Acting in Plays, Singing/Key choice...
Good day, Mr. Martinfield;
I am a baritone who sings pop and rock. I can usually vocalize up to high A-flat or A and down to about low F-sharp. I realize that most of the original keys of modern pop and rock are in the tenor range. What I would specifically like to know is what types of high notes should I set my keys to display? For instance, if a song in G major has a range from D below the staff to A above the staff, what key might I transpose it to to best suit my voice?
Hello, Tracy –
Thank you for the question.
Your vocal range, as you describe it, is typical of a standard baritone. The definition includes that your High A or A-flat can be sustained for several measures: fully-voiced and at forte (F = Loud) level, sometimes louder. Your Low F-sharp or G must be audible to at least Row M and without a microphone. If you can demonstrate that, then you are ready to take on whatever you want to do as a Pop/Rock singer. My job as a professional vocal coach is to teach my clients how to develop that agility and strength, and how to keep it – especially as time goes by.
No matter the artist or their gender, when covering a song that is likely to be familiar to your audience – you must place it in the key that works best for you and the strength of your voice. The goal is to be invited back to sing and to have your friends tell two other friends to take money out of their wallets to come hear you sing, etc.
If you can exercise up to a series of fully-voiced High As everyday, then you will feel more confident about owning a performance-ready High A-flat or High G.
A vocal set lasts about 45 to 55 minutes, or the length of a standard CD. The best example, of course, is the one you have recently recorded and have available in the Lobby or over there at the bar. How many climactic High Gs, A-flats, or As do you plan on singing that night? Will you also use your range to sing a passage in a lighter volume, and not in falsetto? How high can you go in your falsetto?
These considerations and more will influence the keys you choose for the material you sing in your marketable vocal range.
I am a vocal coach to working singers in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm also an entertainment critic for HuffingtonPost.com – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sean-martinfield
and Classical music reviewer for Examiner.com – http://www.examiner.com/user/4557381/articles
. When you're ready to come to San Francisco for vocal coaching, contact me at: Broadwaybelters@yahoo.com
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