How My Voice Influences My Writing

If you listen to my songs off my Connections EP, to my Connected LP to my singles released in 2020, you would be able to hear a distinct change. Change not only in the style and musical characteristic but notably my voice. Since entering the music scene in 2017 I didn't realize I was singing incorrectly and the problem was compounded when I continued on trying to sound like my favourite artists. I wanted to be able to belt and have those strong top ranges that Alicia Keys, Beyonce and Jazmine Sullivan has! That was not possible with the way I was singing in my breathy, head voice tone! The problem with that range is the moment that I am overcome with fear, I have no control over my voice. This was solved with the help of my amazing voice teacher Carmen Lucia who is also a local R&B vocalist and singer-songwriter. I attribute all of my vocal growth and development to this beautiful woman and I couldn't thank her enough.

Sing as you speak....

It took me almost 2 years to fully understand what it means to "sing as you speak" (thank you Carmen for your patience!) It was difficult because I wasn't used to singing as I spoke - the tone didn't sound familiar to me so I was actually fighting against it! Another factor was not knowing and understanding my vocal range. I wanted to sound like my biggest idol Alicia Keys so much that I wrote songs that were out of my vocal range.

Contralto...

The Contralto is the lowest of the female voice types and like the Basses and Countertenors, they're quite rare. Some well known female Contralto singers are Toni Braxton, Anita Baker, Amy Winehouse, Diana Krall and Annie Lennox just to name a few. I usually make a joke that I sound like a man because of my lower timbre but as I started learning that the lower register is where my voice really shines, it started to affect my writing and my confidence as a live performer. In a 2017 Rolling Stone article entitled "R&B’s Changing Voice: How Hip-Hop Edged Grittier Singers Out of the Mainstream", it discusses how low-register pipes who once was a key part in mainstream was marginalized in our current age of music by rappers and moved over to a genre called Urban Adult Contemporary. Some of today's most talented and amazing artists and singers are side lined to Urban AC. Although quite discouraging for a new artist like myself, I am determined to at least create awareness and bring some of the "low grit" back.

Writing in my range...

As I started to understand and embrace my lower timbre, I learned to write songs in my range. When I began to write in my own range, I started to: 1) have full control over my voice even when I get stage fright - my voice doesn't "crack" as much; 2) I can start to control the force and strength; 3) I do not strain; 4) I have more confidence performing and 5) I really enjoy playing my own songs live! When I learn a new cover, I tend to modulate or change the key one to two semi-tones lower from the original key of the song (an example will be my video next week - stay tuned!) When I stumble across a crunchy chord that I could use and build on for a new song, I make sure that it is in a range that works for my voice. When I write the melody line, I now stay within my vocal capabilities without compromising tone and clarity. The way I enunciate certain words also plays into how I write and sing - is it an open or a closed vowel? As an artist I hope that my listeners will hear the difference, growth and evolution of my songs from all aspects - instrumentation, style integration, lyrics, and my voice!

 

Leave a comment

Add comment