Broadway Singers who strain too much or force too much

seabyrd
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Al, most of the posters who have responded to the question of who strains when singing have been civil. You seem to take this all terribly personally when it's just an opinion poll - whether you know it or not, singing correctly is a science as well as an art and you seem to know nothing about either. Those who do have responded in a knowledgeable manner and have kept the rabid fan aspect out of it. May I suggest you do the same?
Scooter
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joined:8/7/03
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Ask any sound guy on Bway and he would tell you he would prefer a singer to sing like they would if they weren't mic'd in order to achieve the most "natural" amplified sound. That's not to say that performers can't then learn to push the dynamic ranges of their voice using the mics in both directions. And there are perfomers, i.e., Colm Wilkinson whose voice you wouldn't be able to hear if his mic went out. So to make a blanket statement in this argument, as in many, is to be incorrect. Training the voice requires you to train the full voice. Singing off the breath will dramatically affect the health and tone of the voce. Just as screaming and straining will.

And this takes us into the argument that everything today is OVERamplified due to many factors.(Audience expectation, orchestration, electronic instrumentation, rock & roll)
broadwayguy2
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Actually, I read an interview with several sound designers who said that teh main reason for such loud amplifation in many shows is the automation in the set pieces and lighting equipment. they have to make the volume a certain level to cover the sounds of some of the motors and cooling fans needed for the automated effects.
although, there are some shows were the loud sound is due to the style of the show ala RENT.
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TheBalladeer
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Robbiej,

I understand now, I was assuming you meant something else. And of course, now that I know for sure what you were actually saying, I completely agree.

By the way, for everyone - I just saw Gypsy again tonight, for the first time since I saw it in Previews in March, and I must say that Bernadette was incredible vocally tonight....It was the best I have ever heard her in the role...and I think that is partially due to the fact that she is definitely feeling better, and she has become more comfortable with the role.

There were even moments where she seemingly sang certain notes higher than indicated in the score on purpose. One example that stuck out was in "Everything's Coming Up Roses" It was fantastic. And I was especially excited that she belted the "C" That most Rose's don't sing at the end of "Some People". I was completely impressed.

Now I have to admit that before I was a little skeptical about her vocally way back in late March during previews, but I am a man who can admit when he is wrong, and I was wrong! And I am glad, because I want her to be good! She really did an amazing job vocally. And, we won't even begin to talk about her acting, that would take up another long post....in short, it was nothing short of fantastic.

This I CAN say about Bernadette.....the woman can do anything she puts her mind to. People doubted her ability to do this part, and she wowed a lot of the nay-sayers. I at least gave her the benefit of the doubt, and was impressed for the most part in March, but tonight, she just BLEW me away!

Oh, and I got to meet a fellow poster on this board by chance...cabarethead. She was really cool.

Everyone...let's not blow this debate out of hand and get too personal and petty. It is an interesting topic where there is an opportunity to learn from each other...let us not turn it into the "Battle of the Broadway Divas".

Cheers,
The Overly Elated (due to Bernadette's amazing performance)Balladeer
"Someone tell the story...Someone sing the song...."
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TheBalladeer
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Al Dente,

One question? I am confused....please enlighten me....what is so stupid about proper vocal technique? What is stupid about learning to project one's voice if you are a singer? Your post to seabyrd baffled me, as you bunched a lot of other people, who you did not specify, by the way, as stupid, based on the criteria that they have discussed proper vocal technique and the importance of projecting.

And trust me, no offense, a lot of performers can be wrong in the way they perform, and in the usage of their technique or lack thereof. Whoever used the Nathan Lane example, used an excellent example. For the Producers, Nathan had been doing a LOT of screaming at the top of his voice (literally), and singing way beyond his means vocally. He even admitted this. And this was part of the reason why he left the Producers, so he felt, prematurely.

So to make a long story short, PROPER technique is important. It is not something stupid, or it is not a way to throw a dig at a performer when discussing it either. It is a legitimate part of discussing, or reviewing, or critiqueing (sp.?) a performance.

I hope you didn't take any offense to this post, as I was not trying to start an arguement. Just trying to clarify.


Cheers,
The Balladeer
"Someone tell the story...Someone sing the song...."
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TheaterBaby
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First of all, on that whole grammar note, not everyone who was born after 1980 needs a spellcheck. I was born in 1982. I find simple grammar mistakes to be quite annoying as well. My biggest pet peeve is people who end their sentences in prepositions.
I did find that "Run-on sentence" line to be very ammusing.

Now, back to the topic. Yes, Bernadette does strain at times; but who cares? Her voice is amazing. Why did she have to be the first person someone mentioned reguarding this topic? There are singers out there who don't strain at all; and yet cannot even compare to Bernadette's unique and wonderful voice.

Also, just because some of you may have been vocally trained in a professional manner does not give you any more knowledge of what sounds good and what doesn't. A mute man can still hear and understand, even if he can't speak.
"It's the little things; the details, that distinguish the Barbra Streisands from the Rosalyn Kinds."~Gilmore Girls~
King Stevos
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Bernedette(sp): In my opinion, has a bad voice, but thats not what makes her wonderfull, I hate her voice but love her performance, the whole package is what matters. If a person is straining their voice so be it. But there comes a time when one either has to leave the role, or learn how to do it right. Nathan is a great example but an even better one is Adam Pascal. He screamed his way through Roger killing his voice, and had to be asked to leave the show because he was getting bad off. Yet to fix this he went out and got himself some training, as you can tell by the fact that he sounds much better in AIDA. IMO

STEVOS
"IF I TRY THERE MAY BE A CHANCE / WE COULD LOVE WITH OUR EYES CLOSED/ WITH OUR EYES CLOSED WE COULD CHANGE THE WORLD!"- Stephen Dwight
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popcultureboy
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Adam Pascal. He screamed his way through Roger killing his voice, and had to be asked to leave the show because he was getting bad off.

Was this before or after they asked him to open the show for three months in London?

And why has nobody mentioned the Queen Of Strain, Jennifer Holiday? I know someone who was an understudy in the original run of Dreamgirls and JH was always out because she kept ruining her voice.
Nothing precious, plain to see, don't make a fuss over me. Not loud, not soft, but somewhere inbetween. Say sorry, just let it be the word you mean.
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Al Dente
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My point exactly. You want me to dignify you(seabyrd, theballadeer) with a response on a board that's overpopulated with nitwits who will never even be fortunate enough to be in the chorus of an *off* bway show? (yes, I'm aware that was a run-on sentence). WHEN was Adam Pascal asked to leave Rent? WHY would anyone playing a Broadway house be asked to sing WITHOUT a mic? All the lessons in the world are not going to make you a great singer, if you don't have the talent for it to begin with. And if you're all such seasoned pro's, how do you have time to be here? Shouldn't you be out performing in some cavern, without a mic?
seabyrd
Understudy
joined:7/14/03
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You've again made yourself very clear, Al. There is no point in continuing any kind of dialogue on this subject because you react entirely on emotion and can't seem to discuss it rationally. Nobody is knocking a performer who strains -- we are just addressing the original question, as well as why it occurs. I don't think you understand. As I said, you are reacting emotionally, probably because of your devotion to the theatre which is fine. However, it doesn't advance a discussion or lend any insight! By the way, insulting people who have knowledgeable opinions or practical experience doesn't work in your favor. You don't think certain performers strain their voices? Fine. This whole subject has certainly made for a lively discussion and I have appreciated reading the intelligent, for the most part, responses. (Nothing personal) LOL
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TheBalladeer
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Al Dente,

I wasn't trying to start an arguement with you, but I must tell you, you are very immature and YOU are the one who doesn't know what he/she/it's talking about. You fly off the handle when people are trying to be civil to you, and you blatently insult others for no apparant reason. Everyone on this thread for the most part discussed the topic in a civil manner. Not everyone agreed with each other, but were able to support their arguements intelligently. You have yet to do so. Here you come and start dishing the insults. You need to learn to listen and respect others' opinions, before you start being rude and trying, (note: trying is the operative word), to insult others. Grow up.

You talk about "tweens" and associate them with all this negative, stereotypical behavior, but YOU are the main offender when it comes to this. The way you respond to others displays juvenile behavior and a juvenile mentality. You must be a miserable person.

Finally, I will end my discussion with YOU on this topic, by saying this: I am not criticizing anyone's performance because I envy them, or feel that I am better than them, or to be rude. People are entitled to their opinions. Not once have I gratuitiously bashed a performer because I felt they "didn't sound good" or their "vocal technique made them sound bad" I happen to be a fan of Bernadette, and others who DO strain...even Nathan Lane, but did you see me viciously attack Stevos when he said that Bernadette's voice was not very pleasing to him? No. He has a differing opinion, and that's fine. No need to call him on it, or try to insult him because of that. He's human, and has formed his own opinion.

Now, I am going to ignore you, as I have spent too much time argueing with someone as silly and petty as you are. And, for the record, I do have a life, and I have performed, quite a lot. And I wouldn't be able to comment on anything If I haven't and didn't know SOMETHING about this topic. I admit, there is always more to learn, and no one person knows everything, but I am pretty sure I know a hell of a lot more than you do, and it is quite evident in your ignorant posts. Have a nice day.


Cheers,
The Balladeer
"Someone tell the story...Someone sing the song...."
sharon1
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Since I have no technological knowledge of using a mic on stage. I was always of the belief it was two fold. One if the singer could not project well, and needed assistance. Or two, could project very well and was of assistance to save the voice over 8 shows a week. Is that too naive? Oh I forgot the 3rd reason. Already mentioned. The noise of moving setts, etc.
seabyrd
Understudy
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Here's a well-earned standing O for YOU, Balladeer. Your responses have been right on the mark!
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JohnPopa
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One thing being lost in all this is that the act of 'making the singer louder' is really not even relevant to the use of microphones, at least not anymore. Keep in mind: the orchestra is mic'ed too. What the sound systems allow is the sound designer to have better control over the ENTIRE sound of a show. He can properly blend the singers with orchestra and has a better control over levels and the mix. If it's an amplified singer over an unamplified orchestra, it just turns into a battle of volumes, that's not sound design. If it's just cranking up a quiet singer, that's not sound design. Microphones, obviously, only amplify what's there. I don't think a quieter singer is a lesser singer, any more than I think a louder singer is a better singer. It's not relevant to the discussion of their projection, their tone or their singing craft.

The technology of sound is very complex nowadays and the use of microphones helps create a more polished and effective sound, regardless of the volume.
Scooter
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John, I disagree that it creates a more polished sound. The biggest reason we have amplification as due to the orchestrations and style of music being used now, using as you mentioned, amplified instruments. Due to that, to create a 'balance', singers muct be mic'd. But regardless, micing distorts the natural colors and subtleties of the voice. The best scenario would be to have acoustical instruments and unmic'd voices from trained performers who know how to use them in theatres that have strong acoustics (another lost art form) So to me, mic's are a necessary evil in today's theatre. Unless composers begin to write and demand acoustical orchestration.
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Al Dente
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Gosh, I guess you told me where to go seabyrd and balladeer. I suppose I should go hang my head in shame and lick my wounds as I am so deeply humiliated that I may never again post. Pa-leese!For the record balladeer, I did not "slam" the "hot" Stevos for making that nonsensical statement about BP, I was rendered incredulous over his musings on Adam Pascal. I am so humbled by the lessons you two have taught me about manners, microphones, proper tween board etiquette, what "pros" do, etc... Thank you. I am forever in your debt. I'm not about to lose much sleep over what a few posters on a board, whos' most popular thread thus far, is entitled, "king Stevos is hot". Thanks for the laugh though.
broadwayguy2
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Al Dente, why do even post here?? You have mad it quite clear numerous times that in your own dilusional world, you think you are miles above anything this board has to offer, so why do you continue to post here?

Slash
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joined:5/20/03
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Reading this thread has reaffirmed my belief in three things:
A. I love Al Dente and RobbieJ.
B. I hate King Stevos.
and C. For the most part, you are all idiots.
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Seany
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Oh geez...look what I've started!
There's a light in the darkness of everybody's life.
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Al Dente
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Wait a sec, BG2, you're starting with ME? I've gone out of my way to avoid busting your chops after that series of pm's you sent me long ago. I am confused by your actions. Are you implying that the "gloves" should be off? As for things I believe in:

1. I love Namo, Slash, Duane Reade and etoile and only stay here bc of them.
2. I am pretty much revolted by a few others.
3. EVERYONE should commit to memory the PROPER spelling of D-E-F-I-N-I-T-E-L-Y. It's shocking how many people misspell that word.
Updated On: 8/8/03 at 07:12 PM
broadwayguy2
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No, Al Dente, I am not starting with you, getting an attitude or anything. I am not being men or anything. I am being genuine. You felt the need to start imsultimng me when you came here and you have showeed 'restraint', but you freguently provide commentary on how you are 'above' everyone on this board. Why should you, or the rest of your "gang:, spend time around peopel that you feel you are above. That is just a genuine question. I know that I don't like spendimng time with people I consider to be idiot because I think it is a waste o my time.
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Al Dente
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It's really not worth an arguement. I'll stay until I want to go.
TheatreNut
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I agree 100% with JohnPopa. At least in every theatre production I have ever been in, or have been associated with, the sound technitions are always trying to find that perfect blend. The sound crew's primary job is to balance the orchestra within itself, balance the vocals onstage with the orchestra, and balance the cast within itself. That is why when one person's mic goes out, there is mass chaos in the sound dept to get it fixed. It it not because they can't be heard or such; it is because that ruins the sound design. That is why it is called sound design and not amplification. Sound is just like lights in the theatre. The Lighting Director doesn't just turn on the lights. It is a set pattern to find the "perfect" blend of colors on the stage. The sound is to find the "perfect" blend of sounds. I've been sound designer for many productions and that is what I do; Work hand in hand with the music director to acheive perfect sound quality. Trust me it is a lot harder to balance the music without microphones and pick-ups. Balance is the first fundamental to music.

And Bernadette NO LONGER has a "small" voice. She has really expanded her voice. Some of us had the chance to see her in her earlier days when her voice was not as big. So I want to say that she DID have a "small" voice. (At one time)
Hello Gorgeous
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I agree. Bernadette DID have a small voice, even though I haven't seen her when she did. I have about every recording she has ever been on, and there is a huge difference from "Dames at Sea" to "Rose's Turn", a VERY big difference.
~*Christa*~ "Don't ya wanna be the life of the party?" Idina Menzel, THE WILD PARTY
seabyrd
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Okay - I guess when I think of "big" voices, I think of Marin Mazzie and Judy Kaye..legitimate, classically trained, perfectly placed, with seamless registers, and powerfully produced without strain. But the comparison is pointless.... To each his own idea of "big" I guess!