Female Singers R Us

Thursday, 23 May 2013

[Vocal Profile] Brian McKnight



Vocal Type: Leggiero Tenor
Vocal Range: 3 octaves 2 notes and a semitone (D#2-G#5)
Tessitura: 2 octave 1 note(D3-E5)
Whistle Register: No
Vocal Pluses:One of few who can actually qualify as being a Leggiero Tenor in pop, Brian McKnight is a powerful male vocalist with one of the best developed mixes in the industry. He has phenomenal control and is able to execute precise vocal runs in all registers of the voice. The ability to sing rapid-scale melismas, as well as the elasticity of his belting range, are both signature characteristics of the singer's vocal style.

Brian McKnight's lower register is dark and velvety, extending down to D#2, with the tone retaining it's colouring even up to an octave above at E3. The voice harmonizes well with itself, retaining its warm tone. His vocal weight is rather light (though for a tenor, surprisingly heavy) which gives him the agility to sing rapid descending scales to impressive depths. His placement is healthy and neutral, with plenty of resonance down in even his lowest note of D#2. This lower register is characteristic of the Leggiero Tenor by being baritonal in color and in the weight of its extremes (below A2). His technique in this register is great.

His mid voice, which extends up to D4 from F3, places him in the realm of most tenors, despite his ability to belt lower fifth octave notes. This area is warm and dark in color, with a thick velvety texture. Even when it looses an extensive amount of weight, it still retains its texture and colour. With the lack of weight, his dexterity becomes significantly freer, capable of executing some extremely swift vocal runs. His technique in this portion of the modal register is also great.

His belting register, is quite impressive. The tone remains dark as he comes close to A4. Above A4 (like most tenors), his tone significantly brightens becoming slightly heady, extending upwards to F5. His dexterity doesn't suffer, despite this impressive feet. Even at the height of F5, he can execute some pinpoint accurate vocal runs. He places his voice nasally though, but it does little to take away from his vocal freedom. He still has resonance and is capable of reaching mezzo-forte. He most likely employs that to get longevity on those extensive fifth octave belts. His technique for his belts, is second to none.

His head tone, relies heavily on chest, extending upwards to G#5. He has sang an F5 in falsettone as well, however he relies mostly on deft mixes of chest and falsetto in this register. The tone is thick and labored, though this may be an artistic decision since fallsettone lacks the ressonance of headvoice. Overall his technique for this area is questionable.

Vocal Negatives: Questionable technique used in his falsetto, and some may find his style relies too heavily on vocal runs.


Thanks to Montrez Rambo for this Profile!

56 comments:

  1. Nice article. Very spot on. Ive never really been into his music but Ive always assumed her was a fantastic singer. On another note we are grading techniques now? lol

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  2. Serendipity.-23 May 2013 21:24

    Technique rating? Giving something new for people to argue about?

    If so I wouldn't score Brian a B, I'd give him a D.

    I cannot stand his vocals, he has butchered every vocal line I've heard out of him, not an ounce of restraint. And he insists on whining and straining his voice to no end.

    The male Christina, but with a slightly healthier output in the upper registers.


    Maybe D is a bit harsh, but his technique is very flawed, lots of tension in the upper regions. And his lack of restraint just seals the deal for me.

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  3. Lol, maybe we need to take that out.

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  4. Should I remove? Your call!

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  5. Yeah. We'll need to think more on the technical rating. It was funny because my step dad has some pirated concert clips of him that he plays all the time which is why I gave him a B-. Lol what I heard was solid. I guess, for technicality purposes, I need to review more live work to gauge.

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  6. "with one of the best developed mixes in the industry" This!

    I was always impressed with the way he can go from chest to head and back to chest so easily without breaking stride.

    Glad not all singers go to Serendipity's school of technique. Otherwise they'd all sound the same. I love his and Christina's voice probably for all the reasons you hate it.

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  7. Why are tessitura and vocal range listed separately?

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  8. Tessitura is the vocal "sweet spot"...The area where he most commonly sings. This basically is the "proof" to show he is a tenor. Higher tenors have a tessitura of around E3/F3-E5/F5 while lower tenors have a tessitura around C3-C5 but each voice is different.

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  9. Makes sense, thanks!

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  10. I wanna do a creepy medium baritone known as tom waits but I haven't invested in his music. I'm gonna do one more tenor before I extend my sights. I have some more I plan on doing to (2NE1, Freddy Mercury though I have no idea what his vocal type is, possibly Chris Brown though I love him, everyone else hates him, and Tyrese which I also think is a medium baritone. My knowledge of tenors is top notch but I know little on barritones and the characteristics in pop. I really wanna do Frank Ocean but I can't tell if he is a low lyric tenor or a high baritone. He can belt close the the fifth octave and possibly in the fifth octave. His tessitura is that of a baritone too. Are there any intermediate male vocal types?)

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  11. Well I'm happy to be a Spinto tenor, though I have the agility to sing complex ornamentation such a fioraturas, trills, and apoggiaturas with relative ease though I do them best ascending rather than descending in a sequence of pitches.


    There is a significant difference in my operatic tone than my pop music tone. In pop, I have this defined nasality that I can toy and fiddle with and do some impressive things and it is in all of my registers with a defined rasp as well. When singing operatically my tone darkens (the typical thing that happens), the rasp lightens a bit, and my voice sounds like if a trumpet had a deeper voice all together. I lose that nasal tone and my voice becomes...well i can't describe the tonality of it. I can say it is more heady (as I do mix more).... I still can use a bit of practice to improve my passagio and overall consistency.

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  12. I used to class myself as a spinto too, but I am almost beginning to wonder what my fach is these days. My lower registers seems to have developed over the past year or so and to be honest it feels and sounds more pleasant for me.


    I should really stop threatening to record something and just do it, it would be good to see what everyone thinks I fit into, some days I feel I sound Bass and others Bassbaritone-ish!

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  13. Can I email you a clip of me belting some operatic D5s and E5s (I know spinto tenors don't go above C5 lol) I was kind of ill that day but my belting range was in pristine condition.

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  14. Mine has yet to so so.lol

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  15. I'd love to hear you Stuey. :-)

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  16. Over the past year or so I seemed to have deepened somewhat, I could be baritone I think. I don't really have a decent mic, other than my phone which automatically makes me sound like I am singing into a funnel lol I need to get down to my cousins as he has all the right kit for recording, he could do a guitar ditty whilst I spill something, eventually some day lol

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  17. Stu, a baritone now? Wow...if that is really true and it turns out you are not a spinto tenor but now a bari of some kind, that is quite a movement! Of course, I remain as I was. My voice has grown but the quality is pretty much as it has always been. When you finally do record, I would love to hear it and compare it to the descriptions you gave me, Stu.

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  18. Ohmygod I have that thng with the extreme ends of the fach system too! Most friends in real life only prefer the high ones. (Soprano & Tenors)

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  19. For me, I like the lowest females and the highest males. Lol

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  20. I like the lowest ones for both. They're much rarer compared to others. Also, they're textures are sooo sexy.

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  21. Well put Serendipity.
    That had me laugh...the suggestion singers with good technique "all sound the same" .
    And as a ardent fan...thank you for putting Alison in that list. Like she deserves. :-)

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  22. Serendipity.-27 May 2013 16:48

    The part that had me in fits was the "Serendipity school of technique", I guess all great singers should be paying their respects to me :)

    No problem, she deserved her mention very much so :) She knows how to respect and treat the songs she sings, and it is a wonderful thing to hear her croon over a melody :)

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  23. Serendipity.-27 May 2013 16:50

    Sometimes I try to get through comments without a jab of sarcasm placed in, but I slip up sometimes :)

    Yes, Mariah does have problems, her voice is in poor shape, but her technique allows her to still pull off some masterclass vocals. Mariah almost HAS to have a great technique, given the state of her voice.



    Mariah could drop some of the weight as she ascends in her range, that is part of her problem. She is still trying to drag the same weight she did when she was in her prime.

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  24. LOL Yes...you should immediately copyright the brand name.


    I, of course agree on Alison. I think it shows up in a particularly awesome manner in her harmonizing. Not a song she harmonized on, that didn't get lifted to a higher level when she did imo.
    You wouldn't think that is such an art but I started paying attention to it because of her and found that actually a great many singers are mediocre to actually poor at the skill.

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  25. Personally..I feel rating singers should always be done based on live work. I mean, with today's technology any rating of recorded vocals is really a rating of the guys behind the studio buttons.

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  26. I agree. If I decide to do a live vocal range video of him, I'd give him a technical rating then. As for studio singing, that would be a toss in the air. Lol

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  27. Well after a little warm up earlier it seems the spinto attack is still there along with the upper registers, which sounded pretty clean! Bizarre, I think my vocal folds go on hormonal episodes at times haha

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  28. That indeed is her problem. Can't remember who said it on the blog, but people do expect a lot from her since she's like one of the most popular singers of all-time. The worst part is that she cares about what other people think and she strives for perfection too much (who doesn't?) but she has got to tone it down a bit, just for those cords of hers and a longer happy period for our ears. :p
    But I think she definitely has still got game. But again I say, I worry for her as her recent live performance on GMA & AI, I worry for her deeply as her vocals are really getting hoarser and raspier.

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  29. Be sure you evaluate your voice after it is unstrained and warm-up. Hydration, too! Tenors (and most other voices) will sound clunky and disconnected if they are not feeling up to the task, so it can be hard to get a good idea if you just sing out off the cuff. ;-) Plus, color changes a lot during a day -- morning, noon, and night.

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  30. You are right, I think my problem is I was trying to sing out at work (where the air is horribly dry and I don't hydrate) plus I had also eaten a lot of dairy products immediately previous to trying. My flat is pretty humid due to the enormous amount of houseplants I have lol so I always sound pretty healthy at home, but as I said before ages ago my voice is really out of shape as I never sing regularly enough now. I think over this summer I will start practicing scales and stuff again and by the end I will try and get something together!

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  31. Yup! That will do it. Granted, my voice always sounds bright, but it sounds much fuller if I am in good health, hydrated, comfortable, and not self-conscious. No allergies, good temperature, good humidity level, etc. all makes execution so much easier.

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  32. Indeed! Although I suffer hayfever I will just hit the anti-histamines to cancel them out while I work it out lol! When I qualify as a nurse I want to work in ear, nose and throat departments...that seems like the natural area of expertise for me lol :D

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  33. And I can imagine you singing while going about exams and diagnostics, too. LOL

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  34. You can take royalties, I'm sure. I'll endorse.

    I'm just annoys me to end when people "hate" singing voices based on their technique (I don't know if you are one of them or not but there are a few of them here). Singers come from all walks of life. Lots of them aren't coached or grow up in circumstances where they can't afford them.

    Some of my favorite voices have what you might consider awful technique at times (Ray Charles, James Brown, David Ruffin). Go ahead and try to take away those screams from their repertoire. They'd sound like everybody else.

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  35. How in the world do go from a tenor to a bass-baritone?!?!?! Were you 14 when you were a tenor? Wow that's a big change.

    I used to be a boy soprano when I was 10 then dropped to a light baritone as I aged so I guess maybe its not that big a change.


    Must be weird having to sing a totally different style though.

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  36. Streisand actually only had one or two lessons in her life. ;)
    But anyway...there's generally speaking,the rule. And then there are the exceptions.
    Not sure btw whether James Brown and Ray Charles have poor technique and therefor fall under those exceptions.

    I am also not sure " screams" are considered poor technique if they are intended and controlled.
    Also...most of the people here make distinctions between all kinds of aspects regarding singing. Certainly they always make a distinction between technique and tone. Which means they may or may not hate a singer with poor technique.


    Ps lots of people are indeed poor but lots of people go to schools with music departments or sing in church choirs. Places where you can also learn about technique.
    Or you closely study singers by yourself or you,these days, go online.
    And certainly, once you made it enough for the general public to have heard of you, like most singers discussed here, you can afford to take lessons.

    It is NEVER too late to learn!

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  37. I sure hope Taylor is taking voice lessons because she needs all the help she can get. Such a contrast between her studio voice and stage voice. She owes it to her fans to get better at live performances.

    I didn't know you could control screaming but if you can, that's fine. I just can't imagine you don't hurt your chords everytime you do it. I just figured the people who get that kind of rasp and gravelly type voices are because of 1000s of performances where they just abuse their chords every night and their voices just end up like that - which of course, gave it the character that we loved. I might have to back off Ruff though. He used to grunt and scream a lot but he still had a voice as pretty as could be.

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  38. I don't know that's true at all. I've known people with gravelly voices who weren't singers at all. I've seen singers who sounded gravelly throughout long careers.

    And yes Taylor needs all the help she can gets. I personally don't bother with discussing studio versus Live voice. To me one has only one voice, the one you hear when someone sings Live..anything else is not a singer's voice or technique...it's technology.

    I think really, there a lots of " singers" we shouldn't know their name but the name of their engineer. :-)

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  39. You don't know him but you have heard him. Former lead singer of the Temptations. He's the voice you hear on My Girl. He also sang Ain't Too Proud To Beg, Wish it would Rain, and this song I'm Losing You.

    Since you like live performances, I found this one. None of the ones I've found when he was singing in his prime was of good quality so I got this one. He was late 40s when this was recorded and obviously still had a powerful voice. He died shortly after at the age of 50. One of my favorite voices of all times - David Ruffin.

    http://youtu.be/P9BabfewTOY

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  40. LOL Yes...that's what I realized when I went and looked him up on youtube and wikipedia. :)
    Though seeing as his style of music isn't really something I ever really went for, I indeed heard My Girl but don't recall hearing the other songs you mentioned.
    No doubt I heard those as well but since I don't recall...they must not have been my thing.
    I can hear he had something special but it's really not a voice I personally enjoy tbh.
    I'm with you though on James Brown and Ray Charles. ;-)

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  41. Serendipity.-28 May 2013 20:51

    P!nk, who didn't come from a very well off family, had classical training when she was younger :)

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  42. Serendipity what would you classify P!nk? Is she a low lyric mezzo soprano or a dramatic mezzo? I'm confused. I don't hear much metal in her voice but from the concerts I've seen of her lately she has a humongous volume capacity. I keep comparing her to Anastacia because they have the exact same vocal range of A#2-D6 and the highest belt of A5.


    Their tones have similarites but significant differences too. They are relatively thick, and have low tessitura's. Anastacia has a very trumpet-like sound when she belts and P!nk has a bright but not extremely metal voice up there. P!nk also has a more significant rasp. Anastacia has just a velvety tone with a slight huskiness.


    I'm confused. lol

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  43. Serendipity.-29 May 2013 01:17

    Mezzo voices are more rare so there really isn't much distinguishing within the fach, same for contraltos.
    It really isn't needed within classical music, the lines between vocal fachs do get quite blurred in pop though.

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  44. I think it was just a very bad day for me, almost a Christina bad moment lol! Things seem to be back to normality now, I am determined to get my voice back into shape though!


    I have been trying to work on my depths though too, I do love a good bassy sound although I don't really excel there I am improving slightly.

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  45. Bass-baritone is really low. Especially if you can hit tenor notes, which I assume you still can. I have an app on my Android called DaTuner (Lite). You vocalize a note and it will tell you what it is and if it is pitchy one way or the other. I haven't found an iPhone equivalent although you can kinda just use a pitch pipe app and match the notes but your ears are not as accurate as the machine is.
    If you know Les Miserables, Javert's note in The Confrontation "...you wear a different chaii - ain..." The first note of chain is an F2, the second note is a B1. If you can hit that B1 without effort, you might be there at Bass-baritone. I consider myself a lyric or light baritone and can hit the F2 but not the B1.

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  46. Thanks for letting me know about that app, I just downloaded it this minute :)


    Oh a B1 is a definite no no for me lol and yes tenor notes usually come very easy to me. I think I am somewhat Mariah-esque in that if I don't sleep enough and drink too much fizzy stuff the upper reaches sound scratchy or just dont come easy for me. So the detox and gentle exercises are all coming into play now. :)

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  47. I have never heard Stu, but I assume he is a tenor variant based on his description. Possibly a lower or midrange tenor. And take care of that voice, Stu! Good healthy chest, belting, mixing, and HV technique! :P

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  48. Yep, sometimes I sound spinto sometimes lyric. I also fear my voice sometimes as I don't wanna hurt myself. I have been at the 10+ manuka honey and lemon mix. It really helps for sure, I always feel well hydrated and more sonically clean. That stuff is a lifesaver, as it should be considering how bloody expensive it is lol :D

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  49. The key to avoiding fear, especially in the upper chest and in the belting zone, is to sing out and open your mouth. You can do a lot of damage singing with a high larynx, bad tongue placement, or trying to smother or muffle the sound. Don't force the note, but aim for good resonance. This can give you a great idea of your true color and sound. Start where you sound comfortable and work on the edges of your range slowly to build confidence.

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  50. Thanks for the advice, and you are totally right. I will get there! And eventually you will hear something from me, I promise :)

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  51. Its a great app. You can watch it to see how close you can get it to the note line. Try holding a note for a long time and keep it there. You'll find hitting notes accurately and holding them easier within your tessitura, then work your range from there. Have fun and I'll be anxious to hear you one day!

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  52. You preach it! I couldn't agree with you more. Singing with good technique doesn't just sound better. It feels a lot better to the singer.

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  53. You were right all along, Brian was a Leggeiro after all. most people won't immediately be able to tell because every singer carries a unique tone. that's what brings uniqueness to the voices

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  54. Frank comes off as a low lyric Tenor.

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  55. I really LOVE everything about his voice, even the overly done runs. His timbre is gorgeous. Excellent range. Some notes here and there can be very pushed but the tone overall is pleasant to the ears. So underrated. A true Leggiero.

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