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Old 11-13-2019, 12:36 AM
tdq tdq is offline
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Default Open Mic changed my voice register

I've done a few open mics over the years but not a lot.
I'd been practicing this tune for a couple of weeks, got the right key, pretty confident. I've been playing this tune for years so was just refreshing my arrangement, mostly.
Went to this open mic last night. Did the little intro lick, started singing and it was WAY low - so low I could barely sing it. I don't have a huge range so going up an octave wasn't really an option either. The guitar had just been tuned so I'm positive the key was right. I was a little nervous but not terribly. It threw me right off - I know the tune well, so fortunately it didn't effect my playing (although I had to use a flatpick instead of a thumbpick which disappeared from my pocket 2 minutes before I went on, but that's another story)
Any insights? Maybe my nerves had bumped my vocal chords up a couple of tones?
(I found the thumbpick after I performed - it was in my other pocket.....)
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Old 11-13-2019, 01:08 AM
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I notice this a lot with people who come to open mics and song-circles in my area. It’s highly unlikely the open mic ‘changed your voice register’ - far more likely you’d picked the wrong key to learn it in!

The problem seems to be that they don’t rehearse a song as if they were singing it ‘live’. Sitting on the sofa noodling and practising doesn’t require the singer to ‘project’, so they pick a key where they can sing quietly and comfortably, but singing in front of an audience requires ‘projection’ - which usually means singing in a higher key than the one that sounded OK on the sofa. Don’t ask how I know this!

So - when you practise at home, pick a higher key, stand up, and sing to project and ‘put it out there’. Find the key that gives you the right projection, and make a note of it for future reference.

BTW - if you found yourself singing ‘too low’ at the O-M, why didn’t you capo up a bit?

The usual disclaimers apply......IMHO, YMMV etc.
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Old 11-13-2019, 01:52 AM
gmel555 gmel555 is offline
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Seems easy enough to re-confirm back at home if you were in correct key. I'd say it's probable it was nerves. I find to reach my lower registers I need to be relaxed, the vocal cords need to be loose for the low end not tight. Tense up and the low end is hard to find. (May be an adrenaline thing). Case in point.....most people I know when they get "excited" talk in higher pitches, not lower.
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Old 11-13-2019, 04:48 AM
Penrith Pete Penrith Pete is offline
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Hi there. Interesting post, Thanks.
I have a fairly quiet singing voice and not much of a range. That said, for years this did not bother me at all when I was mainly singing at home, just with my guitar. But then I started to do open mics, folk clubs and play in bands both acoustically and plugged in.
It was the beginning of no end of problems for a voice that had previously given me no issue at all! I hadn't even had to think about it.
One issue is that my volume in the lower register is not up to much. At home, with my guitar, no issue. But out and about, to sing over other instruments or at an open mic where the mic level is relatively low compared to the instrument it can be an issue.
It may not be that it was too low for you to sing but too low for you to sing sufficiently loudly with that set-up? Just a thought, This is certainly something affects me live. When doing my own sound I can adjust for it and no probs...but open mics can be a lottery.
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Old 11-13-2019, 05:58 AM
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I agree with the previous post. Straight back chair or stand, no "couch slouch"..compresses your "air supply" so to speak, cant project. Also, your practice area matters. My music room has very low ceilings, the rest of my house has 9 1/2 foot height. When I take a some into a large high room...wow, the difference is amazing. The guitar rings, my voice bounces off the ceiling, much different. My guess is most open mics, ( at least in my area) have low ceilings, lots of people in small area creating a very "dead" room...that could be part of the problem.
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Old 11-13-2019, 07:13 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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You must consider nerves. Between facing an audience and getting a bit shook at not finding the correct pick, it's the first place I would examine. Sing it at home, standing. How does it sound? If it's OK, then blame your nerves.
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Old 11-13-2019, 07:23 AM
Mr Bojangles Mr Bojangles is offline
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If you are not used to singing into a mic, that could explain it. The first time that I went to a music circle, I practiced a couple of songs until I had them down cold. But when the mic came around to me and I started to sing, it was like some alien entity had taken over. My voice was unrecognizable (to me) and was way too low. I struggled through it, and then went home and started practicing with a mic. Now I'm not comfortable singing without one.
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Old 11-13-2019, 07:45 AM
Doug MacPherson Doug MacPherson is offline
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Happened to me a couple of times. I didn't have the power and fullness I needed in my original key. Capo 2 solved the problem every time.
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Old 11-13-2019, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdq View Post
I've done a few open mics over the years but not a lot.
I'd been practicing this tune for a couple of weeks, got the right key, pretty confident. I've been playing this tune for years so was just refreshing my arrangement, mostly.
Went to this open mic last night. Did the little intro lick, started singing and it was WAY low - so low I could barely sing it. I don't have a huge range so going up an octave wasn't really an option either. The guitar had just been tuned so I'm positive the key was right. I was a little nervous but not terribly. It threw me right off - I know the tune well, so fortunately it didn't effect my playing (although I had to use a flatpick instead of a thumbpick which disappeared from my pocket 2 minutes before I went on, but that's another story)
Any insights? Maybe my nerves had bumped my vocal chords up a couple of tones?
(I found the thumbpick after I performed - it was in my other pocket.....)
I am a bit confused first you state "started singing and it was WAY low" (since the title says "register" and you mention the guitar being in Key ), I assume you mean WAY low in register ?) then you ask if maybe nerves "bumped my vocal chords up a couple of tones?" so which is it ?
So I am confused,,,,, where you singing in a key below the key of your guitar or above it ?

That aside my guess is if you do not have a mic and PA at home it may just be the initial "shell shock" of hearing your voice amplified
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Last edited by KevWind; 11-13-2019 at 08:14 AM.
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Old 11-13-2019, 08:06 AM
Penrith Pete Penrith Pete is offline
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Pretty sure the OP means that the song was in too low a key for him to effectively sing, though he had done do previously. He confirms that the guitar was in tune so that it wasn't a case of the guitar being tuned flat and therefore a lower key being used than that he was accustomed to. ....I think! :-)
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Old 11-13-2019, 08:30 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee1404 View Post
The problem seems to be that they don’t rehearse a song as if they were singing it ‘live’. Sitting on the sofa noodling and practising doesn’t require the singer to ‘project’, so they pick a key where they can sing quietly and comfortably, but singing in front of an audience requires ‘projection’ - which usually means singing in a higher key than the one that sounded OK on the sofa.

So - when you practise at home, pick a higher key, stand up, and sing to project and ‘put it out there’. Find the key that gives you the right projection, and make a note of it for future reference.......IMHO, YMMV etc.
I think this hits the nail on the head. Good insight.

The nerves of being in front of everyone, with them looking at you, changes a persons perspective. Suddenly a person finds themselves in a hyper self focus. They aren't reacting in the fashion that they are used to. At least that is the perception. Which generates more nerves and hyper self focus. Hold on to the experience and hit the wood shed. You can learn from this experience and become better at performing. You've gained more experience and that is the bedrock of knowledge.
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Old 11-13-2019, 08:43 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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This is a familiar phenomenon! The louder one sings, the easier it is to hit high notes, and the harder it is to hit low notes. IOW, one's whole register rises a little: in my experience, by a 3rd or even a 4th. It's actually expressed in that common phrase to "raise one's voice", which we use to mean get louder or angrier but (obviously) also implies getting higher.

Of course the problem rehearsing a number at home is you don't always feel able - for whatever reason - to sing as loud as you would at an open mic. Maybe your family - or your dog - wouldn't appreciate it . But the more you get aware of the issue, the more you can plan for it, and shove that capo up a few frets when you perform live.

In theory, of course, given a good PA, properly set up, one should be able to sing the exact same way as at home when performing live - no doubt that's what a professional would be able to do. But it's hard when confronted with a room full of people to think one can keep one's voice down and still get across. There's an instinct that kicks in and ignores the PA.
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Last edited by JonPR; 11-13-2019 at 08:49 AM.
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Old 11-13-2019, 09:30 AM
RustyAxe RustyAxe is offline
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Don't know if this pertains to you, but I find I can go higher singing on stage than I can when singing alone at home. Standing makes a difference, too. It's a matter of projection, I think. But I've never noticed that I can't go low (I'm a baritone), I just have to think about those low notes a little more, back off on my pipes and eat the mic. Some songs need to have that low baritone.
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Old 11-13-2019, 01:02 PM
lkingston lkingston is online now
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When I started doing open mics I very much had a "dad voice". I transposed everything down to my comfortable range. Now my comfortable range averages a whole time higher and my upper range has expanded considerably.

I used to have a full voice range and a weak falsetto that I only used for harmonizing. There was a large unusable pitch range between them. Now my full voice range has expanded into the falsetto and that range is much stronger as well.

I didn't expect that singing out a few nights a week would make such a difference but it has.
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Old 11-13-2019, 02:39 PM
gfa gfa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayBee1404 View Post
...

The problem seems to be that they don’t rehearse a song as if they were singing it ‘live’. Sitting on the sofa noodling and practising doesn’t require the singer to ‘project’, so they pick a key where they can sing quietly and comfortably, but singing in front of an audience requires ‘projection’ - which usually means singing in a higher key than the one that sounded OK on the sofa. Don’t ask how I know this!

...
^^^ This, plus feeling nervous will affect your vocal chords.
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