In Part 1, I tried to describe DeAnna's tone or timbre, especially in regards to the harmonic quality in her voice, and distinguish that from her vocal pitch range.
"In simple terms, timbre is what makes a particular musical sound different from another, even when they have the same pitch and loudness."

In this part I wanted to specifically concentrate on her range and pitch, which is just as integral a part of her unique singing style.

DeAnna's singing voice is classified as a contralto, which is the lowest range that a female singer can have. To get an idea of what that entails, here is a list of non-classical contralto singers. With acclaimed singers such as Adele on that list, possessing a contralto voice puts one in good company in terms of the musical landscape.

Her contralto range is most apparent when you can compare it to another singer. Listen to the difference between Nicolette Mare's soprano voice as it transitions into DeAnna's contralto on this snippet of the duet for "Love Me Like You Do"

The contrast between Nicolette to DeAnna provides a dramatic contrast to the song, especially as the shift in range is quite unexpected when you first hear it.

A song that DeAnna really had a chance to show off that lower range is in her cover of Somebody to Love. The original singer of the song, Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, is also a contralto and as one of the first female rock stars she set a standard for lending a commanding voice to a rock band.

Even though this version has a somewhat languid and almost country-rock pace, DeAnna's voice carries on the legacy of Grace's in her commanding presence, both in the studio version and the live performance.

I selected a few passages where DeAnna added her distinctive inflections in emphasizing certain words. The first is a snippet of the studio version of the song:

In that passage, what pops out to my ears is is her vocalization of the word "dies". There is a strong finality in her emphasis on that word, perhaps in part because death itself serving as a lyrical metaphor is so final -- "And all the joy within you dies. Don't you want somebody to love".

The word actually booms out with the initial consonant D and a remarkable harmonic overtone in the vowel that follows. You can see this in the music spectrum:

The contralto part is at 370 Hz, in musical notation, an F#4, which puts it right in the middle of the contralto range of F3 to F5. And the peaks at 740 Hz and 1480 Hz are the octaves at F#5 and F#6 above the fundamental contralto.

To me, that particular note just sounds so neat and unique as the harmonic overtones gives the sound the DeAnna-unique tone and timbre. In a way, it reminds me of some male singers such as Eddie Vedder and Bono that can create a similar almost bell-like resonance with their voice.

The second passage is here:

DeAnna pulls her range waaayyy down when she ends on the word "love". That note is close to a F#3, which is at the low end of the contralto range.

To my ears at least, it sounds ahhhmazingly pleasing and calming, and the word "love" drawn out like that serves as a pleading contrast to the emphatic "dies" that she vocalized earlier.

You can see the contrasting emphasis again with this third passage from the song:

or place it in a loop and it almost sounds like a Native American tribal chant!

Take a look at the signal for her vocalization of the word "dead" in the middle of that passage:

The reason that word pops out are the vocalized "D's" that bracket the start and end of the word, seen by the wider periods in yellow at each end. That's like a bass kick-drum, church bell, or gong starting and ending the word, driven completely by DeAnna's voice. The same dynamic occurs in her live performance, so it is not studio trickery and DeAnna is just nailing the pocket on that sound.

How low can DeAnna go with her voice? During a live setting, check out her attempt at a Johnny Cash slash Elvis-like vocal for "she put him out" at the 14:20 mark -- which also cracked everyone up.

The idea here is that DeAnna knows how to create drama in the interpretation of a song and its lyrics -- simply in the way she chooses which range in her voice to use in particular passages.

More analysis to come of, of course, so stay tuned ...

Comments powered by CComment