A cappella blending

Harmonies. They can be the bane of your life if your voice isn’t in great shape. Especially in an A cappella setting because your voice might give a nice block harmony that “nails down a blackboard” vibe, prompting the other parts to do that quintessential “is that me?” wincing look. Contemporary lead vocals are a […]

Vocal strain

Strain. Some (or rather many) of us are good friends with that little devil. It wraps itself around our neck like a boa constrictor, squeezing the blood into our pained faces. That may be a little dramatic, but let’s be honest; it’s a pain in the butt right? But what exactly is strain? There are […]

Belting is it safe?

Chris & Steve look into the ins and outs of ‘belting’, how it can be done and how to avoid the perils of this extreme technique. What is belting? To start with this vocal quality probably features on every singer’s wish list: to sing hard and strong on the high notes. As we already know, we can […]

Using different melody shapes

An easy trick to keep your song interesting is to vary the melody shape between your verses and choruses. First, let’s introduce the six basic melody shapes: Ascending melodies start on lower notes and move upwards to higher notes. Descending melodies start on higher notes and move downward to lower notes. One-note melodies stay on […]

Chord Progressions

Chord progressions in songwriting

Writer’s block. Every songwriter experiences it at some point. You’re sitting in front of your piano, you’ve got your guitar in hand, your pencils are sharpened, your laptop batteries glow at 100% and BAM, you’ve got nothing! You FEEL like writing, but there’s a dry, brown, desert in your head. Tumbleweeds blow past, a train […]

More tips from top casting directors

Award Winning Composer/Lyricist “Make your performance a conversation. Many people sing well, but fewer really communicate when they’re singing and communication is all about the other person in the conversation. Most likely, you’re standing up there by yourself, singing alone. But treat your song as a scene. Think of it as a dialogue we only […]

Partner rhymes

Let’s dive into the science of rhyming for a moment. A rhyme consists of the duplication or approximation of the sounds of a syllable: its onset, nucleus, and coda (bear with me, I realize this is sounding too academic already…there really is a payoff!). The onset is the first consonant you hear. The nucleus is […]

Style with vocal fry

Vocal Nerds: Style with Vocal Fry You only need to listen to one episode of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ to receive a masterclass in how to use Vocal Fry. Fingers crossed you will never, ever, do that and so we’ll give you the overview here: what it is, what it sounds like and whether a […]

Riff-a-maniacs

Riff-a-maniacs The weird and wonderful world of riffs, licks, runs, melisma, scats, trills, and then some. Here comes the “Riff-a-Maniac”. This was the name I was given back in the day when all I did was just riff out every song. It didn’t matter what genre the song was: classical, musical theatre, soul, or plain […]

The art of ad libbing

Understanding Ad-libs The abbreviated term “ad lib” comes from the Latin word “ad libitum” meaning “according to one’s desire or “freely as one wishes” with its first known use dating back to 1610. I feel that ad-libbing is often misunderstood and maybe confused with; being unprepared, a thoughtless and careless way of performing a song […]