Saturday, February 25, 2012

American Idol Season 11
"Fear Factor" or "Survivor" Television Shows...

I have to say that this 11th season of American Idol is extremely exciting to watch.

The quality of the auditioners is much higher than in any previous years.

The judges are much more objective and really looking out for the quality of singing more than ever before.

I do agree with their choices close to 100%! For the record: Trust me, it's a very high mark in my standards.

To their credit, they really did raise the bar of vocal performance quality.

But for what cost though and on whose account?

Unfortunately, on the account of the participants who are ultimately teenagers and young adults.

I've never seen in previous shows, people literally falling off of the stage, passing out of the exhaustion and literally losing their consciousness and were not able to stand on their feet.

In times I felt that I was watching some episodes of "Grey's Anatomy", "House" or in previous years, "Chicago Hope". All of those shows were dedicated to their respective hospitals events.

I guess the "Fear Factor" of the participants perhaps not to be chosen by judges, had something to do with them falling ill.

The Survivors, however, persevered and moved on to the next level.

To me however, outside of the better quality of singing, performance and what not, the health factor seemed to be as important, because if they did not possess enough health to go through the competition's challenges, no matter how talented they would be, they simply would not survive health wise.

On the other hand though, to become and sustain being a performer, you do have to be as healthy as a horse. After all, you have to survive those nasty tours and sometimes over 200 concerts in a short period of time.

Your immunity has to be built like a horse's and your voice has to be taken care of simultaneously.

When the young performer makes it on top, the music industry machine takes over their lives. They are working them to the bone physically, emotionally and vocally.

Therefore, my advice would be to those who don't possess the health stamina, not to thrive to be a huge celebrity, but work on the indie level and on their own pace.

For those who are lucky with their immunity and health overall, my advice would be to get vocally fit, as the vocal cords evidently are not made from steel and therefore, could break of wear and tear at any given time, especially when there is so much pressure that rides on the vocal cords and the vocal box in general.

For the future reference, as for the producers, I would advise them to pair up and affiliate with one of the above aforementioned shows from "Fear Factor" and "Survivor" to "Grey's Anatomy" and "Chicago Hope". They could also look into "St. Elsewhere" and "Amazing Race" (lol).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Vocal Optimization/Vocal Technique
Who needs it?

Vocal technique, who needs it, you may ask?

In my opinion, everyone who claims themselves to be even a beginner singer.

I've been involved in the music business for almost four decades and had been having conversations and discussions with numerous music business professionals - producers, A&Rs and managers. I found that when I was pointing out that certain singers were obviously hurting their vocal anatomies, either pre-diagnosed or already diagnosed with vocal problems, and thus, could not perform their duties, concerts, tours and what have you, their take on it was that the certain singer/performer was so talented, wrote good songs and performed with a lot of emotions...?

I acknowledged all of those components, but tried to mention that the latter is not all, and if the singer is shooting their sound out, so to speak, blindly, while concurrently keeping their fingers crossed and dying of fear, that they may not deliver the proper sound or even the sound at all, that maybe (just maybe?) there is something that could be done, so that the performer would not only rely on good looks, bathing suits, Cirque Du Soleil style background dancers and, for that matter, on the good songs and widely expelled emotions only.

If they own a so to speak, "vocal GPS" and knew how to "navigate" the sound safely and to the designated direction, while concurrently not hurting themselves, then they would not be facing so many operations and cancelled tours and concerts, where everybody loses - especially their music industry mentors (financially speaking). 

The knowledge also means confidence. The late Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were desperately trying to come back into the music game. Both of them were mixing medical drugs designated to conquer their anxiety, with the alcohol and other substances, and therefore today, we're missing both of them.

I'm sure both of them and singers like them, would pay any money if they knew for sure that they would deliver their performances with the flying colours at all given times, and also would be able to speak, to scream and laugh with ease after the fact.

Adele in her interview revealed that several times she threw up before her performances, as she was fearing for her voice. Now it is fixed, but will it hold up if she goes on tour and will have to perform on over 200 concerts? According to her own revelation to the interviewer before the Grammys, she said, "No it won't, and I'm sure it will happen again", as she also is well aware that the application of her voice and her vocal technique has never changed - at least not yet.

What changed was that the throat got fixed (the instrument), to the credit of the best specialist from the U.S., who performed the class act surgery. But any singer knows that if they did not really implement any kind of new application/technique, that it will only be a matter of time when it breaks again.

So, naturally, you would think that the artist and their mentors would be seeking for something different.

In this instance, I really like to use the saying, "If something doesn't work, try something else. It might work better." However, some music professionals think that they already got their team to help the artist in all aspects. They do not realize that that very team (vocal coaches, producers, and etc.) actually were very instrumental in producing the vocal problem. Go figure!

So optimize the team, optimize the vocal performance, and you will save the time, the money and the aggravation for all the parties involved - GUARANTEED!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Vocal Rehab… They fixed the “Instrument”, But… What about the “Player”?

When I’m talking to any singer, I always bring up to their attention, that they do represent the instrument, so to speak, and the player. In this instance, I mean that their physical body, their mental state, anatomy and physiology integrated and synergized, represent the actual instrument.

The support, the structure, the placement and projection of the voice to its aimed destination, represent the player.

The late celebrity pianist “Liberace” had always travelled with his favourite pink grand piano. Being the greatest pianist of all time, he definitely knew how to extract the maximum capacity from that instrument.

That’s what I call “The Total Performer”. I.e. He owned a great instrument and he was a brilliant player.

When the singer gets into vocal distress, the industry and naturally the doctors are concerned only about how to fix the vocal anatomy of the Artist.

And if it’s fixed successfully, they applaud to the highly qualified surgeon and applaud the Artist, as they think that all of their problems and Artist’s vocal problems are solved, and now, they will enjoy the “picnic” so to speak.

One thing they don’t take for consideration, however, that in reality, nothing has changed.

The Artist is still singing with the same vocal technique/voice application, which means, it’s only as a matter of time until the same, or worse, vocal damage will occur. 

So, I would say, that to work on the “fridge” is still good, but do not forget that the “stove” is still broken, and all the problems had begun because of the latter…

To conclude;

The moral of it is, that not only the singer is required to have a good voice and the vocal talent, but also, he/she needs to know how to operate the quite complex vocal machinery and take care of it, like you would take care of your car when you top up all the liquids and perform a full tune-up on it.

While at it, I hope that the designated driver remembers that the gas pedal is on the right and he does comply with the traffic regulations while driving and also, hopefully, the driver owns… THAT DAMN GPS!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Technically speaking. Vocal Love or Vocal… Force? Choose one.

I remember watching one of my favourite movies-"Basic Instinct", with Michael Douglas and Sharron Stone in main roles.

There was one of the scenes where Michael Douglas's character was making love to his girlfriend, which in real sense, resulted in the actual force, as he was already attracted to Sharron Stone's character and felt angry, because he intuitively felt that the outcome of it could be deadly for him in the end.

I have a similar feeling when I am listening to a singer reciting a great song with great emotion, while actually "forcing/murdering" their vocal anatomy.

The audience, who does not know any better, are saying "Oh my god, He/she is such a great singer!" while having not the slightest idea of what that singer is experiencing and what it does to his/hers vocal chords and vocal box in general.

That's, in my opinion, qualifying as a "vocal rape", nevertheless.

As a consequence, the singer will get a nasty growth on one or both vocal chords, or will acquire dysphonia or even the spasmodic dysphonia, God forbid.

It will happen because everybody is oblivious to the singer's well being including the singers themselves.

The industry discovers them young and healthy and evidently quite talented.

Then the wear and tear of their vocal anatomy begins, as everybody is ignorant and uneducated to what's happening to the human's vocal box and it's components while there is an enormous pressure of sound being applied.

They are pushing the artist to the absolute max, imposing on them hours of rehearsals, recordings and performances.

They are pushing alright, and the artist in turn pushing to reciprocate the demand.

The result-the "vocal force" is committed, the damage is done and... EVERYBODY LOST: the Artist, the Management, the Record Company...

The Beatles once said, "Make Love, Not War".

I say, "Learn how to sing first, acquire the right vocal technique to prevent the vocal damage, and yes, Be Strong, but Gentle and not Strong, but Forceful-definition between Love Making and 'God forbid' Force/Rape.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"The Voice"… The Judges, The Performers and… The Pitch!

Everybody knows there is a rock style and there is an alternative rock style.
But not everybody knows that there is an alternative… to music?

How so you may ask?

The fact is that the music, like everything else in life, has its own standards. Many years ago, I wrote an article which was called “First, Third and a half and Fifth and a quarter, to our shame, became our music standards". 

I was talking about the triad which usually consists of the first, third and fifth steps from whichever musical key you want to start counting.

I believe it is self-explanatory now and describes it perfectly. However, world renowned judges, primarily performers themselves, at times make strange decisions with respects to who is going to make it through the blind auditions and move on under their supervision, and who is not.

To my surprise, there were a couple of vocalists who were dead-on musically and pitch wise, but for some reason, did not get chosen. And there were definitely at least two or three performers who were quite out of pitch throughout their performances, and they not only got picked, but got fought for to be mentored!

Go figure?

Speaking of mentors/Judges, I found that they are fighting a bit excessively and almost, falsely between each other, and even more so pathetically for their team members.
They are almost begging the participants to join their team...?

I find it very diminishing and uncalled for. In fact, I feel embarrassed for the judges.
They should not be begging NOBODYS to give THEM (judges) a chance...!

I understand that they want to reach out to the masses and blend with the crowd, but I find that to be a little too excessive for my taste, and completely out of balance in my opinion.

But the show has very good potential, and I already like it more this season then the pervious.
The participants are sounder overall and the show is much more entertaining this time around. I am sure it will be perfected down the road, as everything comes with experience. 

Let’s hope that they will find the true talent which we will be enjoying for many years to come.
I also hope that the "true talent", which they will discover, will be also "true to their cause", and will not perform just for the reason that they could help their families...