For someone with perfect pitch like I have, it can be a real irritant to have to continually change the keys of songs. That’s because I play by ear, and most times I am used to hearing a song in the regular key. I do realize that some songs are great tunes that can’t be done because certain parts of the vocals are too high. I understand that totally, but when a singer “constantly changes the keys of songs” it takes energy and and flavor out of it. For instance, a singer like Barry White would be able to sing all the high pitched songs of Earth, Wind and Fire if he adjusted the keys. However if he did so it just wouldn’t have the right feel to it. I know of several singers who change the keys of every song. While it works for them the songs feel so different when performing. Just about all vocalists lose strength in their voices at some point (especially as they get older) and many of them will need to change the keys of their songs. I can deal with that, but when there is a “drastic key change” the song no longer feels genuine to me. When Teddy Pendergrass decided to sing again 19 years after his accident there was no way he was going to have the strength to perform his songs in the original keys, so therefore they had to be adjusted. For me that meant that I had to concentrate more on playing the song correctly and I had to make sure I relied less on trusting my ear. If I play the song long enough then my ear will eventually get adjusted to the new key. Some singers feel it is very simple to “change keys at a whim.” I always say that if you can’t do the song the way it is intended then just pick another song. Even when I sing I may have difficulty singing a song in the original key, but I never like to change it. I would rather sing certain parts differently (even though I have a fairly good range in my voice). Finally, if you are going to change the key of a song, make sure you “get comfortable with the new key” before attempting to perform it. While the song may be easier to sing in a lower key, your mind needs to be able to adjust to “hearing it in that new key.” I have seen many singers struggle with that. As a musician, I do what I am hired to do. A song’s identity is important to the listener, and while most people won’t be able to tell what key the song is supposed to be in, they will be able to tell if you are singing the song with less emphasis and less energy. Be mindful of the key of the song you want to perform “before” attempting to perform it… Thank you for checking out my Daily Thought and as always I wish you the very best that life has to offer.
The Elgins (“Heaven must have sent you”) and Brett Jolly