Since the topic today is about vocal artistry, I thought you might enjoy a fantastic work of art created by Martin Klimas. You can check out how he literally creates art with sound by going here: https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2012/02/painting-music.html
What is vocal artistry? Here is my definition:
Vocal Artistry: The use of the various sounds the voice can make, within the rules of a specific genre or outside of genre rules used in a creative way to convey a message.
Vocalists gather lots of tools, and they use these in creative ways so that when they sing a given song, they can, like a painter, choose each sound detail in a song until they feel that it conveys the message they’re after. Some do this consciously and others do this out of pure inspiration of the text of the song, or by improvising. I prefer a mix. There are many many tools that a singer can use to achieve this, here is a very short list for starters:
Changing Tone Quality
Removing or Adding Vibrato
Embellishing a Melody
and thousands more…
Many singers have to do this consciously in the beginning, before they can wing it. Many times,
the difference between someone who sings really well and someone who sings really well and is memorable comes down to how they use these little details. You could think of the singer as taking you on a journey through sound to tell a story in her/his own personal way, creating a work of art while doing it. An excellent storyteller is an example of a vocal artist who uses pitch, volume, tone quality,among many other things to engage you in the story.
If you listen to a recording of a song, and do not know who the artist is, and only listen to the vocal line(s), then you will hear how that singer uses the opportunity to show their vocal artistry. The average person missing about 90% of these details, but is still affected by them. One analogy to this would be how a professional taster can recognize what specific flavors are in a given recipe by tasting it and will be able to predict what the public will like. The public won’t be able to taste each particular flavor but will be able to tell that the finished product tastes “good”
and they will buy it again. They won’t know why, as is true for me whenever I like something that “tastes good” lol.
Lack of vocal artistry is one reason why on American Idol I am often bored with the singers on the show. Not because they don’t have lots of skill, or don’t have (usually) a lot of energy in their performance, or don’t express emotion to the point of having a total meltdown. It’s often because they either copy the original singer’s choice of artistic details or use their same tricks for every song. This is why I can’t remember half of them. The purpose of that show has nothing
That being said, I congratulate the contestants for undergoing such enormous pressure and criticism, especially from business executives who don’t have half of their skill! If they were supported with more than fan screams and nice remarks but actual tools to express themselves (don’t even get me started on the “vocal coaches” on that show) then we would have many more unforgettable artists. to do with showing the public the immense variety of beautiful vocal sounds the human voice can make, or the artistic abilities within the American population, or the ability of the human voice to create a picture through sound. It has a lot more to do with entertainment and profit, so as a result, taking artistic risks is of little to no concern. This is too bad, because it is the artistic risks that makes new genres, memorable performances, and plucks the heartstrings of the listener with no need for flash (although it’s a nice touch ;). The artistry is memorable, skills and flash are passing entertainment.
Vocal artistry is one of the things I’m playing with vocally…and will do so for the rest of my life…it’s that fun! Don’t miss out.