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 Post subject: Elvis' Voice
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:54 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:40 am
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:D So often I read in other boards comments of members who criticize everything that Elvis did - even his singing; pretending they are able so because they "understand" a lot of singing and about voices......
Let's take a look at the opinion of professional music connoisseurs and how they really judge about Elvis' voice - as interpreter and vocalist, both in the studio and on the stage: comments and song examples on the singer's octave range, vocal color, register, extension, center of gravity and phraseology.

“What Elvis does with his voice depends on what he is singing. He has always been able to duplicate the open, hoarse, ecstatic, screaming, shouting, wailing, reckless sound of the black rhythm-and-blues singers. But he has not been confined to that one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high Gs and As that an opera baritone might envy. While he has not learned to sing comfortably and predictably in the ‘passage’, he learned early how to focus his voice when he got above it. For those who have any doubt about this, I suggest that they listen to the 1960 recording of It’s Now or Never, where he ends on a full-voiced cadence A-G-F, that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of rhythm-and-blues or country. That A is hit right on the nose. It is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B flats.
Elvis Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion. The voice covers two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle, D- flat to D-flat. Call him a high baritone. In "It's now or never", (1960), he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of Rhythm and Blues and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats. Moreover, he has not been confined to one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs he belts out full-voiced high G's and A's that an opera baritone might envy. He is a naturally assimilative stylist with a multiplicity of voices - in fact, Elvis' voice is an extraordinary voice, or many voices.-".
- Henry Pleasants, Music Historian – and critic in his book "The Great American Popular Singers".

"...I suppose you'd had to call him a lyric baritone, although with exceptional high notes and unexpectedly rich low ones. But what is more important about Elvis Presley is not his vocal range, nor how high, or low it extends, but where its center of gravity is. By that measure, Elvis was all at once a tenor, a baritone and a bass, the most unusual voice I've ever heard".
- Gregory Sanders, Music Professor at Columbia University, published in "The Village Voice".

"...he rarely over-sang when recording, delivering a vocal to suit the song. So, he can loudly accuse in '"Hound Dog"' (1956), rasp and rage for '"Jailhouse Rock"' (1957), bare his soul and beg on "Any Day Now" (1969) and sound quietly, sadly, worldly-wise on "Funny How Time Slips Away". (1970). This gift may explain why his music endures so powerfully and why his performances remain so easy to hear".
- Paul Simpson, in "The rough guide to Elvis".

„... (in his voice), Elvis Presley possessed the most beautiful musical instrument, and the genius to play that instrument perfectly. (He) could jump from octave to countless other octaves with such agility without voice crack, simultaneously sing a duet with his own overtones, rein in an always-lurking atomic explosion to so effortlessly fondle, and release, the most delicate chimes of pathos. Yet, those who haven't been open to explore some of Presley's most brilliant work - the almost esoteric ballads and semi-classical recordings -, have cheated themselves out of one of the most beautiful gifts to fall out of the sky in a lifetime".
- Mike Handley, narrator and TV/radio spokesman

"...Elvis was a (Gospel) singer par excellence. On "Milky White Way", (1960), he' got the strength of a bass man and the sweetness of a tenor. The heritage we have in Elvis' gospel music is a gift to the world".
- Paul Poulton, in "Cross Rhythms Magazine"

"...had Presley never sung a note he might have still caused a stir, but sing he did. Watershed hits such as "All Shook Up" (1957) or, for instance, '"Are You Lonesome Tonight", (1960), were eminently Presley's from the moment he put his stamp on them. His jagged, bubbly highs and Southern baritone jump from those recordings like spirits from a cauldron. Elvis crooned romantically, then screeched relentlessly, always pouring his heart into the lyric and melody. After Elvis, the male vocalist could no longer just sing a song, especially in the new world of rock-n-roll. The "feel" of a performance far out-weighed the perfection of the take".
- James Campion, "The 25 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century", published in 1996.

"...Elvis' initial hopes for a music career involved singing in a gospel male quartet. His favorite part was bass baritone, and he himself had an almost 3-octave vocal range... Yet to posterity's surprise, such a superlative and magnetic natural talent always remained humble --perhaps too humble to keep performing forever".
IMDb's review of his appearance in Frank Sinatra's 1960's "Welcome Home Party for Elvis Presley" TV special.

" ...Elvis' ¨Love me tender¨ (1956), is a timeless classic that his fans return to, time and again, when choosing their favorite love song, but why is this early recording such a favorite? It could be the simplicity of the lyric, that wonderful vocal which quivers with an understated power and beauty, or the honest, pure sentiment of a song that has touched millions. Two minutes and 40 seconds have never been used more beautifully.’’.
- An RCA/BMG spokesman commenting on the song being voted Presley's favorite song, by a poll of more than 5,000 of fans

"...but it was on the gospel numbers, such as the stunning "How great thou art", (1977) that Presley showed the awesome power of his voice. The fact that he has one of the greatest voices in popular music has been obscured by the mystique that has surrounded him...“
- Steve Millburgh, writing for the "Omaha World Herald", on one of Presley`s last concerts, on 19 June 1977.

"...with the way he was marketed, he didn't even need to be able to sing the way he could. But Elvis had talent, plain and simple. The guy had a variety in his vocal styles and approach; he could make more vocal tones, with just his voice, than a guitar player with 50 pedals and gadgets. If you never even saw the guy, you could plain feel, not just hear, the emotion and passion in his voice, and you are immediately taken in, one hundred percent. On the merit of vocals alone, he had more talent in the barbecue stuck in his teeth than the singers who sell millions of records do today".
- Country singer Roger Wallace, in "Soapbox".

"...during his rendition of "Hurt", (1976), he was in even better voice, singing in a register that gave more impact to his phrasing, and even hitting notes that could cause a mild hernia. And, after they drew a good crowd reaction, he offered them in a reprise that was tantamount to masochism...“.
- Mike Kalina, reviewing Elvis' 1976 New Year's concert for the "Pittsburgh Post Gazette", January 1, 1977.

"...we can even hazard a little analysis as to what made his voice so appealing. “That curious baritone,” one critic called it. Actually, that is inexact. The voice had mixed propensities, hovering between tenor and bass and everything in between. Even a convincing falsetto lay within his range. One thing he was not, ever, was "Steve-’n-Edie", the polished, professionally accomplished Vegas artistes who once pronounced on an afternoon interview show (Mr. Lawrence enunciating the sentiment for himself and his partner/wife, Ms. Gorme), “We don’t really think of Elvis as a singer. But he was a star.” It is only when, years later, one gets past the indignation of hearing such apparent ignorance, that the sense of the observation becomes clear.
A singer is someone like Steve Lawrence rolling effortlessly (and meaninglessly) through a shock-standard like “What Now, My Love?” More or less like doing the scales. A star is the persona in whom one invests one’s vicarious longings, a being that is constantly hazarding - and intermittently succeeding at - the impossible stretches that every soul wishes to attempt but lacks the means or the will to. It’s not a matter of virtuosity".
- Jackson Baker, in "Memphis Magazine", July 2002 issue.

"...people will often say that opera singers sound too stiff and operatic when singing contemporary music. This is because the vowels in an operatic style tend to be more open, whereas in a rock style singers tend to thin out the vowel. There is nothing wrong and everything right, in opening the vowel in the higher register so that the higher notes can be sustained. Elvis Presley was very open in his singing style even though he was "the" rock and roller.
- Brain Gilbertson, world-famous voice teacher.

„...the accompaniment is ornamented with bells, horns, and female choir, but it is Elvis' voice upon which the words depend for their dramatic effect. In a departure quite uncharacteristic of country music, there is a fierce, almost shocked indignation and passionate intensity in his voice, transforming a fairly ordinary song into a vehicle for savage social protest".
- Rolling Stone’s review of ¨Long Black Limousine", (1969), found in the "From Elvis in Memphis" album.

"...while he sings in a lower voice than ever - and what I liked about the early records was that beautifully vulnerable high voice-, he opened his Boston concert (1971) with "That's Alright Mama" (1954), singing it with enough verve to scare the unsuspecting. It was his very first record, and although it doesn't sound quite the same as when he did it 17 years ago at the Sun studios in
Memphis, I was moved by the fact that he was doing it at all. It was a tour de force of theatrics, professionalism, and, happily, music. (In fact), he sings so well, the audience hesitates to press him for more, his purpose being to please himself by pleasing them, never to please them by pleasing himself...".
- Jon Landau, for "Rolling Stone" magazine, reviewing his November 10, 1971,
concert at the Boston Garden.

„... (in Rockabilly), the vocal is another important aspect. It should be rough cut and edgy, but also sweet enough to milk the honey from a honey comb at times. Elvis could span several octaves with his voice, thus leaving almost no desires left towards the key of the song".
-"The High Noon".

"...I remember Elvis as a young man hanging around the Sun studios. Even then, I knew this kid had a tremendous talent. He was a dynamic young boy. His phraseology, his way of looking at a song, was as unique as Sinatra's. I was a tremendous fan, and had Elvis lived, there would have been no end to his inventiveness".
- B.B. King.

"...the voice is so melodious, and - of course, by accident, this glorious voice and musical sensibility was combined with this beautiful, sexual man and these very unconscious - or unselfconscious stage movements. Presley ‘registration, the breadth of his tone, listening to some of his records, you’d think you were listening to an opera singer. But…it’s an opera singer with a deep connection to the blues”
- Jerry Wexler, co-founder of Atlantic Records.

"...then, in mid 1968 he taped a television special in a black leather suit, in front of a select live audience, opening with "Guitar Man" and closing with a mild social-conscience song, "If I Can Dream". But it wasn't until Marcus Greil brought out the recording of that performance for me, almost three years later, that I realized how significant it had been. Marcus has spent as much time listening as anyone who is liable to be objective and he believes Elvis may have made the best music of his life that crucial comeback night. It's so easy to forget that Elvis was, or is, a great singer. Any account of his impact that omits that fundamental fact amounts to a dismissal".
- Robert Christgau, Dean of American Rock critics, in his 1973 book "Any old way you choose".

"...Elvis’ range was about two and a quarter octaves, as measured by musical notation, but his voice had an emotional range from tender whispers to sighs down to shouts, grunts, grumbles and sheer gruffness that could move the listener from calmness and surrender, to fear. His voice cannot be measured in octaves, but in decibels; even that misses the problem of how to measure delicate whispers that are hardly audible at all.
- Lindsay Waters in her essay "Come softly, darling, hear what I say".

"...In "Hawaiian Wedding song", (1960), Elvis takes particular advantage of his voice's strong lower middle and higher note registers, made particularly difficult because of the need to sing in cascading notes. Elvis meets the challenge on every occasion, his performance being absolutely meticulous, with not a hint of vocal strain".
- BMG's review of his album "Blue Hawaii".

"But the core of the album, and perhaps the core of Elvis’ music itself, is the soulful gospel-flavored ballads. Well, it's often seemed as if Elvis bore more than a passing resemblance to soul singer Salomon Burke. The way in which he uses his voice, his dramatic exploitation of vocal contrast, the alternate intensity and effortless nonchalance of his approach, all put one in mind of a singer who passed this way before, only going the other way. And here he uses these qualities to create music which, while undeniable country, puts him in touch more directly with the soul
singer than with traditional country music. It was his dramatic extravagance, in fact, which set him apart from the beginning, and it is to this perhaps as much as anything else -- to the very theatrics which Elvis brought to hillbilly music -- that we can trace the emergence of rock & roll".
- Noted author Peter Guralnick, reviewing the album "Elvis Country", for Rolling Stone Magazine in 1971.

“Elvis could do everything, from a quiet sensual moan and groan to a high-panic scream, and was willing to do it within the context of a three-minute song, with no inhibitions whatsoever... He was far and away the greatest purveyor of emotion in a song - and I have worked with two thousand singers.”
– Norbert Putnam, music producer

This [Heartbreak Hotel] was by origin a country song but its vocal has the shape of a typical blues shout. Nevertheless the rough tone, spontaneous irregular rhythms, and ‘dirty’ intonation that most blues singers would have used are for the most part conspicuously absent from Elvis’s performance; his tone is full, rich and well-produced, his intonation is precise, stable and ‘correct’ , the notes are sustained and held right through, and the phrasing is legato. All this is particular clear on the words ‘broken-hearted lovers’, ‘been so long on lonely street’, and ‘take a walk down lonely street’, but the lyrical spirit is important throughout. At the same time this lyrical continuity is subverted by boogification. As in boogie-woogie, the basic rhythms are triplets and, again as in boogie-woogie, the off-beat quaver is often given an unexpected accent, producing syncopation and cross-rhythm. The effect is physical, demanding movement, jerking the body into activity. Elvis, however, extends the technique. He adds extra off-beat notes not demanded by word or vocal line, often splitting up syllables or even consonants, slurring words together, disguising the verbal sense. Occasionally, when it would not really be possible to notate subdivisions of the beat, there is one ‘sustained’ note something like a rhythm vibrato (in triplet rhythm) […] Boogification is often accompanied by ‘vocal orchestration’: usually this involves deep resonant chest-tone, designed to sound erotic, but Elvis also uses simultation of physical effort and distress by means of spitting out words and gasping for breath. ”
– Richard Middleton, Professor for Popular music

“Elvis had terrific song sense. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. You couldn’t talk Elvis into doing a song. He had to feel it. He knew what would work for him. On songs that he was particularly fond of he would make a real effort, sometimes he’d do 40 takes. His reaction to the songs was always the same. If he liked it he’d say: ‘Put it aside, I like it’. He would not go mad over things. […] If Elvis didn’t like a song he’d play about eight bars and then he would take it off…and say ‘It’s not for me’. ”
Freddy Bienstock, Music Publisher

“I’m telling you as a songwriter, he was the best singer for my money that ever sang popular songs. He could sing every kind of song. He made so many mediocre songs sound great. He could bring an extra dimension to any kind of song. The minute you heard him sing, you knew it was him, man. And usually that’s only true of guys that write their own material. […] It seemed like Presley understood the songs I wrote better than I did, and that’s especially true for ‘Little Sister’ and ‘His Latest Flame’. When you wrote for Elvis Presley you knew you were gonna get a performance plus. He was one of those few people that when he recorded a song of yours he would do it the way you envisioned it and then bring something else into it.”
– Doc Pomus, Songschreiber-Duo Pomus & Shuman

..”Many singers reach their peak between the fortieth and fiftieth year. Elvis then sang better than ever. He had a greater vocal range and more expressive. As a singer he was approaching its zenith. In its 42 years Elvis has lost a little flexibility for higher notes, but made it abundantly compensated by its depth and powerness. “
– Sherrill Nielsen, Singer

“I think it would be a bad mistake if I had someone else tellin’ me what to record, or how to record it, because I work strictly on instinct and impulse. I don’t read music. My taste might be a little different because I choose songs with the public in mind. I try to visualize it as though I’m buying the record myself. Would I like it? I don’t think anybody could choose ‘em for me like I can.”
– Elvis Presley 1960

Well, so what? :mrgreen:

The biggest part of Elvis Presley was his big heart. It was full of love for everyone
 Post subject: Re: Elvis' Voice
PostPosted: Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:52 pm 
Sun Dial
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:hello: Thank You So Very Much For This Awesome Article Angel Eyes, :( but it Also Made Me So Very Sad For Elvis And So Mad :x . Because of when Ever You Say if Some One asks You Who is Your Favorite Singer is Elvis Presley, you Always Hear about One of the So Many Lies they have Read about Elvis. It Never even Comes to Peoples Minds what A Fantastic and Beautiful Singing Voice Elvis Had and Still Does, and He Could Sing Any Kind of Song or that even after 36 years he is still Saleing Records or CDS. :wink:

Without you I am nothing an could never be so bold. The times we've shared, the laughter and the tears. Priceless memories, treasures all. How could I ever fail? With you I don't fear that at all. Elvis Presley!
 Post subject: Re: Elvis' Voice
PostPosted: Sun Sep 01, 2013 11:28 am 
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Yes, thank you! It is "awesome" because not often does/did Elvis get praise for his efforts, not from people who "know" what good singers are and what they are capable of doing. In my opinion (of course), I don't know of any singer of our time on earth, who could out do Elvis when he put his mind to it and most of the time he did that...especially for records and on stage...those last concerts
were an example of that. He said he had to "feel a song to do it justice" and
he sure did a lot of "justice" to many, many songs! I could never quite understand why some people didn't like his voice, style or the songs he chose-my guess is they were/are tone deaf...that would explain it all. Otherwise, it's just darn jealously and totally a lack of anything but them selves... a way to
be "different" maybe? Some people are prone to be against anything and any one they can't "dominate" in some fashion and stating "dislike" and "putting them down" is their way of domination... And that is a fact.
I remember the first time I ever heard his voice...I was a young teenager,
sneaking a listen to the radio which was a forbidden thing in our house at the time, (religion taken to the level of "screwy") It was Heartbreak Hotel, and he
made me cry...I only heard a tiny bit of the song, but that voice broke my
"impounded and fenced in heart". It was a long while until I knew the name
of that singer and I thought as did many in that time, he was black due to his
vocal rendition and the soulfulness of that song. I was already told that this
Elvis guy was the "devil here to ruin the youth" by our of those
who had a "screwy" approach to God's intent, in my opinion. God, Elvis said
wants us to be free...that is why he gave us free will, and like any good Father,
he hopes and believes that his children will walk the line as much as they can;
but if they for some reason can't always, He looks the other way and gives them another chance by showing his "undying belief and trust in we, His children."
Elvis said that our Lord Jesus was our example in the flesh, so we would be able to look, listen and learn how to treat our fellow humans and how to find favor
in God' the father's eyes. It wasn't His intent that it be difficult, one must only be faithful to the effort of living and practicing the example of his Son, Jesus the Christ." Elvis was always one to make it clear... by his own example, by how he treated his fellow human beings, and how he handled the emotion and expression of a song. He wasn't perfect he'd always say, but he came very close to that as a singer... and wasn't that far off as a person, either.
That's my opinion....
Again, it's great to read the wonderful stories and the things posted that here to for, have not been seen by many eyes. All you who are on line, Facebook and etc...please keep ELC prominent for those persons who do not get the chance
to read the reports on here. The public in general, NEED to know and be able
to spread the truth!
Love to all,
wanda june

Wanda June Hill
author of "We Remember, Elvis" & "Elvis - Face to Face"
 Post subject: Re: Elvis' Voice
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 5:45 am 
Jewel in the Lotus
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THANK YOU so much, AngelEyes, for the compilation of such articles on Elvis' voice.

I would loooove to be able to find the report on the therapeutic effect his voice has on people, as given by some University. I've tried several times unsuccessfully (I guess that thread is part of the stuff we have lost in the Forum), nor I can find the report online. Maybe you remember it had to do with the Golden Ratio his voice reached at certain points in his songs and the effect it had on people's heart and health.

Wanda, you say:
He wasn't perfect he'd always say, but he came very close to that as a singer... and wasn't that far off as a person, either.
That's my opinion....

That's my hearted opinion too...! :hello:

Amanda Viola

Elvis said: "LOVE is what it's all about." :*::*: Now I know it's true.
 Post subject: Re: Elvis' Voice
PostPosted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 10:40 am
Posts: 383
@ Barb - yes, he is still the most compelling singer and it is just amazing. But quality always prevails.

@ Wanda - yes that's true that he not always get the praise for his voice or his singing as he deserve it. But most important is what and how music connoisseurs and music professors have to say about his voice or how they judge - not what all the other "experts" says. Even Mario Lanza was inmpressed by his voice - think I've posted his opinion recently.

@ Amanda Viola - sorry, I don't remember this article, but I have another study of his voice. I will post it one of the next days. May I have the article you mean or maybe I'm able to find.....


The biggest part of Elvis Presley was his big heart. It was full of love for everyone
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