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Feb 13, 2018 - 5:33:26 PM
59 posts since 1/19/2018

Hello. I recently came across Roscoe Holocomb and I heard the term "High and Lonesome sound" I was wondering what makes the high and lonesome sound? My best guess is that it sounds like the singer is actually in pain. What I mean by that is, there are alot of points where the singer belts out the lyrics as loud as he possibly can, and due to this there are alot of points where the singers voice cracks. Now I don't have a very high vocal range, so when my voice breaks it sounds like trash to an audience probably, but to me it sounds fine kind of filled with sorrow if you will. I mean I don't know. See the thing is I'm a bass voice naturally and I was wondering if any of you think a bass voice can really capture that "High and Lonesome sound"?

Feb 13, 2018 - 5:35:39 PM

Mooooo

USA

1957 posts since 8/20/2016

I always thought if you can sound like a grandpa before you are a grandpa, then you're singing high and lonesome.

Feb 13, 2018 - 5:41:05 PM

Chris Meakin Players Union Member

Australia

1670 posts since 5/15/2011

Counter tenors (according to a music teacher of mine) are often naturally baritones (high bass).

Perhaps the "High and Lonesome sound" is a high bass "head voice"? You could try practicing, maybe with a voice coach, to find out?

Feb 13, 2018 - 5:41:14 PM

59 posts since 1/19/2018

Interesting way of putting it. Thanks moo

Feb 13, 2018 - 5:51:37 PM
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398 posts since 4/13/2017

Take a listen to my version of "Groundhog." I have a rather low voice, but managed to get this bad boy into the key of B, and it's not Del McCoury high, nor Aaron McCune low.


Feb 13, 2018 - 7:14:04 PM
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beegee

USA

20426 posts since 7/6/2005

The high lonesome sound is an expression of one's musical soul, not a particular vocal timbre. There are some good baritones and basses who can sing high and lonesome with sounding like they're straining.

Feb 13, 2018 - 7:41:37 PM

562 posts since 11/7/2003

Short answer is no, unless you're reinventing the term.  Our group has made jokes about it and I dug into it awhile back.

I plagiarized this (off the Interweb thing) and it's probably at least close to legit.  Another source says it was originally describing Roscoe Holcomb but most agree it's all about the high vocal lead with even higher tenor.
"Beginning in 1949 (Jimmy) Martin was lead vocalist for Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys". Martin's high voice mixed with Monroe's tenor came to be known as the "high lonesome" sound."

I HATED that stuff as a kid, loved the instrumental music, then they started singing! My voice range is baritone, I joke onstage that I have that Low Lonesome Sound. I do a couple of old bluegrass tunes in my range, low B that were originally sung by the high lonesome screamers.  They work really well and they're fun, but not high lonesome!  And the bluegrass police don't like it and don't consider it bluegrass.  And I'm ok with that. Good music is good music and good harmonies are good harmonies regardless.

Edited by - JimInAlabama on 02/13/2018 19:56:39

Feb 13, 2018 - 10:40:07 PM
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janolov Players Union Member

Sweden

38547 posts since 3/7/2006

Just a thought: if Roscoe Holcomb  had a bass voice we would talk about the low lonesome sound today,

Feb 14, 2018 - 1:39:43 AM

mbuk06 Players Union Member

England

6061 posts since 10/5/2006

The wonderful gift of folk music enables each and every one of us to communicate through our own music while identifying with and respecting local conventions. It's curious to the point of contradictory that within a folk idiom we should look to assume the outward presentation and artistic biography of someone else; it's akin to stealing their coat off a peg. If we have integrity we wouldn't do that in regard to a coat so why is it ok in relation to a form of expression that is the result of an intimate personal creative development throughout that person's life? 

I understand the value of learning from those who went before, and that can sometimes involve exploring how they expressed their musical personality. But within folk genres, that today are swamped by a depersonalised mainstream mass-culture, to maintain credibility and retain relevance and the power to affect we need to be careful not to confuse tradition with pastiche.

Folk tradition is a culture that has life and enable creative momentum; pastiche is sterile, static and dead. Maybe we're too used to expecting and getting things instantly and ready-made today?

Why not sing the songs from your home as you? By doing that you contribute and add in your own way to the richness of our 'people's tapestry'. Just my two pennies/cents.

Edited by - mbuk06 on 02/14/2018 01:52:54

Feb 14, 2018 - 3:43:44 AM

398 posts since 4/13/2017

I think when I sing Can't you hear me callin, I'm an octave lower than Bill Monroe or Del McCoury

Feb 14, 2018 - 7:39:21 AM
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beegee

USA

20426 posts since 7/6/2005

A good singer will always make the song fit his voice, not try to make his voice fit the song. If humans were meant to sing through their noses, they wouldn't have mouths.

Feb 14, 2018 - 8:06:41 AM

2983 posts since 5/12/2010

Bob,

I like that a lot.

I can manage a fair range with my voice, but if I try to sing beyond what feels normal to me, I will be off key.

The tune that goes with a song, can usually be played in a key to suit the voice of the singer. It is why Pete had a longer banjo neck made.

Edited by - OldPappy on 02/14/2018 08:07:23

Feb 14, 2018 - 9:07:16 AM
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985 posts since 3/17/2007

If you forget the "high" part, Frank Proffitt had the "lonesome" sound down. You are not alone.

Feb 14, 2018 - 10:32:37 AM
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802 posts since 11/17/2003

Hey guys,

Just something I've learned over the years about singing:

I would tread carefully in trying to imitate the old timers. It's a perilous road, and although many try forcefully to make their voices sound high 'n lonesome, or scratchy and old, it mostly falls way short. When I'm listening to music, if I start to detect caricature, I'm out and on to the next track. I think old time music is particularly susceptible to this kind of thing, and it's too bad.

The best advice anyone ever gave me about singing was this: "Be yourself." The best part of this philosophy is that you'll be sure to be the only one that sounds like that!

Best,

Tom

Feb 14, 2018 - 10:33:41 AM

802 posts since 11/17/2003

quote:
Originally posted by FretlessFury

Hey guys,

Just something I've learned over the years about singing:

I would tread carefully in trying to imitate the old timers. It's a perilous road, and although many try forcefully to make their voices sound high 'n lonesome, or scratchy and old, it mostly falls way short. When I'm listening to music, if I start to detect caricature, I'm out and on to the next track. I think old time music is particularly susceptible to this kind of thing, and it's too bad.

The best advice anyone ever gave me about singing was this: "Be yourself." The coolest part of this philosophy is that you'll be sure to be the only one that sounds like that!

Best,

Tom


Feb 14, 2018 - 11:21:36 AM

921 posts since 4/5/2006

Check out the thread "Singing Bluegrass Songs" over on the Bluegrass Scruggs picking forum. Lots of similar comments.

Feb 14, 2018 - 11:59:39 AM

59 posts since 1/19/2018

Do you think there is such a thing as a "Low lonesome sound"?

Feb 14, 2018 - 2:00:12 PM

RevSpyder Players Union Member

USA

165 posts since 3/28/2013

quote:
Originally posted by Kellie

Do you think there is such a thing as a "Low lonesome sound"?


No banjo, but how about Johnny Cash for one?

Feb 14, 2018 - 3:16:52 PM

mbuk06 Players Union Member

England

6061 posts since 10/5/2006

If you go listen to the old field recordings of ballad singers in the Blue Ridge and elsewhere you'll hear every kind of voice. From high to low enough to vibrate a mason jar off a cabin table from 20 feet away. Far from being able to label them as collectively having a defining sound the one characteristic of those recordings is their homespun individuality within a tradition.

Feb 14, 2018 - 3:46:10 PM

398 posts since 4/13/2017

One time I heard a Hawaiian guy sing Smokey Mtn Memories in the key of C, and he sounded like a bass singer

Feb 14, 2018 - 4:08:21 PM
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Alec Cramsie

Canada

215 posts since 2/4/2015

Bluegrass.... songs sung from the heart-through the nose ??

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