Attack of the Tone
As a singer, tone has the power to connect – it can travel through music and get into the listeners body and move them. Tone needs to be authentic, original and an extension of your attitude and speaking voice.
Technically, tone is the colour or timbre of your voice. Every singer has their own tone and one of the mistakes many aspiring singers make is to adopt another successful singers tone, usually a beginner will mimic their favourite singers tone and it would be hard to find a singer out there that isn’t guilty of mimicking tone when they first discovered their voice at the beginning of their music career.
Right now we are seeing an emergence of female vocalists who all sound alike. Not naming any names, but these singers are all very similar tone, very similar vocal style.
All amazing voices but all very much the same. Let me elaborate!
If you were witness to post grunge music in the 1990s you will remember the rise of the male ‘Yarler’ voice. This type of tone some say was made famous by Layne Staley of Alice in Chains and others say Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, wether or not you enjoyed the ‘Yarl’, there is definitely a real technical skill involved behind it, but was the ‘Yarl’ authentic to every singer who recorded hit songs during this time? Probably not. Styles of music go in and out of fashion, so this means that certain types of voices become very popular to listen to on the radio and in demand by the public, certain tone becomes ‘in fashion’, achieves lots of radio play and can influence other singers who are learning their craft to adopt a particular tone that is popular, they hear it every day on the radio.
I’m in no way saying that this is a really bad thing but wouldn’t you rather find your unique tone that is authentic to you and all yours rather than singing with a particular tone to be popular? Tone that isn’t yours is hard work to maintain. Plus, audiences can be very smart and after a while they can see through an artist that is not authentic. The way to find your tone is through good vocal training, technical training, a great vocal coach can help you develop and discover your tone through a series of exercises. I’ve also found that writing your own music can help develop unique tone and if you do need to sing covers for gigs or in your singing lessons, choose songs that are sung by the opposite sex to prevent you from mimmicking tone.
Look at singers like Stevie Nicks, Tori Amos, Darren Hayes, Cyndi lauper, Adam Levine, Freddy Mercury, Bjork to name a few, they all have unique tone that is all their own and they have all had incredible success with their voices.
Have you found your tone yet?