Posted by: thebylog | March 24, 2006

Tenors, Falsetto, Me, and Now

If you’re a classical tenor, you don’t use falsetto. I don’t know enough about the classical music culture to know how falsetto is viewed, but it can’t be thought of very highly.

If you’re a Southern Gospel tenor, you don’t use falsetto either, unless it is in a novelty of a song. “Over the Moon” comes to mind. But if you’re just raring back and ripping a hot, high tag, bah ram ewe if you have to falsetto it.

If you’re in pop and sing high, you use falsetto mostly for stylistic reasons, though occasionally it seems like you hear, disappointingly, someone use falsetto when a strong yell in full voice would have been much more satisfying, and you think, “They just can’t do it.”

The only genre where falsetto seems to be readily acceptable, yea even embraced, is barbershop.

If you’re me singing in a quartet – since my voice has changed – you always deal with the tension between the pride of singing loud and high and full in your chest voice and the reality that you can’t do that, pleasantly, in every case.

When I was singing with AHQ, I used my falsetto frequently, and in doing so it seemed to improve. By that I mean I learned to disguise it to some extent (though when you have a high lead line that you can’t full voice, it’s a little difficult to disguise), and to bridge my chest and head registers. I had lots of improvements yet to make, but alas I don’t sing tenor in a quartet anymore.

Last weekend I was listening to music on my laptop and AHQ’s old “Rainbow of Love” (check out the little boys on the Upon This Truth album cover!) came on. My falsetto wasn’t very disguised on that song, but when I tried to sing with it, my falsetto wasn’t really there. I think it’s degenerating from lack of use. It would be interesting to sing with AHQ again and see if it is still pragmatically functional. I think I’m more head voicy than falsetto-y these days when it comes to upper voice registers. But they both have their place, that’s why it would be nice to be able to do both.

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Responses

  1. well, man… you know you & tom COULD come back and y’all could sing together again… there’s no law against it…
    do you think you’ll ever come back?

  2. OOOOH, makes me think of Ace Young. Anybody see his You Give Me Butterflies performance on AI? Made me view falsetto with a whole new respect. I had to mop myself off of the floor.

    Ag

  3. It has been quite a long time since I’ve heard AHQ… I must admit, Your’s and Tom’s were my favorite voices. You all should get together and sing again, for old times sakes at least.
    -Nony Mouse

  4. Qwert, you never know. I’m not limiting my options at this point.

    Ag, I’m fairly certain I could get into American Idol. But, alas, I’ve never see a single episode.

    Nony Mouse, Tom, David, and I sang a song this very weekend at the reception of a wedding. Call us AHT – A Cappella Harmony Trio.

  5. Oh Byran, I am sorry for you. I have become and AI adict (since my brother and his wife moved into the neighborhood…;). You would love it.

    AH! On behalf of Konrad, I am offended. (I have to defend him, because he did me this great act of kindness, and there were these rude boys who treated him sorely because of it. Oh what a traggic tale, I still tear when I think of it.) One would think that after all the sweat, blood and tears that good man has poured into AHQ, the least the REST of you could do is buy the man a plane ticket so he has one more chance to shine. Poor man. I think I’ll go send him a card.

    Ag

  6. By, I just spent some hard-earned dollars on several cds at the Windmill Farm Bakery in South Boston, VA…one of which was AHQ’s “Purpose”. First, you MUST continue writing and arranging music. Do not neglect the gift that is in you! “Hit the Mark” was at least as good as some of Keith Lancaster’s stuff. In reference to falsetto, while some of the ending on “I’ll Live Again” seemed somewhat discordant (which seems acceptable in Southern Gospel-style music) to me, the last seconds were spectacular! That “doo-wop” high ending you did sounded like so much fun! I keep trying to sing it, but my falsetto isn’t quite in that range. A textbook example of falsetto tenor is our friend David Gingerich, who sang that way for years, and did a wonderful job! BTW, if you haven’t heard VOP’s “Deliverance” album, you need to. It’s tops!

  7. Thanks for the kind words Paul. I’ll probably continue to write, I really like to do that. It’s an off-and-on proposition, mostly off now, since there are less outlets for the songs. But I can express my heart with them – that’s why I’ll continue. I don’t see me arranging much unless I get involved in some sort of a small group again.

    The I’ll Live Again ending is an example of my head voice. I can’t do that in straight falsetto – at least not in a manner that would be acceptable for public consumption.

    So Ag, you sent Kon a card yet?

  8. No, I haven’t yet. Trying to get ready for Bible School quick this week because I’m in N.Y. all of next week. See, one must treat these traggic scenes with a great deal of respect. One cannot hastily grab a card at WalMart, scribble a signature and toss it in the mail. Oh no. It takes careful planning, and a great degree of depth that one cannot simply drum up while on a heavy schedule. I need ocean fronts, the sun, the sand, the wind…….,I need donations. One of these days, when the time is right, when all is in order, I shall send the poor, deprived man a card, not just any card mind you, but THE card.

    Goodness it takes me a long time to say nothing. Ah well.

    Ag


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