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How can I sing like Tiny Tim?
December 23, 2007 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way I can sing in a higher voice for karaoke?

I'm a male who lives in Japan, and, of course, one of the pastimes here is singing karaoke. (Something I've loved even since I lived back in the states). But I have a real problem in that my voice has a very narrow range, down in the baritone level. The songs I can do well are, for example, Frank Sinatra's "My Way", some Elvis and maybe "The Safety Dance". But, if I try to do something like AC/DC or some of the nice Erasure songs I'd like to do, I have to shift them down an octave and they sound like crap. Now, I have no pretensions of being a "good" singer - we're just out there having fun, but I would like to know if there is some way of making my voice a little higher while I'm singing. Voice exercises? Some sort of herbal drink? How do you sing falsetto?

Basically, right now, if I'm trying to sing a high note, I press on my throat, which seems to let me go up a note or two, but I'm seeking something a little more significant. When I do try to sing high, nothing comes out.

Something that would give me a helium effect or something.
posted by greasepig to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, there's falsetto. But if you're not used to doing it, it's very uncomfortable and you'll have a hard time controlling it. And it's not really easy to explain how it's done.

That's what Tiny Tim used. And when men yodel, the high note is falsetto.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:35 AM on December 23, 2007


How to Sing Falsetto. It's not very detailed, but it might give you an idea or two.
posted by ubiquity at 11:39 AM on December 23, 2007


Back in the old days they used castration, but I'm guessing that's not an option for you.

I used to play a brass instrument, and learning to sing high notes is similar to learning to play high notes. The most important part is practice. Sometime when you are alone, try sining at the top of your range. It will probably sound bad, but the more you practice the more natural it will sound. Also, the louder you sing, the easier it is to hit the high notes. With practice, you can expand your range to sing higher and higher notes.

There is also a WikiHow article that has some more tips.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:43 AM on December 23, 2007


Sing a lot. Really practice the songs you want to do in the key you want to do them in. The vocal cords are muscles and they have muscle memory and work better when you strengthen them. There are often notes I can't sing well the first time I try a new song, but after enough practice I can hit those same melody changes easily as they become more familiar.

Just don't forget to breathe in and out a lot when you sing. It's the breath that makes the notes smooth, and if you don't sing from the right place you can strain your vocal cords and lose your voice. Here's more info.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:56 AM on December 23, 2007


Don't forget that just about any modern Karaoke machine will let you lower the key of the song. (Useful for the interim period even if you're determined to get up to the original key eventually.)

Also, you would be surprised at how many people go to karaoke on their own just to practice. (For some folks, ability to induce fun at karaoke is intimately linked to how people perceive them at their job, etc.) Just puttin' that out there.
posted by No-sword at 3:14 PM on December 23, 2007


Adding high notes to your repertoire is no easy task. Like physical exercise, there are no quick fixes: nothing you can do, other than regular training, will make you lift more or run faster.

As you've identified, tensing your throat is the wrong way to go about it. This strains your vocal cords and in the end will do damage. You'll end up a worse singer over time if you keep that up.

My honest advice to you, as an avid karaoke fan and someone who has gone through years of vocal training, is to just find more songs in your range. Build your abilities with the notes you've got and make the most of them. If you do feel like stretching, make it a smaller leap. Erasure and Elvis span entirely different ranges. Find someone who sings a little higher than you're used to without going overboard. Baby steps!
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 4:05 PM on December 23, 2007


Johnny Cash! or Kris Kristofferson, or Neil Diamond. Bass baritones, the lot of 'em.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 5:51 PM on December 23, 2007


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