Welcome My Fellow Lazy Guitarists

Musical genius doesn't always have to be about theory and technique. After all, music is art. It's about the story it tells, the effect it has on the listener, the things it doesn't tell, the way it makes you feel, and that's usually never covered in a music class. I'm gonna give you tips, tricks, advice, and articles about guitar playing and the modern music world without all the technical bullshit.

So bypass the $25 a week guitar lessons, forget the online instructional videos that take forever to say nothing, and let's just focus on the shit that really matters. This site will cover everything from starting and keeping a band, perfecting that awesome tune you just wrote, choosing cover songs for gigs, and how to write songs beyond power chords without getting lost in a giant chord book.

This site is specifically written for guitarists, so theres no need to interpret lessons that were written for beginners in music theory and not the beginning guitarist. All written just for you...

James The Great

Friday, October 17, 2008

How the hell do you sing?

All to often in the guitar world, you find some hopeless guitarist that really truly doesn't know a damn thing about singing... Which is alright, obviously, I mean we're not all born sounding like Freddy Mercury. So with that said, I have compiled a little FAQ for the guitarist wanting to sing.

How do you play and sing at the same time?
This one is honestly a little more trial and error, and there isn't just some magic way to give yourself mad abilities to play a Hendrix song and belt out at the same time. But there are ways to get better.
  • Practice. Very obvious and self-explanatory. Practice singing along with the track, and then practice the guitar till it becomes second nature. And while you're playing, just make sure to make yourself aware of the vocals, and vice versa. Try to get the feel of when the chord changes with what lyric or whatever. Easy stuff.
  • Hum it out. Start with humming while you're playing, throw in a few words here and there, and eventually you'll get the hang of it. Baby steps so to speak.
  • Slow it down. Start at a slower tempo until you get the feel of the dynamics.
  • Play simple songs. Start off with some simple songs with simple chords and chord changes. The more you do, the better you get.
  • Don't stop. If you screw up, keep going. Practice makes as close to perfect as we as humans will ever be, so just keep at it.

How do you scream?
Jesus this one comes up a lot. I myself am not a fan of the genre, but I don't see why I can't just help out a little. Understand that the best way to learn is through lessons. Otherwise you'll mess up your chords forever and then that'll be the end of you. And don't just go for it because there are specific ways to doing it without ruining your voice, so here are some tips.
  • The best scream isn't a scream at all. Often times those that you hear screaming on stage aren't really screaming at all, but just giving the performance of one. With high range and intensity, you can give it off without actually doing the deed. But know that this takes a lot of skill, time, and patience. Singing, just like playing the guitar, takes a lot of practice, so keep that in mind.
  • Warm up. Probably the advice you'll hear the most is that you should always warm up before attempting such crazy things. Most will recommend a good 45 minutes of warming up, but do whatever is best for you. Now you can google, or youtube it, but if you're like me and much too lazy, just try a little bit of this: In your natural most comfortable tone and pitch and whatever, sing a little line. Doesn't have to be the usual "doh, ray, me, far, so, la, te, doh" but really whatever you want. Just make some noises. Then do it again, just make your pitch a little higher, and again, higher, and do this for awhile, and do the same thing, just go lower. You might also want to do some breathing exercises. Just practice breathing in deeply into your diaphragm, not with your chest, and hold and release. Another vocal exercise can be singing a note and holding it, working with your breath, and maintaining that note.
  • Don't start strong. Don't tire yourself at first. Start with smaller, easier screams or whatever, and maybe practice only a few powerful ones within a given session.
  • Open that damn throat. It's just like singing. Open the back of that throat and breathe straight through the diaphragm. Just breathe as deep as you can into your stomach and keep it solid as you belt it out.
  • Take precautions. Drink a lot of water and rest your voice before and after practicing. Don't overwork your voice, and make sure you relax your throat, don't tense it up or put any extra strain on it.
  • Take lessons. Probably my best advice.

Why does everyone keep telling me I'm out of tune? How do I fix it?
Your voice is like your guitar. If you're guitar is out of tune, the song will be crap. It's the same thing with your voice. If you're supposed to be singing a "C" but you're hitting a "C#", people are going to cringe. So don't let your voice ruin a perfectly good song, especially if it's not your song.

The best thing to do is get lessons, as I've mentioned before. But if not, here are a few things you can try.
  • Ear Training. Just google ear training and you'll find millions of sites that will help you use your ear to identify when something is or isn't in key, what pitch it is, what key its in, and so on and so forth. Getting a little practice in your system will help you open your ears to potential mistakes while you're singing.
  • Play it, sing it. Take your guitar or keyboard, play a note, and mimic it with your voice. Train your voice to fall into place with whats going on.
  • Record Yourself. If you can, record yourself singing so you can hear the mistakes for yourself. And just practice over and over again until you hear the difference. You need to practice control and discretion, so learn it now or suffer later when the hottest girl in school makes a funny face when you start singing.
  • Practice. Very obvious.

How can I sing deeper and louder?
A lot of times we might find ourselves a little unsatisfied with our voices. Maybe we want a larger range. Maybe we want to sing deeper, or maybe higher. Regardless, there is a simple solution. But keep in mind that the chances of you going from a Michael Jackson to a Leonard Cohen might be a tad unrealistic.
  • Exercise your voice EVERYDAY. Just do some simple vocal exercises. Take a phrase, sing it or say it comfortable in your natural voice, and then say it again a little deeper, and then again a little deeper, and so on and so forth. Same goes for trying to get a higher voice, or higher range. Go both ways if you like, and practice for a good 15 minutes a day. Within a few weeks, your voice will be naturally deeper. And if you're doing this solely for the purpose of singing in a deeper pitch, make sure you throw some singing exercises in there.
  • Sing along. Practice everyday singing along, in key, as deep as possible, with some of your favorite deep-voiced singers.
So there you have it. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask or send them my way.

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