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How to work on Damien Lawson style sound?
July 7, 2015
7:09 pm
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Slow Start
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An R&B/Soul singer who was recently on the Voice US who I find to have a pleasing tone and smoothness to his voice. He apparently also majored in opera/classical voice in college. I've been a big fan and was wondering if you guys have any ideas about how to pursue developing a similar sound and style in technique work. His use of falsetto while managing the breath is quite skilled and he seems to be able to choose to sing his heart out and lean in as much as he wants when he performs! Looks like he uses a rather wide smile position often and some vocal fry (perhaps for both technique and stylistic reasons).

July 8, 2015
12:39 am
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OwenKorzec
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If you are interested in his sound you can study his inflections/tones etc. by listening to a phrase, pausing, try to sing it back and see how close you got, keep going until you aren't "missing" any of the stylistic elements. (optional step, record your voice and listen back to check as you'll hear even more than what you just hear naturally...) Do that phrase by phrase for the whole song and i'm pretty sure you'll basically achieve what you're asking us about, all on your own. The key is really listening closely to every millisecond of what he does and then just practice copying the stylistic elements of it...don't fight yourself to sound exactly like him, just work on what you can manage to pick up stylistically on in a few minutes of practice per phrase. Ideas using vocal fry, breathiness, tonal adjustments, vowels, consonants, dynamics, note duration, timing, riffs, etc. - you can learn how the singer sounds so great by working on doing the exact same things yourself the same way they did in a particular recording. And then when you sing something you actually want to release and call your own you just continue that attention to detail and use of stylistic tools but use them creatively however you feel is best.

Make sure you practice this way with a bunch of singers you like, don't only study one or you'll be limited to only their unique toolbox of stylistic tricks.

Very cool singer you found. can hear a clear Michael Jackson influence in his voice - very cool to hear that kind of metallic tone and breathy vibrato applied to such a physiologically different voice

July 8, 2015
4:38 am
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Good points Owen. I agree that going line by line and working through the songs is a good idea in order to learn the style. I don't think I even have the tools to sing in that style well yet, and was wondering if anyone here who sings in the genre or can do so has any ideas of good ways to build more strength and comfort with airy vocals and breath management.

Difficulties come up quite a lot for me in that I know I have a long way to go in order to develop the breath management to be able to get those melismatic riffs even without adding the extra airiness... it's so much harder. Plus the parts of the songs he sings that I find I am able to currently work on emulating is like 20% of each song where he's in the verses and the other lower parts of songs, which gets disheartening lol

I can actually reach the notes in this cover of his, but I definitely struggle with getting the tone. I end up overly breathy I feel... and I can't seem to find a similar sounding heady mix that sounds good and appropriate. And LOL if I could just get his style of vocals, that'd be quite enough to start with, foreal. Laugh

July 8, 2015
10:08 pm
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OwenKorzec
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I can empathize with your struggles. Don't let it bring your down, singers like him are INSANELY skilled so if you can even emulate 20% of the phrases you're doing well. I basically have the same issues you're describing and I think for that kind of stuff you can't emulate even when you really focus on it then that's where you do have to go back and polish up your technique first.

where are you hearing a heady mix though? i just hear full voice and falsetto in that vid. Or maybe you're talking about what he does sometimes around the breathy D4-E4 stuff? He goes for what Phil calls an uncompressed tone there, it's like a mix of chest and falsetto (instead of chest and connected head) where you use a lot of support to keep some of the body of the folds engaged while holding the cords apart to let the breathiness in.

July 10, 2015
2:06 am
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Phil Moufarrege
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Make songs in this genre and see how "authentic" your recordings fit in to the genre.
Note what things are off and what things are on about the DELIVERY of the voice.

There is no quick fix, you must spend SERIOUS time in the genre (months to years) because the little nuances that he puts in there are automatic and are subtled over years of using them over and over again to the point where it becomes subtle and hard to detect. You must start with "obvious" sounding fades, swells melissma, and overall learn what is tasteful in this style and use them over and over again until you can make it subtle.

@PhilMoufarrege
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Grow-The-Voice.com | PHILMOUFARREGE.com

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