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How to sing with Karaoke Tracks

A.V. Ramanan’s Musiano  

A lay singer now has the comfort, convenience and improved confidence to attempt a song, and fulfil a long cherished desire and dream, thanks to Karaoke. More important, one can indulge in this new-found hobby in the comfort of one’s home! And with practice and perseverance, one can step into the Stage as well! However, singing with karaoke has its own set of challenges. And some advantages to boot. Here are some simple technicalities:

1. Unlike as in an Orchestra, where the accompanists can adjust and adapt to the scale and tempo of the singer (and his/her comfort), a Karaoke track is like a running train. It force-fits the singer into itself. One has to run with the train, sorry the track, to get onto it!

2. Secondly, the quality of the track makes a huge difference. It is important to pick a good quality track, with the BGM accurately reproduced, having the right (or rather original) scale and tempo. There are tracks and tracks, not all of them are really good, in terms of these parameters.

3. Next, it is an important pre-requisite for the aspiring singer to be familiar and thorough with the original song. Having said that, the track has to match the right scale and tempo, the right sequence of the lyrical stanzas, have good quality and fidelity of the BGM, with the least or nil noise and disturbance. Some tracks do not have the complete song lyrics — for example, if the song has three stanzas, the track will have only two, but the overall quality will be good.

Also read: Karaoke – a blessing for amateur singers

4. If the Track selected is jarring, noisy and loud, the performance will severely suffer. Hence while playing such tracks in public, one must be aware of its impact on the audience.

5. On-line software Apps are to be carefully selected. Some of them may not suit film music orchestration, particularly Indian film music.

6. Using On-line Software Apps is a smart way to enhance quality and performance. These Apps require you to import the track for dabbling with various features and parameters to enhance the effects and output. On the other side, if the singer wishes to lower or increase the scale or tempo, such Apps are particularly useful. However, from a puritan viewpoint, the scale and tempo of the original song must not be altered. One must stick to and sing the original song.

For the benefit of amateur artistes, there are two key terms — scale and tempo — which are always referred to in Karaoke conversations. Scale of a song is more properly called the key, the set of sharps or flats that are used by default when playing the song. It will usually have the same name as the first and the last chord played (although there are exceptions).

Tempo of a piece of music is the speed of the underlying beat. Tempo is measured in BPM, or beats per minute. One beat every second is 60 BPM. Sometimes the tempo is written at the beginning of the music, and is called a metronome marking.

Points to remember

Having pioneered Karaoke-based shows in Chennai from the early 2010, I wish to propose the following points which have been very well received by those whom I tutor:

1. Select a Song that you are comfortable with. This is the prime Mantra since a song requires producing and projecting the right feel and emotion (Bhaav), sticking to the Scale (Sruti) and keeping to the Beat/Tempo (Taal). While doing all the above, one has to sing from the Naabhi and exercise breath control.

2. Remember the next Mantra — the song which one likes is not necessarily the song that one should sing. There are songs and songs which we like to listen to. Some of them have very high notes, or some are fast paced and some are very technical (as in the nuances and twists and turns are complicated). Yes, they are all very soothing, melodious or sentimental to hear. Ask yourself — Can I sing this like the original with Sukham (comfort and enjoyment) and Sthiram (stability and poise)? Choosing what one thinks is the right song can be completely wrong in the singer’s case, and can spell disaster on stage.

3. For a singer, the voice is the prime vehicle or tool, as one wishes to look at it. Understanding one’s voice, its range, capability and texture combined with breath control are some key considerations to bear in mind. This will, to a great extent, determine the song selection.

4. Nurturing your voice by regular hydration (warm water intake) is a valuable tip that I received very early in my singing career.

5. Voice-culture is a winning proposition. Exercising the vocal chords is a discipline that a serious singer-to-be must adhere to. There are several good channels in YouTube where the host helps us understand and carry out these exercises by way of Tutorial.

6. Practice is a must. In Hindustani music, it is referred to as Riyaaz, and as Sadhana in Carnatic music, meaning regular practice with a lot of dedication, interest and involvement. In other words, no pain, no gain.

7. Seeking feedback for constant improvement. Peer-level feedback and random check with a discerning listener can vastly help enhance our quality of singing. Recording and listening to our own singing will also throw up areas of improvement and correction.

8. Lastly, it is a worthwhile practice to keep listening repeatedly to the original song. Carefully listening to the singer’s modulations and approach to singing can provide us useful and effective insights. On the net, one can find the same song sung by other notable singers. Listening to these versions also will provide us new perspectives.

A Karoake in progress

A Karoake in progress   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

So, Karaoke is a boon to amateurs, who aspire to demonstrate their latent talent for singing. A sincere, passionate and hardworking amateur can transform into a Stage singer, with Karaoke as a vehicle. But there are no shortcuts to success. Technology has given us this gift and it is for us to make the best out of this, to bring out the best in us. Happy Singing…

(The author is a veteran HR Professional and founder-lead singer of his troupe, ‘Geet Gaata Chal.’ He lives in Chennai and can be reached at geetgaatachalchennai@gmail.com)


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 9:18:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/how-to-sing-with-karaoke-tracks/article31414334.ece

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