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Thread: jamming with other people who sing a different key

  1. #1

    Default jamming with other people who sing a different key

    Hi all,
    I find myself transposing half the songs I play in the Daily Ukulele book to a different key that suits my voice better (tends to be lower). When i go to ukulele jams, most of the time, I find myself not able to sing the whole song in the key the group play in. I also seem to have a very narrow vocal range (approx.B2-F4)

    I have been wanting to jam more with friends in a small group setting. But how do you do that if you don't sing in the most commonly played keys in ukulele?

    thanks
    annod

    p.s. I also just got a baritone. The first time I played a Baritone, I had a revelation. It really does suit my voice better.

  2. #2
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    I attend a regular acoustic music jam (not specifically ukulele, but the idea is the same). Each person attending is responsible for bringing two songs they want to lead, so I do all my transposing ahead of time and bring the song in a key I'm comfortable with. He who leads has control!



  3. #3
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    Have you tried a different octave?
    I know how you feel, most songs are too low for me, so I raise to the higher octave. Sometimes it doesn't work.
    I'm taking voice lessons, and have extended my range on the high end by half an octave, which I didn't know was possible.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickie View Post
    Have you tried a different octave?
    A whole octave can be just as hard, but learning to sing a vocal harmony at a third, sixth, or fifth interval can also work, and will also tend to impress the others in the jam who all sing the same notes. Listen to some Simon and Garfunkel songs to get an idea of this.

  5. #5
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    My advise is to take some voice lessons. Like you, I thought that I had a limited range. But my wife talked me into voice lessons. After a half dozen lessons I found out that I had two and a half octaves. Huge surprise. If anyone had told me that before hand I would have told them that there was no way. Voice lessons changed my whole experience. The thing is, you would be surprised what some voice lessons can do. People tend to put so much effort into their ukuleles and think that they their voice is just going to take care of itself. That doesn't happen. Don't cut yourself short. Voice lessons will help your ukuele playing as well. There is a reciprocal benefit. It takes both. I'm just a believer in voice lessons.
    Last edited by Rllink; 05-09-2018 at 02:08 AM.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by annod View Post
    Hi all,
    I find myself transposing half the songs I play in the Daily Ukulele book to a different key that suits my voice better (tends to be lower). When i go to ukulele jams, most of the time, I find myself not able to sing the whole song in the key the group play in. I also seem to have a very narrow vocal range (approx.B2-F4)

    I have been wanting to jam more with friends in a small group setting. But how do you do that if you don't sing in the most commonly played keys in ukulele?

    thanks
    annod

    p.s. I also just got a baritone. The first time I played a Baritone, I had a revelation. It really does suit my voice better.
    I have some clarifying questions that I would like to ask:

    1) Are you playing the correct chords and transposing out of the Daily 365 in the original key (Yellow Book), or playing the chord shapes of the Yellow Book on a Baritone, or playing out of the Baritone version of the Daily 365?

    2) What do you mean “Baritone fits your voice better?” Do you mean that the deeper and lower pitched tone of the baritone matches your voice, or are you playing the chords you see out of the Yellow Daily 365, resulting in all of the chords actually being a 4th lower than printed?

    Your range is pretty typical for a trained Baritone...many baritones struggle to hit E4 and F4 without straining. Maybe you’d like a lower A or G below that B...but most of the notes will be right in your range as a Baritone.

    I find many of the Daily 365 songs to be too low for my voice (there are exceptions), and I am a tenor. I would think that many of the Daily 365 songs would fit right into your power range.

    There is nothing wrong with singing a song in a different key—at least in my opinion. There are people who believe that the key changes the meaning of a song on a foundational level. On ukulele, if you are used to how a song sounds as written, changing the key can make the song sound different as chords come in different inversions on the ukulele (and guitar) depending on where you play them. If you like how a song sounds as printed, you could always use a capo and transpose up, keeping the same chord shapes for all of the chords.

    Also...it is tough to expect a group of people—paritcularly if it is a community jam open to all—to transpose on the fly. I know people like Jim D’ville and others teach transposition, the circle of fifths, and the Nashville numbering system. That said, you can have absolute beginners who just need to read the chords of a song and couldn’t think about transposing. If you find that there is a song that you would like to use in a different key, re-write it (or find it online) in that new key and bring copies to your group. They’ll appreciate it.
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

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  7. #7

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    Thanks all for the good tips. Choirguy, to clarify, I just ordered a Baritone that is coming in the mail. I have been playing my concert/tenor ukes with low gCEA. I even find it hard to sing when playing an high G uke. (It seems to confuse me and make me sing off-key) Some examples of keys of songs I can sing in: Waltzing Matilda-key of G, Hallelujah-Key of F, Hey Jude-Key of D.
    Taking voice lessons is a great idea. I will explore that. Since I’ve always thought of myself as a “non-singer”, I am shy to sing in front of other people, let alone lead a song. I only started enjoy singing recently. As with most things, I think when you do it better, it is more enjoyable. How long would it take to expand my range by half octave? Even though I mentioned my range is B2-F4, my non-straining singing range is more like E3-E4. So that’s only 1 octave! Is that even normal?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by annod View Post
    Taking voice lessons is a great idea. I will explore that. Since I’ve always thought of myself as a “non-singer”, I am shy to sing in front of other people, let alone lead a song. I only started enjoy singing recently. As with most things, I think when you do it better, it is more enjoyable. How long would it take to expand my range by half octave? Even though I mentioned my range is B2-F4, my non-straining singing range is more like E3-E4. So that’s only 1 octave! Is that even normal?
    One octave is what I would have said that I had when I went to my first lesson. It didn't take long. I took lessons for three months during the summer four years ago. But right away the first lesson the voice coach was widening my range. Learning how to breath is worth a couple of notes on each end. We worked on that the first lesson and I could feel and improvement right away. It is a huge confidence builder. You will be surprised how much range you already have with just a little coaching. One more bit of advise, if you take voice lessons you need to let your voice coach know what your goals are. Tell them that you want to play the ukuele and sing, and what kind of songs you want to do. The first two lessons mine had me doing scales, practice breathing, and working on widening the range just one note on each end every week. After the first couple of weeks he had me bring my ukulele and bring in songs that were challenging me, and the last half of the lesson we would work on those.

    There was a lot more to it than just how far up the scale and how far down you can go. Breathing, starting on the right note, pitch, playing and singing at the same time, there is a lot that you can work on during a voice lesson. At first he would play the notes on his piano as we went through the scale, but after a few lessons he had me playing the notes on my ukulele while we went through our scales. That in itself was very helpful and often times I will sing up and down the scale on my uke to warm up my voice. Also you will be playing and singing in front of someone in a non-threatening environment. I guess what I'm saying is that you should be able to incorporate your ukulele in with your voice lessons. That all was a huge thing, and I'm glad that I found a voice coach that did that. One more last bit, find your own voice. My voice coach was all about finding your own voice and not trying to sound like someone else. I hope that helps you decide if you want to do that. I took my lessons that one summer, but I go back for two or three lessons every year just to tweak things.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by merlin666 View Post
    A whole octave can be just as hard, but learning to sing a vocal harmony at a third, sixth, or fifth interval can also work, and will also tend to impress the others in the jam who all sing the same notes. Listen to some Simon and Garfunkel songs to get an idea of this.
    Thanks, great idea. I'm going to ask my voice coach to teach me to sing harmony.
    "Those who bring sunshine and laughter to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves".

    Music washes from the soul, the dust of everyday living.

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