How do I find songs that best showcase my voice?
June 5, 2015 5:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm an amateur singer trying to look for songs that best showcase my voice. I'm not particularly trained in music (I was at a point in my youth but have since forgotten), so I have trouble identifying what it is about a song that makes it well-suited for my voice. Maybe the hivemind can help me figure it out/suggest some other songs that might work?

This , ("If I Didn't Know Better", originally by the Civil Wars), this ("You Said Something" by PJ Harvey), and this ("Mud in Your Eyes" by Hunx and his Punx) are all songs that I enjoy singing and I think work well with my voice. What exactly do they have in common musically and how do I find more songs like this?
posted by dysh to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For an untrained voice, it's all about the key of the song, the range of notes in the melody, and the intervals among the notes.

In longer terms, for an untrained voice, certain notes feel better and are easier to find in specific keys vs. other keys. Say, for example, if you are speaking and start making your vowels longer so that you are sort of "singing" in your natural speaking range--songs in that "key" will be rather easy to sing and feel really good to sing. Keys even a step higher or lower will feel awful to sing. Also, for an untrained voice, the time of day makes a huge difference.
posted by TinWhistle at 6:58 AM on June 5, 2015

I don't know your voice or the songs, but one thing to watch out for is leaps upward. Trained singers work to get this right; these kinds of intervals can sound strained, feel strained, and go flat (see: USA national anthem, "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire", etc.). If you are particularly good at this naturally, though, it could be a feature to _seek_ in songs. Otherwise, it could be a feature to avoid.
posted by amtho at 7:46 AM on June 5, 2015

Upload a sound file of you singing. How else can we possibly say?
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:59 AM on June 5, 2015

To my ear, all these vocalists are in the alto-ish range (as opposed to the higher soprano), and they share a similar huskiness that at times edges into a sweeter, purer singing style. I have a similar singing niche to you, I think.

Check out Mazzie Star (Halla and Fade into You are two good ones), she has a similar alto range with minimal tonal jumps, and you can really put some power and emotion into the lyrics.

Then there's Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, though if her vocal styling has too much vibrato for you, check out the cover by Smashing Pumpkins, which is usually note-for-note what I prefer to sing

I also like Neutral Milk Hotel's Aeroplane Over the Sea -- even though it's a male vocalist, the melody seems to work well with my voice, and it's one of my favorites.
posted by ananci at 12:33 PM on June 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

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