Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #121595  by Jon S.
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 7:55 am
A bit of a different question. Seems to me Jerry was a bona fide tenor. I'm not! My voice is deeper. In my band, for most (though not all) of our songs, I sing the Bob songs, the other guitarist the Jerry tunes, even though more often than not I play the Jerry guitar parts and him the Bob parts. So here's my question. Are there others who are lead singers or sing around campfires or anywhere else with lower-than-Jerry voices that sing Jerry's songs and, if yes, how do you go about sounding your best? Thanks.
 #121604  by Pete B.
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 9:42 am
I would say the lead vocal that best describes the center of my vocal range might be Feel Like A Stranger. More of a Bobby range.
Mississippi Halfstep is noteably closer to the top of my range.
The line, Last Fair Deal in the Country, is high for me.
But I sing 98% of the songs in our group.
So, for vocal purposes, I play with a Trio (I also like a Trio format for ease of volume control and overall musicality), and the bass player and I tune down a half-step.
A half-step doesn't sound like much musically, but physically it really takes alot of pressure off of my vocal chords, and drops pretty much every Jerry tune into my vocal comfort zone.
Sometimes I just lower the key. Songs like Tore Up or How Sweet It Is play out just as good in A as in C, and I can sing 'em better in A.
Work up Mis-Halfstep in Em. That makes it much easier to sing and it still lays out nicely on guitar.
I do a fair amount of CCR tunes, and he is a true Tenor. Y'ouch! I have to drop Born On the Bayou down from E7 to C7... again, it still plays out nicely on guitar.
I used to do a fair amount of Bob Segar tunes in the 80's. Another Tenor. Sunspot Baby was a big hit for me back in the day :oops: :lol: .
Keyboard players usually make a face when I say the rest of us are tuned down a half- step. With any luck they can just push the button that turns their whole keyboard down a half-step. Not sure if they can do that on a Rhoads or B3, though.
I filled in for the Jerry guy in The Garcia Birthday Band last Sat night and sang about half the songs on a 9-midnight gig at concert pitch.
I can muster up a pretty good head of steam at a live gig when I have to.
I don't see a need to blow my voice out at non-gig jams or rehearsals though, so I/we tune down a To0daLo0.
 #121608  by strumminsix
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 10:23 am
John Hartford understands....

My False-Hearted Tenor, falsetto so high
I watch all your dobros as they slide on by.
My person is lonely I think it's because
My voice is not high and real thin like a saw
What would really be slick now if I learned how to sing
But they tell me to pick now 'cause that is my thing

It's genu unsettled a voice without heart
I'm out in the meadow and I can't find my part
Just because I quit smoking and sit on a stool
and sing all them love songs like any damn fool
Remember the tenor when we render this waltz
I pick on a Fender in a tenor that's false

In my highest falsetto I can't sing this high
But I dam sure would like to and that's why I try
My voice is as much as two pitches too low
When I want to get high and get up like Munroe
But me no soprano without any pause
just a jug-throated croaker in a tenor that false ... z-81147279
 #121613  by Jon S.
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 12:02 pm
Ha ha - that's awesome! It's nice to know those of us with deeper voices have company!

There are some songs I find easy to transcribe to sing comfortably. Moving anything in A to G is easy, e.g., Mr. Charlie or Don't Let Go. Other songs work best in their original keys. Those I strain a bit on or the other guy takes them.
 #121615  by JonnyBoy
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:00 pm
Finding someone who can coach you is really helpful. I started my singing duty about 2 years ago and I have improved a lot with a huge road ahead of me to go though... I had a friend and awesome singer coach me some and it was priceless. Breathing and not using my throat voice was the hardest part to change for me, I couldn't make it half a show without losing my voice. If you are practically hyper ventilating then you are training your diaphragm right. Over time it gets easier, they say..... Also singing is like learning an instrument, some people are naturals and some have to practice a lot to get good. Either way, you can become a good singer, eventually....
 #121616  by jeager
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 1:42 pm
I got a few lessons some years ago and at the top of my range he always said I need to make a fake smile...and then more of that fake smile... I been trying this as I have been singing lots of Jerry tunes the past few years and it does help me reach those high notes. It's like a forced fake smile and if you play on your guitar and sing them matching the pitches...maybe start a few steps below the target and walk up you may find that you can sing those higher notes more comfortably. It's still tough for me to get some of them. I notice bobby doesn't sing the high G sharp that's in loose Lucy at all. In the song book thatsnhow it's written but he just changes the line and starts on e im pretty sure. Dont think Jerry sang that note in the nineties either. Try the forced smile anyway.
 #121619  by Lephty
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:59 pm
I've noticed that Jerry often liked to sing toward the top of his vocal range--I'm picturing Ramble On Rose and Scarlet B's for example. I think it forced him to really sing it OUT and sing from his gut, making him sound super passionate and soulful when he sang. Speaking for myself, I can usually sing in Jerry's range when I'm onstage, warmed up, and really feeling it, but when I'm singing more quietly at home or around the campfire, it's hard to get up into that range comfortably. I have a few tunes that, when I'm playing them "campfire-style", I drop a whole step. "Brown Eyed Women" sounds great in D instead of E...a lot of the bluegrass players around here do it that way.

S6--those Hartford lyrics are GREAT! Never heard that one before.
 #121622  by strumminsix
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:19 pm
Lephty wrote:S6--those Hartford lyrics are GREAT! Never heard that one before.
He's a gem! Listen to the tune! It's even better hearing him belt it out!
 #121623  by jkstraw
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:19 pm
Lephty wrote:warmed up, and really feeling it
Never been a big fan of my own voice - but I get a lot more compliments on my vocals than on my guitar playing :cry:

I attribute that to 'feeling' the character of these tunes. I feel the same way about Jerry - almost like he was a method actor when it comes to the tunes he sings.
 #121626  by Jerry1996x
 Fri Nov 30, 2012 3:49 pm
Ive always thought how I never see people talk about Jerrys vocal tone, untill now :-) Ive got a similar range to Jerry, I can hit the high notes, but im thinking about taking lessons to open up my range a little so they sound better. I think a big part of his vocal tone, was getting up really high in A LOT of songs and just getting that little bit of grit in his voice (like pushing speakers :D )
 #121643  by gdrfk1990
 Sat Dec 01, 2012 4:07 pm
Practice every day you should be able to find a vocal work out cd dvd or youtube. I have been working on the voice a lot lately I play one phrase pause the song and sing it trying to get as close to jerry's timbre etc. and if I have to I learn the melody on guitar and sing with it. For the lower voice thing I would try copying Matson his voice has a lower timbre than Garcia