Many of the world’s top songwriters have performed and recorded songs written by other writers. Some of the greatest songs of all time have been “covered” by many different singers. There’s a big difference, though between covering a song that was written and/or performed by another artist and copying the other artist exactly. There’s a great old saying “A good song, is a good song, is a good song.” But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many ways in which to sing that song.

While we, as listeners, may enjoy the way Artist A sang a particular song, we don’t necessarily want to hear singer after singer singing the same song the exact same way. We want to hear YOUR interpretation of it. As singers, while we may also appreciate the way Artist A sang the song, to perform an exact duplicate would be, well, boring.

When singing a “cover song”, how can you make the song your own?

 To accomplish this task, you have a number of musical tools from which to choose, including:

 –      tempo (how fast or slow);

–       meter (time signature);

–       key;

–       rhythmic variation;

–       variations in the harmonic structure (changing the chords);

–       melodic variation;

–       dynamics (loud or soft);

–       vocal tone (clear, breathy, etc);

–       phrasing (the rhythm of the words and which words are accented); and

–       instrumentation

Before you decide to use any of these tools however, you must first ask yourself a VERY important question.

What am I trying to say with this song?

What mood, or emotional context do I want to create? Answering this question should and WILL inform all of the musical choices you make with the song.

 This is not unlike a painter.  She could choose to use blue paint, or broad, thick brush strokes in her piece. But WHY? Blue paint for the sake of blue paint, is well….just blue paint. However, when the artist decides to create a piece that conveys a particular message or mood, the color(s), brush strokes and other choices become the vehicles for communicating that message.

That is art.

Have fun creating!