How to Find Your Best Songs
Choosing the best songs for you and then making them your own takes some thought.
When you find a song that you like, here is a 5-step process that will help you to determine:
1. – if this is a quality song
2. – how to make the song work for you!
Ok, you have chosen a song you would like to sing. Let us start with looking carefully at:
If you do not have sheet music, print the lyrics from the internet and begin by reading them out loud.
1. As you read, listen to how the lyrics flow. Do you like what the lyrics say? Do they tell a story that you can relate to?
2. Read the lyrics again, and this time look for the high points in the song? Are there natural climaxes in the words?
The main climax may come in the chorus or it may only come at the end of the song. But there can be a variety of high points in a song. Try to find these in the lyrics.
By now, you know the melody of your song. You likely chose this song based on how much you enjoyed the melody. But here is another important aspect of the melody – the arc.
To find the arc of the song, trace how it moves through time in terms of its ups and downs – its high points (climaxes) and points of less tension. For instance, many songs build to a climax at the end of the song. But there are usually other less intense high points along the way, as well.
Some songs hit the high point mid-way through the piece, and then gradually cool off. Still others have may have several true climaxes. Your job is to chart the contour (the arc) of your song and decide how you will handle each high point; that is – how you will build (vocally) to those places in the song and keep the momentum of the song steady throughout the whole piece.
This kind of work is what gives a song its thrill and allows you to use your best vocal abilities based on your vocal choices.
When you listen to the song, also note places where an unusual chord or pattern of chords is used. And be aware of any key changes in the song. These kinds of changes increase the intensity of the song. You can add to that intensity with special vocal effects.
Now comes the really fun part – deciding how you will sing the song that will make it one of your best songs.
o You understand how the lyrics flow – where the dramatic high points are in the song.
o You have charted the melodic arc of the song – the points of climax in the melody.
o You have listened carefully for chordal cues – key changes, etc. that give the song greater intensity.
Now sing through the song keeping all those points in mind. You should find that even without much planning, you will be singing the song with more understanding and a greater sense of power.
You want this song to become one of your best songs, so now it the time to make a few vocal choices. For example: If you sing in both the belting style and in head voice, then choose where you will use each voice type. Which phrases will work best in head voice? And where should you change?
Think about the point of climax. How will you emphasize that phrase aside from singing more loudly? After you have made a few decisions, sing the song again. Tape yourself and listen carefully to your performance.
Listen to other singers perform the song and discover more ideas about how to make the song really come to life. And then, finally, think about the song’s magical moment.
In every good song there is a moment that excites the listener in a special way. It could simply be the climax of the song. But more often than not, the point of magic is a quieter moment.
It may happen in the chorus. Or it may be a very quiet note that only happens once during the song. Find that place (or places) and let it shine when you sing. Make this one of your best songs by making it your own.