We have mentioned style and genre in various sections, but how do the terms relate to singing? In musical terminology the words are generalisations relating to the categorisation of songs/acts.
These refer to the way that the music is played. i.e, rock, blues, jazz, reggae, pop, country, classical. Within each main category there are sub-catagories i.e., heavy rock, chicago blues, acid jazz, all of which may be further categorised by a particular era i.e, 50’s, 60’s, 90’s. Although many original artists resent being ‘pigeon-holed’ by industry personnel, there are definite advantages to the practice as it enables the potential buyer to find new and established music within their specified preferences.
Many singers spend a lot of time experimenting with different styles in an effort to discover which area of music is best suited to their vocal abilities. Although this is a good exercise which helps to develop versatility, the singer should always aim to adapt the song to their own unique style of singing rather than attempt to force the voice. This is especially important for the beginner who may damage their voice whilst attempting to emulate a favoured artist whose vocal capabilities differ from their own.
Music is such a diverse area that vocalists often find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes to picking songs to perform. There are singers who specialise in a certain style or genre of music, those who create their own and of course the expert who is capable of crossing the barriers by making any song regardless of style, sound as if it was their song to begin with!
In the modern world both singers and songwriters have access to a far wider range of potential influences than ever before. The migration of music in all its various forms is creeping into commercial music. Eastern voices and instruments are just as likely to be heard performed on a chart song as they are in their native countries, allowing those with creativity the opportunity to combine styles of music into a fresh new sound.
Some styles and genres of music are more popular than others from a commercial viewpoint and whilst this aspect should be taken into consideration when choosing a career path, it should not be allowed to limit the singer in their choice of material. The aim of every performer should be to strive for vocal versatility, even if they choose to specialise in a particular area of music.
The most important aspects in choosing repertoire are:
- That you enjoy performing the songs you sing
- That the material is suitable for your range
- Of course it helps if you can do the songs justice!
Although a signed artists repertoire may be influenced by current musical trends or dictated by their record company, generally the style and genre of music that a singer performs is only limited by their personal preference and vocal ability.
Do not be afraid to experiment by breaking down a song to the bare bones and combining it with another style to produce something different. It worked for the Foo Fighters and many other artists besides. Be imaginative – that’s how new styles are created!