Do you have a CLEAR vision of what you want to be musically

Something I posted on another forum, gonna put it here also.

Do you have a really CLEAR idea or picture of what type of songwriter or artist you want to be?

This has been somewhat of a hang up for me. Its like, I dont even know EXACTLY what I want to be. I have been playing guitar forever (almost 30 years). I know who my heroes are more or less. Eddie VanHalen, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Yngwie Malmsteen etc. Hard rock guys obviously

So then I started singing in 2016. Yeah of course I was like 48 years old already so I had sung along with the radio or whatever but I started actually studying and training to sing in 2016. So now its a big question of what do I want to sound like…and can I even achieve it?? Of course its hard to hit a target when you dont EXACTLY know what the target is.

My fave singers would be guys like David Coverdale, David Lee Roth, Ray Gillen of the late 80s band Badlands (RIP), Jorn lande, Ronnie James Dio, Rob Halford, Chris Cornell etc. Again hard rock guys. Not exactly easy to sing for sure

So the few songs I have more or less “finished”. Im not THAT happy with. I mean im proud of them in that I did all the work. its all a one man show that 99% of the population cant do but its not quite like im ready to go knock down the door of a record company or even start my own youtube channel etc.

part of the problem, as I explained, is that I dont exactly know what I am going for. I know the general ballpark but of course nothing is easy and so far i havent quite gotten there yet.

Anyone else sort of fuzzy on what final overall sound to aim for??? or do you have a clear exact vision??

Thanks JonJon

Having an exact vision, and then achieving it are both very difficult propositions. As far as singing goes, you can study phrasing, work on your vibrato, enunciation, etc., but ultimately you have a specific voice. That’s not to say you can’t improve upon it, but it will always sound like you.
I think step number one on this quest is to take advantage of what is unique to you, and play to your strengths. I’m a one man band, and I sing begrudgingly, because I view myself as a guitar player first. That means on every song I do, I need to get into the mindset of getting the point across, and not getting hung up on techniques, since I don’t really have any to draw from. Trying to emulate guys like Coverdale or Dio obviously has to be done within the framework of the tools you have.

I think after making that realization, I concentrated on writing songs that I could actually sing, which means the voice will fit the theme of the song, and be in a key that I can pull off. You kind of have to learn what your final overall sound will be by working within your particular capabilities and then refining from there.

Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be on this forum if we could sing like David Coverdale, there’s only one of him, and we’d eventually get tired of Tawny Kitaen trying to beat us up anyway.


I think we can allllll do way more than what we think we can. The biggest limitation folks have is between the ears…its not the vocal cords

The only way I would know how to interpret that question is rephrasing it as “do you know what kind of business you want to be”. To me that question always supersedes the type of songwriter/musician question. When the overarching premise is I don’t want to be the broke paycheck-to-paycheck type of musician. Whatever that is = not interested. To me the musician type never mattered if it doesn’t pay the bills.

If I had to generalize about what type of musician I actually AM…well…I’m a trained and experienced freelance keyboard player experience, with additional expertise in technology, music directing, and production. I’m available for a variety of freelance jobs including corporate bands, weddings, church musician work, accompanist gigs, and session recording.

The question becomes rather irrelevant at a certain point. And after a while, your playing style morphs into an eclectic conglomerate of all of your previous musical influences. From there, you just aim for whatever your hiring party requires, and don’t accept the job if its too far outside of your skill set.

I used to believe that. Now I’m certain its not true. People have physical, mental, and genetic limitations their musical abilities just like they do their athletic abilities. Even when you diligently push yourself to your absolute limit, eating, sleeping and breathing the musical arts…and training for hours every day, some people were simply not born to excel in this field. I learned that in college after sadly watching some students labor over trying to play certain material with so little result. They all the time in the world to practice. They had the best mentoring and coaching money can buy. They just weren’t good enough.

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you are speaking from a strictly business standpoint. Im not sure that most people on these forums make a living from music. Im not looking at it from a clock punching viewpoint at all

I am framing the question more from the standpoint of something like “if I had a magic wand, would I want to sound like LedZeppelin, or Prince, or Eminem?” Just wondering if people have a clear idea or goal

Wait…that’s not the same question. A magic wand implies you can supersede your physical, mental, and genetic limitations. I responded to the previous question regarding those limits.

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But I guess I’ll answer it anyway…hypothetically speaking…

What I would do is pick someone with an abnormally high IQ and musical aptitude. Then I’d cross breed them with the personality traits of several billionaire business moguls, and use that magic wand to wrap all of that into one person, and implant that genetic code in my head. Then make myself very very very rich.

That’s what I’d do with a magic wand.

ahh, didnt see that part of the response.

in any case I mainly disagree lol. No one knows their true limitations. We can all improve until we simply run out of time or health.

Somewhere around 2015 I had played guitar for like 27 years. Obviously we’d say “well what improvement can u make at that point??? you are what you are?” Right? Wrong lol. I ran across Troy Gradys videos which are basically micro-dissecting picking mechanics and it showed me where I had a major flaw and limitation. Next thing you know (with practice) I am like 20-30% better…all from a few bits of info I was lacking

I think generally we are drawn towards things that we CAN reach. I probably cant be an NBA center or a horse jockey…but im not drawn to those things

I probably cant sing like Whitney Houston AND Vitas AND Pavarotti…because they are somewhat mutually exclusive. But Coverdale??? Yeah, thats doable and its vaguely in the same vein as Dio, Jorn Lande etc. I dont feel its impossible at all

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I agree, with the help of being able to sing something a bunch of times to get it right with no time limit, you can patch something together that is a lot better than singing it all at once. I also think attitude and emotion in the performance goes a long way towards making up for shortcomings. Listeners can hear whether you’re faking or if you own it, and lots of great vocal performances are made with the voice equivalent of a kazoo.

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oh yeah, huge difference between a live concert and a studio recording

doing a gig and singing with the skill and power and STAMINA of a Coverdale or even McCartney etc is a whole different ball game. That sort of IS the equal of being a pro athlete. Youd have to start young and find your gift pretty quickly and then get lucky to build it up strong without blowing it out etc

Im not even dreaming of that type of thing lol. Im talking about taking one’s time and putting together a pro sounding recording. Even at that I feel some vision is required

Shoot, part of the problem is that average folks have no clue or hope of actually getting their music heard. So in essence they (we/I) DONT have that vision that pulls them forward

and btw im not talking about studio trickery bs/autotune/pitch shifting either lol. if I cant play it or sing it then it doesnt get done lol

??? The muscular anatomy, size of our hands, and natural dexterity eventually caps. It DOES reach a peak, because our bodies reach a peak. At the high school level, sure…you can stick an oversized kid with superb ball handling skills, place him on point guard, and laugh hysterically as he steamrolls some little 5’1 kid who has barely hit puberty. Like the NBA vs street ball, the differences are not as distinct at the amateur level. But they start to matter at the pro level.

Here’s what this means in music. Some people do not have the physical ability to play advanced works by Ravel and Liszt. No matter how much they practice, and how many years they attempt to play that single piece, their hand size, their muscle structure, and their agility is just not capable of it. Nor can it be increased to the point it can. This makes it downright impossible for certain people to execute the finger movements necessary to play certain pieces.

On a musical level, people have mental drawbacks too. Some people do not have the mental ability to visualize complex polyphonic structures necessary to write and arrange certain types of music. Others lack the intuition to compile it. Again, this is a skill you are born with or you are not. It can’t be taught or learned. Only developed and refined when its already evident.

Rhythm is another. Someone born with poor natural rhythm can compensate for it, but they will NEVER achieve the fluidity of a natural born drummer.

A good number of musicians have perfect pitch and audio graphic memories. I have neither. But it allows pianists and lead violinists who must always play music from memory, to retain enormous repertoire. I don’t know if I would agree that can be taught.

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Hi I always thought I might get good enough to hear one of my songs on the radio. I told my kids and grandkids that I would now be satisfied I they would play a few at my funeral. With all that heat now gone trying to succeed, I enjoy making songs much more. Kinda feel like the guy who walks into a house of ill repute…only there to please yourself. ha ha That was nasty. I blame the influence of CPF




Thats great. I totally get it. I wasn’t asserting that you had hit your peak :wink: I was merely assert that it is possible for some people to peak out at certain things. Nor was I arguing that there is a limit to someones OVERALL musical abilities, though I have recorded some folks that didn’t have a prayer in fucking hell at making it. I do believe someone can always learn something new.

Lol. There’s a saying that I love…that at a young age, our instruments choose us more than we choose them :smiley:

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These last few months, I’ve really been working on improving my guitar playing and making changes to setup to dial in the tones I’m going for. It’s been a fun adventure so far. My pedalboard in particular has been changed up a ton lately. lol.

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I want to be me. I don’t want to be compared to anyone else. My lifelong dream is to write an album that has a song with every conceivable genre on it, and have it all blend together somehow. Rock, salsa, jazz, country, blues, world music, etc. I don’t think I’m talented enough to pull it off though!


Honestly, I think we live in a time that what you’re thinking of is totally acceptable right now. Genres and ‘rules’ have seemed to be tossed by the wayside, as it applies to music. You should totally go for it!

You know the Use Your Illusion albums by Guns N’ Roses where they just threw everything including the kitchen sink into the albums? Their seemed to be a lot of filler, but I’d like to do something like that, because it is unlike anything that came before or after it. Stylistically obviously it would be different, but I appreciate the method.

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New thread! :smiley:

“I feel your pain.” - Bill Clinton

I think that’s true, to a degree. I also see Jonathan’s point that all of us have inherent physical characteristics, and limitations (if you choose to look at it that way). You can push past the mental and emotional limitations and then see what you’re left with. Creativity or finding your “calling” can help too, sometimes it’s not tons of skills but focusing on the key/best ones you have that makes the difference. B.B. King got famous for playing one or two notes really well. :slightly_smiling_face: Jeff Healy is blind and plays his guitar on his lap, and I saw a video the other day where some paraplegic guy was playing with his feet! (guitar was on the floor)

I did vocal training for two years, perhaps similar to what you have done, and it helped greatly just by understanding the mechanics of the voice (pedagogy) and stretching myself beyond my mental and emotional limits. The physical does stand in the way when you have a dream-based ideal you are chasing, but that’s probably unrealistic anyway because it may involve some degree of envy or copycat of someone else’s talent. Be the artist that you are, as natural as possible. Influences are just that; they mirror something in yourself and take you in a particular direction if you wish to go there. But they are only road signs along the way. Whatever you’re looking for you have to find within you. I found that doing a lot of karaoke stuff (recorded in the studio) helped me identify my range and vocal style options. You have to find your sweet spot and work with that. Mimicking can help develop skills sometimes too, just try to not be attached to it and see what happens. One time I was singing along with a string of Zep songs, fully immersed in the experience, and after 30-45 minutes of that I seemed to suddenly “get” what Robert Plant did with his voice. Not as in duplication, but an intuitive understanding. It was one of those “aha” moments that is hard to duplicate, but it gave me hope.

Many years ago my guitar teacher said something like that to me. He was both a teacher and a student at graduate school level; he studied under a master while also teaching undergraduates. He was a talented classical guitarist (who also like the Blues and Jimmy Page). He saw people who barely practiced and were better than him, and others that played until their fingers were bleeding and it just wasn’t happening. Some of that is physical, but it can also be mental and emotional limitations IMO. The human spirit is vast, but we have to push ourselves or really open up in order to transcend our current level of consciousness.


That’s pretty consistent with every observation I’ve made about inspiration vs perspiration. I mentioned basketball because everyone can relate to it, but I also noticed the same thing in martial arts when I was young. Some people go ‘but wait…that’s all physical…so its different’. And I say no its not. I saw the same thing in chess club when I played competitively in high school. Minus the work that we all put into studying the game, some people just have a stronger mind for that particular brand of strategic planning. I joined the high school chess club when I was in third grade, and I beat the stuffing out of most of those guys on a regular basis. But when I got to college, there were guys that would kill me every time. No matter how hard I revisited the games and consulted other people about what I could do bette next time, their ability to visualize positions and exploit weaknesses in movement patterns was just so far beyond what I was capable of ever really achieving. Yes I could get better, but I will never be good enough to beat them. I worked very very hard at learning that game, but it’ll always be hobby lol.

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