Asking for a friend

vindrums

Senior Member
Constructive criticism is quite often helpful. If a harmony is wrong, point it out. If a song dies on the stage consistantly, point it out. I would try to do it in the most diplomatic way possible though. Perhaps approach a member of the group that you have the best rapport with and bring it to their attention. If it is an issue they have never noticed before then now you at least have another set of ears listening for the areas in question.

I've also tried this approach before. If a particular song is not going over well, I will ask the band if it is something I am doing that is holding the song back? This usually opens up a dialogue about the fact that the song in question never gets a response. This way, you have made your point without having to seem critical of the band or the material.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
How can folks who play instruments that must harmonize with each other not hear poor vocal harmonies? Makes me wonder how the rest of it sounds?

Hell, you have to hear the harmonization between strings to tune a guitar or bass by ear. I don't understand the issue. Maybe your friend is just deaf?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
How can folks who play instruments that must harmonize with each other not hear poor vocal harmonies? Makes me wonder how the rest of it sounds?

Hell, you have to hear the harmonization between strings to tune a guitar or bass by ear. I don't understand the issue. Maybe your friend is just deaf?
Just because it worked out that way for you, doesn't mean it's going to be the same for everyone. Many players simply duplicate what someone else is singing, or fail to "hear" the appropriate interval before they begin singing, because they haven't been trained to sing an interval. This is why you train very young music classes with "rounds", instead of parallel harmony, to start them off. Singers who have spent significant time in a choir or singing group tend to harmonize very well, but not everyone gets this experience as part of their music education.

And instruments are funny things. Nowadays, a Snark tunes your guitar or bass. Just because a harmony is presented on something external, doesn't mean that it will translate to something internal, like your voice. There's a bridge to be crossed.

There are also some interesting acoustic things which happen to vocalists on stage. If, for example, they're hearing a ton of bass from a loud bass amp, singers almost universally sing flat. And most everyone's pitch improves when the monitoring situation is made better. Some untrained vocalists will simply stack a note on top, at some interval, and follow the melody verbatim, which can lead to some out-of-key note choices.

And you would be surprised at how much a vocalist can improve, given a year of voice lessons and focused practice.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Just because it worked out that way for you, doesn't mean it's going to be the same for everyone. Many players simply duplicate what someone else is singing, or fail to "hear" the appropriate interval before they begin singing, because they haven't been trained to sing an interval. This is why you train very young music classes with "rounds", instead of parallel harmony, to start them off. Singers who have spent significant time in a choir or singing group tend to harmonize very well, but not everyone gets this experience as part of their music education.

And instruments are funny things. Nowadays, a Snark tunes your guitar or bass. Just because a harmony is presented on something external, doesn't mean that it will translate to something internal, like your voice. There's a bridge to be crossed.

There are also some interesting acoustic things which happen to vocalists on stage. If, for example, they're hearing a ton of bass from a loud bass amp, singers almost universally sing flat. And most everyone's pitch improves when the monitoring situation is made better. Some untrained vocalists will simply stack a note on top, at some interval, and follow the melody verbatim, which can lead to some out-of-key note choices.

And you would be surprised at how much a vocalist can improve, given a year of voice lessons and focused practice.
Okay, I've never sang on stage, so I get that.

The tuning thing, I don't get. If you tune the low E, you then hold the fifth fret on the low E and tune the A until they harmonize. You can hear it. Nothing to figure out, that's why I don't get it. Harmonies are easily heard. Even me, a drummer only, can hear it. That's why I have a hard time buying they can't hear it. Granted, all I've done on stage is drum so I don't have the experiences of the nightmares singers must go through to hear. But on playback it should be obvious, one would think anyhow.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Okay, I've never sang on stage, so I get that.

The tuning thing, I don't get. If you tune the low E, you then hold the fifth fret on the low E and tune the A until they harmonize. You can hear it. Nothing to figure out, that's why I don't get it. Harmonies are easily heard. Even me, a drummer only, can hear it. That's why I have a hard time buying they can't hear it. Granted, all I've done on stage is drum so I don't have the experiences of the nightmares singers must go through to hear. But on playback it should be obvious, one would think anyhow.
Well, to give you an idea, try this test, and record the whole thing. Walk over to a piano, and play an E. No other notes, just the E. Now, before you play any other notes, sing, with your voice, an A. Without playing the note ahead of time, try singing a B. Now, play an E and the B above it, and without playing any other notes, sing a G#. Let us know how you do.

Try the same test the next day, after listening to the recording. Do things improve?
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
Okay, I've never sang on stage, so I get that.

The tuning thing, I don't get. If you tune the low E, you then hold the fifth fret on the low E and tune the A until they harmonize. You can hear it. Nothing to figure out, that's why I don't get it. Harmonies are easily heard. Even me, a drummer only, can hear it. That's why I have a hard time buying they can't hear it. Granted, all I've done on stage is drum so I don't have the experiences of the nightmares singers must go through to hear. But on playback it should be obvious, one would think anyhow.
No offense...but you sound like somekne who has never sang harmony before...

To hear it is one thing, to hold it while everyone else is singing something different (not to mention hearing the melody) and playing your instrument at the same time?

Takes some skill and needs to really be worked on if it is to be done well and with confidence.

I have done some singing in a choral and small group setting and it can be a lot harder than it looks...at least for me it was.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Well, to give you an idea, try this test, and record the whole thing. Walk over to a piano, and play an E. No other notes, just the E. Now, before you play any other notes, sing, with your voice, an A. Without playing the note ahead of time, try singing a B. Now, play an E and the B above it, and without playing any other notes, sing a G#. Let us know how you do.

Try the same test the next day, after listening to the recording. Do things improve?
That would be pointless. I can hear the harmonies, never said I had good, or any, pitch. But if I can hear them, surely folks who deal with them can notice on playback. That's my questioning, the playback. It should be obvious when just listening.

No offense...but you sound like somekne who has never sang harmony before...

To hear it is one thing, to hold it while everyone else is singing something different (not to mention hearing the melody) and playing your instrument at the same time?

Takes some skill and needs to really be worked on if it is to be done well and with confidence.

I have done some singing in a choral and small group setting and it can be a lot harder than it looks...at least for me it was.
Nope, never have. But I can hear them. So again, it should be obvious on playback. It was stated that even on playback no one seemed to notice. How can that be?
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Just because a band has been giging for a couple of years doesn’t mean they are doing it right. The band I played with last year had two singers with nothing more than karaoke experience prior. Guitar and bass parts were simplified or excluded. Basically a very mediocre band at best. They are still gigging at least twice a month and nothing has changed.
It’s working for them, but I think it’s more this market than anything. We just don’t have that good of a music scene anymore. I was in Reno last week and saw a pretty pathetic band playing and realized they were there every night. They played nothing right, leads, vocals, you name it. But, and there is a big but, they play out every night and I don’t, so there is that. Being too picky has its price, but I prefer to stick with quality. It pushes me to do better and the audience deserve the best they can get.
If we want to impact the music scene for the positive, then catering to the lowest common denominator isn’t going to help. Is it worth speaking up? Don’t know, I guess it depends.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
That would be pointless. I can hear the harmonies, never said I had good, or any, pitch. But if I can hear them, surely folks who deal with them can notice on playback. That's my questioning, the playback. It should be obvious when just listening.



Nope, never have. But I can hear them. So again, it should be obvious on playback. It was stated that even on playback no one seemed to notice. How can that be?
It may or may not be obvious on playback. Not everyone's ears have the same abilities.

We don't know the extent, or nature, of the attempt. If it was 5 cents flat, could you tell? Maybe a unison was sung instead, or maybe a 5th instead of a third, or maybe it was a duplication of an existing harmony, sung by someone else in the band. And it's entirely possible that the singer DOES hear an issue, but doesn't know how to correct it, or believe that it CAN be corrected, or believe that working on it is worth the effort.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
We don't know the extent, or nature, of the attempt. If it was 5 cents flat, could you tell?
No way. That's above my pay grade. I had to even look up what a cent is. But here is what I know. When 2 notes or more harmonize, the sound gets louder. My ears start to almost vibrate in a way that doesn't happen otherwise. It's almost like ringing but not the same. Doesn't everyonehear this? I guess I just thought everyone did. It's really, really distinct.

And it's entirely possible that the singer DOES hear an issue, but doesn't know how to correct it, or believe that it CAN be corrected, or believe that working on it is worth the effort.
Again, I don't know anything about this. I only have ever played drums on stage. I have no idea of what singers go through. But I don't doubt it.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Yeah, my buddy has been recording the shows and letting everybody hear them. Nobody is saying anything about the questionable harmonies yet. To him, it's obvious. But with the band it doesn't seem to be.
I may have inadvertently stumbled across videos of your friend's band, and would agree ;)

In my "friend's" band ;), they carried their lead singer's lack of ability for far too long, & it significantly held back progress, both in performance quality, and severely limiting song choice. I think your friend needs to soak up the ability / ego landscape a bit longer, then gently present the points of concern. Recording & playback of crimes is a potentially blameless route.
 
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jornthedrummer

Silver Member
If it’s slightly out of tune singing, get one of those pedals. TC Mic Mechanic 2 for instance.
it can be set to do discrete pitch correction and it might also give the singer more confidence - creating a positive circle.
 

BonsaiMagpie

Junior Member
Personally I would bring it up. I sing lead on some songs with my band and we've been doing some for over a year in the same style. Just recently I was told they didn't like how I sang the song. Feel like I've wasted a lot of time practising singing a particular way.
But I might be biased from my experience, we certainly aren't a money making covers bands, we're a grass roots garage band.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
If your friend is making money, and whatever they are doing is working and they continue to get booked, then say nothing.
 

Gunther12

New member
I would bring it up. I learned throughout the years, if I have something harsh to say to someone, first thing I do is smile while I'm saying what i'm about to say to take the edge off and then I use myself as an example stating how I had that (insert issue) and whish someone told me and thus, why I'm telling them.

It seems to work every time!
 

moxman

Silver Member
Yes definitely bring it up, otherwise it will never change.. and personally I just can't stand playing with people that are consistently out of key.
I record performances on my Zoom recorder and if I pick up anything that needs work I bring it to the bands attention. Either play it at a rehearsal or post it online (dropbox, google drive etc.) and send a link.
BUT - bring it up in a positive way - first a compliment, then a suggestion.
I position it like this "you guys/gals have awesome voices and can sing the phone book.. but if you listen to the recording, the harmonies in this section sound 'off'.. I can't hear whose flat or sharp but maybe you guys can figure it out'. Usually works..

Also sometimes if a vocalist is off pitch but you know they can sing on key - it probably has something to do with the sound mix - not hearing them selves well enough.. there are a number of technical remedies for that.
 
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