logo

YOUR Song = YOUR Key

logo
YOUR Song = YOUR Key

hello, hello.

So you have chosen a great song, you go to buy it and, you buy it in the original key.  That’s the one you’ll sing it in right?  NO.  Let me say that again.  NO.

Haha.  Song keys fit like clothes.  It might be same pair of jeans we are all wearing, but the length and waist are crucial to having them look good.  When it comes to singing, the key is crucial to a song sounding good.

Put yourself in the mind of the original singer for the song you want to sing.   They picked that particular key because it best worked in their voice (there might be some other reasons but that would be the main one). More clearly, it….

  1. Highlighted their best notes (high and low)
  2. Accurately represented the tone for the song
  3. Appropriately fit within their range

Basically, when you sing a song you one of the goals is to have it be a pleasant for the listener.  I can be listening to a great singer and if the key is wrong, that great singer sounds like an average singer.  I like Alicia Keys, but she is a prime example of someone not singing in great keys.  Sometimes when I hear her perform live or even on her recordings, she is singing about a step (two half steps) too high for her range.  You can hear it by a few things.  Her voice is straining and the tone sounds labored.  Many of the higher notes are flat (out of tune, just below the actual pitch), and her tone is inconsistent (sometimes she hits the note cleanly and sometimes she doesn’t).

So here’s a more explained breakdown of the 3 musts when choosing a key.

1. Highlight Your Best Notes

Let’s say you can sing really high in chest voice.  For a female up to a D above C5 and for a A above C5.  Just because that is your highest note doesn’t mean that you should sing that note on any give song.  These really high notes often don’t sound very pleasant to the ear.  Hopefully this isn’t defeating.  I am all for working the voice during exercises to the maximum notes.  It doesn’t have to sound good, but if you are choosing a song to sing for a performance, it’s best to choose  a song that is challenging to the range but isn’t so challenging the notes are only there 50% of the time or your voice is cracking every time you sing it.

2. Accurately represented the tone for the song

Different parts of the range have different tone qualities.  Middle and higher head voice tend of have a softer, more gentle tone.  High chest voice tends to have more intensity and volume.  Lower chest voice has a slighter heavier, richer tone (more like your speaking voice).  So basically if you are singing a soft lullaby like ballad, an appropriate tone might be head voice or possibly lower chest voice.  It would not be high chest voice.  Same goes for a intense pop song.  Head voice will sound out of place.  For a classical song, any chest voice will sound out of place and inappropriate.

3. Appropriately fit within their range

This goes along with #1 but slightly more advanced.  Let’s say the song’s range is an octave and a half  (this is common for most pop/rock songs).  If the song fits easily in your range, I usually choose a key based on the highest note.  I take the highest note of the song and either go up or down depending on where it fits in my voice.  Let’s say I have a great A4 (A above middle C).  The highest note of the song is a G.  Try moving the song UP or higher one full step.  Once you raise the highest notes all of the others change as well, so it may or may not feel and/or sound better.  This technique takes a bit of trial and error but it’s worth figuring out.

Good Luck!

Jocelyn

 

logo
logo