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Thread: Interesting Quotes on Elvis's Vocal ability

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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Interesting Quotes on Elvis's Vocal ability

    I found these very interesting and informative:

    "Elvis Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass- the so-called register-, and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion. The voice covers two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down. Call him a high baritone. In "It's'now or never", (1960), he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of Rhythm and Blues and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose, and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats. Moreover, he has not been confined to one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high G's and A's that an opera baritone might envy. He is a naturally assimilative stylist with a multiplicity of voices - in fact, Elvis' is an extraordinary voice, or many voices"
    - Henry Pleasants, in his book "The Great American Popular Singers" (1974)


    "I suppose you'd had to call him a lyric baritone, although with exceptional high notes and unexpectedly rich low ones. But what is more important about Elvis Presley is not his vocal range, nor how high, or low it extends, but where its center of gravity is. By that measure, Elvis was all at once a tenor, a baritone and a bass, the most unusual voice I've ever heard"
    - Gregory Sandows, Music Professor at Columbia University, published in "The Village Voice".

  2. #2
    PeacockLady Diane's Avatar
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    Exactly why his voice was never boring. He never sounded the same in any song.

    Very good article KPM, thank you for posting.

    Diane

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    Cadillac King T_J's Avatar
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    It's a top G# in It's Now or Never, not an A, and his lowest note was more an F than a G. Overall, a good summary though :-)

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    TCB Mafia The King's Queen's Avatar
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    Great post! His vocal range was beyond belief!

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    Elvis 56's Lady Wendy56's Avatar
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    Great quotes! Though Elvis' voice was more amazing than those words that are trying to describe it.
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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Heres a few more I found:
    "Even in his laziest moments, Presley was a master of intonation and phrasing, delivering his rich baritone with a disarming naturalness. And when he caught a spark from his great T.C.B. Band, Presley could still out-sing anyone in American pop. You can hear it here on inspired versions of Muddy Waters' "Got My Mojo Working", Wayne Carson's "Always on My Mind", Chuck Berry's "Promised Land", McCartney's "Lady Madonna", Percy Mayfield's "Stranger in My Own Hometown", Dennis Linde's "Burning Love" and Joe South's "Walk a Mile in My Shoes".....
    - Geoffrey Himes, reviewing the "Essential 70's masters" box-set, for amazon.com

    "Even as a young man, that's what Presley sounded, like a man. I wasn't of a culture nor a region that found Presley appealing, and I've never seen a Presley movie through but, a few years ago when in a tribute to him various modern singers covered some of his originals, followed, or enclosed by, his versions of the same songs, I was struck by how much fuller, deeper, and richer his were." - Al Spike, explaining to North Africans why Presley's manly baritone rang true, in the web`s "Chicago Boyz".

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    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    Yes, Elvis' voice was special indeed. What is interesting to me is how his voice changed after 1970, because these performances took a lot of energy from the body and it's not strictly operatic singing. It has been suggested he didn't have the controlled vibrato professional singers have, but towards the end this relative lack of flexibility is probably more because of failing health than lack of technique, at least that's what I think.

    It has also been suggested that he had the ability to reach both unexpected high and low notes - this especially shows after 1975 if you ask me, his sense of drama and tone was marvelous.

    Even though he didn't really have education as a professional classical singer, he still got the most out of his possibilities, although I've wondered why he sounded rather hoarse during some rehearsals from August (if memory serves me correctly) 1974..

    Behind the Iron Curtain (or to be more specific, the regions being under Russian rule at some point), Elvis' talent would probably have been discovered at an earlier age, such was the case for exceptional talent in sports or culture. In such an environment, he would have been able to adjust more naturally, both vocally but most of all as a human being; I guess the American system usually doesn't recognize talent, since it's all about work, work, work and how could a poor country boy like Elvis ever achieve the multi-million globe-trotting 'the sky is the limit' kind of life?

    Elvis hasn't got the largest range ever, that honor is (as far as I know) for the Russian/German bass Ivan Rebrow (also spelled Rebroff). He reaches about 4 octaves and a half, because of his talent for falsetto.

    I don't know what I am to be precise. Lower than Elvis, that's for sure.

    Some have even suggested that Elvis should have performed in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni'. I suppose they mean the role of 'Don Giovanni' and not of 'Il Commendatore' (which is more of an example for me), but these things would have been interesting and it's a shame Elvis never got to broaden his abilities and interests in music.

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  9. #9
    yes his vocal ability is amazing, it can impress a proffesional person in singing art and an ordinary listener the same. His vocal ability reached to its prime in 70,s.

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    What happened to Elvis` vocal ability in 71 though? If you play the 71 recordings alongside the 70 or 69 recordings there is a massive difference in tone and control, with Elvis sounding slightly strained and nasal.

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    TCB Mafia Joe Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnpikeTaylor View Post
    What happened to Elvis` vocal ability in 71 though? If you play the 71 recordings alongside the 70 or 69 recordings there is a massive difference in tone and control, with Elvis sounding slightly strained and nasal.
    Between his studio work, live concerts, not to mention a couple of movies, the man worked incredibly hard in 69/70, perhaps his voice was strained. We also have to keep in mind that he would sing for hours after a concert, to wind down.

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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnpikeTaylor View Post
    What happened to Elvis` vocal ability in 71 though? If you play the 71 recordings alongside the 70 or 69 recordings there is a massive difference in tone and control, with Elvis sounding slightly strained and nasal.
    I had not noticed. I'll have to listen and compare, It may have been because of the touring increasing which has to put a strain on the voice. He put so much feeling and energy into the 69-70 recordings (since he was truely excited about making good records) perhaps his energy level was not the same after 71 for recording.

  13. #13
    That is why his music is still being bought around the world today, by young and old. his voice was the best.
    elvislady

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    I don`t think the work load at this time impacted on his voice too much Joe, just a case of Elvis` ever changing singing voice, it could change so much over such a short time.

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    Resident SP! Tony Trout's Avatar
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    I hate to bring it up but I think his increased drug usage probably had something to do with the change in his voice around 1971 and afterwards......you can definitely tell a huge change in his vocals after 1970.


    *dodges things being thrown at him*

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    But there was a huge change in vocals between 62 and 65 Tony, and i don`t think that can be put down to drugs.

    I`ve always been facinated by this topic, as the first album i ever bought was "I Got Lucky" as a 9 year old, and even at that age, i was intrigued by the change in vocal tone between the early 60`s stuff and the 66 songs.

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    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    There is also the factor of the keys the songs were sung in. I know in one session Elvis complained about a song being in one of those
    "In between keys"
    IMO ON Sun records his voice had a sound to it. The movie songs his voice had certain sound, each step in his evolution there was a differnent approach. IMO it probably is just where his voice had gone at the time.
    I used to sing in a band and the way I sang at 16 is not the way I sing at 52 You learn more, your breathe control gets better, you try other keys and types of music. He definitly tried every type of music thats for sure-and you don't sing them all the same way.

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    TCB Mafia Raised on Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnpikeTaylor View Post
    But there was a huge change in vocals between 62 and 65 Tony, and i don`t think that can be put down to drugs.

    I`ve always been facinated by this topic, as the first album i ever bought was "I Got Lucky" as a 9 year old, and even at that age, i was intrigued by the change in vocal tone between the early 60`s stuff and the 66 songs.
    Well I?ve belive the change in his tone between '62 and '66 it is moslty due to age, just like in puberty our voice did abruptly change, once again between the 25 to 30 years old, a man voice do change again although in a more sublte way.

    About the '71 sessions I belive his voice doesn?t sound that great on most tracks ?cause he wasnt to keen about the songs, when you hear stuff like "The Wonderful World Of Christmas" or "Winter Wonder Land" he definetively didn?t sounded great, but whe he switched into stuff like "Merry Christmas Baby", "I?ll be Home On Christmas Day", all the Gospel tracks, he did sounded as good as ever, same goes for the jams, stuff like "Don?t think Twice its All Right" or "Lady Madona", his voice is as unstrained and in control as ever. When he recorded the songs that himself choosed, like "Early Morning Rain" or "That?s What you get FOr Loving Me" he sounded perfect, when he had to do unlikely songs like "Love The Live I Lead" he did sounded strained a bit, but still great anyhow.

    I belive it was the '72 March sessions when ELvis did sounded as if he had lost a little bit of control into his voice, anyway by the April tour and the MSG gig his voice was at his best again, specialy in the latest.

    The '73 Aloha concert, Elvis did a great job on the big ballads, gospel and country numbers, but he did sounded strained in the rock numbers, something was going on there cause by the July Stax sessions, there was an issue into his voice, when you hear stuff like "Raised on Rock" and the R&B numbers you can tell it could have been a much better session if he had had the vocal control he did had in Jan '69. Whatever it was, for the Dec Stax sessions his voice was even more powerful and in control than in '70, anyway, age factor apears again just as in '62-'66 and his voice become deeper, more matture, and lost some of the playfullness we had heard in the American Studios 5 years earlier.

    But in the end, as they say, a man its not completly a man until he ages forty, and by the '75 sessions and the '76 jungleroom sessions, the man sounded like if he was finally getting together all the diferent voices he cultivated during his life time, he was definetively working into something good.

  19. #19
    TCB Mafia KPM's Avatar
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    Another comment on Elvis's voice:
    "Elvis Presley`s talent as a musical artist was double barrelled and more; his voice, on the one hand, was extraordinary for its quality, range and power, as well as being a unique stage performer with instinctive natural abilities in both areas; he was the master of a wide and diverse range of vocal stylings and ventriloquist effects, from the clear tenor of his C&W heroes, to the vibrato of the Gospel singers he loved, his voice invariably possessing an aching sincerity and an indefinable quality of yearning virtually impossible to pigeonhole". - From the U.S Department of the Interior`s paper on criteria for greatness as a vocalist, which, together with all aspects of his life and legacy, led to the inclusion of his home, Graceland, in the National Register of Historic Places, in 2006.

  20. #20
    TCB Mafia EnigmaticSun's Avatar
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    With the right education, Elvis could have had the 'tools' in hand to get even more out of his studio recordings and live performances. For instance, the end of 'He Touched Me' barely holds it together, not to say I don't like it..!

    I sometimes have dreams about his singing, usually 'It's Now Or Never' and 'How Great Thou Art' from the 70's.

    All in all, there are plenty of classical singers I don't like as much. I suppose that like a blind man at an orgy, Elvis had to feel things out, not having been able to attend professional music/singing classes as a child or kid.

    In that context I'd say he's like me - we have some limitations (I had even more during childhood), but that's why we have developed a keen sense for tonality and although we wouldn't know how to lable everything (technically), we do hear everything.
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