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Jasmine Reese

Taking Lessons from the Singers

January 28, 2008 at 3:24 AM

As a violinist, I think it is important for us to listen to as much much singing as possible. So here are a few treats:

Bernadette Peters "Being Alive" (In my opinion, Barbara Streisand does a great job, but Ms. Peters is fabulous as well. Ms. Peters has a technical proficiency in her voice that I think is valuable for violinists to listen to when trying to sing on the violin. Same with Streisand.)

Barbara Streisand "I'm the Greatest Star" (Of course, I had to put this song down because of the use of colorful timbres. Timbres should sound human as well.)

Jill Scott "The Way" (Too much vibrato is not always needed to create a perfectly human voice and be soulful at the same time. Soft and piano is beautiful, too. But you can have a strong piano, just like Jill Scott.)

Erykah Badu "Didn't Cha Know" (It's okay to be unique. Once again, beautiful, yet strong piano singing. Also, please add flavor the Badu way.)

Maxwell "This Woman's Work" (Be sensual in the higher registers. Nobody will laugh at you. They didn't laugh at Maxwell. Well, maybe a little.)

India Arie "India Arie" (I love her vibrato. Amazing. Not too fast, not too slow and even. Otherwise, she's individual and true.)

Whitney Houston "I wanna Dance with Somebody" (You should remember to be a colorful powerhouse in the alto registers as well--dynamics, dynamics, dynamics. My poor Whitney, I can't until she comes back! Don't do drugs.)

Bette Midler "I Look Good" (Step out of your usual styulistic box and do something new. Add different characters to your playing. Be broadway star, ballad maniac one day, and hip hop diva/divo the next, for goodness sakes. And always interact with the audience through your performance. Practice....)

Judy Garland (Talent)

Alanis Morissette "Hands in my Pocket" (Powerful voice in a different way than the above, but still powerful. Also a greta sloppiness to her singing that says reckless abandon. You don't have to be so neat when playing the violin. Sometimes a violinist will play a piece so clean that I totally miss the point like a recent rendition of Ysaye 2nd Solo Sonata first mvement Obsession. It was so clean that I did not feel obsessed. Also listen to Alanis'"Ironic--go crazy....)

Sarah Brightman "Think of Me" (Good stuff)

You will all gain inspiration from your own set of singers, but the above only represents a small few of the different types and genres of singers I love and take tips from for my own violin playing!!!

Biggest lesson of that whole list: do not be afraid to listen to all types of music!

From Roy Sonne
Posted on January 28, 2008 at 4:46 AM
Bravo, Jazzy,
You're right on! in this important post. We all can learn a lot from listening to the great singers. And we all can learn a lot from listening to, and watching, the great jazz and pop singers and instrumentalists. Every fine singer I know, worships Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand and learns from them.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on January 28, 2008 at 5:10 AM
For me, the classical music singers I get inspiration from the most are Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Anne Sofie von Otter, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Jessye Norman, and of course, Cecilia Bartoli. Schwarzkopf’s R. Strauss and Bartoli’s Mozart are something no serious violinist should miss, imho.
From Jasmine Reese
Posted on January 28, 2008 at 1:43 PM
Oh yes. Cecilia Bartoli and Anne-Sofi Von otter are the bizz-nizz.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 28, 2008 at 5:18 PM
Your lesson is a good one. Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck studied with composer Darius Milhaud in college, and once said that Milhaud encouraged him to listen to the music wherever he went for new ideas. One of Brubeck's best pieces, Rondo a la Turk was inspired by music he heard in Turkey.

On a related note, one of the best Heifetz stories comes from the fact that when he toured, he used to go out and listen to other violinsts. Once, in the 1920s, he was in Paris and went out to a jazz club. The violinist in the jazz group, Angelina Rivera, noticed that a well-dressed man at the table closest to the stage was clapping very loudly and at length after her playing. At one point, she ducked backstage into the ladies room and motioned for the club's owner to follow. In the ladies room, she asked the owner who was the well-dressed fellow in front who was clapping so loudly and long. When the owner said, "Oh, that's Jacha Heifetz," Rivera apparently fainted dead away (story comes from Strings magazine).

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on January 29, 2008 at 1:45 AM

"Moondog's work was early championed by Artur Rodzinski, the conductor of New York Philharmonic in the '40s. He released a number of 78s, 45s and EPs of his music in the 1950s, as well as several LPs on a number of notable jazz labels, including an unusual record of stories for children with actress Julie Andrews in 1957. "

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on January 29, 2008 at 2:00 AM

"Early on, seminal rock 'n' roll disc jockey Alan Freed called his radio show The Moondog Show...At the trial, Igor Stravinsky testified in Moondog's behalf. In the late 1960s, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company recorded a version of Moondog's "All Is Loneliness""

This stuff is just to show that your boundries are really self-chosen and self-imposed.

From Jasmine Reese
Posted on January 29, 2008 at 4:15 PM
Thanks, Jim. Those are all great recordings. Too bad I could not list everyone I love.

Julie Andrews
Louis Armstrong
Ella Fitzgerald
Nat King Cole
Natalie Cole
Clifford Brown
Miles Davis
Carol Burnett
Janis Joplin
Tina Marie
Jimi Hendrix
Ray Charles
Stevie Wonder

and so much more within every type of Genre.

Of course, I have so much to learn about many more artists. Last night in Jazz Band, I did not know a lot of some of the "famous" jazz musicians. And I most definitely do not know a lot of the old time rock musicians. But I am always willing to listen and learn more. Except for Heavy Metal and rap. I am sorry.

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