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Identifying the Fab Four Singing Voices

The four singing voice types are soprano, mezzo, tenor, and bass. Even though these names sound like characters in a mob movie, they’re nothing to be afraid of. Under each voice type heading, you discover specific traits about each voice type: the range, register transitions, voice tone, and any subdivisions of that voice type, as well as the names of a few famous singers to help you put a sound with the voice type.

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Soprano: Singing on top

The soprano has the highest range of the female voice types. The following aspects are characteristic of her voice type:

  • Range: Often Middle C to High C although some sopranos can vocalize way beyond High C and much lower than Middle C.
    A soprano is expected to have a High C and many sopranos can sing up to the G or A above High C. Choral directors or musical directors listen for the singer’s comfort zone when determining if the singer is a soprano. Although a mezzo can reach some of these higher notes, a soprano is capable of singing high notes more frequently than a mezzo.
  • Register transitions: Because not all sopranos are the same, the register transitions don’t occur on just one note. The transitions usually occur as the soprano shifts out of chest voice around the E-flat just above Middle C and into her head voice around F-sharp (fifth line on top of the staff) in the octave above Middle C.
  • Strength: A soprano’s strength is a strong head voice.
  • Voice tone: The soprano voice is usually bright and ringing.
  • Weakness: Sopranos have a harder time projecting in middle voice.
  • Subdivisions: High, higher, highest — okay, that’s not exactly technically accurate, but most other voice types have subdivisions that fill in the gaps.
  • Common Performance Roles: The soprano is usually the lead in the show, such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, and Mimi in La Bohème.
  • Naming Names: Famous sopranos you may know include Dolly Parton, Julie Andrews, Sara Brightman, Maria Callas, and Olivia Newton John.

Mezzo: The low female voice

The difference between a mezzo (mezzo is the abbreviated term for mezzo-soprano) and a soprano is often tessitura.(Tessitura refers to where most of the notes lie in a song — the notes that a voice feels most comfortable singing.) Many mezzos can sing as high as a soprano, but they can’t stay as high as a soprano. For example, some roles in operatic literature require the mezzo to sing as high as the soprano lead, but the mezzo doesn’t have to remain that high as long as a soprano does — thank goodness — because the mezzo comfort zone is usually different than the soprano; mezzos prefer to live in their middle voices. On the other hand, a soprano hates to live in her middle voice all day, preferring to sing high notes and soar above the orchestra.

To further confuse you, many sopranos sing mezzo repertoire. How dare they! That’s not fair, but it’s a fact. As in other aspects of life, after the soprano becomes famous, she sings repertoire that she enjoys and that may be music written for somebody else, such as mezzos. So just because a soprano sings a song doesn’t mean it’s a soprano song. You have to look at the details, such as range of the song, and decide if that range fits your voice.

  • Range: The mezzo range is usually G below Middle C to a High B or High C. Many mezzos vocalize as high as a soprano but can’t handle the repetition of the upper notes.
  • Register: The register transitions for the mezzo usually occur at E or F (first space) just above Middle C and the E or F (fifth line) one octave above that.
  • Strength: Mezzos have a strong middle voice.
  • Voice tone: The mezzo voice is usually darker or deeper than her soprano counterpart.
  • Weakness: A mezzo’s head voice is often her weakness.
  • Subdivisions: One subdivision of mezzo is contralto. Less common than mezzos, contraltos can usually sing from F below Middle C to about an F (fifth line) below High C. A contralto can vocalize or sing higher and has an even darker, richer color and is more at home in the lower part of her voice. Sometimes singers darken their voices intentionally to make themselves sound like contraltos. The contralto may take her chest voice dominated sound up to a G (second line) above Middle C and shift into head voice around the D (fourth line) an octave above Middle C. Examples of contraltos include Marian Anderson and Maureen Forrester.
  • Common Performance Roles: The mezzo is often the mother, witch, or the sleazy girl in town. Her roles include such fun ones as Miss Hannigan in Annie, Mrs. Pots in Beauty and The Beast, Carmen in the opera Carmen, and Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!
  • Naming Names: Famous mezzos you may know include Marilyn Horne, K.D. Lang, Lorrie Morgan, Patsy Cline, and Karen Carpenter.

High-singing men: Tenor

Thanks to the Three Tenors, The Irish Tenors, and even Three Mo’ Tenors, you probably have a good idea of what a tenor sounds like.

  • Range: The tenor range is about two octaves with many singing a little lower than C (second space in bass clef) and a little higher than the male High C (third space treble clef).
  • Register: The tenor voice doesn’t make a huge transition from his lower voice to his middle voice. His transition into his middle voice occurs around Middle C (or the E just above Middle C) and then a transition into head voice around F-sharp or G above Middle C.
  • Strength: The tenor’s strength is his head voice.
  • Voice tone: The tenor voice is usually bright and ringing.
  • Weakness: His weakness is often his lower voice.
  • Subdivisions: In the musical-theater world, a subdivision of the tenor, called the bari/tenor, reigns. This voice type is someone with the power to project in the middle voice and the higher ringing money notes of the tenor. The other voice type that you frequently hear of in the opera world is the countertenor — a male singer who sounds like a female. This voice type sings in the same range as the mezzo (sometimes soprano) and sounds similar. When you’ve heard the countertenor singing enough, you can distinguish him from a mezzo. Until then, just enjoy the unique quality that these gentlemen bring to the singing world.
  • Common Performance Roles: The tenor is almost always the lead, winning the girl at the end of the show. Examples include Rodolfo in La Bohème, Don José in Carmen, Tony in West Side Story, Billy in Chicago, and Rolf in The Sound of Music.
  • Naming Names: Famous tenors you may know include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and José Carreras, whom you may recognize as the Three Tenors, as well as John Denver, Enrico Caruso, Daniel Rodriguez (the Singing Cop), Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.

The low lowdown on bass

Bass is the lowest of the voice types. The bass is the guy that sings all the cool low notes in the barbershop quartet.

  • Range: His range is usually F (below the bass clef staff) to E (first line treble clef) but can be as wide as E-flat to F.
  • Register transitions: The bass changes from chest voice into middle voice around A or A-flat just below Middle C and changes into head voice around D or D-flat just above Middle C.
  • Strength: His low voice is his strength.
  • Voice tone: His voice is the deepest, darkest, and heaviest of the male voices.
  • Weakness: His high voice is his weakness.
  • Subdivisions: Filling in the middle between tenor and bass is the baritone. The baritone can usually sing from an A (first space bass clef) or F (first space treble clef) below the male High C. The bass-baritone has some height of the baritone and some depth of the bass and his range is usually A-flat (first space bass clef) to F (first space treble clef) and sometimes as high as G below the male High C. The baritone’s register transitions usually occur at the A or B just below Middle C and the D or E above Middle C.
  • Common Performance Roles: The bass or baritone is often the villain, father, or older man. Examples include Ramfis in Aïda, the Mikado in The Mikado, and Jud Fry in Oklahoma! Some exceptions to this villain image are King Arthur in Camelot, Porgy in Porgy and Bess, and the Toreador in Carmen.
  • Naming Names: Famous basses you may know include Samuel Ramey, James Morris, José Van Dam, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Barry White.

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Creating And Mastering A Good Music

Music is a masterpiece of art created out of deep passion of rendering an emotion of love, fear, happiness and joy. It could also be inspirational or encouraging type. Most musicians create music based on their experience and environment. It can also be created out of every day’s life experience that they observed. Music can touch the heart and give a soothing and calming effect. It can also give strength and power. For this reason music has been the appreciated by people of all ages.

When the created music is recorded and mixed it is normal that the musician indulge in giving the best in its rendition.  They are eager to accomplished and have the album release. But during the process of productions few will notice any irregularities on the created piece. Most are sensitive on critic reviews because the musician usually put all their heart and souls to create the music.

To ensure good recording quality of song the musicians must have the assistance of mastering engineer. This engineer works as a quality controller to check the quality of the song produced. They usually possess expertise and independent ears suited to give professional opinion on the freshness or impression on the song created. They focus on the final rendition of the song. Afterwards they evaluate it and explain to the musician the irregularities or error in the music. Then they recommend suggestions on how to give the music or song a fresh appeal to achieve the objective of giving finest music.

Communication with mastering engineer must be open which means musician must make consultation to them. They trained to give an honest opinion and generally they do not encourage emotional aspect or effort exerted in producing the music. Outside factors or internal factors do not to interfere in their judgment because their main focus is to make the created piece a masterpiece on its own. Trust and confidence are essential factors that must be established between the musician and the mastering engineer. The feedback and the objective vision of the mastering engineer give the direction of positive success of the music.


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How Guitar Strings and Frets Work

Guitar strings create musical sound through vibration. Understanding how strings work with frets to create specific vibrations (and therefore specific tones) will help you to understand why your guitar sounds the way it does, instead of like a kazoo or an accordion. The important thing to remember is that a guitar makes the sound, but you make the music.

Every musical instrument has some part of it that moves in a regular, repeated motion to produce sound (a sustained tone, or pitch). On a guitar, this part is the vibrating string. A string that you bring to a certain tension and then set in motion (by a plucking action) produces a predictable sound — for example, the note A. If you tune a string of your guitar to different tensions, you get different tones. The greater the tension of a string, the higher the pitch.

You couldn’t do very much with a guitar, however, if the only way to change pitches was to frantically adjust the tension on the strings every time you pluck a string. So guitarists resort to another way to change a string’s pitch — by shortening its effective vibrating length. They do so by fretting — pushing the string against the fretboard so that it vibrates only between the fingered fret (metal wire) and the bridge.

The fact that smaller instruments such as mandolins and violins are higher in pitch than are cellos and basses (and guitars, for that matter) is no accident. Their pitch is higher because their strings are shorter. The string tension of all these instruments may be closely related, making them feel somewhat consistent in response to the hands and fingers, but the drastic difference in string lengths is what results in the wide differences of pitch among them. This principle holds true in animals, too. A Chihuahua has a higher-pitched bark than a St. Bernard because its strings — er, vocal cords — are much smaller.

Guitars make sound by amplifying string vibrations acoustically (by passing the sound waves through a hollow chamber) or electronically (by amplifying and outputting a current through a speaker). That’s the physical process anyway. Your right-hand’s motion not only helps produce the sound by setting the string in motion, but also determines the rhythm (the beat or pulse), tempo (the speed of the music), and feel (interpretation, style, spin, magic, mojo, je ne sais quoi, whatever) of those pitches.

Although guitarists produce sound by strumming or plucking the strings, how a guitar produces different sounds — and the ones that you want it to make — is up to you and how you control the pitches that those strings produce. Left-hand fretting is what changes these pitches.


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Discovering the Blues of John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker (1917-2001) is firmly established as one of the true giants of the blues, along with Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Howlin’ Wolf. Hooker is often called the “King of the Boogie” and his driving, rhythmic approach to guitar playing has become an integral element of the blues sound and style.

When he made his recording debut in 1948, scoring a nationwide hit with “Boogie Chillen,” John Lee Hooker was considered something of an anachronism. Except for his thunderous electric guitar, Hooker’s one-chord and two-chord modal stylings sounded very much like those of a Delta blues artist from the 1920s. But Hooker’s music is altogether more fierce and rhythmic than old Delta blues. Early in his career, he played solo for the most part — his dark, hypnotic voice and relentless foot-stomping his only accompaniment.

John Lee has cut records for seemingly every large and small blues label that’s ever existed (and doing so without having to vary his approach). Hooker’s music is raw, riveting, and almost doom-struck Mississippi blues that demands much of a listener. His music provides one of the great emotional listening experiences in the blues. John Lee Hooker stands alone as a true creative original, often imitated, but never equaled.
From Clarksdale to the Motor City

Born on August 17, 1920, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, John Lee grew up surrounded by the blues, having been taught the guitar by his stepfather, Will Moore. In childhood, Hooker’s main musical influence had been his church spiritual singing, that is, until the blues took over.

When he was 15, John Lee ran away from home and moved to Memphis to make his mark in the blues scene. He was caught and sent back home, but eventually returned to Memphis. To make ends meet, he worked as an usher at the New Daisy Theatre movie house. He later moved to Cincinnati, singing with various gospel groups including the Big Six and the Fairfield Four. Enticed by the prospect of regular work in the automobile industry, Hooker moved to Detroit in 1943.

After becoming a fixture on the Detroit blues club and house party scene, John Lee began recording in 1948, hitting pay dirt on his first try with his recording of “Boogie Chillen.” Sounding like absolutely nothing else that was on the radio or the jukeboxes at that time, its pounding rhythm helped carry that record all the way to Number One on the R&B charts in 1949.
The “other” John Lee Hookers

Hooker (see Figure 1) spent the next six years cutting records for just about every label that offered him a deal, recording under a number of fake names, nicknames, or names that were a variation of his own. Starting with Modern (under his real name), he went on to record for Staff (as Johnny Williams), Gotham (as John Lee), Regent (as Delta John), Savoy (as Birmingham Sam and his Magic Guitar), Regal, Gone (as John Lee Booker), Sensation, Danceland (as Little Pork Chops), Fortune (as Sir John Lee Hooker), King (as Texas Slim and John Lee Cooker), Swing Time, Acorn (as The Boogie Man), Deluxe (as Johnny Lee), Chart, JVB, Specialty, Chance (as John L Booker), and Chess, before moving over to Vee-Jay under his real name in 1955. It was at Vee-Jay Records where he had his longest affiliation with a single label, recording for them into the early 1960s and scoring hits with “Dimples” and “Boom Boom.”

With his solo acoustic blues sound, Hooker gained an appreciative new audience among followers of the folk scene. He performed and recorded extensively throughout the 1960s, and his first-ever tour of Europe in 1962 had an enormous impact on the emerging British blues scene. By the end of the decade, John Lee was playing his blues in the hippest rock clubs and biggest festivals around the country.

Pulling up stakes to head to California

In 1970, Hooker moved from Detroit to Oakland. Once there, he recorded the Hooker ‘n’ Heat album with blues-rockers Canned Heat. John Lee Hooker issued new albums by the truckload in the 1970s, with the occasional misguided attempt to update his sound by pairing him with rock musicians who had little sensitivity for his spontaneous changes in timing and his unconventional modal approach to song.

Highlights for Hooker in the 1980s were his being inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame and a flurry of reissues of his early recordings on a variety of foreign and domestic labels. He also made a cameo appearance in the movie The Blues Brothers, stomping out his trademark boogie patterns on the tune “Boom Boom.”
Bigger than ever

John Lee’s career took a major upswing with the 1989 release of The Healer, featuring newly recorded material and guest appearances by Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Robert Cray, and others. The album was nominated for a Grammy award for best blues recording, and Hooker won a Grammy for “I’m in the Mood,” a duet recorded with Raitt.

In 1990, Hooker was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in the years following, he was honored at a star-studded tribute concert at Madison Square Garden, played dates with the Rolling Stones, and even appeared in a Pepsi commercial. In 1997, he opened his own blues club in California — John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room — and continued to record and perform until his death in 2001.

The Ultimate Collection (Rhino). This two-disc set covers Hooker’s best known numbers from 1948 to 1990. Blues doesn’t sound any deeper and isn’t played with more intensity than when it’s done by John Lee.


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Simple Ways To Play Guitar

There are many online resources that declare they can instruct you a simple method to find out guitar. The truth exists is actually no easy means to find out guitar, it takes practice and a terrific teaching method to become an outstanding artist and there is no simple way around this.


When discovering to play the guitar it is very important to discover the fundamentals first. There is an easy way to find out guitar essentials that is to research as much as you can online and in guitar instruction books, then attempt it yourself. Once you have found out the standard guitar abilities you will discover that advanced riffs and chords will come quickly to you.

Practice makes best

A simple method to discover guitar is to practice and perfect something then relocate on to the next thing. Practice certainly makes perfect! When you practice you will relocate with chords with easy and be able to make a smooth shift from fundamental chords to advanced riffs.

Picking an instrument

When you initially find an easy method to discover guitar it is essential to select the right guitar. Picking a guitar is a prolonged and delicate process and ought to be done with a seasoned guitar sales individual. It is constantly a good idea to hold the instrument and play a piece of songs on it. When you begin a simple method to discover guitar, this will assist you get a sensation for how the instrument will feel.


Movement is how your body relates to your instrument. An easy way to discover guitar is to treat your instrument like an additional body part. Move fluidly with your instrument and make all motions precise and clear and short or not sharp.

Making the many from a lesson

Making one of the most from your lesson is very important and will make it an easy method to learn guitar. Try videotaping your session so you can see and rewind anything you may wish to discuss later. Composing notes in a book is another way to make the most from your lesson. The book can be opened at anytime and you can refer back to previous notes.

Discovering an easy way to learn guitar is possible and can be very satisfying. Make the most out of your lessons, whether they be online or with an instructor. Remember and do not be scared to ask as numerous concerns as you need up until you get the response that assists you understand the problem. Most of all have a good time, do not take it too seriously as you will lose interest very quickly! Enjoy!


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The Nuts and Bolts of Electric Guitars

Recognizing the different parts of the guitar is important, but knowing what makes an electric guitar work as a whole is essential to differentiate it from, say, a bassoon, accordion, or kazoo. Not that there’s anything wrong with those instruments, but try doing a windmill (a showy strumming technique where you extend your right arm out and move it in a circular motion, striking the guitar strings once a cycle — Pete Townshend is the windmill’s most famous practitioner) with a bassoon and they’ll cart you away quicker than your friends can ask the musical question, “Why is the bassoonist having a fit?”

String vibration and pitch

An electric guitar is a string, or stringed, instrument that creates musical sound through a vibrating string. Each string can produce a variety of different notes, but only one at a time. If you want to play two or more notes simultaneously, you must play them on different strings and strike them simultaneously. Because a standard electric guitar has six strings, it can play up to six simultaneous notes, but no more. (Consequently, guitarists more than make up for this “limitation” by playing extremely loudly.)

If you tighten a given length of string to a particular tension and then set it in motion (harpists by plucking, pianistsby striking, violinistsby bowing), the string will vibrate back and forth at a regular rate. This vibration produces a steady tone that we call pitch. The pitch remains the same as long as the string vibrates. As the string’s vibrations lose power, or intensity, over time, the note gets quieter, but its pitch doesn’t change.

Tension versus length

Two properties determine a string’s pitch: tension and length. Therefore, you can change a string’s pitch in one of two ways: by changing its tension (which you do when tuning or bending) or by changing its length (which you do when fretting — by changing the length of string allowed to vibrate). You must change pitch to play different notes, whether in a scale, a melody, or a chord progression.

You couldn’t do very much with a guitar, however, if the only way to change pitches was to frantically adjust the tension every time you pluck a string. You’d end up looking like the musical equivalent of the circus performer who spins those plates on a stick. So guitarists resort to the other way to change a string’s pitch — fretting.

And that’s why we have all this fretting about fretting: Fretting is the way guitarists change notes on the electric guitar. Without left-hand fretting, we could strike the guitar and make a lot of noise, but all the notes would sound the same — worse even than a speech by a boring politician.

One of the bigger differences between two icons of electric guitar models, the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster, is that their string lengths are different. The Les Paul has a vibrating string length of 24.75 inches; the Strat (as it’s known to its friends) has a vibrating length of 25.5 inches. Not much, maybe, but enough to make a perceptible difference to the hands.

Physics tells us that two different string lengths drawn to produce the same pitch (as they must to be in tune) will have different tensions. The Strat, because it has the longer string length, has slightly higher string tension than the Les Paul. This creates two key differences in playability for the electric guitarist: tighter, or springier, string response and larger frets in the Strat; and looser, or spongier, string response and smaller frets in the Les Paul.

But before you attempt to draw any conclusions, these descriptions are not value judgments; they do not indicate whether one aspect is good or bad versus the other. These qualities merely describe — hopefully without introducing bias or preference — the physical differences between the feel and playability of the different string tensions. Which one you prefer is just that — your preference. Most professional rock guitarists don’t even have an absolute, one-choice-fits-all guitar. Instead, they select guitars based on the type of music they want to play, and will have many different guitars at their disposal to handle a variety of musical styles.

Hands-on activity

Guitar playing requires you to use two hands working together, but performing different actions. This is different than playing, say, the piano or saxophone, where both hands perform the same type of action (striking keys and pressing keys, respectively). Guitar playing has the left hand selecting which notes to sound (by pressing down the strings against frets) and the right hand sounding those notes by striking (or plucking) the strings. And for you lefties, the ones who reverse the strings to play, please understand that “left” and “right” indicate the hand that frets and the hand that picks, respectively. That’s not a prejudice against lefties, it’s just that guitar convention dictates using “left” and “right” rather than “fretting” and “picking.”

At first, this might seem like the musical equivalent of rubbing your stomach and patting your head, but after a while, performing two different actions to produce one sound becomes second nature, and you don’t even have to think about it — like walking and chewing gum. And if you can’t do that, maybe you should think about running for office instead of playing rock guitar.

Pickups and amplification

Vibrating strings produce the different tones on a guitar. You must be able to hear those tones, however, or you face one of those if-a-tree-falls-in-a-forest questions. For an acoustic guitar, hearing it is no problem because it provides its own amplifier in the form of the hollow sound chamber that boosts its sound . . . well, acoustically.

An electric guitar, on the other hand, makes virtually no acoustic sound at all. (Well, a tiny bit, like a buzzing mosquito, but nowhere near enough to fill a stadium or anger your next-door neighbors.) An electric instrument creates its tones entirely through electronic means. The vibrating string is still the source of the sound, but a hollow wood chamber isn’t what makes those vibrations audible. Instead, the vibrations disturb, or modulate, the magnetic field that the pickups — wire-wrapped magnets positioned underneath the strings — produce. As the vibrations of the strings modulate the pickup’s magnetic field, the pickup produces a tiny electric current.

If you remember from eighth-grade science, wrapping wire around a magnet creates a small current in the wire. If you then take any magnetic substance and disturb the magnetic field around that wire, you create fluctuations in the current itself. A taut steel string vibrating at the rate of 440 times per second creates a current that itself fluctuates 440 times per second. Pass that current through an amplifier and then a speaker and you hear the musical tone A. More specifically, you hear the A above middle C, which is the standard absolute tuning reference in modern music — from the New York Philharmonic to the Rolling Stones to Metallica.


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