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Hi all,

look this maybe a stupid question but does anyone here know Neils vocal range?.

clearly its very large (octave and a half?, more perhaps?) and I dont really know all the terminology that is used when discussing voices but I am very interested to know.

I guess where I am coming from is is he just a one in a million freak with that kind of range or is his voice considered not too off the planet? (did that make any sense??)
Original Post
i'm not entirely sure off hand, although i think it's probably more than you think.

i play in an occasional crowded house tribute band and can sing most of the stuff. the only one that gives me any trouble is when you come, which is obviously outside neil's own natural range. i'm trying to work out the technique he uses to push his voice higher on the chorus bit, but to no avail.

jimbob
...still trying...
Yay Jim!

I know Neil's range isn't extraordinary, because I could cover both him and his brother Tim's range quite well (I was in the Australian Children's Choir) while singing his tunes a capella, as I do quite often.

No, I'm not in a covers band, but as a child I was classically trained in vocals (ACC and other choirs), so while Neil's range is good, I (or anyone more qualified) would probably not put it in the extraordinary range.

Then again, I couldn't put it in octaves for you... it's been far too long since I've had to think in that sort of range.... my apologies Smiler
I don't know either exactly what his range is but I think its a bit of a misleading one.

On the face of it, the high notes he hits are probably about average for a male pop singer - certainly nothing out of this world - but I think when you take into consideration how low he can go its quite impressive.

The dynamics of a lot of his songs make them difficult to sing as he'll go from pretty low notes (usually in the verses) to a high chorus - ie. When You Come, Distant Sun, Don't Dream It's Over, etc.
i think in all honesty that what makes neil an exceptional singer is his honesty, emotion and the love that he obviously puts into his songs. songs like better be home soon, distant sun, fingers of love, there goes god, she goes on and love this life are prime examples of this.

as a technical singer, i don't think he'd rank all that high, but he's a vocalist; someone who has a voice filled with character and originality. he's one of the very few singers who can bring a tear to my eye just from his tone or melody, and that's before i've even listened to the words properly.

to put it simply, he's great. so there...

jimbob
I disagree with you Mona, re. the high notes (nothing personal, Catgirl). I think that Neil most often hits them (sure, we've heard the odd clinker, but it's rare). I would think his comfortable range would be about 2 1/2 octaves, maybe more, hard to say. Jim Bob has pretty much summed up how I feel about Neil's voice (thanks, Dude). Smiler
Hi all,

I'm new at this so be gentle. I had to comment on Neil's vocal range because for years I've been in bands playing Neil's and Tim's songs (still do!) and I have sung 'When You Come' with success. So my range is about up to B above middle C for the highest and can easily hit every note Neil sings. Haven't tried Kill Eye in earnest yet, but don't think it will be a problem. Neil and Tim's voices have suffered over the years (ie lost range) due to smoking mainly I believe. There are notes that Neil could hit before that he nowmust resort to falsetto to hit. I can hit them in my normal range. But having said that, I don't have the beautiful tonal qualities that the Finns do. The voices are very distinctive and draw you in each time.
This is why I love this board... calm, rational discussions and dialogue about music that impacts us all (why else would we be here, right?). The differing opinions remind me of how biased my own views are, and let me see all sorts of perspectives.

Thanks guys... just had to say that today. Smiler

[i]**hands her soapbox to the next person**[/]i]
Let's see... Billie Holiday, vocal range of less than one octave, but her songs could break your heart. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion... All have vocal ranges of 4 to 5 octaves, but so what? Who cares how many runs one can do when one is singing fluff?

To me, and I will disagree with you Mona respectfully, never have I heard Neil sound like a cat in distress. Neil has a good voice, a distinctive voice that can not be mistaken for anyone else, maybe not technically as good as, say, Jon Anderson or Jason Mraz, but it is the quality of the material and the depth of emotion...
quote:
Originally posted by suenotsusan:
[qb] Who cares how many runs one can do when one is singing fluff? [/qb]
Yes, I couldn't agree more! All these little girls are with pushy mothers are growing up singing that way too, and they have no soul, they don't feel the music at all - what a joke! Roll Eyes
That's why I love singers like Neil Young and Willie Nelson. They're voices ain't purty, but they have soul...

I love Neils voice, I think it's beautiful. Especially live...singing right in front of me! Wink
quote:
Originally posted by suenotsusan:
[qb] Let's see... Billie Holiday, vocal range of less than one octave, but her songs could break your heart. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion... All have vocal ranges of 4 to 5 octaves, but so what? [/qb]
Gosh, I so wanted to keep out of this, but I just have to respectfully clear up a little misconception here. People do not have vocal ranges of 4 to 5 octaves individually. That range would cover the entire human vocal range - from the bottom notes of a bass baritone's range to the top notes of a soprano's range. About 2 octaves is average in good singers, believe it or not. That can be built on sometimes, and a few notes can be added on if your voice has the scope. It is rare and pretty much unheard of to see as much as 3 whole octaves in one person's range at any one time.

Vocal colour can give the impression of a broader range. It is possible to sing a note a few different ways, and depending on how you choose to 'colour' it (bit more oomph, bit less oomph, breathy, focused, growly, light, strong) the exact same note can give the impression of sounding higher or lower than it really is.

But as you say, Mariah, Whitney, Celine...who cares!!! Give me a one octave wonder who can tell me a good story any day!
I have to agree with Awamatu here. Check out the 7 Worlds Collide DVD and the track Last To Know. The bit where Neil sings the high bit "who I wonder could fail to notice, the acheing silemce, COME DOWN" he compeletley misses the high note - awfully and totally. How it made the DVD I don't know? Confused

BUT:

Neil is hit and miss with high notes (he has good days and bad days - not the most consistent). I saw on TV Neil in Cold Live At The Chapel and he was like an OPERA singer there.

Generally I believe Neil's voice solo is better than in his hectic CH days. NOTE: I haven't listened to all of the many (30+?) fan club CDs so my judgement maybe a bit stewed. This just a presumption.
What with CH touring endlessly and Neil being more relaxed and selective as a solo artist, there was less strain on his voice as a solo artist rather than in the busy CH days.

Basically I have found Neil hitting the high notes more often as a solo artist than in CH. But who's I to say this - I don't have all the fan club CDs.

But IMHO Neil Finn has one of the best sounding voices in all of music history. His tone, flavour and his vocal phrasing and it's subliminal nuances it are astonishing, to say the least.
I think Neil's voice has changed a lot over the years - in the Split Enz days he seemed to hit the high notes effortlessly, ie The Devil You Know but didn't sound as comfortable with the low notes on that song. Nowadays its the opposite.

But like many have said here, its not his range but the character and soul in his voice that draws you in. I love singers like Neil Young, John Lennon, Bono, etc where they are more concerned with getting the song across than showing off their vocal prowess.

Having said that, its funny how you tend to be not so accepting of the imperfections when its your own voice! Roll Eyes I have a limited range myself and its a constant source of frustration despite people telling me I can still get a song across...
quote:
[qb]Originally posted by HairyCanary:
Gosh, I so wanted to keep out of this, but I just have to respectfully clear up a little misconception here. People do not have vocal ranges of 4 to 5 octaves individually. That range would cover the entire human vocal range - from the bottom notes of a bass baritone's range to the top notes of a soprano's range. About 2 octaves is average in good singers, believe it or not. That can be built on sometimes, and a few notes can be added on if your voice has the scope. It is rare and pretty much unheard of to see as much as 3 whole octaves in one person's range at any one time.

Vocal colour can give the impression of a broader range. It is possible to sing a note a few different ways, and depending on how you choose to 'colour' it (bit more oomph, bit less oomph, breathy, focused, growly, light, strong) the exact same note can give the impression of sounding higher or lower than it really is.

But as you say, Mariah, Whitney, Celine...who cares!!! Give me a one octave wonder who can tell me a good story any day! [/qb]
OK it must be a very common misperception, because I was able to easily come up with a ton of cites on the web where it is touted that these women, among others such as Yma Sumac (Amy Camus), have 4-5 octave ranges... where 6-7 would be extraordinary. Not that I would know.
quote:
Originally posted by suenotsusan:
OK it must be a very common misperception, because I was able to easily come up with a ton of cites on the web where it is touted that these women, among others such as Yma Sumac (Amy Camus), have 4-5 octave ranges... where 6-7 would be extraordinary. Not that I would know.
Look, I wasn't making out that you were dumb or anything. Smiler

Well, granted. The likes of the wonderfully crazy Yma Sumac, Mado Robin and a couple of others down the decades did have ranges of around 5 octaves, but they were freaks. That is not common. And there are physical reasons for that, too. The point I was making is that 2- 2/12 ish octaves is common. 3 octaves is amazing. What I said about 5 octaves covering the whole human vocal range is not me flinging about my opinion - it's the truth!

Despite the fact that the girlie pop divas you mentioned can ping out some strong high notes that can bother dogs at a distance (and more power to 'em for it), I have trouble believing that the voice stretches all the way down in the opposite direction as well. For 5 octaves yet! A spread of a mere 4 octaves would mean they'd be able to sing Old Man River like Paul Robeson and the Queen of the Night Aria like Felicity Lott. (Come to think of it, I'd camp out like a Star Wars geek for that one!) Now, that's just silly. Truly, I don't say this with condecention (and I'm sorry if that's the impression you had; that was never my intention), but simply from what I know to be true (and you had me second guessing myself and checking with my colleagues!). Don't believe everything you read on the web.

Not that I would know either.
quote:
Originally posted by HairyCanary:
Vocal colour can give the impression of a broader range. It is possible to sing a note a few different ways, and depending on how you choose to 'colour' it (bit more oomph, bit less oomph, breathy, focused, growly, light, strong) the exact same note can give the impression of sounding higher or lower than it really is.
[/QB]
Please tell me more HC! As an amateur singer, I've noticed this myself but mainly by accident and not in anyway I can control. What tips can you suggest? Thanks, John
Personally, i would rather listen to a vocalist of limited technical singing ability but loads of character and expression than a perfectly trained voice, void of any individuality or character. And it bothers me when people suggest that you have to sing a certain way to be singing well. This is how i see it. Somebody invented the piano, the drums, the guitar, etc, so somebody can say there is a proper way to play them. Nobody invented the human voice, so who has the right to say what is the right way to sing? I think Neil's voice exudes emotion and character, and that is just how i like it.
Neil has a great vocal range. Smiler I know a bit about music and such, and listen to the notes he hits. Clearly he can go really high, and sings low too. I believe he has a 2 octave range, around that area. Like in DDIO, he hits a high Bb in the chorus on dream and world, which is a miracle for tenors...haha. Ab is hard to hit, and most tenors can't get past a G or higher. So he can hit higher than others. So if Bb is around his high note, then he can definitely hit two octaves below. He does get low, and I believe he can hit the Bb 2 octaves lower, and does sing low like in Four Seasons In One Day. Like someone mentioned too, he can hit low and high in the same song, such as Distant Sun. But even better is his voice is very pretty, and full. So to me, he has it all in vocal range. Haven't heard many singers with a clear beautiful and full voice and a wide range. But from what I've heard, he has a pretty wide range, more than a lot of other singers. I wished I could nail a Bb or A...haha. On a good day I'm happy to hit an F, and G is just miracle for me lol. But I believe his range is around 2 octaves, with middle C just above the middle of his range. That's just my opinion and what I've noticed, but that seems around right. I haven't measured how low he can go, but he sure can hit high notes. And if ur meaning in one song alone what his range is, then it's still good. In DDIO he hits a low G in the verses and nails the high Bb in the chorus, so that's about 1 and a half octave range.
Found this link thanks to Marcus Corander when I was asking in the Finn Brothers forum about the brothers singing harmonies together and where their individual voices lie.

I just want to say to Hairy Canary that I *really* appreciate the bit of sense you brought to the thread. I really, really, (did I say "really"?) hate the idea that the singers like Mariah Carey have these huge voices. Maybe they *do* have 3 octave ranges, but 5? No way!

As a comparison, I am a mezzo-soprano (color term more than range term) and I can sing well from F# below middle C to Bb nearly 2 octaves above middle C. [That makes my working and reliable range 2 octaves and a 4th.] I can sing notes on both sides of that, but they don't sound good. However, with more practice and training, I could probably push that. It's like any athlete doing practice with something.

On men's voices I'm not surprised that Neil could do high notes easily as a younger man and that his bottom end (sonically speaking) is filling out. Men's voices don't mature at the same rate as female voices. A man doesn't really get to his mature sound until about 28 years old. In general for all humanity, the lower the voice the longer the process to become mature.

So as I was asking in the Finn Brothers forum (can case some of you are more likely to read here than there), when Neil and Tim sing harmony together, isn't Tim the one that's more often than not on the high harmony?

Thanks much.
quote:
Originally posted by aikakone:
[qb] So as I was asking in the Finn Brothers forum (can case some of you are more likely to read here than there), when Neil and Tim sing harmony together, isn't Tim the one that's more often than not on the high harmony?

Thanks much. [/qb]
Absolutely! :-) They even say that in the books written about them..."Tim took the high part, Neil the low..." Might have been from the Mike Chunn book.

I've always thought that *technically* Tim was the better singer but that Neil was the more heartfelt, if that makes sense....and I've always appreciated Neil's turn of a phrase from a songwriting point of view.

Other singers that I like that happen to sound like Neil are Michael Penn & Matthew Sweet and of course John Lennon, who musically has more than a few parallels to Neil. Other people that come to mind that aren't technically "great" singers but whose songs and work I love are Pete Yorn, Stephen Duffy, and Marty Willson-Piper.
IMHO, when it comes right down to it...who really cares what Neil's vocal range is...he sounds GREAT!

I love his voice. It changes though, doesnt it? I mean, it's slightly different from his earlier stuff (i.e. Mean to Me) and his later stuff (i.e. Distant Sun), or is it jsut the contrast from the rock to the pop-rock?

Tim's got a good voice to, but (again) IMHO, it doesnt come anywhere NEAR Neil's
quote:
Originally posted by aikakone:
[qb] I just want to say to Hairy Canary that I *really* appreciate the bit of sense you brought to the thread. I really, really, (did I say "really"?) hate the idea that the singers like Mariah Carey have these huge voices. Maybe they *do* have 3 octave ranges, but 5? No way! [/qb]
Heavens! I can't believe someone has resurrected this old thing. Thanks, aikakone. I felt like such a stirrer in the end! I also wanted to add that if it were true, these women would have larynxes the size of coconuts.

(Funny, you and I also have the same range pretty much. I can get down to an F, but I dare say you can hit that Bb easier than me. I've even been known to hit top Es once or twice, but God knows I'd never try it in polite society! In fact, I'm sure I'll never manage it again Wink )
Hey, cool discussion!

I'll try to step in with a thought my choral director has about 'range': his theory is that it's not just about how many notes you hit, but what the tone of voice is when you hit them. With tenors especially, you have the vocal range, but then you have falsetto, and even then there are notes that simply don't sound good even in falsetto. Women, btw, don't have falsetto but we have what's called a whistle (which means at the very top of our ability the tone comes out as a whistling noise rather than actual singing). The whistle range for sopranos is much higher than for altos (meaning altos hit the whistle at a lower point).

But I digress. Basically, we should look at Neil's 'range' in terms of how good he sounds when he sings them.

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