Cover Tunes and Your Best Key

imgallery-berklees60thanniversaryconceFatai is the best example of taking a cover tune and making it your own! She sings “CHANDELIER” so distinctly, so stylistically in possession of the song, you kinda forget the original recording!

I have students all the time who want to do the “cover” tune and sing exactly what they heard on the original track. Karaoke, you know? Booooo-ring!

At the same time as wanting to sing a song just like the original singer, folks wanna grow their dynamic range and their personal tessitura. “I wanna get rid of my ‘break’! I wanna sing higher in my chest voice!” I call this instrumental schizophrenia…

I always start at the top of the singer’s range. Invariably I get a look of, “I don’t like that part of my voice!! Yuch!!!” But after I have gotten them back in touch with the BEAUTY of their upper register, then I hear, “I lost my lower range!!! My low notes are weak now! Why can’t I sing BOTH sounds?!?!”

As you train the upper region the lower notes will be less accessible, so you kinda have to (at FIRST) do a bit of a trade-off!!!

Do you want your upper range back? Do you want to raise the keys of songs you’ve been singing in lower (male)keys because you felt intimidated by how, say,  Stevie went into his last verse? Then you gotta work the head voice and leave the lower voice alone, which will make it less available. Till you work on merging the two with chromatic scales across the “break”. Don’t rush!!!

SING once you’ve warmed up!! In every key! Every song you learn! All the hard songs. and the easy ones. Re-design the melodic implementation to fit the interpretation that develops from your new flexibility. Forget about the record!!! The Run, the lick, the  interpretation of the original artist are just fertilizer for a creative singer. Learn the SONG! Then transposition comes next.

Transposition of a melody has always been simple for me. Once I have learned a melody I can sing it in ANY key, essentially because I learned the intervalic relationship of notes in the melody.  It may sound complicated, but knowing how to sing/play anything in any key is the same thing we ask the accompanists and band members to do, so we gotta learn it too!

Let’s get rid of, “I don’t know what key(I sing this sing in), just start playing!”