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Vocal Accompaniment


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Dave Elliott made the following comment in the Baritone Anglos Topic, but with my response I feel the subject has the potential of a separate Topic, so here we are.

I think that you either need a very strong/distinctive voice to sing against an instrument in your own pitch, or you need to use the octave separation to avoid a muddy tone.

Depends a lot on the details of the accompaniment... and on how loud you play.


If you're doubling your voice exactly on the concertina, it's harder to be heard. But a voice that isn't doubled stands out as a separate musical "voice". Doubling up an octave or even two (e.g., on a treble English) seems to work for low (male) voices, as does doubling an octave up (on a treble) or down (on a baritone) for high (female) voices. In my experience, doubling a baritone or bass voice down an octave rarely (I won't say never) works, but I think that's mainly because it's difficult to play a melody in such a deep range without it seeming muddy and oppressive, regardless of whether it accompanies singing.


Having said all that, I do sometimes double my voice exactly, and it seems to work if I'm not too deep in my vocal range.


Another way of getting your voice to stand out is to have the durations in the accompaniment differ from those in the voice, e.g., as sustained chords, or staccato notes.

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What you (Jim) are saying pretty much squares with my experience. Off hand, I can't recall ever singing in unison with the concertina. Not because it might sound muddy, but rather, as a male, there wouldn't be much room "under" the melody for chords and stuff. At the same time, I very much need the crutch of that melody being played near by so I can sing it.


Usually I play the melody one octave above what I'm singing. This means that the notes I'm singing may well and often are doubled in the chords in the same octave I sing. I notice no competition (muddiness?). Some of my favorite pieces are played two octaves above where I sing. I can think of one section on one piece where the melody goes low enough (and I'm singing an octave lower still) where I put the chords (a sort of vamp, really) above my singing (melody in the left hand and chords in the right).


I've seen mention several times of the "muddy" quality of duets in the left hand and even a singling out of closed rather than open chords. This was of great concern to me early on, but no longer is an issue (for me). I don't know if I have just become tolerant of the muddy quality or my playing through dynamics and articulation is what masks the mud. Anyway, I make frequent use of closed chords on the left side of my duet, albeit pretty high up on the keyboard both when singing and doing straight instrumental stuff.


I like this sort of thread and hope others contribute.

Edited by Kurt Braun
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Since I have a high voice (when it's warmed up, which is...never, these days) that has a high 'tone' (when it's warmed up, which is...etc.), I will probably someday buy a baritone EC so that my accompaniment on the 'tina isn't so similar to my voice.


But, really, I personally don't mind a bunch of 'highs.'


For some reason, ever since I was a kid, I've run into the 'anti-soprano' people....I remember being very relieved to be put in the alto section of the choir (now, I can't sing that low...it's too low!).


And, no song or music ever seemed to be accepted unless there was a bass line booming out from a bass player.


Well....I guess this resistance to high notes made me try to go higher...especially when I was told that I potentially had a VERY high voice.


So, when someone makes fun of my voice (usually my 'speaking' voice) because it sounds high, I don't care. If it's sounding high, it usually means that it's finally the way I want it to be. (Difficult these days, due to allergies or something.)

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