How to sing a song you don't really know!

The motto I have always performed by is

"Any SONG, Any KEY, Any TIME!"

" Melodic Flexibility" is a valuable skill when you are:

* Filling in for a singer, in a band you haven't rehearsed with

* Jamming with other musos.

* Joining a band that has an established repertoire in original keys.

* Singing songs you only half know

Melodic Flexibility is "the ability to find, at will, an alternative melody within the chord progression".

For example - Most cover bands tend to play in original keys, and require the singer to have the vocal range of 30 of the world's best singers. The voice, as a human instrument, will struggle with a song melody that requires it to sing outside of it's accessible range.

I always had a huge amount of work, as the "guy to get", when the regular singer in a band was unable to perform. This was because I had -

* Melodic flexibility

* A large vocal range supported by a well developed Vocal technique

* A broad Knowledge of music styles.



1/ Find a "backing track" to your favourite song on youtube.

2/ Listen to and identify the different instruments in the arrangement.

EG Drums, Piano, rhythm guitar, strings, bass, percussion etc

3/ Can you hear the musical "progression" of chords in your song?

4/ Listen to this progression and then try to sing "ooooooooooo"  with notes that "blend" nicely through the chord changes.  (IE Try and stay away from the notes of the original melody).

The more you start to listen to the music behind your singing, the more you'll notice, generally, melodies are supported by chord progressions.  The more you listen to those chord progressions, the more predictable a melody can be, and you will be able to anticipate where the progression is likely to go, and therefore sing with it.



1/ Pick an instrument from within the arrangement and vocalise it's "sound" along with the progression.

EG Become the bass guitar and vocalise "boom boom boom boom" to notes within the progression.

Try this to "Fever" by Peggy Lee.

2/ Now find another song you know well, and vocalise through the chord progression as something else.

- Maybe vocalise the lead break..

- Maybe make a vocal sound to what you hear the patterns that the rhythm section is playing…

- Consider where a "string section" may sit.


With Melodic Flexibility in your vocal tool box, you are ready to explore improvisation, harmony singing and rhythmic integrity. Keep an eye on this page where we shall talk about these skill sets.

Have fun!!