View Full Version : Falsetto, Bee Gees, & Men in Choirs?

11-18-2004, 06:42 AM
This is a two-part question: Why did the Bee Gees choose to sing in fasetto voices, and if they can do it with such harmony...why isn't a common event for men to sing falsetto in choirs? Why is it presumed men can only sing bass?
- Jinx :confused:

11-18-2004, 06:51 AM
I can take on the second part of the question:

There is no assumption that men can only sing low. The Wikipedia article on countertenors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countertenor) is a good place to start. However, countertenors and castrati never found a way into choirs because they weren't needed and didn't fit in - a far better balance comes from having boys or female voices on the top parts, and they are obviously more numerous! (Added to that, in earlier centuries boys' voices broke many years later than is typical nowadays, and it was common for the upper parts to be sung by young men who still had high voices without singing falsetto.)

11-18-2004, 07:02 AM
The Bee Gees weren't the only male popular musicians to do a lot of falsetto stuff. Curtis Mayfield did a ton of it, Thom Yorke does some, etc.

11-18-2004, 07:30 AM
Let's not forget the incredibly scary-looking, angel-voice Aaron Neville.

11-18-2004, 08:43 AM
And Tiny Tim.

Well, maybe we can forget him.

11-18-2004, 09:25 AM
As for the "why" of your question, by the mid-70s the Bee Gees' career was floundering and they were looking pretty hard for a new sound. While cutting the track "Nights on Broadway," their producer asked if any of the brothers could ad lib some R&B-style falsetto vocals. Barry had a go and turned out to be pretty damn good at it, so it became a signature part of the Bee Gees' sound.

There's precedent for men to sing falsetto in pop, of course, most notably Frankie Valli and Brian Wilson.

11-18-2004, 11:32 AM
Personally, I don't consider the BeeGees to have a good falsetto sound. They sound, frankly, like a bunch of male singers with little or no falsetto experience "trying it out."

Good falsettists can actually sound like female opera singers. The ability to shape the inside of the mouth appropriately for each note has a lot to do with it.

11-18-2004, 12:05 PM
I always really enjoyed the Bee Gees falsetto songs. I know a lot of people found them annoying, but I liked them. The idea of singing much higher than your "natural" vocal range has always appealed to me for some reason.
Other good falsetto singers include Robert John of "Sad Eyes" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" fame, and the lead singer from the Stylistics ("You Make Me Feel Brand New", "Betcha By Golly Wow", and others), whose name currently escapes me.

11-18-2004, 12:15 PM
Frank Valli and Leo Sayers come to mind.

11-18-2004, 08:02 PM
The bass and the tenor doing falsetto, were the corner stones of 50ís do wopp music. If both were missing from a single, the single wasn't going anywhere.

11-18-2004, 08:05 PM
"I have a falsetto voice."
"That'sa OK. My uncle has a falsetto teeth."

11-18-2004, 09:52 PM
I can do a mean Edith Bunker imitation in my falsetto voice. It was quite a hit in college when we'd gather around the TV for reruns. I can even "sing" like Edith in the opening tune...esp the highest part. It's a hoot er, is that a screech? - Jinx

11-19-2004, 02:07 AM

I guess The Four Seasons was a figment of my imagination, as well as the Tremeloes, and a whole bunch of other falsetto singers.

11-19-2004, 05:52 AM
Elton John did a very good falsetto before his throat surgery. I feel sorry for him now when he tries to sing something like Rocket Man or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Roland Orzabal
11-19-2004, 06:15 AM
Back in the day (three years ago), when I was in a barbershop quartet, I generally sung bass. In the event that it was needed, I would sing tenor instead via falsetto, because I've trained my falsetto to the point where it doesn't suck. There are guys, however, who are capable of singing tenor and even alto parts in full voice. They're rare (and rarer still because, sadly, they often don't want to admit to it), but they do exist. Our quartet's regular tenor could do this.

Nonetheless, I was told by my choir director that the usual procedure for barbershop was for the tenor part to be sung by a bass using falsetto.


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