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drifting flat

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I am delving more and more into trying to sing the country blues.  I am not over the hurdle yet of playing and singing at the same time without a train wreck, but it is gettier a bit easier.  The problem I'd like to open for thoughts is that of drifting flat.

Basically, when I'm playing, I still find that my mind is caught between the guitar and voice which are competing for  attention.  When the guitar starts to get "out of control" and demands some  incremental attention, I find that the vocal pitch just starts moving around, ievitably flat. 

I am not tone deaf (I actually used to sing in an a capella group when in school - I was far from the best voice, but I could hold my own in the harmonies), but I don't suppose I am a "natural singer" if such a thing exists.  In other words, if I am listening to what I am singing, I  can basically get it, but if when I stop listening to myself so much I stop hearing what is actually coming out and then...

Don't know if there is an answer here except practice practice practice, but thought I 'd throw it out for thoughts.


Well, Tom, I think you did answer your own question: practice, practice, practice.

But I think this goes back to the previous conversation we were having about trying to work the vocals into the guitar part while you are still working on it. This will create a more organic connection between the two. As I'm sure you know, drifting flat is usually a symptom of not enough breath support, which, of course, would follow from the tendency to hold one's breath when struggling thru the hard guitar part, and this could be a product of having created the two parts seperately. The two ways you could approach this would be to either stop singing 'til you've got the guitar down, or, my choice would be, to slow down enough that you can sing and play together strongly, making each a part of the other, and then coming up to speed. Any help?
All for now.
John C.

uncle bud:

--- Quote from: waxwing on March 07, 2005, 12:11:12 PM ---As I'm sure you know, drifting flat is usually a symptom of not enough breath support
--- End quote ---

Well, I wasn't aware of that. Who says actors don't know nuthin...  :P

Another thing to do is record yourself, make note of where you're drifting flat, then be more conscious of that specific section with each practice session.


--- Quote ---As I'm sure you know, drifting flat is usually a symptom of not enough breath support
--- End quote ---

It's true.  My wife studied voice back when we were in school.   I remember the teacher having her (and other students) hold a long note while singing into an oscilloscope.  As their breath ran out, even the best vocalists would drift a bit flat.

Anyway, the advice from the vocally talented one in my family is "Don't just practice the notes.  Be aware of where you have to breathe and practice breathing in the right place and breathing enough to get you to the next breathing spot.."

At the risk of delving too deeply into the esoterica of acting and vocal production, in the technique developed by Kristan Linklater in the late '60s, which I was trained in, the actor is encouraged to keep in mind the intent of the line while taking the breath. In this way one takes just the right amount of air to support the thought and emotional content of the line. A very natural process. Think about when you are arguing with someone. Something they say triggers a response in you, you immediately inhale and blurt out "Yeah, but...." This is the essence of good blues singing as well. And if you are singing unamplified, you must also take into consideration that you need to reach the back of the audience with your voice, so you must also be conscious of your target as you take the breath. This is why I often say that singing takes just as much practice as playing the guitar.-G-
All for now.
John C.


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