Kurt's Singing Voice

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  brisallie on 10/29/2012, 10:57 am

Another technique question Marie: Isn't alto and contra alto the same? Because when I said I was an alto, I meant I was 'contra alto' because that's how is named in spanish. Or is there a translation mistake?




...I need to do some research lol

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Delight on 10/29/2012, 11:05 am

Glorfindel wrote:Yeah, it's not fair really: the altos do the hardest work and the sopranos usually get the spotlight. fanny2

Heh... I actually find it more stressful to be the sopranos who sing the main melody. It's much more obvious if they're the ones who make a mistake while singing tonguue . I also find it more interesting to learn to sing the alto parts of a song.

Glorfindel wrote:
No, the difference in vocal range between sopranos and altos is just a few notes. When they sing the same melody they usually also sing in the same octave.

Thanks for showing me the 'Jolene' example. I see now what an octave's difference is like, and yeah, it does appear that it won't be easy for most altos to be singing in that low range. So a contra alto is able to sing in the lowest range for a female. What do you call an alto who can sing in the higher range? Soprano, or something else?

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 10/29/2012, 12:12 pm

^To reply to both your posts:

An alto is not the same as a contra-alto, at least not in the official terms. So Romina, unless you sing like Dot-Marie you're an alto, although the name 'alto' can vary depending on country and language differences.

Here are the female voice types (going from high to low):
- colorature soprano
- soprano
- mezzo-soprano
- alto (can be divided in high alto and low alto)
- contra-alto

There are some more specific terms to divide the in even more voice types (lyric, dramatic soprano), but that's more about the timbre and flexibility of the voice than the vocal range.

To make this complete, here are the male voice types:
- countertenor
- tenor (can be divided further by adding the voice type 'high tenor', like Chris is)
- baritone (can be divided in high baritone and low baritone)
- bass

Smile

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  brisallie on 11/15/2012, 11:10 pm

Thanks for the explanation Marie.

Here are the female voice types (going from high to low):
- colorature soprano
- soprano
- mezzo-soprano
- alto (can be divided in high alto and low alto)
- contra-alto

After seeing the different types of voices, I think I'm an ALTO. But still I gonna do more research in spanish lol. And Marie I have to ask you another technical question: What's a spinto soprano? Once a read this description related to a singer.

Heh... I actually find it more stressful to be the sopranos who sing the main melody. It's much more obvious if they're the ones who make a mistake while singing . I also find it more interesting to learn to sing the alto parts of a song.

Totally agree. Besides in my case, I'm not someone who likes to be in the spotlight.

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 11/16/2012, 9:16 am

brisallie wrote:After seeing the different types of voices, I think I'm an ALTO. But still I gonna do more research in spanish lol. And Marie I have to ask you another technical question: What's a spinto soprano? Once a read this description related to a singer.
That's funny, I'm a spinto soprano. Smile
A spinto soprano is a lyric soprano who can also sing a bit 'heavier/darker' like a dramatic soprano, and can handle very intricate melodies (dynamics).
And maybe I have to explain 'lyric' and 'dramatic' now, lol. Razz

- Lyric soprano = a soprano with a light, high timbre and flexible/fast voice.
- Dramatic soprano = a soprano with a darker timbre, 'heavy', dramatic.
- Spinto soprano = a soprano who combines both of the above voices: light and flexible, but with a darker timbre when necessary. She is often used for romantic roles (there is also a spinto tenor)
Oh, and since I'm at it anyway:
- Colorature soprano = a soprano with the highest vocal range (up to a F6-G6, above the soprano high C6), very swift and flexible.



And lol: I always found that the sopranos in a choir get away easy with singing the lead melody and being the ones in the spotlight (and usually there are more sopranos than altos in a choir, so they can hide behind one another). While the altos, tenors and basses have to do the heavy lifting because of their difficult harmonies and usually lesser numbers. tonguue
Pure envy, I guess, as I sang alto/mezzo in a choir for many years growing up. Since I was mis-'diagnosed' (being labeled an alto while actually being a spinto soprano) I never understood the big deal of the sopranos complaining that the melodies were so high, as I, an 'alto' I thought, could easily sing along with them.
That probably clouded my judgement. fanny2

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  brisallie on 12/4/2012, 5:58 pm

Thanks for your explanation. And you know, before being in a choir, I used to thought that sopranos were the most important and the ones who impressed most the people because of their voices. Then I realized that even mezzo, altos, can be as good as a soprano but within their vocal range of course. However, is still impressive the high notes that sopranos reach.

You know, I was listening to BEING ALIVE by...I lost the count and I'm not sure if its only me but at the end Chris emphazises the word "care", even his tone change slightly. I'm asking you this, because is not the first that in a song, the singer over-pronounce a word, and in some cases it has a "raspy" touch or just something that's more distinguished. Is this on purpose ,right? And it has a name?

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 12/4/2012, 6:43 pm

^it's called accentuating (don't know if it's a good english word), and yes: it is done on purpose. On old word to use is "affect" (not "effect").

I am baffled by the very good vocal techniques Chris uses in his new song (it is still a spoiler in this thread: so maybe put it behind spoiler bars?), especially his breathing and adding depth. More of that in the review.
(if I ever get some time to myself to think and concentrate for 2 hours or so, argh)

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  arina on 12/5/2012, 8:34 am

Glorfindel wrote:^it's called accentuating (don't know if it's a good english word), and yes: it is done on purpose. On old word to use is "affect" (not "effect").

I am baffled by the very good vocal techniques Chris uses in his new song (it is still a spoiler in this thread: so maybe put it behind spoiler bars?), especially his breathing and adding depth. More of that in the review.
(if I ever get some time to myself to think and concentrate for 2 hours or so, argh)
I am sorry you have so little time for yourself but selfishly I really cannot wait for your review of BA! :-) And it's good to hear he uses a good vocal techniques, I love his singing on BA but I don't know anything about vocal techniques so it's nice to read another thing why I can be proud of him :-)
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  coxfire on 12/6/2012, 1:26 pm

Just listen to "Being Alive", and, although it's not the type of music I listen to (I'm not a Broadway fan, really), I just LOVE how chris sounds on it. I love the fact that for once, you don't hear a "girlish boy", but a powerful young man singing. I hope his lower register will be used more often in his next songs. Not to say that I don't like his highest prowess (I loved Defying Grvity and NTBND, per se), but I find his low register very heartfelt and (I'm such a perv) sexy. It had been a while since we didn't hear it. Besides 4 minutes and Pink Houses (lol), when was the last time they used his low register?
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  arina on 12/6/2012, 4:45 pm

I think most of the NTBND is sung in low register.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 12/6/2012, 5:39 pm

arina wrote:I think most of the NTBND is sung in low register.
Right, 95% of NTBND was low register.

'I'll Remember' also was sung entirely in low register.

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  fantastica on 12/6/2012, 7:31 pm

blackbird is all sung in lower register, as well as the madonna song in the S3 finale. we are just talking about solos here. In many duet/group numbers he sang in lower register exclusively too. love shack, BICO...

oh Marie beat me to it. I am too slow.

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White Christmas + Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Post  Glorfindel on 1/3/2013, 8:48 pm

REVIEW : White Christmas &
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas).


In good Glee tradition to get another Christmas album on iTunes the gleeks celebrated Christmas (and Hanukkah!) the best way they know how: by singing. In ‘Glee, Actually’ (which had actually nothing to do whatsoever with ‘Love Actually’), Kurt got to sing on 2 Christmas songs. In ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas he only sings 2 lines back-up to Blaine, but as Glee tradition also demanded Kurt was part of the annual Klistmas duet, and as Klaine likes to sing about snow, this time Klaine sang ‘White Christmas’ together.
I’ll start with ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’.


Have Yourself Merry Little Christmas :

The group number of ‘Glee, Actually’ was HYAMLC, sung by Marley (in the episode, Brittany in the iTunes version), the Puckerman brothers, Bram and Klaine. Glee just loves to let their (romantic) couples sing together, whether the singers fit together and whether the song fits the singers or not. HYAMLC is a victim of this narrow mindedness. Bram really do not sound good together, and Klaine has their (vocal) problems too. Thankfully Heather got replaced by Melissa in the episode, but Heather’s original verse and her little duet with Chord make painfully clear that some voices are not suited for an oldtimer song like this. The lack of vibrato in Heather’s, Chord’s and Darren’s voices is very obvious and it brings down what could have been a wonderful Glee Christmas song. Mad
Melissa saves the episode version, and I was very pleasantly surprised by both Puckerman brothers. Jacob Artist has a very distinct voice not everyone likes, but he has the techniques and vibrato for this song, and his voice meshes very well with Mark’s, who was the biggest surprise to me: he sounded like a crooner on HYAMLC. wub

Kurt unfortunately only sings some backup 2nd voice to Blaine in HYAMLC.
Because of his higher voice and Chris therefore being able to sing a higher (female) 2nd voice, plus that whole alpha male dynamic mess in Klaine, Kurt often ends up as the graceful back-up for Blaine. And I’m getting rather tired of it, tbh. It isn’t even necessary, because there are enough arrangement possibilities so that Darren can sing a lower (or even higher) 2nd voice or back-up for Chris (maybe that’s why I like ‘Candles’ so much). Every note Chris sings in HYAMLC is within Darren’s vocal range and vice versa. But yeah,….RIB also love their tiny stereotype boxes they put their characters and their voices in, I guess. Hopefully now that Klaine have broken up we’ll get some other duet partners for Kurt who may shake things up a bit.

Youtube :

Judy Garland:


Glee, episode version:


The harmonies :
In HYAMLC Kurt sings the lines:
Hang a shining star upon the highest bow.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

(Blaine starts at 1.35, Kurt at 1.45)

The second line (”And have yourself a merry little Christmas now’”) is quite simple: the harmony consists of all thirds intervals, the strongest interval in harmonies. Kurt sings his 2nd voice a third higher than Blaine’s lead melody.

The interesting part of this harmony is the first line. I made a diagram of it:



- When Kurt starts his second voice their first interval together is a sixth, then a fifth, before they reach the strongest harmony interval: the third. If you look at the graphic you will see that Blaine is taking big jumps upwards in his lead melody, while Kurt only takes little steps, thus ‘allowing’ for Blaine’s melody to come closer to his 2nd voice untill they can sing the little harmony in thirds.
- At ”…upon the highest…” Kurt waits one syllable longer than Blaine before following him down in the melody, missing a ‘step’, and therefore the intervals become fourths instead of thirds.
- Kurt only comes down 1 semitone instead of mimicking Blaine by coming down 2 semitones on ”...up-on…”. This causes the interval to be a bit wider/larger than the usual fourth, creating the feared tritone, aka the “diabolus” or “devil’s interval”.
bih
In the past (a couple of hundred years ago) the diabolus was considered a dissonance sent from the devil, as it caused a disturbing tension in a harmony, and it was forbidden by the clergy. Fortunately nowadays we are more used and openminded to these kinds of ‘jazzy’ harmonies, just like most of the things the Church tried to forbid or oppres.
Kurt and Blaine even create 2 of these devil’s intervals, the already mentioned ”...up-on…”, and on ”...high-est…”. If the Pope wouldn’t already condemn them for loving who they love these 2 boys would surely go to hell for this abomination. Rolling Eyes
- At the end of the line Blaine holds the note on ”…star.” while Kurt first sings a fourth, before ‘solving’ the harmony to a more satisfying third, by descending one more tone.


Kurt’s voice :
Chris sings with a voice mixte in HYAMLC. The melody stays well within his low register range, but he chooses to go to falsetto very early and unusual low for his high register. on the long, higher notes. He sings some of his notes (the beginning) in his low register, but as soon as he sings the long, higher note of ”…star.” he lets his falsetto ‘loose’ to get that lovely clear as a bell vibrato note that really just….. soars. wub

It’s getting more difficult to tell Chris’ registers apart, but I think I got most of it right on HYAMLC:
(bolded is low register)
Hang a shining star upon the highest bow.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

The way Chris uses his voice in HYAMLC is a mix of countertenor and female vocal techniques. The melody he sings is just a tad too low to only sing as a countertenor: he has to sing some notes in low register, so he uses his female techniques ability to switch smoothly inbetween his registers.
What’s interesting in this is that he doesn’t color his timbre as a countertenor would prefer: ‘lighter’, to suit and favor the high register timbre. He colors it ‘darker’, a kind of mixed timbre. It creates a very warm ‘lower’ high register timbre, or ‘higher’ low register timbre (depending on how you look at it blinkk), perfect for the atmosphere of the song.

It’s absolutely remarkable how easily Chris can switch registers, so easily that it is even hard for me to detect. Very, very few men can switch registers so easily and undetected. Not even all trained countertenors can do this. Here’s a song where you can hear a man doing it very well: Good Vibrations.
It is a blessing in disguise that Chris could not find a vocal coach that would work with him when he was a teenager, because now he learned all these techniques from female singers he tried to imitate unsupervised, whereas a vocal coach probably would have limited him and steered him in either the tenor or (more likely) the countertenor direction, cutting off his unusual explorations of the female vocal techniques.
I certainly do not advocate to learning how to sing without a voice coach, especially when you perform a lot or plan to, but sometimes the lack of a professional coach will create something unique that would have been diminished or even dissolved if that voice had been trained within the standard and commonly used teaching methods.
Chris developed this voice on his own, and when he got on Glee he had a vocal coach who did not force him into the parameters of the ‘normal’ established male voice types, but who helped him hone and strengthen his voice while leaving the uniqueness intact, and even improving and further developing that uniqueness. That took some firm thinking outside of the box for the music experts working with Chris on Glee (and if you look at the beginning of this thread you will know that it took quite a while for me, as a vocal coach subjected to many rigid vocal techniques traditions in my study, to start thinking outside of the box too when it comes to Chris’ voice), and I can only say “Bravo!” to his vocal coach (Tim Davis?). rooots

As I mentioned before, a song like HYAMLC should be sung with vibrato, and the more the better, imo. Chris has this vibrato in abundance, and when it shines through in this little harmony it lifts the song to a higher level. Just listen to his ”…star.”, the last syllable in ”…Christ-mas...” and the delicious long held ”…now.”: it’s absolutely beautiful. wub
I wish that HYAMLC had been either a Kurt solo or a Hummelberry duet, as Chris and Lea both have the voices fit for this type of song. I would have loved an intimate and melancholic HYAMLC at the Hummelberry loft, and them singing the original words of the song full of longing and hope, as sung by the wonderful Judy Garland. crycry




*******************************************************

White Christmas :

Christmas in Glee wouldn’t be Christmas without the ‘traditional’ Klaine Klistmas duet. At least, if you can call 2 successive years a’tradition’, which definition and validation of truly be called a ‘tradition’ I suspect varies based on a person’s age (2 years must seem like a long time for a 14-year old) or the expected profit from the iTune sales. Glee apparently values ($$$) this tradition so much that they threw in Burt and cancer to get Kurt and Blaine in the same area long enough to sing a cute 1½ minute Klistmas duet together. Yup, count me still bitter about that. :angry:

Was it worth it? Well, personally I think that both ‘Let It Snow’ and ‘White Christmas’ are good songs, but they are no ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’: that was a genius song for Klaine and rightfully a big hit. It had the great combination of having an oldfashioned song style, a lighthearted but paced beat, and a music arrangement that let both voices shine equally and play an ostensible harmless flirting game. That flirty banter between 2 boys truly broke some grounds, and to my knowledge BICO is to this date the only regularly played Christmas song on the radio and in shopping malls etc. that features a homosexual pairing. neutre
‘Let it Snow’ was a good song, with many variations in the harmonies and another job well done by the arrangers and Chris and Darren. However: it was set so fast that all those intricate variations got lost in a blur of words and runs, and unlike BICO, it’s not the kind of song to put on that easy-listening background Christmas cd you make each year for your annual family Christmas dinner.

The spoiler of ‘White Christmas’ being the Klaine duet showed promise of being a 2nd BICO: no better feel good Christmas song for Klaine than Irving Berlin’s melancholic classic, made legendary by the crooning, soothing voice of Bing Crosby (and that’s how the term crooner can be defined, kids). No fast jitterbug song like LIS, but a nice nostalgic duet to reminisce the good old Klaine days by, before it all went to hell because of a lighthouse. But the Glee version turned out to be a bit different as expected, didn’t it? Shocked
Instead of a sentimental melancholic song that would somewhat have fitted with the mindset of Kurt in the narrative (although ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ would have fitted with Kurt’s state of mind much better), what we got was a fast beat, jolly version of ‘White Christmas’. And that was a mistake, imo. Not even the clumsy cuteness of Kurt on ice could make us forget the cold reality of the present and the recent punches in the stomach for him, both ‘presented’ to him unexpected on Christmas Eve.
The Klaine duet ‘White Christmas’ was presented to us as a lovely Christmas present, but it felt forced and contrived, as felt the whole of Kurt’s vignette in ‘Glee, Actually’, tbh. I can’t shake the feeling off that the only reason this storyline for Kurt was written at all was to get that Klaine duet in the show. Giving prostate cancer to Burt, and Kurt not feeling comfortable in his own home over Christmas, just to sell a 1½ minute song….. no, imo it was not worth it. I would have preferred a Hummelberry duet instead.

But, pushing my personal musings aside, let’s get to the song:

Youtube :

The Drifters:


Michael Buble & Shania Twain:


Another version of the Drifters’ arrangement where a baritone and countertenor sing the solos: On The Rocks.

Glee, full version:


Glee, episode version:


The original version? :
When the spoiler came out that Klaine would be singing ‘White Christmas’, people of course started speculating on the version they would use in Glee. I joked that they better not use the Drifters version, because there is an obnoxious high countertenor part in that version. And to my surprise….. that’s exactly the version Glee used, lmao. ptdr
That is….. if RIB really were aware of the existence of the Drifters version when they picked this version for Klaine. The big question is if RIB got the idea of Klaine’s WC version from the 60 years old Drifters version or from the Michael Buble & Shania Twain cover of a few years back? If they got the idea from the latter version we enter the muddled waters of Kurt singing the female part of a duet against Blaine’s male part,…. again. dryy
I’m not going to go to deep into this, because we all have heard it before and have our opinions about it, but because of not knowing where the Glee version idea came from originally, there are 2 ways to take the WC version they chose for Klaine, when it comes to Kurt’s voice and its representation on Glee:

1) If they deliberately chose the Drifters’original for Klaine, it would mean that in episode 10 of season 4(!) Kurt sang his first already existing countertenor song (or part of a song) on Glee ever. Not a female song in a countertenor style (we’ve heard Kurt sing like that before), but a male countertenor part specifically made for a man. Which in itself is baffling that it took Kurt and Glee 3½ seasons to finally get that recognition for his voicetype.
If this is true, I guess congratulations are in order? Together with the stunning ‘Being Alive’ of the previous episode (which Chris begged to do in the original male key), by giving him a countertenor part in ‘Glee, Actually’, RIB finally seem to acknowledge that Kurt became ‘a man’. Oh goody: isn’t that what Glee is all about? mince

2) Since the Michael Buble & Shania Twain version of ‘White Christmas’ is quite popular (and who remembers the Drifters of almost 60! years ago anyway?), it is imo likely that RIB got the Klaine Christmas duet idea from that version. Fox loves the popular stuff, after all. This theory seems to be backed up by a vocal technically choice Chris makes in ‘White Christmas’, plus the arranging of the ending of the song. But more about that later.
And this is when that whole Klaine dynamic comes into play and muddles the waters. I will strongly say (again) that to me it doesn’t matter that Kurt prefers singing girl songs in their original key (and there is where he differs from Blaine) except when it comes to his professional career, and personally I love his female power ballads when they are solos. But the alarm bells start ringing when Kurt sings a clear female part of a duet with another man singing the male part. Because like it or not, the idea that the version chosen was a male/female duet changes the perspective on the song and the parts both men sing. It can be done, but must be handled with care, imo, because it usually evokes these 2 comments in the fandom:
- “Why does Kurt always have to be the ‘girl’ in the Klaine relationship?”. dryy
This complaint stemms from the sometimes quite blunt insinuations and implications of the writers how Kurt and Blaine are portrayed together and apart on the show, Kurt’s struggles with effemiphobia, and the concealed misogyny in Glee. I’m not going to comment on that further, but I agree that there’s reason for caution here.
- “Why does Kurt have to sing so high? Kurt ruins this song because he thinks he sounds like a girl.”….. the usual crap that happens every time Kurt uses his falsetto. :angry:
I really wonder if people had known beforehand that his part in WC is originally a legit countertenor part they would be this harsh in dismissing and criticizing the use of Kurt’s voice in this song? Sure, there will always be people who think that guys shouldn’t sing that high and/or don’t like Kurt’s voice, but at least they would have no legitimate ground to say something like the above.

So yeah, it shouldn’t really matter what version they [s]copied[/s] used as an inspiration on Glee, but unfortunately it kinda does. saispa



The Lyrics :
(The show’s version is in bolded and blue)

1) Blaine:
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten, and children listen,
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

2)
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.


3) Kurt:
I-i-i-i'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten, and children listen,
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

4) Kurt and Blaine:
I-i-i-i'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.

Kurt:
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright, (Blaine: Oh let them be bright.)
And may all your Christmases be white.

5) Kurt and Blaine:
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Dom-bi-dom-dom-dom, Dom-bi-dom-dom.


They cut the show version of ‘White Christmas’ very short: it only lasted for about 1½ minute. That’s not much, not even for Glee standards. Basically, they kept just 2 of the 5(!) verses on the show, and stupidly enough they picked 2 verses that have the same lyrics (instead of using Blaine’s first verse that had different lyrics, and then skipping to verse 4).
And of course all of Kurt’s solo lines were cut from the episode, so it looks more like Kurt is backing up a practically Blaine solo instead of a Klaine duet. Is anyone surprised?.... Nope, me neither. dryy
Adding a song this short that didn’t even have a real importance in the canon of the show makes you wonder why they bothered recording and filming ‘White Christmas’ (in New York, and for 11 hours!) in the first place, even forcing the narrative artificially to make this duet happen. Do I hear someone say: “iTunes $$$”?
Well, at least it gave us this nice song to enjoy. Let’s see what I can say about the verses and the harmonies in them.


The harmonies :

Solo verses 1, 2 and 3 :
1) Blaine:
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten, and children listen,
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

2)
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.

3) Kurt:
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten, and children listen,
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.

The first 3 verses are quite simple: Blaine sings 2 verses solo, and then Kurt sings 1 verse solo. The only big difference is that Kurt is singing an entire octave higher than Blaine.
That octave jump is in the original arrangement, not invented by the Anders brothers or any other Glee music arranger, but we have heard Kurt’s voice been used like this before in Glee. Kurt has sung a male solo part one octave higher than the other males in the Regionals (full) version of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’.
Because of the octave jump the total melody (notes’) range of the original (Bing Crosby) song is suddenly doubled. But there’s more.
Kurt does not start the 3rd verse (his 1st solo verse) on the start note of the original melody of Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ (a D4): he sings a variation that the Drifters invented, and starts a sixth higher, on a B4flat. Actually, the only words he sings like the original melody in that first line are ”dreaming of a white Christmas”. On the word ”Christmas” he jumps up to a C5, and then glides back a fifth to an F4. Darren sings similar variations in his verses, only of course one octave lower.

What’s evident is that Chris must have been listening to the Michael Buble/Shania Twain version (which backs up the theory that RIB took the idea from that version), because he also adds the little yodels that Shania sings. Those yodels are not in the Drifters version. The yodels are on the bolded words: I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,”.
A yodel is created when a singer deliberately ‘flubs’ his switch to high register (and take note of the word “deliberately”). Instead of making that switch as smoothly and unnoticed as possible, the singer ‘loosens’ his voice control and ‘slips’ over the breakpoint, with the result of a little audible ‘hick-up’. This technically happens a lot when singers start learning to get over their breakpoint and switch more naturally: it’s actually a technical flaw. But when deliberately created and used it is a sign of a singer having excellent control over their voice. It’s very playfully done in ‘White Christmas’. neutre

Verse 4, a little harmony :
4) Kurt and Blaine:
I-i-i-i'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
(Kurt:
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright, (Blaine: Oh let them be bright.)
And may all your Christmases be white.)

For these 2 lines Klaine harmony Kurt is singing the lead melody, in that higher octave, practically similar to his first solo verse (the 3rd verse of the song). Blaine sings a lower 2nd voice, but because Kurt is singing so high already his lower 2nd voice isn’t actually low at all: it’s set higher than his own solo verses, in fact it starts exactly one octave higher than his solo verses.

Here’s the diagram for this harmony:



As you can see it has a lot of sixth intervals, and the gap between the 2 voices stays overall quite wide. The only time they really come together in thirds, and even a secundo, is in the beginning, when the lead melody makes big jumps down and up again.
If you may remember the sixth is the strongest interval after the third, as it is in fact a third interval reversed. Oh,…. I’ll have to explain this all over again, don’t I? unsure
(Only read the next part if you’re interested in intervals and harmonies. If not: by all means skip to the next paragraph.)
Okay: a third is an interval/harmony of 2 tones, e.g. C-E. The sixth interval is almost as strong as the third because it consists of the same notes only turned upside down: E-C. To laymen the mirroring intervals sound almost the same when heard in a harmony. Same can be said for fourths and fifths (e.g. C-F <> F-C), and secundos and sevenths (C-D <> D-C).
BTW: this flip-flop method is also a nice trick musicians can use to decipher the chords that go with the melody and harmony, as the important thirds intervals in a harmony are often the first 2 notes used in the chords of the song. Therefore turning sixth intervals into thirds provides more information on the chords and the song’s structure.

Verse 5, a few nice harmonies with some twists :

5) Kurt and Blaine:
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.

The first 2 lines (who weren’t in the episode version) are sung in a harmony of only sixths, therefore quite simple at first glance. But there is a little twist.
On the first line (”I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”) Kurt sings the lead voice, and Blaine has the 2nd voice in sixthts intervals below him. But then something funny happens: on the line ”With every Christmas card I write” Blaine takes over the lead melody from Kurt (but singing the melody one octave lower than Kurt!) and Kurt switches to a higher 2nd voice, again in sixths, but this time above the melody of Blaine’s lead. It took me a while before I figured that one out! blinkk
Kurt’s line in lead voice ends on an F4, while Blaine sings an A3. The next line in the lead melody starts on a G: for Kurt that is 2 semitones higher than his last note, but for Blaine that is 2 semitones lower than his last note. Therefore Kurt can hand over the estafet-baton of the lead melody to Blaine easily. But because they are almost an octave apart in their harmony Blaine continues the lead melody one octave lower than where Kurt stopped singing lead. The melody ‘crosses’ the harmony:
Kurt: lead voice in higher octave-------higher 2nd voice in sixths.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, X With every Christmas card I write.
Blaine: lower 2nd voice in sixths-------lead voice in lower octave.

The last 2 lines of this verse are another harmony again, and it is a very intruiging harmony because it stretches well over the octave! Here’s the diagram:



Just looking at the diagram you already know that their voices are far apart in this harmony. The words of ”May your days be merry and…” are sung with the 2 voices being a whole octave plus a third apart. One interval is even an octave plus a fifth: 1½ octave! For a male duet that is quite unusual.
And just look at the lovely little run Chris sings on the word ”…bright”.
Although I read a lot on the boards about Chris having to sing very high for this harmony, it is actually Darren who has to go really, really low in his vocal range to get these big intervals. He sings a solid A2 in this verse, and to my knowledge that is his lowest note so far in Glee. Well done! neutre

On the diagram I posted above I also draw the last 2 words of the verse. Most of that line (”And may all your Christmases…”) was sung in unisono in octave by the boys, Kurt of course singing one octave higher than Blaine. But the ”…be-e-e white” is a little harmony again, that ends in a satisfying major third. Again Chris sings a little yodel at the very beginning of this little harmony: emphasizing his switch instead of hiding it.

The last harmony :

"I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Dom-bi-dom-dom-dom, Dom-bi-dom-dom."

This is the only part in the song where the arrangement does not follow the Drifters version. Instead of singing a snipbit of the Christmas song ‘Jingle Bells’ as ending, Glee uses the ending of the Buble/Twain version, although with an added harmony. Another ‘proof’ that RIB indeed used that version as inspiration.
The last harmony is again a simple harmony, starting in fourths and ending in thirds. After all the large intervals in ‘White Christmas’ this harmony is closer together. Note that they are both singing in low register, as this is possible because of the melodies being around the same notes in their low register vocal ranges.
The ”Dom-bi-dom-dom-dom, Dom-bi-dom-dom” is a harmony of only thirds, Kurt singing a slightly higher (in comparison with the rest of the song) 2nd voice, and Blaine singing lead.


”Sing it high! Sing it low! “ :
On top of the controversy of whether Kurt was singing the girl part of a Klaine duet again (which might colour the perspective on this arrangement) there was also the big, big difference in height of the notes on which Kurt and Blaine were singing in ‘White Christmas’ that some fans had to get used to at first. And it is indeed, especially when you are not familiar with this version of WC, a bit of a shock when Kurt starts singing his solo verse right after Blaine’s lower verses. Even in the harmonies there is still this large gap between them in notes, sometimes even more than an octave. ohmy

Besides there obviously being an actual big gap harmony wise between the 2 singers, this ‘gap’ appears to be very big also because of Chris and Darren’s voices sounding so far apart timbre wise. This can mostly be explained by the fact that the lower male part in (the Drifters’) ‘White Christmas’ is meant to be sung by a baritone. Darren is not a baritone, so he has to go very deep in his vocal range to get the lower notes. And I like to go on record here that I think he does a very fine job with this in ‘White Christmas’. He has gained some depth and strengthened his lower notes over the past years, and it certainly shows in WC.
But I’m afraid I must bring back up again that one of the pitfalls for Klaine duetting together always has been that Darren’s voice sometimes lacks to support Chris higher voice, which might add to this feeling of imbalance or gap in ‘White Christmas’. A real baritone matches better singing with a high tenor or countertenor like Chris (listen to the little Furt duet parts in the Journey Regionals songs). Although as said: Darren really improved his lower notes. But this song tested the Klaine harmony skills to the limit, and it is a compliment to Darren when I say that it could have been a disaster, and it really wasn’t. Darren provided a very decent underlayer for Chris’ higher notes in ‘White Christmas’. hapitgh

In contrast to Darren’ low notes at the border of his lower vocal range, Chris sings a high semi countertenor part. I wrote “semi” because it isn’t as high as some may perceive. His highest note is one D5 (and some C5’s), and he has sung many F5/F5sharp notes, even a G5 before in the show. Surprisingly he sings most of ‘White Christmas’ in his low register. Just look:
(low register = bolded, yodels are underscored)

3)
I-i-i-i'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know.
Where the tree tops glisten
, and children listen,
To hear sleigh bells in the snow.


4)
I-i-i-i'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write.
May your days, may your days, may your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be white.

(…White Christmas…)

5)
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
With every Christmas card I write. (Yeah, yeah, yeah.)

May your days be merry and bright,
And may all your Christmases be-e-e white.

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas,
Dom-bi-dom-dom-dom, Dom-bi-dom-dom.


As you can see Chris was singing mostly in his low register and not that extraordinary high even when singing in high register, but in comparison to Darren’s unexpected low voice (and possible also the shock of not knowing the 3rd verse started so high in the arrangement) it may seem that way, and their voices are definitely a long way apart from each other in timbre for the most part in this song.
And this ties directly into how some people found Chris shrill sounding on ‘White Christmas’, because they suspected that this song needed massive studio tweeking to get a decent sound of Chris and Darren’s very different timbres (high/low) together, or because WC was simply too high for Chris. Well, I think they’re wrong.
First of all: listening to this song with good earphones or stereoboxes, and/or downloading the good quality version from iTunes might help improve the sound a lot: the youtube videos often don’t have the best sound quality, and that can deform high (and low) notes.

There is certainly some studio editing/tweeking in ‘White Christmas’ (they really are addicted to that on Glee), but it is not excessive, and it wasn’t needed to make either Chris’ voice sound better in the high notes, nor to make Darren sound better in the low notes (and I personally think they went a little overboard with the tweeking in his “ba-dum”’s in BSDO, as they hardly sound like him). Nor was the tweeking necessary to ‘bend’ these 2 very separate voices/timbres more to one another so the song would sound more homogeneous. Both singers did more than fine with the material and arrangement handed to them.
And as said before: Chris didn’t have to sing so very high in his falsetto, it stayed well within his comfort zone, he didn’t even have to reach for them and his notes are clear and effortless. What he did do is add some playful yodels, which can be mistaken for him ‘stumbling’ or not reaching the notes freely, but those were deliberate choices of him, and I detected no strain or flaws in his singing whatsoever, certainly no shrillness.
It is mostly the unusual arrangement that took people by surprise, but from what I read on the boards most of them got used to it fast and then liked the song.

While I’m at it, I might as well address another rumour/opinion that I have read several times on the boards and tumblr: Chris allegedly losing his highest notes due to his growth spurt over the past few years.
Not true. No
Take it from me as a vocal coach: Chris’ voice is still as bright and clear as it ever was. No, scratch that: it’s actually clearer and brighter than it was before, because over the Glee years Chris has learned to support his voice with his breathing and abdomen muscles, so he can relax his highest notes better, and therefore there is hardly any strain in his falsetto anymore, hence the vibrato and broadness in them. Him getting that growth spurt that late in his adolescense did not make his voice drop significantly and Chris certainly did not lose the higher notes because of it.
By the time the growth spurt happened Chris was already used to training his voice and I’m sure he and his voice coach made sure he kept stretching his vocal range so he wouldn’t lose any of those highest notes. He may have gained some low notes though. It is maybe interesting to know that often in vocal training gaining more depth in the low notes also simultaneously causes a gain in the highest notes, when they are trained (to maybe a lesser degree) at the same time. It all has to do with control and relaxation: both ends of the vocal range require control and relaxation, so training those skills for either the low or high notes will have some positive effect on the other side too, as long as that other side does not get neglected in daily practice.

What is noticeable from that late growth spurt of Chris in his voice is that he got a slightly darker timbre, a more mature sound. Chris’ falsetto was endearingly innocent and clearly high-pitched when he sang his first ‘girl’ songs on Glee, but he was no match to the trained female singers (that was part of the charm, I guess). Over the years Chris learned to have more control and strength in his voice, and like Kurt, he grew into this confident young man who makes no compromises and knows that this voice he’s got is special. He flaunted it right in Carmen’s face with his high G5 in ‘Not The Boy Next Door’ and he tested it to its limits in ‘I Have Nothing’. hapitgh
His voice now has what is called ‘iron’ in it (at least that is a vocal technical term used in dutch, I don’t know how it’s called in english): it has gained a strong, ‘bundled’/focused piercing sound (if you may call it that, but piercing in a good way) that is a far cry from his more crystalline ‘girl-like’ enchanting ‘Defying Gravity’ falsetto notes.
And that is a good thing, although it might not be what people are used to hearing on a daily basis, as his timbre cannot be mistaken for a girl anymore (a girl’s voice being in the ‘normal’ listening comfort zone) an is more masculine than a high male voice might be expected. His voice has matured as Chris has. As much as we can’t deny that Chris has turned from a ‘milkmaid’ into a gorgeous man, there’s no denying that his falsetto has turned into a grown man’s voice/timbre, even in his highest notes.
So no loss of notes, just gain of timbre and maturity. fanny2


Final remark(s) :
If this thread has taught me (and hopefully its readers) anything it is how incredible wide Chris’s vocal range is, and how versatile he can be used in the songs of Glee. Last episode’s ‘Being Alive’ had me marveling because of the depth and mature sound in his tenor voice, and just this week on another thread I voted for ‘I Have Nothing’ as my favorite Kurt solo because of the haunting beauty of his countertenor voice, and yes: I love the high notes in that song. These 2 songs are set far apart in Chris’ vocal spectrum, but I love them both, as he handled them both with skill, heart and devotion. wub
And the same applies for ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. Although at first glance these 2 latest Christmas songs were set in the higher part of Chris’ voice: after analyzing them, to my surprise they were mostly placed in the middle part of his voice, and that’s where his colfertenor reigns.
Chris has this uncanny intuition to know precisely which voice he should use for which song or song style. Strictly low register or high register, mixed voice ‘colored’ high or low, switching registers on low notes or using breakpoints on high notes, vibrato or no vibrato, rough or velvety, clear or hazy: he has many variations at his disposal and he uses them all.
Often the style or height of a song points him firmly in the right direction with that, but he sometimes goes against the obvious choice and makes subtle voice choices to get a certain effect, and so far he’s been right as it always added something to the song. Like his choice to let his falsetto ‘loose’ on the long vibrato notes in ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’, and his little yodels in ‘White Christmas’. And choosing to constantly switch registers in both songs (aka his colfertenor), when the notes in/range of the songs gave him enough leeway to opt for singing mostly in his tenor or countertenor voice.
This intuition and ability to adapt his voice and timbre is maybe one of the most enchanting aspects of why I (and many others) love his singing so much. wub


As for Klaine in general and their Klistmas duets in particular:
I’m not a fan of Darren’s voice as I think he is limited (although very enjoyable in certain genres), but when praise is due I give it to him. Darren did great on ‘White Christmas’. His lack of vibrato was very noticeable in HYAMLC, but he can’t control on which songs he gets to sing and whether they suit him or not.
Why am I saying this?
I think that after 3 Klaine Christmas duets, and their few lines together in ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ and HYAMLC as added bonuses, it’s time to move on. Klaine singing together has its problems as much as it has its charms. Their songs together have to be arranged in a specific, limiting way to make them work, and often that results in Kurt having to hold back his vibrato, backing up Blaine and/or dialing Kurt’s voice back in the soundmix, and I simply want more for Kurt’s voice: other singers to harmonize with, and maybe a different (leading) role for him in those harmonies.

Chris has had very few duet partners on the show, and I know there are other singers on Glee he would sound better with than Darren (no offense to Darren, because the same is true for Darren when it comes to other duet partners for him).
Chris of course sounds amazing with Lea and I’m baffled that the last Hummelberry duet was 1½ season ago. I’m still very impatiently waiting for a Furt duet, as I know Chris and Cory would sound great together. A new love interest could also provide a new duet opportunity for Kurt, but there are so many other duetting possibilities that never really got explored with the old characters, like Santana and Puck. The little snipbits we heard of Kurt singing with Artie, Tina and Quinn, his duet with Mercedes….. there was so much potential lost. :(
RIB should look beyond deciding Glee’s duet partners depending on their romantic relationships, as imo it seriously holds back the music quality in the show (and it’s boring). As Kurt is also that gay kid who’s romantic endeavours are very limited on a Fox show, and in the narrative for a long time was too toxic and not ‘bro’ enough to sing with another guy plus too much of a lady to sing a leading man duet with a girl, his duetting opportunities have been very, very few and far inbetween. And I want this to change, dammit!
At the moment Kurt is in New York with only Rachel to sing with (and they hardly ever do!). I want Glee to explore everything that NYADA has to offer storywise and singingwise for Kurt. Give him new friendships in which being an effeminate gay is not an issue; and remember that he has a step-brother and some old friends who would love to bunk at the Hummelberry loft for a weekend on the town with an inevitable visit to karaoke-bar Callbacks. And let them sing together!

********************************************************



Last edited by Glorfindel on 1/23/2013, 9:59 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  ColferGirl on 1/4/2013, 2:53 am

Thank you for another beautiful review Marie. wub wub I always wish I had something intelligent to say or interesting to ask, but usually I can only bask in the delight of learning more about Chris's voice and understanding these songs more intimately. I appreciate your reviews so so much. After every one, I come to love Chris's singing voice and his songs even more. wub

I'm really glad you cleared up whether Chris could "lose" his higher notes. I'd heard that comment in other forums too, and wasn't sure if that was even possible. I'm happy to know straight from you that he's singing better than ever, in all parts of his vocal range. hapitgh

As for the final remarks...hopefully, we'll start to see Chris singing with more people.
Spoiler:
Santana is likely coming to New York soon, so there's a possibility she'll get to interact and sing with Kurt sometime. Same with Finn, if he ever comes to NY, which I'm sure he will someday. And of course, there's lots of hope for Kurt and Adam to sing together - I'm anxious to know what kind of singer Adam is, and if he'd be a good musical match for Kurt. I'd love if he was and we got a duet with them together. Considering how much RIB love romantic couple duets, and that all new couples this season have gotten at least one duet (Bram, Brochel, Jarley), the chance is high. And hopefully we'll get more Hummelberry songs too, of course. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about it. Smile
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  arina on 1/4/2013, 3:24 am

Great review Marie as always! I cannot wait for the Being Alive one, but no pressure Smile

I am extremely sad about so few duets partners as well. Especially with this extreme big cast. No existing Furt duet probably bothers me the most.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Delight on 1/9/2013, 1:14 am

Thank you, Glorfindel, for your lovely and insightful song review neutre . Like ColferGirl, I also don't have anything interesting to say or ask. Furthermore, the Klaine aspects of these two songs make me kinda not want to think about them too deeply. It's weird and petty of me, I know, but I can't help it. In my opinion, Klaine hadn't had a good duet since BICO, and I really want to hear Kurt sing with other partners.

I admit that I'm one of the people who was taken aback by how high-pitched Kurt's part is in 'White Christmas' and was wondering whether Anders had butchered the song to make a duet out of a song that isn't a duet to begin with. It's only later that I heard the Michael Buble and Shania Twain version, and realized what it was meant to sound like and thought, 'Whoa, Kurt sounds better in his part than Shania Twain did in hers'.
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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  MoviesAreLife on 1/28/2013, 2:18 pm

*sits patiently and munches on Buncha Crunch (because I hate popcorn) while waiting for the "Being Alive" review* mrgreen

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 1/28/2013, 6:33 pm

^Patience is a virtue, you know. fanny2


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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  MoviesAreLife on 1/28/2013, 7:31 pm

That's what my ex used to always say to me! Laughing

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 1/28/2013, 7:35 pm

^Oops. moque

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  MoviesAreLife on 1/28/2013, 7:39 pm

I don't know why! I am the most patient person I know! whis

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 1/28/2013, 8:04 pm

^Sure.




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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  MoviesAreLife on 1/28/2013, 8:16 pm

tonguue

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  fantastica on 1/28/2013, 8:20 pm

i have no patience. i want rush to Marie's home and ransack her studio.

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Re: Kurt's Singing Voice

Post  Glorfindel on 1/28/2013, 8:27 pm

^Oh my, I better hurry up then. fanny2

Wednesday is my day off. I've promised myself to lock myself up in my studio and work on it then.


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