Hello, dear readers! One of the key elements that can majorly impact the overall feel and energy of a song is its tempo. The tempo sets the pace and rhythm of how listeners connect with your music. Last week, my dedicated voice student, Finnigan Green, struggled with the one of their songs, and it affected their breathing and emotions ~ until we changed the tempo.
In this three-part blog series, we will explore 3 different aspects of a song, and how they can affect the way your song resonates. Today's blog will address the issue of tempo.
In the wonderful Netflix Whitney Houston docudrama, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody", there is a scene where Ms. Houston sings "Home" from the Broadway production of "The Wiz" on her very first TV appearance, on the Merv Griffin Show. Because she was an amateur, at the time, she did not know the correct BPM (beats per minute) of the song in order to communicate it to the band. As a result, it started very slow and low energy. Lucky for her, Cissy Houston, her Mom, was there and able to conduct the band and bring up the tempo, the energy, and the interest of the audience!
YouTube Link: https://youtu.be/t5CeQ3twVaI
But, can you imagine the alternative? What if the entire song was tentative and a bit awkward ~ like the beginning? It could have affected Whitney Houston's entire future.
Today, we will focus on what to do if the tempo feels "off" by examining three scenarios: when the tempo is too fast, too slow, or just right.
Conclusion: Tempo plays a vital role in the overall success of a song, dictating its energy, mood, and connection with the audience. By assessing whether the tempo is too fast, too slow, or just right, you can identify areas for improvement and refine your performance accordingly. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series, where we'll explore the significance of the key and its impact on your song's emotional journey. Remember, the magic of music lies in its ability to evolve and transform, so don't be afraid to experiment and find the tempo that brings your song to life.
EXERCISE FOR BEGINNERS:
Choose a song and sing it at slow, medium, and fast tempos. What feels most "right" for you? Now find 3 different karaoke tracks for that same song, and look at the timestamps. Longer versions of a song are usually slower, while shorter tracks are generally faster (assuming the song structure is the same). I usually like to pick a mid-tempo or slower tempo track for ballads, so I have room to riff and so that my words can be more impactful. I always dance out dance songs, before choosing the tempo and bpm. Also, competitive dance songs need to be at regulation tempos so dancers can do and feel their best.
Modern Music Tempos
(BPM = beats per minute)
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Karen Lyu (she/her) is a Holistic Voice Coach + Eclectic Jazz Singer/Songwriter/Actor who has taught over 1,000 students from 13 countries to transform their voices, since 1997. She is an eHow.com YouTube voice expert who has earned IMIA, CCHI, TNAOC, TESOL, and New Science of Singing certifications. In Minneapolis, MN, she was the Voice Department Head and the Executive Director of the legendary West Bank School of Music. Due to her love of jazz, she earned a BSS in Jazz Studies, Vocal Performance from Cornell College. Currently, she is Co-Chair of the Voice and Speech Teachers Association (VASTA) BizCore Committee, and a full member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). Her new mission is to train creative amateur singers to become passionate pro performers who sing on pitch! Karen’s honors include a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, a $10,000+ arts patron sponsorship, a MusiCares grant, being Executive Director of West Bank School of Music, and being a judge for Hmong Idol USA. Karen has sung in over 40 musical styles and dozen languages with 13 bands, since 1993. Karen has ADHD and mental illness, which makes her a more compassionate and innovative vocal coach. She is a huge tech nerd with 15 years of experience voice coaching online. Karen has lived in South Korea, CA, TX, MN, IA, TN, Chicago, IL ~ now Atlanta, GA. Karen also enjoys food, travel, yoga, animals, and the arts.