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Thread: Good songs for singer with limited range?

  1. #11

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    Sonny Bono had a limited vocal range, so most Sonny & Cher songs should work.

  2. #12
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    Much good advice here. Thanks to all!

    I like Bill Sheehan's idea of doing some sort of schtick when the notes get too high. I also plan to try down-tuning my tenor ukulele to Bb as suggested by Ukecaster. I would love to take it down to A tuning, but I think I would need thicker strings to do that, right? Regular tenor strings would be too floppy if they were tuned down that far, right?

    Speaking of Monkees songs -- Last Train to Nashville is one I use already. That was a Monkees song, right? There was another Monkees song that I liked -- can't remember the name -- but there was a talk line in the song: "China Clipper calling Alameda" -- anyone recall the song title?

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post
    Much good advice here. Thanks to all!

    I like Bill Sheehan's idea of doing some sort of schtick when the notes get too high. I also plan to try down-tuning my tenor ukulele to Bb as suggested by Ukecaster. I would love to take it down to A tuning, but I think I would need thicker strings to do that, right? Regular tenor strings would be too floppy if they were tuned down that far, right?

    Speaking of Monkees songs -- Last Train to Nashville is one I use already. That was a Monkees song, right? There was another Monkees song that I liked -- can't remember the name -- but there was a talk line in the song: "China Clipper calling Alameda" -- anyone recall the song title?
    When I recently tuned down to A to match my voice on tenor, I was using standard Worth Clear strings, with a wound low G Fremont string. Yes, it was a bit floppier, but the songs were light thumb strumming, with no nail, so it was fine, a very rich, mellow, almost baritone sound. If you were attacking it hard, like I play a soprano, it probably would not work well. Easy enough to try, just tune it down and see if you like it, not gonna hurt anything!
    John

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post
    Much good advice here. Thanks to all!

    I like Bill Sheehan's idea of doing some sort of schtick when the notes get too high. I also plan to try down-tuning my tenor ukulele to Bb as suggested by Ukecaster. I would love to take it down to A tuning, but I think I would need thicker strings to do that, right? Regular tenor strings would be too floppy if they were tuned down that far, right?

    Speaking of Monkees songs -- Last Train to Nashville is one I use already. That was a Monkees song, right? There was another Monkees song that I liked -- can't remember the name -- but there was a talk line in the song: "China Clipper calling Alameda" -- anyone recall the song title?
    I think that "talked" Monkees song might've been called "Zilch". Of course, that's all it consisted of, was talk, so that probably doesn't help with the core issue. "Last Train To Clarksville" may indeed be in a nice medium vocal range, as might "I'm A Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday"-- all Mickey Dolenz lead vocals if I recall correctly! Might be kinda cool to have some Monkees tunes in the arsenal !!

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by captain-janeway View Post
    Someone recommended taking a voice class and it actually helped. Getting the breathing down makes a big difference
    I agree with the voice lessons.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  6. #16
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    Lots of good advice here. What strikes me is: your singing range is already wide enough for most songs. It's not common for songs to require more than an octave's range (give or take a couple extra notes). The pros take that last verse up into the 2nd octave because they're showing off. There are songs written for the express purpose of showcasing extraordinary singers -- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" comes to mind. Still, most songs would fit comfortably within your range.

    I wonder if the question for you is not so much what songs to sing, as what keys to sing them in.

    Anyway, a good way to find songs is to identify artists who have a similar voice to yours -- whether that's Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Enrico Caruso or Bob Dylan (who actually has a decent range -- try singing "Forever Young"). If he recorded it, that's because it worked for his voice, and maybe it'll work for you, too.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Sheehan View Post
    Bellgamin, another thing you can do, when you're singing a song that's "mostly" within your comfort zone but has a couple of lines that go a little "high-up-there", is to develop your own "signature" ways of delivering those particular lines so that they're in your zone. More often than not, your listeners will think you just made a discretionary variation in the way you interpreted the line (which is true, I guess), but they don't have to know that you did it in order to enable you to stay in your range. I'm at a loss to give specific examples at the moment, but I've seen several well-known performers (often those who are getting up there in years a little, or younger performers who might be fighting a cold that night) handle the "range" issue this way; not only does it save you from the anxiety of wondering if you'll be able to "hit it" on those troublesome lines, but it also gives you a chance to "make the song your own" by doing those lines in a unique way (which will also happen to keep things in a comfortable range for you). Just something to consider... that, and doing exclusively Monkees songs...
    This can work well.

    For a useful technique, see the entirety of Rex Harrison's singing in the film of My Fair Lady! Barely a recognisable note, but it works fine.

    And as others have said, practice transposing. This has a number of advantages:

    1. It brings the song into your vocal range (obvs!).

    2. It gets you practiced in other keys. I've come surprisingly fond of Bb, there are some nice voicing there you can't find in the "standard" uke keys, and my barre chords are vastly improved.

    3. If you get the song fully in your range, so you can sing it all, then you will slowly increase your range. I really only started singing 8 years or so back, and had a range no greater than yours. Just by singing lots my range has increased by 4 or 5 semitones at each end. So yesterday I was working on a new song whose range is 16 semitones, and had the luxury of trying it in F, G and C to see which it sounded best in (A: F on soprano uke, G on tenor guitar Chicago tuning).

  8. #18
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    The only good reason i see for tuning ukulele down a few steps is maybe for sound quality or some finger handicap requiring looser strings.
    If you can't sing in one key transpose the tune to another key. Ukulele is playable in any keys. 12 of them totally plus the relative minors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarmo_S View Post
    The only good reason i see for tuning ukulele down a few steps is maybe for sound quality or some finger handicap requiring looser strings.
    If you can't sing in one key transpose the tune to another key. Ukulele is playable in any keys. 12 of them totally plus the relative minors.
    what he said...find your key (not always the same for every song)
    Yesterday, I was playing at a jam and we were doing “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”. Familiar song, but not many people were singing. It was low/high for me and I’m guessing it was the same for many others, if I’m judging from participation. Funny thing is that it wasn’t even the song’s original key (I find that in jams, alot of guitarists are faithful to the original key even if it doesn’t suit them…Even if the original artist used a capo, they won’t think to perhaps move the capo to suit). Anyway, it didn’t even sound like the key of the person who selected the song. The original was in G and is easy to play and sing in that key. My point is, try the song in its original key and adjust as necessary. This is my first step for every song-finding a good key. People compliment my voice but its really very average, I just play close attention to key.

  10. #20
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    To OP:
    If C is not right for your voice, then "neighbor" keys F or G offer a significant change that can be lower or higher depending of your voice range.
    Bb or D are to think too, and then Eb or A. Those are all quite ukulele friendly keys and should cover all the range your voice needs.

    I sometimes whistle a tune that I can't sing without transposing.

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