Scat singing (vocal improvisation) is easily the scariest parts of singing jazz. Here are some suggestions for putting the Bop into your Oop Bop Pa Dow!: -
Most beginning scat singers aren¹t sure what to sing, their fear manifests itself in solos with too many notes and too few identifiable jazz rhythms. Solution: start your scat solo with a short melodic/rhythmic idea from the tune being performed (it is not a sin to have a preconceived idea to start a scat solo!). By gradually changing and evolving the idea as you go, you will have an organized solo with recognizable jazz rhythms and melodic ideas... in short, instant hipness! And remember... generally, less is more!
- Listen to jazz singers you respect and imitate them note for note. My favorites? Ella Fitzgerald (Carnegie Hall 1973, Columbia PA 32557) and Jon Hendricks (Lambert, Hendricks and Bavan at Newport Œ 63, Columbia LSP-2747). - Sing along to Jamey Aebersold records/ cassettes/ CD¹s (rhythm section only). My favorite volumes are #2, 3, 6, 12, 25, 34, 40, 41, and 44.
- Every chord has its own scale. Learn these scales and be able to sing arpeggios on any chord you hear.
- Many scat singers sing in a limited vocal range but nearly every singer can sing higher than they think they can. Work to include the highest and lowest notes you can sing into your solo without straining, excessive amplitude, or facial contortions (avoid the Star Search Syndrome). Guys, work on those head tones!
- Know how to sing the Blues. B.B. King, Buddy Guy, even Elvis - these are thousands of blues recordings from which to choose.
- Be able to imitate any sound that you like in the world around you. There¹s probably a place for that sound in one of your solos... a soft breeze, a car horn, a musical instrument...
- Learn as many different kinds of songs as you can. The best scat singers quote from such diverse sources as nursery rhymes, African chant, and even operatic arias!
- Attend Phil Mattson¹s summer vocal jazz camp (phone: (515) 782 7081)
Good luck... and KEEP SWINGIN¹!
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