Author Topic: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)  (Read 5329 times)

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Offline rumborak

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #70 on: May 04, 2018, 05:58:46 PM »
BTW, Zach, got any professional opinion on James' vibrato? From my perception he seems to have changed it, to be much "wider" for lack of a better term. Is that just an outcome of age, or a conscious choice? I've always wondered.
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Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #71 on: May 04, 2018, 06:43:45 PM »
BTW, Zach, got any professional opinion on James' vibrato? From my perception he seems to have changed it, to be much "wider" for lack of a better term. Is that just an outcome of age, or a conscious choice? I've always wondered.
James' vibrato is manufactured.  Natural vibrato is formed when the folds fully close and the adduct/abduct motion creates an oscillation on the outside of the folds.  However - this requires phonation that is essentially perfectly coordinated, as full chord closure is a byproduct of a well proportioned ratio of breath to air, combined with an even flow of air through the glottis.  James' vibrato in his early years was a byproduct of buildups of subglottal pressure, and over time it has become manufactured by literally manipulating the pitch throughout its duration.  Typically a 'wide' vibrato is a result of the pitch being manually moved, rather than the natural oscillation.

Sorry that was so wordy, but that's the most basic response I can give to that question.  Vibrato should never be a 'conscious choice'.  It is a natural byproduct of healthy singing.

Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #72 on: May 04, 2018, 06:45:34 PM »
IIRC, when you take the composer career track at Berklee, you have to take all these classes on the different instruments, to know what comes naturally to them and what is unplayable, so you can write good lines for them.

This may be true, but unless you know all of the intricate detail of the various fachs of singing then it is easy to write pieces that are inappropriate for voice types.  The voice types go far more in depth than simply 'soprano, alto, tenor, bass'.  Bass-baritone, lyric baritone, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, contralto, mezzo soprano, coloratura soprano... and it just goes on and on.

Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #73 on: May 04, 2018, 06:47:00 PM »
I actually think that their most vocally demanding song is Another Day because the tessitura of the song is just consistently in the stratosphere, and the lower parts are sung with a heavily covered or breathy sound.  I've never seen a performance of it where I felt like he was managing the demand of it particularly efficiently.  After a certain period of time, if I were his voice coach I woild tell him to either remove that song from his repertoire entirely lr drastically lower the key.

You are not the only one on this forum to have said that very thing.  But you are now one of two people.  ;) 

...well, except for the fact that I have never in my life uttered the term "tessitura," because if not for the context of what we are talking about, I wouldn't have the first clue what it means.  :lol

Tessitura is like a 'mean' pitch of a piece of music.  For example, if the piece uses a middle C more frequently than the other pitches, and stays in the range of that pitch for the majority of the piece, you would say that the tessitura of the piece hangs around middle C.

Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #74 on: May 04, 2018, 06:49:25 PM »
1992.04.10 - Dream Theater - Another Day (Long Island) - this is the best live performance of Another Day I've ever heard. Whether it sounding great also equates to him handling it 'efficiently', as a layman - I don't know  :biggrin: What I do know is, if I had a time machine I'd be going back to this particular show, it's an absolutely incredible vocal performance the whole night!

Actually, upon listening to this I hear some major signs of vocal fatigue creep in toward the end.  He also displays a lot of extraneous facial tension when he sings the high notes at the end, whereas he was using a mix on the voice for the most part of the first half.  If anything as a voice coach it tells me that James tends to have a habit of dropping his technique as a piece progresses.  Now, why, I'm not sure, but this performance is a good example of him not maintaining his technique throughout the song's duration, which led ultimately to much greater fatigue by the end of it.

Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #75 on: May 04, 2018, 06:50:44 PM »
To me, Take The Time is the one where I feel they should have sat down before the tour and discussed what they do about it. It had already been retired for good reason from the setlists, and James was left to invent new lines while being on tour, on the fly. I think an equally as good set of lines, much more in his current range, could have been found before the beginning of the tour. I mean, James must have known what would happen live trying to sing that song.

I agree that this song clearly wasn't written with a singer's voice in mind.  James probably felt capable of doing it at the time, so he stuck with it, but those are the kinds of decisions that can affect your career long-term.

Offline rumborak

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #76 on: May 04, 2018, 09:44:35 PM »
That Another Day video is interesting in that James isn't the only one who sounds "younger" there. JP's playing is buttery smooth and he plays his runs with ease. These days they're a bit more belabored.
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Offline Lethean

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #77 on: May 05, 2018, 11:39:10 PM »
I thought that video was interesting.  I don't really agree with the implied sense that James should somehow be taken to task or given a hard time for the state of his voice, or that the main reason it's "OK" for DT not to replace him is because it's so late in their career.

To me, a lot of the issues discussed in the video are things that were outside of James' control, unless he was going to quit the band or risk being dismissed. 

The food poisoning incident - was he really going to try to force them to cancel the tour?

Singing night after night, more than 5 minutes at a time without a rest.  Is he going to say no?  How are they supposed to tour?

Bad technique - he likely didn't have a vocal coach from the very beginning (but someone correct me if I'm wrong), so I'm sure it's the norm, rather than an exception, for a metal singer to have some bad habits.  But then he did get a vocal coach, and it sounds like he probably followed her advice from what he's said in interviews, and I think he was putting in the effort to doing the right thing. 

I've often heard that it's possible to sing with grit or rasp without hurting your voice.  If that's not true, it's certainly not common knowledge.  He probably didn't know it.  Most probably didn't.  And even then - that's what many of "us" - metal fans - want.  Was he going to tell JP and MP "no, I'm not singing like that." I personally like all of the facets of his voice - clean and high, breathy, raspy and high, raspy and heavy, etc.  It's what the band wanted and what a lot of fans like to hear.  So I don't think he's "to blame" as far as that goes.  And interesting side question - let's say we all believe that any kind of rasp hurts your voice - do we want singers to stop doing it? 

He says that people are often more lenient towards singers than other musicians like it's a bad thing, but I think we should be.  We ask a lot of metal singers.

And finally - and the biggest reason I think there's no need to get all on his case - he sounds great live and in person.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone walk out of a show talking about how awesome LaBrie was, I'd have a lot more money than if I got a dollar for every time someone said he sounded bad.  If the show sounds good while you're there, that's the show. It *was* good. I've been to other shows where the singer sounded bad in person, and that's a whole different story.

YouTube, as far as I'm concerned, is just a bonus - something fun.

Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #78 on: May 06, 2018, 02:46:19 AM »
I thought that video was interesting.  I don't really agree with the implied sense that James should somehow be taken to task or given a hard time for the state of his voice, or that the main reason it's "OK" for DT not to replace him is because it's so late in their career.

To me, a lot of the issues discussed in the video are things that were outside of James' control, unless he was going to quit the band or risk being dismissed. 

The food poisoning incident - was he really going to try to force them to cancel the tour?

Singing night after night, more than 5 minutes at a time without a rest.  Is he going to say no?  How are they supposed to tour?

Bad technique - he likely didn't have a vocal coach from the very beginning (but someone correct me if I'm wrong), so I'm sure it's the norm, rather than an exception, for a metal singer to have some bad habits.  But then he did get a vocal coach, and it sounds like he probably followed her advice from what he's said in interviews, and I think he was putting in the effort to doing the right thing. 

I've often heard that it's possible to sing with grit or rasp without hurting your voice.  If that's not true, it's certainly not common knowledge.  He probably didn't know it.  Most probably didn't.  And even then - that's what many of "us" - metal fans - want.  Was he going to tell JP and MP "no, I'm not singing like that." I personally like all of the facets of his voice - clean and high, breathy, raspy and high, raspy and heavy, etc.  It's what the band wanted and what a lot of fans like to hear.  So I don't think he's "to blame" as far as that goes.  And interesting side question - let's say we all believe that any kind of rasp hurts your voice - do we want singers to stop doing it? 

He says that people are often more lenient towards singers than other musicians like it's a bad thing, but I think we should be.  We ask a lot of metal singers.

And finally - and the biggest reason I think there's no need to get all on his case - he sounds great live and in person.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone walk out of a show talking about how awesome LaBrie was, I'd have a lot more money than if I got a dollar for every time someone said he sounded bad.  If the show sounds good while you're there, that's the show. It *was* good. I've been to other shows where the singer sounded bad in person, and that's a whole different story.

YouTube, as far as I'm concerned, is just a bonus - something fun.

I would bet my entire career on the notion that there is no healthy way to sing with rasp or with growling.  Every single Youtube 'voice coach' that I have seen that advocates 'safe' ways to growl either have shoddy credentials or shoddier science to back their ideas up.  Melissa Cross herself even admits that she doesn't know anything about fundamental singing technique outside of the metal genre.  Here's the question I pose to you - if you had to choose one of two options, which would you choose:  Your favorite singer having a very short but amazing career, or having a longer, more consistent, but consistently very good career?  Unless the singer is a freak of nature like Mike Patton, they don't have many choices.  I made my choice in my mid 20s when I elected to focus on having sustainable technique in order to have a lasting career into my 60s and beyond.  Lots of singers don't do this, and just create the sounds that appeal to the moment of what they are trying to create.  You mention it not being common knowledge - in the academic community it is beyond common knowledge, it is accepted as an absolute universal truth, and there have maybe been 5 people over the last 60 years who have been able to justify a contrary opinion with their voices.  Rasp is basically the fastest way to get vocal nodules that exists.

Also - the breathy sound is a technique we call 'covering the voice', and essentially it passes more air through the folds than is necessary to create sound.  When there is an inefficient breath to voice ratio it tends to cause all sorts of technical problems, from inability to sustain phrases, going flat, to causing the entire mechanism to be overly dried out.  James simply made unhealthy choices.  He has even admitted to doing as such himself.  People give him flak for it because they don't like hearing the current state of his voice and they don't understand why him doing what he did in the past is what brought him here.

As a voice teacher, my entire perspective is to teach the healthy way to do things, inform my students what the unhealthy ways are, and then help them understand how to make conscious choices about the unhealthy things that they do.  It is virtually impossible to sing in a true 'metal' style without hurting your voice, but there are steps you can take to mitigate he damage.

As sad as it sounds, it ultimately *is* James' responsibility to take care of his own voice.  My entire purpose of the video was to clarify why he is having the problems that he has now.  I was not 'taking him to task' like many other people do.  If James chose at any point to forego his vocal health for a tour/money/whatever, then that decision lies on his shoulders, and I am sure that he is wholly aware of that.  There have been many occasions where tours are canceled or rescheduled due to the health of the singer.

Furthermore, choosing to inject cortisone to enable yourself to sing is absolutely a decision that would require medical advisement.  I'm certain that James knew the risk (and potential ramifications) when he did it.

James did have lots of voice coaching before he became a metal singer, and as I pointed out in the Q&A, the longer his career has lasted, the more he has strayed away from what used to be relatively healthy technique.

Not all singers are metal singers.  The lowered standard applied to singers goes across many different genres of music.  Every non-classical project I have ever been a part of carried the notion that 'you can find a singer anywhere'.  Singers are given free passes if they sing out of tune, if they have poor technique, if they are inconsistent, etc.  Humans make mistakes, of course, so that is to be expected to some degree, but the amount of mistakes that singers can get away with compared to instrumentalists is ridiculous in my opinion.  That was the basis of my argument.

I respect your differing opinions, and I see where you are coming from, but being an apologist doesn't really take away from the fact that lots of the things that James could have done differently were absolutely within his control.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 02:54:27 AM by ZachAnsley »

Offline MirrorMask

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #79 on: May 06, 2018, 05:02:28 AM »
But why the voice is so fragile and prone to permanent "damage"'? we break our bones and they heal, we get the fever and weather it down, we feel strain in a muscle and rest and the strain is gone, why can't a singer "shut up" for a while letting his voice rest and be back in top form?
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Offline noxon

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #80 on: May 06, 2018, 05:42:40 AM »
I've broken the radius and the ulna in my left forearm completely off twice - once when I was 13 and once when i was 14. I'm now 39, and I still have mobility issues in my left forearm. Not bad enough that they have any impact in my daily life, but it's there. And it's never gonna go away, because the changed so much due to the breaking of the bones and the subsequent healing period that the best I can hope for is what I have now.

So the notion that "your body will just heal" is flawed. Yes, for the most part it will, but the part that has been broken will have scar tissue and not work optimally anymore.
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Offline Lethean

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #81 on: May 06, 2018, 10:03:42 AM »
I thought that video was interesting.  I don't really agree with the implied sense that James should somehow be taken to task or given a hard time for the state of his voice, or that the main reason it's "OK" for DT not to replace him is because it's so late in their career.

To me, a lot of the issues discussed in the video are things that were outside of James' control, unless he was going to quit the band or risk being dismissed. 

The food poisoning incident - was he really going to try to force them to cancel the tour?

Singing night after night, more than 5 minutes at a time without a rest.  Is he going to say no?  How are they supposed to tour?

Bad technique - he likely didn't have a vocal coach from the very beginning (but someone correct me if I'm wrong), so I'm sure it's the norm, rather than an exception, for a metal singer to have some bad habits.  But then he did get a vocal coach, and it sounds like he probably followed her advice from what he's said in interviews, and I think he was putting in the effort to doing the right thing. 

I've often heard that it's possible to sing with grit or rasp without hurting your voice.  If that's not true, it's certainly not common knowledge.  He probably didn't know it.  Most probably didn't.  And even then - that's what many of "us" - metal fans - want.  Was he going to tell JP and MP "no, I'm not singing like that." I personally like all of the facets of his voice - clean and high, breathy, raspy and high, raspy and heavy, etc.  It's what the band wanted and what a lot of fans like to hear.  So I don't think he's "to blame" as far as that goes.  And interesting side question - let's say we all believe that any kind of rasp hurts your voice - do we want singers to stop doing it? 

He says that people are often more lenient towards singers than other musicians like it's a bad thing, but I think we should be.  We ask a lot of metal singers.

And finally - and the biggest reason I think there's no need to get all on his case - he sounds great live and in person.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone walk out of a show talking about how awesome LaBrie was, I'd have a lot more money than if I got a dollar for every time someone said he sounded bad.  If the show sounds good while you're there, that's the show. It *was* good. I've been to other shows where the singer sounded bad in person, and that's a whole different story.

YouTube, as far as I'm concerned, is just a bonus - something fun.

I would bet my entire career on the notion that there is no healthy way to sing with rasp or with growling.  Every single Youtube 'voice coach' that I have seen that advocates 'safe' ways to growl either have shoddy credentials or shoddier science to back their ideas up.  Melissa Cross herself even admits that she doesn't know anything about fundamental singing technique outside of the metal genre.  Here's the question I pose to you - if you had to choose one of two options, which would you choose:  Your favorite singer having a very short but amazing career, or having a longer, more consistent, but consistently very good career?  Unless the singer is a freak of nature like Mike Patton, they don't have many choices.  I made my choice in my mid 20s when I elected to focus on having sustainable technique in order to have a lasting career into my 60s and beyond.  Lots of singers don't do this, and just create the sounds that appeal to the moment of what they are trying to create.  You mention it not being common knowledge - in the academic community it is beyond common knowledge, it is accepted as an absolute universal truth, and there have maybe been 5 people over the last 60 years who have been able to justify a contrary opinion with their voices.  Rasp is basically the fastest way to get vocal nodules that exists.
Maybe it is - and I'm certainly not going to say that you're wrong. I don't know the science behind it and don't have any vocal training.  And maybe it's accepted in the academic community but I don't think it is in the metal community. The metal community could be wrong - and probably is.  But most metal singers aren't part of the academic community; they just sing. And probably hear, like I've heard, that you can sing with rasp. If someone came to James during Awake and showed him some kind of proof that if he sang that way, he wouldn't be able to reach the same notes in 15 years *and* they gave that same proof to JP and MP who said "James, we like the way that sounds, but don't do it because we're worried about your voice," and still he chose to sing that way, then I could see being "mad" at him or giving him a hard time.  Short of that, I don't. He didn't intentionally set out to damage his voice.

As to your question - it's a great one.  I don't know the answer yet.  You might think it should be simple - don't sing like that and have the longer career.  But I don't know if it is that simple.  And I actually am one who generally prefers a "cleaner" voice - I like rasp when it's used the way James does, but am not as big a fan when someone uses it as their primary voice, so to speak.  But even I have to think about it.  How would Awake sound without that edge? Some stuff on Six Degrees? Lord Nafaryus? Etc.  Maybe it would be fine and he'd still be able to sing Another Day as it was written, to this day.  But - maybe it would be missing something.  And when I see him live today, and I've seen him a lot, I leave satisfied with the vocals at worst, and usually I'm very happy with them. So I think it's a great question and an interesting topic for discussion.

I remember in the Threshold thread - Damian Wilson said that Glynn Morgan has a "gravel" to his voice that Damian himself doesn't.  And people quoted that as the reason they always had a hard time with Damian's voice - because he doesn't have that grit.  So - for a metal fan, and a lot of metal bands and singers are of course fans themselves, it isn't a simple matter, giving up something that fits the genre so well.

Quote
Also - the breathy sound is a technique we call 'covering the voice', and essentially it passes more air through the folds than is necessary to create sound.  When there is an inefficient breath to voice ratio it tends to cause all sorts of technical problems, from inability to sustain phrases, going flat, to causing the entire mechanism to be overly dried out.  James simply made unhealthy choices.  He has even admitted to doing as such himself.  People give him flak for it because they don't like hearing the current state of his voice and they don't understand why him doing what he did in the past is what brought him here.

As a voice teacher, my entire perspective is to teach the healthy way to do things, inform my students what the unhealthy ways are, and then help them understand how to make conscious choices about the unhealthy things that they do.  It is virtually impossible to sing in a true 'metal' style without hurting your voice, but there are steps you can take to mitigate he damage.

As sad as it sounds, it ultimately *is* James' responsibility to take care of his own voice.  My entire purpose of the video was to clarify why he is having the problems that he has now.  I was not 'taking him to task' like many other people do.  If James chose at any point to forego his vocal health for a tour/money/whatever, then that decision lies on his shoulders, and I am sure that he is wholly aware of that.  There have been many occasions where tours are canceled or rescheduled due to the health of the singer.

Yes there have, and I bet if something like that happened today, or even 10 years after the incident did, that DT would be more likely to cancel or reschedule.  Back then?  Not so much.  Yes, ultimately he had a choice, but maybe that choice would have meant he was dismissed, or the band stuck with him and lost the support of their label or whoever, and JLB wouldn't have had the career he's had for fans to even be talking about it today.  If I misinterpreted the section of the video where the "taking him to task" impression from, I apologise, but it did come across that way (to me) during that section.

I don't take any issue at all with you trying to explain what may have caused damage to his voice so others are armed with more information for their own careers.

Quote
Furthermore, choosing to inject cortisone to enable yourself to sing is absolutely a decision that would require medical advisement.  I'm certain that James knew the risk (and potential ramifications) when he did it.

James did have lots of voice coaching before he became a metal singer, and as I pointed out in the Q&A, the longer his career has lasted, the more he has strayed away from what used to be relatively healthy technique.

Not all singers are metal singers.  The lowered standard applied to singers goes across many different genres of music.  Every non-classical project I have ever been a part of carried the notion that 'you can find a singer anywhere'.  Singers are given free passes if they sing out of tune, if they have poor technique, if they are inconsistent, etc.  Humans make mistakes, of course, so that is to be expected to some degree, but the amount of mistakes that singers can get away with compared to instrumentalists is ridiculous in my opinion.  That was the basis of my argument.

I respect your differing opinions, and I see where you are coming from, but being an apologist doesn't really take away from the fact that lots of the things that James could have done differently were absolutely within his control.

I'm sure he could have, and some things were 100% in his control, but most I think weren't.  Even before the I&W anniversary tour, someone asked if they were going to rearrange or cut out some things (like part of Take the Time), and JP said no, and that James better eat his Wheaties.  Now that was a bit of a joke, and I am in no way "blaming" JP or suggesting he doesn't care about James.  But I am saying that the demands of the band are one of many aspects of this whole thing.  And in the end, I don't see the need to point fingers at all and give James a hard time because we've gotten incredible albums, great shows and tours,. and we're still getting them. 

Offline Ninjabait

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #82 on: May 06, 2018, 12:27:25 PM »
NEVER, and I mean NEVER, let an instrumentalist write your vocal lines for you.  There is historical precedence for this answer.  It comes in the form of one of the greatest musical minds that the world has ever seen:  Johann Sebastian Bach.  While being a prodigious genius, and while being able to play 20 or so instruments fluently, he couldn't sing.  At all.  As a result, he had no idea how to write vocal lines for his singers that took into account things like feasible intervals, registration changes, proper ranges for voice types, and ESPECIALLY giving singers a chance to breathe.  His music is rife with melismas (strings of notes on one syllable, pop singers call them 'riffs' and 'runs') that are essentially impossible to be sung in one breath.  He also treated the voice like an instrument that can be manipulated in the same way that, for example, a violin could.

THIS IS 100% TRUE. Not necessarily the maxim "don't let instrumentalist write vocal parts", but something that gets pushed aside a LOT when writing music is proper orchestration and idiomatic writing. Especially for the solo voice or choral voice (which, believe it or not, are very different). Bad writing for an instrument can make a passage awkward to play, actually painful and damaging, needlessly difficult, and sound like crap. Knowing things like "flutes and tubas require a lot of breath", or "repeated notes on a piano aren't fun", or "oboists need time to exhale all the surplus breath", or what the ideal and comfortable ranges of instruments are makes ALL the difference. Just ask a oboist how much they like playing Dvorak, or violinists how much they like playing John Williams.

Voice is particularly difficult to write for, because every singer is different. They all have different ranges, skills, and tones. Unless you're writing for a vague part like "alto", you NEED to have access to the person who will be singing talk with you before, during, and after the writing process. You need to understand what their range is, what they have trouble with, etc. Then they need to review your song multiple times to shave off things or edit things to fit their voice. Vocal-writing has probably the lowest barrier to entry and the highest barrier to mastery.

Also, side note, Bach sometimes didn't even write idiomatically for instruments he was really good at. His fugues from the WTK are SUPER awkward to play in addition to being ridiculously difficult.

Was he going to tell JP and MP "no, I'm not singing like that."

Um yes. He should.

But why the voice is so fragile and prone to permanent "damage"'? we break our bones and they heal, we get the fever and weather it down, we feel strain in a muscle and rest and the strain is gone, why can't a singer "shut up" for a while letting his voice rest and be back in top form?

It's not just the voice. My old piano and music history teacher permanently damaged the tendons in his hand when he was young from playing piano. Brass players can "blow out" their lips from playing wrong or too long or too hard. The way the human body heals isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I sprained my ankle two years ago and I still have a slight limp every once in a while.

Side note: bad technique is 100% not limited to voice, even in rock or prog or metal. I've seen a lot of keyboardists with ATROCIOUS technique and there's probably more drummers, guitarists, and bassists with bad technique.

Online Ben_Jamin

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #83 on: May 06, 2018, 12:28:25 PM »
Hmm...

After reading this thread. Maybe he had concerns for his voice being healthy enough to do ProgPower, and then go into the studio around the same time. If he said it was his decision, not DT's, to pull out, then that makes me feel a lot more understanding of his decision. I mean, he came off touring two of his toughest tours to date. The Astonishing and I&W aren't really vocal friendly. Add that to the fact he and the band didn't expect the I&W&B to last as long as it did. So thats less than a year for his voice to heal before that show and recording the new DT.
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Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #84 on: May 06, 2018, 01:34:52 PM »
I've broken the radius and the ulna in my left forearm completely off twice - once when I was 13 and once when i was 14. I'm now 39, and I still have mobility issues in my left forearm. Not bad enough that they have any impact in my daily life, but it's there. And it's never gonna go away, because the changed so much due to the breaking of the bones and the subsequent healing period that the best I can hope for is what I have now.

So the notion that "your body will just heal" is flawed. Yes, for the most part it will, but the part that has been broken will have scar tissue and not work optimally anymore.

This.  Most vocal surgery requires laser to fix the problems. Vocal nodules don't just heal on their own.  Sometimes the singer never recovers (i.e. Julie Andrews), sometimes they develop terrible scar tissue that ruins their voices forever, and rarely they recover back to reasonably decent form.

Offline Stewie

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #85 on: May 06, 2018, 06:58:39 PM »
I think, while James may not have always made the best choices, I'd wager he has taken a lot better care of his voice than most rock/metal singers. Singing Dream Theater isn't easy...for anyone. And, regardless of how well a singer takes care of their voice, the fact is, it becomes harder and harder with age - especially that style of singing.

That video of Another Day was amazing....talk about amazing power, phrasing, pitch, vibrato...clearly JLB is very talented. That said, it simply isn't realistic to expect that he (or anyone) could sound as good as studio recordings, night after night, tour after tour, with age. It's already incredibly difficult material to sing, for anyone. Even if you made all the right decisions, and took the best care of your voice - it'd still be harder and harder to pull off.

I do think that moving forward in the studio, the band could benefit from taking into account how feasible these vocal melodies will be live for him. Ideally, they should just let James write all the vocal melodies - I do agree with that. Also think JLB gets singled out way more than any other similar vocalists (Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford...). I think, especially on youtube, it's "popular" to hate and rip on him. Lots of folks just don't stop to think about how difficult it is to do. He has the hardest job in DT.

EDIT - Forgot to add, I do think he could benefit from re-working the vocal melodies for a lot of the older songs...especially the hardest spots. I think they've tried to stick as close to the original melodies for as long as they can, but at this point, I think certain sections need to be re-written, drastically, to fit his current vocal range. Now, I'm just guessing here but, I think a lot of fans would understand, and would probably rather hear the melodies re-worked, or even just sung an octave lower, than screamed out of tune, trying to emulate the original. I dunno. Also, these melodies need to be re-written to fit his vocal range, ahead of time. Like, there needs to be thought put into it. Like, from now on, here's how I'm going to sing that one part in Metropolis, etc. Instead of improvising it night after night - that's part of the problem too, I think.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 07:05:00 PM by Stewie »
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #86 on: May 06, 2018, 07:37:26 PM »
EDIT - Forgot to add, I do think he could benefit from re-working the vocal melodies for a lot of the older songs...especially the hardest spots. I think they've tried to stick as close to the original melodies for as long as they can, but at this point, I think certain sections need to be re-written, drastically, to fit his current vocal range. Now, I'm just guessing here but, I think a lot of fans would understand, and would probably rather hear the melodies re-worked, or even just sung an octave lower, than screamed out of tune, trying to emulate the original. I dunno. Also, these melodies need to be re-written to fit his vocal range, ahead of time. Like, there needs to be thought put into it. Like, from now on, here's how I'm going to sing that one part in Metropolis, etc. Instead of improvising it night after night - that's part of the problem too, I think.

Either that or retire some songs from the set for good. They have a big enough catalog, so retiring some of the most demanding songs for him shouldn't be an issue for crafting their tour setlists.
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Offline Cool Chris

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #87 on: May 06, 2018, 10:41:49 PM »
Was he going to tell JP and MP "no, I'm not singing like that."
Um yes. He should.

I get the feeling you didn't tell JP or MP that you had to take a leak when you were in the studio. You asked if you could be excused.

Just look at Lines in the Sand... James couldn't or wouldn't sing like he was an 80 year old man with strep throat who just swallowed a cup of gravel, so they brought in someone who would.
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Offline nobloodyname

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #88 on: May 07, 2018, 07:03:33 AM »
In the interest of accuracy, I don't think it was Zach who said that. Wasn't it Ninjabait?
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #89 on: May 07, 2018, 08:35:55 AM »
But why the voice is so fragile and prone to permanent "damage"'? we break our bones and they heal, we get the fever and weather it down, we feel strain in a muscle and rest and the strain is gone, why can't a singer "shut up" for a while letting his voice rest and be back in top form?

Keep in mind, this isn't bone, it's cartilage. Very different materials. I assume you know people whose knees are "shot" and likely have to refrain for the rest of their lives from sports like running etc. That's because cartilage breaks down over time and doesn't get replaced.
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #90 on: May 07, 2018, 09:02:36 AM »
I just want to say that I've learned a lot in this thread about the art of singing. Thank you Zach and others.

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #91 on: May 07, 2018, 12:12:59 PM »
I like the effort that Zach gives and enlighten us with so much technical details but...

But I find it weird while you are talking about voice technics, James' abilities, ups and downs.... ect then like "ohh btw guys, the score is re-recorded or auto-tuned or something..." then keep on with your subject.

I wonder if it is your opinion or post production things are your area too?
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #92 on: May 07, 2018, 12:18:40 PM »
I like the effort that Zach gives and enlighten us with so much technical details but...

But I find it weird while you are talking about voice technics, James' abilities, ups and downs.... ect then like "ohh btw guys, the score is re-recorded or auto-tuned or something..." then keep on with your subject.

I wonder if it is your opinion or post production things are your area too?

MP said that 95% of what you hear was from that night (regarding James) which means 5%.....made up numbers by MP, obviously, are touched up to some degree. What degree? Anybodies guess. But it was confirmed that some of it was touched up.
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Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #93 on: May 07, 2018, 12:59:37 PM »
I like the effort that Zach gives and enlighten us with so much technical details but...

But I find it weird while you are talking about voice technics, James' abilities, ups and downs.... ect then like "ohh btw guys, the score is re-recorded or auto-tuned or something..." then keep on with your subject.

I wonder if it is your opinion or post production things are your area too?

I already mentioned in the thread that I don't have a ton of production experience.

My point was that many people point out Score as a 'return to form' for James, but the reality when you listen to other recordings of the performance is that while James clearly performed that show well, it was not as pristine as the DVD made it appear.  Listen to the context surrounding the comment about it.  Because there was some form of editing done to the video of the performance, we can't know exactly how much healthier James' performance was there.

That is one of the downsides to post production with vocals.  It masks habits and methods that can ultimately be vocally harmful.

Offline ZachAnsley

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #94 on: May 07, 2018, 01:01:59 PM »
But why the voice is so fragile and prone to permanent "damage"'? we break our bones and they heal, we get the fever and weather it down, we feel strain in a muscle and rest and the strain is gone, why can't a singer "shut up" for a while letting his voice rest and be back in top form?

Keep in mind, this isn't bone, it's cartilage. Very different materials. I assume you know people whose knees are "shot" and likely have to refrain for the rest of their lives from sports like running etc. That's because cartilage breaks down over time and doesn't get replaced.

This is correct.  Cartilage can be repaired surgically to an extent, but in a region of the body such as the voice, it is EXTREMELY difficult to safely perform.  This is why lots of singers choose to forego surgery because there is a much greater than zero chance that you will sustain residual effects that will render you unable to sing at all.

My guess is that this is what JLB did, but I don't know for sure.

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #95 on: May 07, 2018, 02:59:18 PM »
I wonder if stem cell treatments can help with cartilage repair in that area as they can when treating knees for example.

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #96 on: May 07, 2018, 04:43:08 PM »
I wonder if stem cell treatments can help with cartilage repair in that area as they can when treating knees for example.

Life to save life?

EDIT - Forgot to add, I do think he could benefit from re-working the vocal melodies for a lot of the older songs...especially the hardest spots. I think they've tried to stick as close to the original melodies for as long as they can, but at this point, I think certain sections need to be re-written, drastically, to fit his current vocal range. Now, I'm just guessing here but, I think a lot of fans would understand, and would probably rather hear the melodies re-worked, or even just sung an octave lower, than screamed out of tune, trying to emulate the original. I dunno. Also, these melodies need to be re-written to fit his vocal range, ahead of time. Like, there needs to be thought put into it. Like, from now on, here's how I'm going to sing that one part in Metropolis, etc. Instead of improvising it night after night - that's part of the problem too, I think.

Either that or retire some songs from the set for good. They have a big enough catalog, so retiring some of the most demanding songs for him shouldn't be an issue for crafting their tour setlists.

Yea, I really think a lot of I&W isn't going to be performed anymore (or at least not on a consistent basis besides PMU/Metropolis).  There may not be another day for Another Day.  I'm cool with that.  DT"s catalogue is big enough to just not perform some songs.  We got the world tour, and the 25 previous years of performances. 

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #97 on: May 07, 2018, 05:02:35 PM »
I wonder if stem cell treatments can help with cartilage repair in that area as they can when treating knees for example.

Life to save life?

:clap:

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would have thought the same thing but seeing the OP was TAC i immediately thought Maiden or DT related
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #98 on: May 07, 2018, 08:22:50 PM »
Zach, tha k you for the insight. Very interesting stuff.

I do have a question: what are the differences between Bruce Dickinson and Jamesí singing techniques/health?
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #99 on: May 07, 2018, 09:40:13 PM »
Zach, tha k you for the insight. Very interesting stuff.

I do have a question: what are the differences between Bruce Dickinson and Jamesí singing techniques/health?

I have had a billion requests for analyzing various singers.  Dickinson is definitely on my list.  I just released one about Freddie Mercury (kind of), but I will get there with Bruce eventually :)

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #100 on: May 08, 2018, 08:17:13 AM »
I like the effort that Zach gives and enlighten us with so much technical details but...

But I find it weird while you are talking about voice technics, James' abilities, ups and downs.... ect then like "ohh btw guys, the score is re-recorded or auto-tuned or something..." then keep on with your subject.

I wonder if it is your opinion or post production things are your area too?

MP said that 95% of what you hear was from that night (regarding James) which means 5%.....made up numbers by MP, obviously, are touched up to some degree. What degree? Anybodies guess. But it was confirmed that some of it was touched up.

And not to unnecessarily harp on this, but of course those 5% are the ones that you would really notice had they left it in. There is a Score camera video of UAGM on Youtube that shows the original vocals. Once you know it was dubbed you can even tell on the official CD what the section is. They tried to match it but it isn't quite the same.
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #101 on: May 09, 2018, 07:15:22 AM »
Very interesting video!

I don't think the band will do less vocals and move on to instrumental stuff. I bet they'd get another singer before that. They (Petrucci) will continue to write vocal melodies that LaBrie can handle.

Great point Ansley made earlier in the thread about never letting an instrumentalist write vocals if they're not a singer themself. LaBrie really should write his own vocal melodies or have full authority to change whatever Petrucci comes up with.

Score. Ansley seems 100% certain that a lot more than 5% was fixed up. I don't know what to believe about Score anymore. I'll just have to try to find fan recordings and decide for myself. I've never believed that YouTube videos some how misrepresent how LaBrie (or any singer) really sounds. Why would a recording uploaded to YouTube only affect vocals?

I know it was ultimately LaBrie's decision to continue touring in the mid '90s but I still believe he was in a very difficult situation. Maybe LaBrie really couldn't afford to take a year off. That's a long time to not work and the band weren't millionaires back then.
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #102 on: May 09, 2018, 07:19:24 AM »
I know it was ultimately LaBrie's decision to continue touring in the mid '90s but I still believe he was in a very difficult situation. Maybe LaBrie really couldn't afford to take a year off. That's a long time to not work and the band weren't millionaires back then.

However reluctantly and regretefully, the band would have moved on without him I guess. If James would have put down his foot saying "This is my voice and carreer at risk, I'm not gonna sing for a year period", the band would have probably done the same thing they did back in 2010 when MP wanted to stop for a while, carry on because they couldn't afford to stop.
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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #103 on: May 09, 2018, 07:52:19 AM »
I think a good short term solution would be to start touring with an opening band again. That way, the DT set would be slightly shorter and would give James less singing time every night, while still playing mostly songs with vocals and not a lot of instrumentals.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

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Re: The Curious Case of JLB (analysis of JLB's vocals)
« Reply #104 on: May 09, 2018, 07:58:56 AM »
Great point Ansley made earlier in the thread about never letting an instrumentalist write vocals if they're not a singer themself. LaBrie really should write his own vocal melodies or have full authority to change whatever Petrucci comes up with.

I thought he JLB was more involved with the writing process from Train of Thought up to The Astonishing? I know that JR and JP are the primary composers for the band but I don't think it's like JLB has zero say in the vocal melodies. Quite a lot of DT's more recent songs really fit naturally to the voice (especially those in that period I mentioned), even when they near the extremes of a tenor's range.