY too much black coffee and I'm a smoker too, so I put a lot of stupid barriers in my own way already! Not drinking coffee after, say 7pm seems to be quite useful in reducing reflux the following day.

    That said, it's one thing to acknowledge an existing problems that's outwith your control, but it's also way too easy to use it as an excuse. I'm not saying that this is what you're doing, don't get me wrong, I'm speaking for myself here as I always used to be able to find an excuse for why my voice wasn't consistent. I know some of that genuinely was down to health issues, but I also realize in retrospect that I was being lazy and wasn't practicing enough or with any consistency. I'm not saying this to have a go at you or suggest you're making excuses, it's just something I've done myself and seen others do, so I thought it worth mentioning. We need to be 100% honest with ourselves with this stuff, otherwise the benefits we see will be superficial as we're not really letting them root within the mindbody complex.

    Ken suggests warming up at around the same time every day, so it's maybe worth trying to schedule in a 30-60 minute warmup before you start recording. If you do it at the same time, your body will learn to prepare itself for it and you'll start to notice a lot of small changes in the way you begin to start singing. Things like voice placement all become pretty much automatic after a while as your body learns that it can set itself up to make this process happen with the least amount of effort.

    Re. Livestreaming: Monetization is a tough one as most video platforms have criteria in place that effectively makes monetization impossible for small creators. In all honesty, the whole AdSense thing is crap anyway unless you've got over 100,000 subscribers; my friend makes around $2000 a month from his narration channel, but he's got over 170,000 subscribers. All he does though is read out horror stories and creepy stuff, but he's been at it for about five or six years now and wasn't earning from AdSense until the last year or so.

    This is also complicated by doing cover versions 'cause you'll likely hit copyright issues which can result in, at worst, the video being removed from the site, but more likely nothing more than the copyright holder forcing ads onto your video that you don't make any money from.

    Actual livestreaming in the first place is easy, all you need is a webcam and, ideally, an audio interface so that you're not recording the sound through your laptop mic. You can get away with doing that, but if you want your audience to hear a decent quality of sound and a better representation of your voice, you'll need something additional to run it through. You CAN just do it with the laptop mic as you're doing right now, but just know that it'll limit the range of frequencies you're able to record and will also give you a really narrow picture of your voice once recorded and played back.

    One way you COULD potentially monetize it would be to use something like Patreon or Maker Support - both crowdfunding platforms that allow your fans to donate a few quid each month or whatever, or even make one-off payments. YouTube has a thing called "SuperChats" too where people can pay money to ask you questions on a livestream, but you need to have a LOT of subscribers to have that switched on. In all honesty, the entire area is a minefield at the moment as YouTube and other platforms are engaged in all sorts of nonsensical, virtue signalling behaviour.
  • Doug_LatimerDoug_Latimer Member Posts: 17

    Tommy, I'm my own worst critic, when I need to be my best. I tend to judge myself by the results of the moment, and the seeming lack of progress, rather than reflecting on the progress I've actually made.

    I don't make excuses for myself; I was just relating the physical obstacles I face. Truth be told, though, it's the mental aspect that is truly restricting me - the inability to "let", instead of "make".

    Call it "American Male Syndrome". -g-

    I've made some headway in that respect, but it's slow going in the reprogramming department.

    I wanted to ask about "staying in my range". As you see from the artists at my site, I try to cover a wide range of singers, from John Prine to Joni Mitchell, and I'm wondering if that's wise. Bono's a whole lot different from Michael Stipe, and is the attempt to approximate such an eclectic mix of voices perhaps impeding my development? I don't like the idea of limiting myself, but maybe I'm taking too wide of strides at this point?

    As for the livestreaming, I think I'll give it a miss for the moment, given your intel, which I appreciate. For now, I feel making better recordings, and hopefully finding folks to give 'em a listen, is where my focus should be.

    Good luck with your health issues, and I'm sure you've heard it many times before, but if you can find a way to kick the nicotine, it will be an achievement in which you can take justifiable pride, and one that will immeasurably improve your life.

    End of sermon.
  • TommyMTommyM Pro Posts: 270
    Apologies if it sounded as though I was accusing you of making excuses, I know that's not the case and your prolific output proves your commitment and sincerity. It's something I've done myself, so I was more talking about it in potentia and being something to be aware of.

    I totally get the mental aspect of it, it's something I'm actually working with myself too and the way you've phrased it really hits the nail on the head. It's that "let" vs. "make" thing where we need to release into the higher notes rather than strongarm our way in.

    I don't even think it's necessarily a male thing (although if current paradigms in media and society online were to be believed, being a man would basically mean you're a criminal so I don't buy into that ideology at all), but I suppose we could argue about force over receptivity at a fundamental level rather than at the level of gender since it's not unique to us guys.

    That tendency to "make" rather than "let" seems to be endemic to the dualistic nature of humanity; we all have it since we're a future-aiming species who tend to live in the future mentally rather than experientially 'here', so we're always "making", striving, pushing. If we think of the way we normally think of music and the progression of notes, it seems natural that, as the pitch increases so too must the volume since "up" usually means, in terms of sound "louder", if that makes sense? So since most of us learn ourselves to start out with at least, we train ourselves to push up and strain to get to those higher notes. It seems like it's the natural thing to do, but as we know from doing KTVA and using an open throat it's actually the opposite!

    With age comes a certain stubbornness to new patterns, but it's absolutely possible with persistence so don't give up on it or think you're too old for it. You're not. You've got a lot you can work with there already and it's just a matter of refining it. Understand the specifics of where you need to work and then zero in on those, address the basics and the rest will fall into place.

    As for "staying in your range", it's really more about being able to present your voice in the best possible light and without any sort of strain. You can work on range and push yourself in practice THEN once you're comfortable making those sorts of sounds, pick something a bit more challenging. That's not to say you can't record the challenging stuff anyway, but in terms of what you're sharing online as an example of your skills I would err towards stuff that shows your voice off. There's a lot to be said for just taking a vocal from, say someone like Bono, down an octave and delivering it in your own way. It can transform the song completely and in a way that makes people take notice. You could do the opposite for someone like Scott Walker and take one of his baritone parts up into the tenor range.

    I wouldn't say that your range of material is negatively impacting you. I can see why you'd maybe think it, but personally I get pretty eclectic in my own recordings so I can't really see any problems. You might find it more beneficial to work on specific songs that allow you to address any issues you may feel you have, but being flexible in your abilities is a massive boon if you're working with others.
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