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marduk

Posts: 593
Joined: Feb. 3 2010
 

tips for finding the singers tona 

Hello all, I have not posted in a long time but I have not been able to find the threads i'm looking for to help with this question.

what advice can you give for finding what key a singer is in as quickly as possible if they do not know. I will often feel like I have chosen the right key and then will listen to a recording of the same singer and realise I was completely wrong

edit: when the singer will ask for the home chord and sing a note like a salida is that generally the root note of the key? or do they sing a different harmony
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 13 2019 5:17:29
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11365
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: tips for finding the singers tona (in reply to marduk

quote:

ORIGINAL: marduk

Hello all, I have not posted in a long time but I have not been able to find the threads i'm looking for to help with this question.

what advice can you give for finding what key a singer is in as quickly as possible if they do not know. I will often feel like I have chosen the right key and then will listen to a recording of the same singer and realise I was completely wrong

edit: when the singer will ask for the home chord and sing a note like a salida is that generally the root note of the key? or do they sing a different harmony


There are several things to address with this excellent question. First of all, a singer, if any good or serious about the Arte, not just some aficionado, will absolutely know his or her tono and tell you what it is. “Dos por medio, tres por Arriba etc”. If they really don’t then you have to reconsider what is about to come next. Amature singers of whom I might actually be able to find the tono of, tend to drift out of key or go off tune right away. Don’t waste your time with that mess.

I have encountered some interesting people in flamenco world that have a sort of “perfect pitch” memory and will sing in the same key all the time the same cantes they know. So for example, I played for a famous dancer that sang for herself in class...I was already playing 2 por Arriba and she started belting it out in 3 por Arriba. It was quite amusing for me to see that...after I moved the capo to match her she was dead on. The out of key guitar before did not perturb her at all. A rare case of some one who knows the feeling of singing but not the concept of relative pitch.

Now in the case of the cante accompaniment thread we saw many times with the singing only against percussion, several foro members guessed the wrong key. This is not so horrible error however when they continue to play through the number and don’t realize the key is off, that is problematic IMO. You have to be able to hear that something is OUT of tune before you are ever going to find what the correct key actually is. In college this was the “ear training” class exercises of recognizing pitches and rhythms, and later sight reading scores etc. Most non classical genres don’t have a special program for this, it is simply expected to be understood or related to “talent” excuses for being able to or not grasp some musical concepts in this regard.

In regards to what you are listening for on say a cante minus guitar recording like we have on foro here, most singers vocalize the tonic note either as part of the warm up, or between letras. The easiest thing is the tonic note sustained with vibrato...sometimes the exaggerated vibrato can confuse you. The singer will toggle back and forth on say a phrygian form between the tonic and the flat2nd....(in por medio, between the A and Bb). Some singers sing higher or lower than others. So if you know the form and you check your guitar and you hear that vocalization making the C#-D-C#-D etc...or at least it settles there after something more complex on the “ay ay ay.....” vowel, then you know it’s capo 4 in A phrygian or “cuatro por medio”. I often warned about singers that only sing over the compas and drift out of tune, will not be useful for us guitarists to learn cante accompaniment. All this was discussed in the cante accompaniment thread quite often, with both examples of it done wrong and right.

I will point to this example here....Santiago is singing flat the introduction by almost a half step. When I first listened I had the capo wrong because of this. Later I noticed he went sharp for the letras, but held this intonation until the conclusion, so I chose to use the HIGHER key position and instead of clashing with the tonality of the intro, I played compas with muted strings. Then when I come in sharp compared to that, it gives the illusion the singer is coming up to match my guitar key.



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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jul. 24 2019 14:57:04
 
marduk

Posts: 593
Joined: Feb. 3 2010
 

RE: tips for finding the singers tona (in reply to marduk

thank you for such a detailed reply Ricardo, you are always really helpful. I am going through the cante accompaniment thread again. I am at the point where I can usually listen to an example of someone accompanying the letra and then im fine, but without hearing an example I am still very limited. I get to test myself yearly when we have a singer for shows and I make progress, but very little.

my favorite part of flamenco is the singing so I really want to be better at accompanying it. at the dance school I usually have letras in my head but it't not the same
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 22 2019 8:35:00
 
El Burdo

 

Posts: 511
Joined: Sep. 8 2011
 

RE: tips for finding the singers tona (in reply to marduk

Why don't you ask the singer to sing the piece and find where they are?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 22 2019 17:22:47
 
Ricardo

Posts: 11365
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: tips for finding the singers tona (in reply to El Burdo

quote:

ORIGINAL: El Burdo

Why don't you ask the singer to sing the piece and find where they are?


I gathered his problem was specifically how to do that.

_____________________________

CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 24 2019 17:38:39
 
El Burdo

 

Posts: 511
Joined: Sep. 8 2011
 

RE: tips for finding the singers tona (in reply to Ricardo

quote:

I gathered his problem was specifically how to do that.

Ah, yes. So it was. In that case, for me there is no obvious methodology other than to sing the melody and use your innate musicality to find the 'tonic' chord by reference to the tonic on either E or A string. In so far as a melody will only begin on a restricted number of tones in any 'key' it might only be a question of ear training. I certainly don't think there is a magic method.

Having said that....jazz can sadly sometimes be a cutting contest, especially for the old guard; I saw George Coleman, one of the early tenor players with Miles Davis at a festival with an English (therefore, inadequate, not up the job etc) rhythm section. He came on and played a lengthy introduction to a standard ('All The Things', maybe) moving through several keys until he settled on one. The whole gig saw John Critchinson (pno) and Dave Green (bs), both immense players, mouthing to each other the key by reference to the odd note John played during the tenor-****. They came in perfectly. That was borne of a lifetime of similar stressful situations I'd guess.
So, look for the tonic in the tune by improvising your way back to the root internally. Find the root on the E string and go for it. Presumably, knowledge of the toques will help limit the range of possibilities.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Aug. 25 2019 0:11:36
 
marduk

Posts: 593
Joined: Feb. 3 2010
 

RE: tips for finding the singers tona (in reply to El Burdo

quote:

Why don't you ask the singer to sing the piece and find where they are?

because the people I perform with live interstate and usually can not come to rehearsal until just before the show, but the dancers will want specific letras and falsetas and there has been times when the singers could not answer the question
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Nov. 11 2019 2:36:02
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