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Thread: MJs falsetto and general vocal discussion. Dat boy good!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014

    Music & Me

    MJs falsetto and general vocal discussion. Dat boy good!

    Was watching this:

    And its very interesting to see how the falsetto trend peaked in the 80s as I think MJ was a huge influence on the shape of sounds people were creating even though it had been popular before and after him. Inspired to do some more research I read this:

    MJ is my biggest influence as a singer. Studied his voice for years. He is a belter at heart. All those high powerful notes you're talking about are full voice not falsetto.

    How did he do it? He was one of those lucky guys just born with a good voice from day 1.

    Around Destiny and Victory (his last stuff with his brothers) was where his voice was at its best from a vocal technique standpoint. The way he approached the high notes around this era (around 1978) was healthiest.

    around Off the Wall era he sought out the help of Seth Riggs because he was having trouble getting through tours, suffering vocal fatigue.

    Although in the lessons with Seth he was doing things healthier, on stage he would resort to shouting through the notes around the 80s and 90s. This is partly because his way of adding aggression to his songs is by hitting his consonants really hard and staccato - so basically he was doing one thing on the scales and a completely different thing on stage. He was a very aggressive singer. His overuse of staccato and method of adding aggression caused rigidity in the larynx making it really difficult to get to the high notes. The only way I can sing his stuff in the original key without straining is by removing all that staccato he does. It's very hard to get that staccato in there without straining.

    His declining health also made it very hard for him to breathe, he would often use oxygen tanks in between songs because he couldn't catch his breath from all the dancing and singing. He was undereating a lot which zapped his energy. He stopped singing live after the Dangerous tour in the early 90s due to his declining health.

    After the 70s he would tend to get stuck in chest voice a lot live. On the cd's he would find it but live he didn't. But because of his naturally high voice, he could still get to the C5's occassionally like here then notice right after on "together" he loses it and gets stuck in chest at 2:05. This is what happened to him a lot after the 70s.

    The C5 gets a lot of singers because it's another bridge area. Bridges can become a brick wall if you don't keep them tamed with good training or if you approach them slightly wrong. there is a slight resonance shift that needs to happen there, you have to bring in more of the head resonance (this doesn't mean go lighter!) and sometimes when you're trying to belt and keep it strong up there you can dampen the sound too much, essentially throwing a blanket on the upper resonances preventing your voice from releasing (when I say release i'm not talknig about leaving chest voice into falsetto) and get stuck. it's easy to screw it up and get caught in chest. Then we start thinking chest voice is a mechanism that can only be taken so far, when in reality all those full high notes you hear are done with the same voice you're speaking with.

    In the 70s he was able to blend in that head resonance a little better you can hear it on "things I do for you" when he goes up to the high notes you'll hear the parts where his voice thins a little and it gets more of that head voice ring have a listen at 32 secs here on the word "am". and then here too on the word "stand". that is a healthy resonance. if you hear him live in the 80s and upwards he didn't usually get into that spot, and that's what kept him out of HIS high range.

    Of course on CD's he was able to punch in a more consistent sound.

    Anyone can develop the range he had, but only Michael sounds like Michael.


    Phil Moufarrege

    Folks MJs voice really, really was something else. The way it could shatter glass on one end whilst throwing grit out of your speakers in the other whilst still being smooth as silk all the way through really is something else. I commented before that the reason MJ got so big was that he was a man who sang like a woman, better than a woman could and I stand by it as his vocals were just so pure, wherever they were at.

    Really have to check out some more live singing now to hear the points mentioned above in the quote. Great playlist of various compiled performances here:

    Another excellent article here which highlights exactly how dedicated MJ was to getting the absolute best out of himself:

    Michael Jackson without his falsetto is not the commodity on which their collective dream depends. But Michael has never known a reality that wasn't susceptible on some level to his creative powers. He works to develop something, not a falsetto, which is a way of singing above your range, but instead a higher range. He isolates totally different configurations of his vocal cords, finding their crevices, cultivating the flexibility there. Vocal teachers will tell you this can be done, though it's considered an extreme practice. Whether the process is conscious in Michael's case is unknowable. He probably evolves it in order to keep singing Jackson 5 songs every night through puberty. The startling effect is of his having imaginatively not so much castrated himself as of womanized himself. He essentially evolves a drag voice. On the early demo for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," recorded at home with Randy and Janet helping, you can actually hear him work his way into this voice. It is a character, really. "We're gonna be startin' now, baby," he says in a relad, moderately high-pitched man's voice. Then he intones the title, "Don't stop 'til you get enough," in a softer, quieter version of basically the same voice. He repeats the line in a still higher register, almost purring. Finally—in a full-on girlish peal—he sings. A source will later claim to have heard him, in a moment of anger, break into a deep, gruff voice she'd never heard before.

    Anyway, feel free to chime in on anything vocal related because dat boy good!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012

    Utter nonsense to for the person in the first quote to say MJ had to use oxygen masks inbetween songs. Not at all.

    Michael's falsetto was never really what caught my attention, but his staccato, aggressive yet rhythmic vocal styling did. I think he knew it caught most people given how often he used it as opposed to the falsetto style or his soul roots style.

    It marked him out from everyone else on the radio at a time when radio exposure was still of critical importance for artists.
    "Because we do not know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can't even concieve of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless." - Brandon Lee

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