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how to imitate singers

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Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 133
Topic starter  

i need some advice guys....on how imitate favorite vocalists, i mean how i learn to sound more like them?? :o

" Take what you can from your dreams and make them real as anything " - Dave Matthews.

Famed Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4338

IMHO..... don't. Develop your own vocal style, don't try to imitate. Most people, again, IMHO, who try to imitate sound just that way....... like they're imitating. Develop your range, get control of your breathing and sing it the way it feels to you. Be an original!

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Nick Torres
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 5381

listen carefully and record yourself, listen to yourself and pick out what is different. Lather rinse repeat.

paul donnelly
Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1066

I agree with both these guys. 8)

Don't try to imitate anyone else's tone. You'll probably sound silly, and you're using a completely different instument. It's like trying to make your Les Paul sound like a Stratocaster. You could even hurt yourself by using your voice in an unnatural way.

What you can do is mimic their vocal style. Listen to how they attack notes and change notes and what their vibrato is like. All that good stuff.

Focus on proper technique and you'll be able to use your voice best, with your own unique sound. Then mimic style if you hear something you like.

Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 240

Thom Yorke from Radiohead said something interesting about this, kind of. He said that when he sings certain songs, he tries to sing with a different persona. When his songs have different "characters" singing, or he wrote from a certain perspective, he tries to sing as that character. Maybe try that. Try to get the idea of what the song is supposed to be about and sing like you're in the "narrators" situation. Might help a bit.

Then again, I would never try to imitate Yorke's voice. Im a bass and he's, well, he's almost into soprano range (yes, I know, there are no male sopranos, it would be tenor).

"How could you possibly be scared of being bad? Once you get past that, it's all beautiful." -Trey Anastasio

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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8184

listen carefully and record yourself, listen to yourself and pick out what is different. Lather rinse repeat.

Better check out the dinasours lesson -

Singing 101 ,

Scoring Points ,

They should help..written by our very much own mod :wink:

Vic Lewis VL
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10264

dlo571 said: "there are no male sopranos" - WRONG!!!!

James Gandolfini - Tony Soprano
Robert Iler - Anthony "A.J." Soprano, Jr.
Dominic Chianese - Corrado "Uncle Junior" Soprano

sorry, couldn't resist that one.....even Miami Steve Van Zandt's in there somewhere!!!

:D :D :D


"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)

Ghost Rider
Reputable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 267

Good One Vic :lol:

I would try to avoid imitating other singers. Imagine trying to imitate Robert Plant, or Geddy Lee? That'd hurt!

All the great (read: influential) singers I have listened to recently, all have their own original vocal styles.

Robert Plant
Gordon Downie (Tragically Hip)
Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies)
Geddy Lee (Rush)
Gordon Lightfoot
Alanis Morrisette
Neil Young
Chris Martin (Coldplay)
Brad Arnold (3 Doors Down)
Bob Dylan
Stevie Nicks

Often times, what makes a band is the uniqueness of their lead vocals. Some would argue that bands such as 3 Doors Down, Nickleback, and Default, all sound the same; but I would argue that 3 Doors Down is a better band mainly because of the strength of the vocals.

I can't think of two great bands which do not have unique vocalists, where one vocalist or the other is imitating/ or trying to sound like the other. Can anyone else?



"Colour made the grass less green..." 3000 miles, Tracy Chapman

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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8184

bruce -> bob
steeler's wheel -> bob
mark knopfler -> bob
tom petty -> bob
bob -> woody

Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 113

It doesnt hurt to try to figure out what technuiques some artists use that make them so "great". I learned how to sing listening to Steven Tyler, Burton Cummings, and Kurt Cobain, I loved cobain's scream, steven tylers bluesy rasp, and Cumming's soft vibrato. The tone of your voice is should be used the same way you would adjust the tone on your guitar for different songs, it is a tool that lets you convey emotion, and gives a more dynamic performance. Imitating other singers isnt ideal, but learning different aspects of what makes there performance the best, helps you figure out how you can perform to the best of your ability.

One example of how to attain simmiliar vocal qualities:
Steven Tyler
Tyler alters his phonation during phrasing and this is apparent in songs like Janie's Got A Gun, notice how he alters the vowel sounds to emphasize or add style to his vocals. He uses Ascending vocal riffs to give his voice an epic quality, sometimes even climbing to falsetto.
Acheive this my practicing trills and switching vowel sounds, Oh-EE, AY-OH.

Zacharias Wolf

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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921

I don't imitate people any more, but I used to...

The key to having people say "you sound JUST like xyz" isn't sounding just like them. It's really more like a charicacture - a cartoonist sketches George Bush, and you immediately know who it is. They do that by emphasizing the features that make him recognizable, not by painting his portrait.

The first thing is to make sure you have the range. My voice is lower - I sang bass in high school - so there's no way I was going to be doing Geddy Lee or Freddie Mercury covers. But I could (and did) do just about anyone in my range - Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Ian Anderson, etc.

Next, figure out what makes their voice distinctive. Cash had a gravelly 'warble' to his voice. Anderson was a bit nasally, with a trace of an accent - he didn't sound like a Scotsman when he sang, but some syllables are more 'East coast' than most singers ("Sitting on a paawk bench"). Presley slurred his words in a distinctive way.

Now get your tape recorder out and imitate that sound. You don't even need to be singing at first, just get your voice to draw the characture - you can use distinctive spoken phrases like "hello, my name is Johnny Cash" or Elvis' "thank you, thank you very much" or any other phrase that you can associate with the singer. If you can't think of a spoken phrase, just work with a simple line of music until you're comfortable putting on the voice.

Finally, practice the phrasing the music. You want to breathe, pause, crescendo, etc. like they did.

What you end up with is your rendition of the singer. And if you've done a fair job with the charicacture, people will say you sound just like them. You won't... but you'll remind people of what makes the voice distinctive. And unless you're aiming for a career as a singing Rich Little, that's good enough.

I mean, how many times have you heard someone belt out "hooray for Hollywood" and you know they're impersonating Ethel Merman? They don't really sound like her.... but in a way, they do!

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Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 365

You have the voice you were given there's no way around that. I don't like the fact that my voice is probably more suited to barry manilou songs then george thourogood songs. If I tried to sing bad to the bone it would get a good laugh thats about it :) You can adjust a bit to song though