Singer/songwriters and key choice

This post is for singers who also write songs.

Do you know your voice well enough to write sounds around your best sounds? Your money notes are not necessarily going to be the same as other songwriters. I can’t stress enough how important the key choice for your song is.

I had a student this week who came in with an original song in the key of E. His biggest note in the chorus was E (above middle C) with a little slur up to G# and back down. He was singing with great passion, but the E note was tight. We transposed it down to D and he sounded so much better. The problem was the guitar licks didn’t work with the song transposed. He then had to decide whether to compromise the sound of his voice or change his guitar licks.

Knowing your range, and the quality of sound you can produce on the big notes is very important. For men these big notes can be anywhere from D to G (above middle C) depending on your range and quality of your voice. For women these notes can be anywhere from A to D (above middle C).

It’s particularly important that you learn to pick songs and write songs that work well for your voice type. It shouldn’t be your goal to sing like someone else. It should be your goal to know your voice, and what it can do well. Then transpose your favourite songs into the range that best suits your voice.

What do you think? Do you sing songs in keys other than the original?