Sunday, April 19, 2009

Susan Boyle, Considered 
My review, crossposted from a comment thread on Althouse:

The raw talent is extraordinary. I think there's no doubt about that. I was also impressed by the emotional range between Cry Me a River and the song she sang on BGT.

She hasn't yet tapped the talent she has. I suspect she can be much, much better.

The Le Miz song was probably not the right song to showcase her talent. As someone here mentioned, her voice vanishes in the low registers. This song has a lot of riches to be mined in those parts, and as a listener and musician, I'm always more interested in what a singer or musician does in the low registers and quiet moments than in the crescendos.

All singers crescendo alike. Especially on talent shows.

I think she could get a good deal more power out of her lower range, with some training. She uses her 'head voice' a lot, but she's not harnessing her abdominal power to push those notes through.

She tends to sing on the sharp side of the note. That's not a terrible thing in some instances. A lot of singers do it. It can help you stand out from an ensemble. Concert violinists will tune to A = 442 instead of 440 for this reason. It gives you a bit of sparkle.

But she should be aware of what she's doing.

If I were coaching her, I'd work to develop the ear just a bit to rein in her tendency to go sharp, wean her away from relying exclusively on her head voice, in order to give her some gas in the low registers. I'd look for material that better matches her range. (I think she might have some headroom left on the top. We haven't heard her full range on the topside yet.)

I'd also encourage her to depart a bit more from the usual Broadway sound. All those folks use the same vibrato, they use their head voice too much, and they all sound alike these days.

Back before contact mikes, you couldn't get away with the headvoice. You had to reach the floor mic, or no mic at all. The head voice didn't cut it. Singers had to nail it from the diaphram.

Then came the contact mics, and weaker singers could get bigger roles. In Ethel Merman's day, some of these people would still be in the chorus.

In baseball terms, she' a good AA ballplayer, with a good fastball. But a lot of kids can throw hard.

To hit the bigs, a good pitching coach needs to help her get the ball over the plate, and teach her a big league slider.

Splash, out


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