I've been told that my singing style is "old school." It doesn't matter how new the song is, it can be from Hillsongs United. It concerns the singing style. Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to press for more details. But, the way I sing is closer to Darlene Zschech than Joel Houston, if that helps.
From what I can gather, the "new school" sings in a very flat timbre (not flat in pitch) and uses little if any vibrato. Instead of holding notes to the end, they tend to fade out like someone who's run out of air. The attack seems more "breathy", the voice seems to break into a note rather than gather itself before singing. The dynamics seem to go from whispers to shouting, without much in the way of transitional dynamics, like an on/off switch. To sum up, the singing style sounds very plain and unadorned to me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cazbuvvRH4
I want to adapt my singing style so that I am not a distraction when I am singing the newer stuff. Has anyone else tried changing their singing styles to match the newer styles?
Thanks for the info. Tim Carson has quite a few Youtube vids that are very helpful!
I understand what you mean- but there is a balance.
You have a point about the vocals for newer stuff using less vibrato and sustain. That can be attributed to a lot of things. In particular, one main theme that gets attention around here is the 'simplification' of modern music. It shows up in the singing as well. It has to be 'singable by the congregation', so the vocals are simpler, too.
That isn't all bad. Some songs have the space designed in, maybe there is an instrumental phrase or other space.
My experience in talking to 'old school' singers is the majority of 'old school' songs and bands were centered around a 'singer and backup band' approach where arrangements relied heavily on the vocals to carry the songs and fill in the gaps. The newer stuff is getting away from vocals filling the gaps.
It's an adjustment we have to make. Us instrumentalists experience the same stuff with simpler arrangements, chord structures and the like. I cut my teeth playing the old hymns that had challenging syncopation, dynamic cadences, and unique chord/scale arrangements. Now we have the straight up 8th-note root-5-6-4 chords and the same speeds (slow and fast)., etc. When is the last time we heard a release in 3/4 or 6/8 time?
It's one of those adjustments we make. Part of being a skilled musician and singer is giving the song what it needs, not always what we want to do with it. As a bass player, I could get bored to tears on some of these new songs where the bass pounds out the root note with no dynamics. But, I do it and I do my best at laying back and sitting in the pocket.
In the end, what we do has to be focused on what is glorifying God and not distracting others. In some instances, it's going against our training and habits to lend the song what it needs.
Thanks Mike, I hate being a distraction. I want to sing in the same style as the music and the expectations of the congregation for that style of music. I find myself having pull back a lot and keeping my singing as simple as possible with these newer songs.
Mike, you and I have had very similar comments on topics such as this many times. But this is one area where I have to disagree with you a bit. I don't believe the "new style" is based so much on the taste of the congregation or public in general, but a lack of true musical talent by those writing it. I also believe that in most cases, the simplistic, technically sloppy singing styles are due to the artists' inability to sing any better than what you hear. Over the last several years, there has been a huge emphasis on the "singer-songwriter" - usually self-taught musicians with genuine desire to serve the church, but often with little formal training and the determination to record their own songs whether they should or not.
A quick listen to a months' worth of new releases makes it effortless to identify the trained musicians vs. the dilettantes. Compare the depth of music in anything by Gungor to anything by Hillsong United. Gungor operates on a completely different level of musicianship, not merely a difference of choice on style.
Listen to the vocals of Adam Ranney (Free Chapel) vs. John Mark McMillan. Ranney is controlled, smooth, powerful, technically sound and will be singing like that for the remainder of his life. Mcmillan is technically sloppy, often gutteral, rough to an extreme and will likely damage his voice permanently by the time he reaches his mid-40s.
I don't believe these are adjustments the skilled players and singers should make. They are trends we should be fighting. The state of worship music quality is at the lowest point I believe it has ever been, seemingly in an effort to not make anyone who is not musical uncomfortable. The result is a barrage of bland, creatively-devoid releases. And the number of artists fighting this trend is dwindling rapidly.
Some good thoughts, for and anti, in this thread.
On a lighter note -
*** - WARNING - SATIRE AHEAD - ***
Worship singer asked to ‘tone it down’ by Pastor, congregation
Genna Landry has to change her sound. That is the verdict from the saints in Friendship Covenant Church, who express concerns about what some feel is ‘Diva-potential’ singing. “She comes off way too professional. Worship is not about performance. No way we can come up to her level,” objects one unnamed elder, as the church’s senior minister nods, reading from anonymous comment cards. “Who does she think she is? Pavoratti?” “You are not on American Idol.” “There she goes again, nailing it, while we all struggle along. It’s not fair.” “Makes my singing look bad. She shouldn’t outshine us.”
And the Pop/Broadway/Classically-trained mezzo-soprano agrees. “Used to stick to the CCLI Top 100, but lately we’ve been doing a lot of new stuff; Kutless, Mercy Me, Jesus Culture and the like. And none of those guys sing that well,” she shrugs. “We’re just going along.” After all, this young mother of three is used to coping with demands and expectations. But never before has she been asked to sing less well. “No vibrato, no sustain; flat, unaffected, breathy tone; it’s hard but I’ll try. We have to do it ‘like people hear it on the radio’.”
“I should have seen this coming. Our guitarists complain that they can’t play barre or jazz chords, Pastor can’t follow those. Drummer got yelled at when he tried to spice up the beat. Bass player gets bored, playing just one note over and over; checks out his smartphone, almost fell asleep last practice. And just last week a keyboard player got kicked off the team for using sheet music.”
As lead singer and guitarist in the group Rev. Henry Evans already gets most of the ‘leads’. “Now he’ll have them all,” Genna sighs. “Guess it’s back to harmonies for me. But he does say I can still do solos on Christmas and Easter, as long as I don’t try any of those ‘Mariah Carey’ runs,” she brightens up.
That's just funny.And just last week a keyboard player got kicked off the team for using sheet music.
Satire or not, I've had nearly the same conversation with two consecutive Sr. Pastors. Funny and sad, all at the same time.
Thanks for the laugh- it's sad that it's come to that.
It's another victim of the 'lowest common denominator' Christianity.
Was that before or after he stepped out from behind the shield?Drummer got yelled at when he tried to spice up the beat
And got yelled at because he didn't have his 5-string....(been there)Bass player gets bored, playing just one note over and over;