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  • A question about transposing ...

    I learned how to transpose songs very early, being a female worship leader. My question is this- how low is too low for most males to sing? I'm working on a song I might try and its lowest note is the G below middle C... so, if I'm singing that low, is that too low for the men?

    I run into this problem a lot with songs that span an octave or more. I was a soprano in our college choir but stylistically I sound best and am most comfortable as an alto.

    What do you think?

  • #2
    I use the rule of thumb that most people should be able to sing in the range of E to D. I'm not sure where this is on a piano, but on a guitar it's fret 2 on the D-string all the way to fret 12 on the D-string. I'll give a song a little lee-way if there it doesn't go too far below fret 2 or too high above fret 12.

    I don't know if this helps... but I hope it does!

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    • #3
      The tenors will be largely out of luck there. I consider myself a baritone, and I would be thrilled In my experience, bumping it up even a step would help the tenors out--right around A has seemed to be a dropping off point.

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      • #4
        I can sing the G ... but it's low, and my ability to "project" is sacrificed .... unless the song has an incredible range in the melody, there's no reason you couldn't transpose this so the highest note is more like a C (middle C) .. though if the melody reaches farther than an octave (third space C, treble clef) women could start finding themselves screeching more!
        Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
        blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

        Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
        www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
        www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

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        • #5
          Originally posted by twc_admin View Post
          I can sing the G ... but it's low, and my ability to "project" is sacrificed .... unless the song has an incredible range in the melody, there's no reason you couldn't transpose this so the highest note is more like a C (middle C) .. though if the melody reaches farther than an octave (third space C, treble clef) women could start finding themselves screeching more!
          The song I'm working on is "Everything" by Tim Hughes. The chorus through the end of the song jumps an octave. I could do it in Ab, or maybe A, but any higher would be putting me in the Eb and up range- not really lead-able for me in my opinion. I'm pretty sure the recording is in B.

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          • #6
            Hey -
            How 'bout this ... do you have another leader ... hand over the lead vocal to one of your better male vocalists, and drop down and sing the alto part ... that would be a great way to mix it up a bit ... assuming you have someone capable on board w/ ya!
            Fred McKinnon, Pianist/Composer/Worship Leader
            blog: www.fredmckinnon.com

            Please check out my piano/instrumental music at:
            www.soundcloud.com/FredMcKinnonMusic
            www.youtube.com/c/FredMcKinnonMusic

            Comment


            • #7
              Also, realize that there's no rule that say everyone has to be able to sing every note of every song...

              Nate
              Practical Worship

              Please Pray For My Wife

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              • #8
                Here's the suggested ranges (according to wikipedia)
                Basic Choral Ranges:

                * Soprano C4- A5
                * Mezzo-Soprano: A3 - F5
                * Alto: G3 - E5
                * Tenor: B2 - G4
                * Baritone: F2 - F4
                * Bass: C2 - C4

                So it might be too low for your tenors and a pinch low for the baritones (but true high tenors would probably sing what you are singing anyway for that particular song.) (As for me being an alto.... I'd love to come sing with you.)

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                • #9
                  I try to aim for a range of C to C, expanding to Bb to D when necessary. (I aim for the ranges of baritones and mezzo sopranos.) For songs that have a range of an octave and a fourth, I'll go to low A or high Eb, but I'll pitch the songs based upon how long the extreme range note has to be held.

                  You might adjust range by up to a whole step depending on if you're leading in the morning or the evening. Instrumental support can help as well; it's a lot easier to sing high notes if one feels buoyed and supported rather than naked and exposed.

                  Too many worship leaders simply pitch songs in the keys where they personally sound best rather than the keys that are most helpful for the congregation.

                  It's great that you're asking this question. I'm sure the ladies (and, actually, most of the guys too) would appreciate it if we tenors asked the same question!

                  Edit: By the way, those choral ranges in the post above, though a good standard, are for trained singers, not amateurs, like a vast majority of our congregations. Be careful in assuming too much singing ability. It's better to set the bar lower (no pun intended) and be pleasantly surprised.
                  Last edited by psalmsandhymns; 09-10-2008, 01:02 AM. Reason: Added one final comment

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                  • #10
                    I think a general range for congregational singing is low A to high D, allowing for the occasional step on either end. It's interesting to compare hymnals published before 1950 and after 1990. High E and F were common in the earlier hymnals. Today they rarely go as high as Eb.
                    Tony Hartsfield

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for your advice, everyone I had a feeling that G would be a tad too low. But you have given me some great ideas. I have a male tenor who leads sometimes who would be perfect to share the song melody with.

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                      • #12
                        I'm with psalmsandhymns - I try to keep things in a C to C range with the occasional low Bb or high D. There are lots of songs that stick inside that one octave range.

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                        • #13
                          Many of today's songs (Hillsong etc) start very low and end the choruses in the high power range so it is difficult to transpose. Also, lowering a song too much reduces the musical intensity of its chorus. Many times a song melody is centered around middle C or D and putting the tenors on top would have some of them straining. In those cases we do a simple male/female split where all men sing melody and all females sing the alto. This also gives the song a bit of a "rawer" rock feel and doesn't sound so Breadish or Carpetnerish. We do it often.

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