Help with Key of my voice

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specialsof
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Help with Key of my voice

Post by specialsof » June 11th, 2013, 7:38 am

Can someone help me with this: using my Piano as a test, I am comfortable singing from the G note (lower than middle C) through middle C all the way up to the next G after middle C. Now, I can get a tad higher without being squeeky, and also maybe a note or so lower in a pinch (or singing a Johnny Cash song). By the way, I mostly sing Gospel or Gospel Bluegrass type stuff.

Anyway, anyone know what would be the best Key on the guitar for me to sing in? I normall sing in the Key of G (no capo, like using G, C, and D chords). I ask because I have done it in this key of G so long, just making sure it is in fact perhaps best for me.

But, should I be singing in the key of C instead, or perhaps D?

Thanks for this.... I do a lot of singing at our Jam's and wanting to take it to the next step instead of always moving a capo up and down.

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NoteBoat
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Re: Help with Key of my voice

Post by NoteBoat » June 11th, 2013, 7:40 pm

You've got a one octave range comfortably, which is about average for an untrained singer (most trained singers, like those in musical theater or opera have a range about twice that).

The bad news is that unless you expand your range, you're limited in repertoire. While many songs stay within the range of an octave, it's not unusual for a song to span a ninth or tenth (or more - the Star Spangled Banner covers a twelfth as written). So any tune with a range of more than an octave is out of reach of your present range, regardless of what key you try it in.

But the good news is that a lot of songs are within an octave range. Look over the music for a song and identify the highest and lowest notes - if they aren't more than an octave apart, you should be able to do them in some key. But WHAT key will vary with the song.

As I said in another thread, singers don't "have a key" - they have a range. The key comes from the accidentals (sharps and flats) applied within that range. Let me give you a few examples:

If you look over the music for "Happy Birthday" you'll see the key signature of no sharps or flats - it's in the key of C. But the range of the song is from G to G - one octave, and it happens to match your range. So you can sing that tune in the original key, the key of C.

If you look at the sheet music for "Amazing Grace" you'll see the key signature of one sharp - the key of G. But the melody ranges from D to D; it's too high for you. You need that D to come down to G, which is dropping a fifth. Drop the original key down a fifth and you're also in the key of C.

But C isn't your key for other tunes...

"Silent Night" is in the key of C. But the range is from C to F - an 11th. Even though it would appear from the last two tunes that it's "in your key", the range is too big.

"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is in the key of C, and the range is from C to C. You need the range to be G to G - so you need to lower it a fourth. Your key for this tune would be the key of G.

You say you might be able to get a note higher or lower... "Wonderful Tonight" is in the key of G, but the range is a 9th, from D to E. If you can manage F to G, you could sing it in the key of Bb. Or if you can manage G to A you could sing it in C. The key in between, the key of B, would put the range from F# to G#, pushing you a half step on either side of your comfort zone.

The main point here is that RANGE describes your limitations as a singer. KEY describes the relationship of the pitches within that range, and those vary for every song. Your key for any song is the one that puts all of the pitches within your range. The smaller the range of a song, the more keys you can do it in. The bigger the range, the more you're limited. Make the range too big for your voice and there isn't any key that works.
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specialsof
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Re: Help with Key of my voice

Post by specialsof » June 12th, 2013, 11:04 am

NoteBoat, thank you for your thoughtful reply and help. This was a real eye opener, and sitting down at the piano and working through a couple examples it really made a lot of sense.

Can you suggest how to increase my range a few notes to the upside? I do have the opportunity to sing a lot and am willing to work on this.

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Re: Help with Key of my voice

Post by NoteBoat » June 12th, 2013, 12:06 pm

The voice teachers at my school typically first do warm-ups with a student, then do a rising sequence, like C-D-E-F-G-F-E-D-C (do-re-mi-fa-sol-fa-mi-re-do)... followed by D-E-F#-G-A-G-F#-E-D, E-F#-G#-A-B-A-G#-F#-E.

They typically hit the tonic chord on the piano at the beginning of each sequence for reference.
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specialsof
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Re: Help with Key of my voice

Post by specialsof » June 12th, 2013, 12:28 pm

Thank you, I will give that a shot.

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Re: Help with Key of my voice

Post by Nick » June 12th, 2013, 2:34 pm

I am working with a voice teacher now to increase from a 2 1/2 to a 3 octave range, so it can be done. Guess what, we are doing it almost exactly like Noteboat says.
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Re: Help with Key of my voice

Post by specialsof » June 13th, 2013, 3:11 am

Thanks Nick, that sounds encouraging.

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