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OT: Singers with the widest range


Philip Clark

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WARNING: ANOTHER OFF TOPIC THREAD by me. Haters be warned.

 

Axl Rose has been sited as one of the greatest vocalists ever due to this infographic on ConcertHotels.com

 

http://www.concerthotels.com/worlds-greatest-vocal-ranges

 

Now, this has stirred much debate. So much to the point that another site has disputed the data and even added more singers and their ranges.

 

http://www.vintagevinylnews.com/2014/05/digging-deeper-axl-rose-is-not-singer.html

 

IMO, "widest range" does not equal "greatest singer." How do you guys feel about these lists, and who would you site as the greatest singer ever?

 

Soul, R&B, Pop from Los Angeles

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I saw that on FB and commented.

 

It's not an apples to apples comparison because it includes falsetto range. Not everyone chooses to sing falsetto, so comparing somebody with some high falsetto in a song to somebody who sings no falsetto is misleading. They even include Mick jagger screaming "who!" In Start Me Up as part of his range, even though he doesn't sing anything in that range. It also doesn't take into consideration any recordings that may have been sped up or slowed down.

 

So not only does it not compare how good a singer is, it doesn't even really compare actually vocal range.

 

 

 

 

Here is a better link:

 

CLONK

Dan

 

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I saw that on FB and commented.

 

It's not an apples to apples comparison because it includes falsetto range. Not everyone chooses to sing falsetto, so comparing somebody with some high falsetto in a song to somebody who sings no falsetto is misleading. They even include Mick jagger screaming "who!" In Start Me Up as part of his range, even though he doesn't sing anything in that range. It also doesn't take into consideration any recordings that may have been sped up or slowed down.

 

So not only does it not compare how good a singer is, it doesn't even really compare actually vocal range.

 

 

 

 

Here is a better link:

 

CLONK

Mariah uses vocal whistle sometimes too...more or less harmonics.

Ultimately it is pretty unimportant though. Good is good and a good singer is good within their range regardless of what that range is. All range allows for is some measure of versatility and the band doesn't have to learn songs in odd keys.

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No doubt about it, in my opinion as greatest singer, Steve Walsh of Kansas in his prime. His range was pretty damn good also.

John Cassetty

 

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Chaka Khan has pretty awesome chops.

 

Among jazz singers in particular, after genuflecting in Billie's direction, I'd nominate Helen Merrill for pure artistry and musicianship.

 

And I would never assert that freakish vocal range==best singer, either.

 

B.

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No doubt about it, in my opinion as greatest singer, Steve Walsh of Kansas in his prime. His range was pretty damn good also.

Walsh and Steinhardt had remarkable (unassisted) pitch on Icarus Borne on Wings of Steel.

 

Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Brad Delp of Boston and Lou Gramm of Foreigner had great voices in their prime. I think because Boston did not tour as much Delp's voice remained intact until his death. Hearing Delp live hitting those notes and singing in his style from Boston's first two albums was the most amazing to me because the studio recordings were polished to perfection. I actually preferred hearing his voice less than perfect because of this.

 

These guys covered a wide range singing full-voiced which is extremely difficult and harsh on the vocal cords. Walsh and Gramm were reckless live singers. It is not surprising that their voices were blown out. Although that GF Live album shows him screaming out songs, Farner backed off eventually and he can still sing fairly well.

 

I don't think falsetto should be included with singing full-voiced.

 

When Mariah Carey debuted she reminded me of Whitney Houston. I think Sarah Mclachlan has great range and a better voice than Mariah or Whitney. The singer from Evanescence, Amy Lee, relies heavily on pitch correction but she has a good voice and useful range when assisted.

 

IMO, range can be useful and interesting but the voice and style is most important. This leads me to think of Peter Gabriel's dynamic voice.

 

 

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Scanned very superficially -)

 

Singing is something I have been putting more attention on lately.

Singing is complex as a human is complex.. of course some humans are far more complex than others.

Singers can have great range from low to high

great emotional range

 

Being very friendly.

or like Bob Dylan an anti hero type.

 

The Blues- Any number- but worthy of mention is a white chick I like a lot, Bonnie Raitt! Or James Taylor!

 

Razor sharp pitch is another attribute

 

An ability to mimic another singer.

 

Frank Sinatra was famous for "phrasing".

 

Mahalia Jackson was a giant of her time.. and she had what Stevie Wonder has.. a spiritual dimension.

 

Ability to act- One singer set up a song before singing a note, and owned the crowd, before he sang!

 

one singer who had totally lost his voice, told me he tells himself, "I dare you not to like me"!

 

Melodic gift Johnny Mathis

 

Improv like Ella or Sting

 

Also to be charismatic like Elvis, Satchmo etc

 

Great ear for harmonies. Crosby Still Nash and Young anybody? Take Six? Four Freshman.

 

Incredible tone

 

Great rhythmic ability Check out Marlena Shaw, of course James Brown

 

Great power.. the operatic crowd have this

tremendous sincerity...

 

Diction

 

looks!

 

There are so many facets to singing that a man with no voice per se, was one of the greats Louis Armstrong.. makes no sense, but he was great singer.

Range is one of many facets. Same thing with musicianship... many many facets.

 

Some are more complete than others, but I doubt there is one singer who embodies all the above perfectly!

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(here is the video inline)

 

[video:youtube]NxSzk_k4L2s

 

This sent me off searching for more. Ironically it seems to be the best example and better sound quality than anything else I could find.

 

Makes me think of UK/John Wetton and Seal.

 

Delmar is/was? in a band called Bushrock. The bassist Yossi Fine is incredible:

 

[video:youtube]0Ju-yTZ2z8Y

 

Delmar has toured with Sting which lead me to this singing performance. Not only does Robert Downey Jr. have a good voice, his microphone technique is as good or better than that of many professional singers:

 

[video:youtube]xiuzFNtki60

 

 

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All these lists are flawed IMHO. Some opera singers have a huge range, and are not mentioned. Cleo Laine had a big range (not sure how many octaves).

 

Ian Gillan could reach the highest notes, but I think it was more of a scream than singing. At least he screamed in key though! His voice is shot now.

 

 

 

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Mariah = triumph of technique over taste.

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The Axl Rose range is pure BS. The "note" he apparently hits in Ain't It Fun is screeching/screaming, and bares only a passing resemblance to singing. I sometimes sound like that when taking a particularly nasty crap, but I don't expect anyone to applaud.
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DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME:

 

In the silly milestone department comes a report from Billboard magazine that singer Mariah Carey's "Someday" set a new record - for highest note sung in a No. 1 hit single, B above high-C.

 

That breaks the old record, F sharp above high-C, attained by the late Minnie Riperton on 1975's "Lovin' You."

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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For Rock Music there is only one answer:

 

Steve Perry. Countertenor extraordinaire. Power and ease beyond measure.

 

 

(take note at 1:55 and especially 3:45)

 

(2:50 mark)

 

What frustrates me is when a singer has a normal operating range that is much lower but they can hit a single note really high (whistle notes). This being called range is a bit deceptive imo.

 

Perry operated in a ridiculously high register almost all the time. And it never sounds pushed.

 

Very close second would be Freddie. Wow.

 

Here is a good site for singer analysis:

 

http://therangeplace.forummotions.com/f1-range-stuff

 

I like that they actually reference songs (live and studio) as opposed to just citing a range.

 

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I don't know the details of their respective ranges, but in the rock world Mickey Thomas (Elvis Bishop Band and Starship) and Kelly Holland (Cry of Love) come to mind.

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If I don't like the music or the particular song, I don't care if the singer has a 5 octave range.

 

My top 3 favorite male white rock singers are - John Lennon, Paul McCartney & Steve Winwood.

 

Black R&B /Soul would be Stevie, Marvin Gaye and maybe Al Green.

 

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The Axl Rose range is pure BS. The "note" he apparently hits in Ain't It Fun is screeching/screaming, and bares only a passing resemblance to singing. I sometimes sound like that when taking a particularly nasty crap, but I don't expect anyone to applaud.

 

Is that even Axl hitting that note, or is it Michael Monroe?

 

On topic: I cannot for the life of me remember the guy's name, but there was this singer back in the early days of Chicago house music that had the most incredible range. There's this song in Porgy and Bess where a bass and soprano sing a duet - the guy could cover both parts flawlessly.

 

Mariah: I've seen so many articles that say she has a 6-octave range. Really? A grand piano has 7 octaves and a bit.

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I think I can hear a softly sung G1@0:18 , to a definite C7 belted out at 2:47 in this gorgeous song (I remember when it hit the airwaves , and we were blown away - and bought it ) > "Vision of Love" >

 

(Aahh ....don't ya just love that reverb ;-) )

Brett

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For Rock Music there is only one answer:

 

Steve Perry. Countertenor extraordinaire. Power and ease beyond measure.

 

Wrong. He's no where near a countertenor. Maybe a bargain-counter tenor...

 

A countertenor is a male alto, and he's not even close. No way he can go up to an E5.

 

If you want high, I'm surprised no one has mentioned Jon Anderson. He truly is a male Alto.

 

For range and control still maintain Annie Haslam of Renaissance has all the others whacked to the wide.

 

Ashes Are Burning

 

Live she still has magnificent control of her 5-octave range. Listen to the first 2 minutes for control, but if you want to just be wowed with a singer's capabilities and range, just jump to 3:10 and watch her let loose with those astounding pipes in "Ashes Are Burning."

 

..Joe

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