Voice Specialist and Singer Kathy Alexander believes that singers can learn much from the TikTok Duetting phenomenon.
Here are 5 recent TikTok hits and what can be learned from them…
1. Taylor Hudson and Abigail Barlow Duetting “Burn For You”
This song is intoxicating! It has beauty and intensity that captivates me instantly – wow! I could listen to this tiny clip 1,000 times. Taylor sings the part of Simon in the lower octave, with a rich yet agile vocal production creating. This is a beautiful and sexy contrast to Abigail’s light and at times deliciously airy vocal performance.
These two vocalists are playing their characters with deep commitment. The characters are Simon and Daphne from the musical Bridgerton. Even if you know nothing about the story, you have the sense that you are watching two real characters with something real going on between them. Yes, the vocals are fabulous, but it is the experience of watching two people express their feelings for each other through an inspired melody and lyric that makes it magic.
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Taylor Hudson: taylor.b.hudson – is a Baritone vocalist who became best known for his impersonations as well as his interpretation of the Duke in Bridgerton the Musical on TikTok.
Abigail Barlow: abigailbarlowww – is the writer of the songs of Bridgerton the Musical with Emily Bear. Their website is www.barlowandbear.com
2. Nick Daly and Abigail Barlow Duetting “Burn For You”
This is the same song, but in contrast to Taylor’s interpretation, Nick sings the part of Simon an octave higher than where Taylor sings it. Nick uses head voice effortlessly on certain pitches throughout the vocal lines. Head voice conveys vulnerability and longing. In this range, and with Nick’s interpretation, Simon’s character comes across as a little more vulnerable and perhaps with even more yearning. Thinking back to Taylor’s version (which is an octave lower and therefore entirely in chest voice) the character of Simon comes across as more secure and strong, but still equally as passionate. Taylor uses a few subtle voice cracks which convey a lot of emotion in his chest dominant vocal setting.
The musical choices of these singers are rooted in the meaning of the lyrics. Nothing is done that is not connected to the truth of the song and the interchange that is happening between the two “characters.” So, singers everywhere should always remember when choosing what vocal tone to use, what embellishments to add in, what dynamics to create… ask yourself, “Does this expressive element serve the meaning of this moment in the song?”
Here’s another duet by the same two singers:
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Nick Dally – nick_t_daly – is a popular TikTok singer with 176.5K followers and was the winner of Playbill’s Search for a Star contest in August 2020
Abigail Barlow – abigailbarlowww – is the writer of the songs of Bridgerton the Musical with Emily Bear. Their website is www.barlowandbear.com
3. Luke Taylor harmonizing with Sam Pope on “Row Me Bully Boys Row”
Just imagine a group of sailors hauling rhythmically to weigh anchor. Sea shanties were often used to help a group of workers unify their movements thus maximizing their strength. What a glorious analogy for choral singing! The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts – that’s what the folk genre is all about.
Luke Taylor’s gorgeous low voice is well-loved by his many adoring fans. You don’t hear a voice like that every day, so it is attention grabbing. When I first heard this, I wondered if his voice was made low through digital transposition. I didn’t think that sound could come out of the young man I was seeing on the screen! I think what we also love about Luke is his obvious enjoyment of singing. He is clearly a bass in the traditional sense. When he speaks, his speaking pitch often hovers around a Db2. Sea shanties are a type of folk song which means they are ancient! This one was written by Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea fame (so not ancient), but it’s the GENRE that he is adhering to in his writing. Alan Doyle singing “Row Me Bully Boys” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_JTSdW1a8Y
Not only are there several harmony parts added to Sam Pope’s original melody, but there are several layers that are repeats of the same part one. This makes it sound like a large group of singers. Listen to Sam Pope’s original and notice how he left a space for other singers to “duet” with him on Tiktok by filling in where he left the gaps. He even put the lyrics on the screen. So much community vibes in this!
Just click on “original sound” on Sam Pope’s video and see the hundreds of people who have duetted with him! If you are interested in learning how to sing harmony, just click on one these many videos and find one that you like. This should be one where there is one singer is singing harmony in a similar range to you. This will make it easier for you to copy them, thus learning the harmony part.
Learn a part yourself!
Learn the Bass with Andre Sguerra (check out the strong bass note he hits on the last note of the chorus!!!!!: https://www.tiktok.com/@sguerraandre/video/6914695265559645445?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v3
Learn tenor 1 (same as alto) with Matrixx777 https://www.tiktok.com/@mattrix777/video/6913752051352603909?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v3
Learn alto (same as tenor 1)with Meleah https://www.tiktok.com/@meleahmelody/video/6913785681475161349?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v3
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Sam Pope is well-known for singing Sea Shanties on TikTok and has recently released a single of the Wellerman. See: linktr.ee/sampopemusic
Luke Taylor: _luke.the.voice_ – is a singer who has amassed a following of 1M+ on TikTok. He is known for his deep and rich harmonies.
4. Luke Taylor Duetting with Nathan Evans on “The Wellerman”
Here is Nathan Evans’ original post on TikTok of “The Wellerman”:
Wondering where the massive sea shanty craze got its start? It was right here with this song, according to many TikTokkers. Notice how this sea shanty has a haunting feel to it. This is partly because of its minor key. If you are a music theory nerd, you’ll want to know that it is in C natural minor, to be exact. The chorus then moves to an Ab major chord. This keeps us in C minor, but ever so slightly and briefly tonicizes Eb (the happier relative major).
TikTok Duetting helps us experience choral singing at a time when most choirs and ensembles around the world are not allowed to meet (due to COVID restrictions). Thank you TikTok! I’ll bet Nathan Evans could never have predicted that his recording would become a viral sensation. Not only that, but I’ll bet that just 5 months ago, no one could have predicted a 200-year-old song could stike such a powerful chord with the very young TikTok community. The lyrics refers to a supply ship that comes with good for a whaling station. Nathan’s original already had the harmony parts on it. This means that subsequent duets have built upon an already nicely finished arrangement.
Learn Luke Taylor’s first bass part: https://www.tiktok.com/@_luke.the.voice_/video/6911209793847905541?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v3
A few more voices added by Luke Taylor: https://www.tiktok.com/@_luke.the.voice_/video/6912171527127502086?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v3
With stringed instruments – a mash up by tellmewrldhttps://www.tiktok.com/@tellmewrld/video/6919648165796809986?lang=en&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v3
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Luke Taylor: _luke.the.voice_ – is a singer who has amassed a following of 1M+ on TikTok, known for his deep and rich harmonies.
Nathan Evans: nathanevanss – is a TikTok Sea Shanty star, often credited with starting what became a massive trend with the Sea Shanty, “The Wellerman.” He is now promoting his first tour through the UK & Ireland
5. Jessia and Elijah Woods Transforming “Maybe I’m Not Pretty”
This song was one of TikTok’s first collaborations to make it into mainstream music. It now gets played on the radio daily. Jessia’s melody (recorded in her car) was dressed up with instrumental parts by Elijah Woods. In order for you to sing a melody that can have other instrumentals and electronic parts added to it, you might think you have to sing it perfectly in tune and perfectly consistent tempo. Not true. Though a great sense of pitch is a sign of good musicianship, an imperfect pitch can be fixed digitally.
What is so powerful about this duet is its expressive quality. Never forget that the true requirement of creating a vocal that could have other parts added on by someone else is to make sure it is expressive! So, express your lyrics powerfully so that others will catch that spark – and get inspired to add to it.
Also, here’s a link to the full single on Spotify:
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Jessia: @jessiamusic is a singer-songwriter whose recent single went viral on TikTok, leading it to be produced by Elijah Woods.
Elijah Woods: @elijahwoodsmusic is a music producer and singer songwriter who recently released a single titled Good Guys elijahwoods.lnk.to/goodguys
Kathy Alexander is VP of Curriculum for Singdaptive. She was a staff writer for 6 years at VoiceCouncil Magazine and works for the University of Victoria as a practicum supervisor. Kathy is also a singer, vocal coach and choir director. Career highlights include guest appearances in Europe with Quannah Parker jazz fusion band in Norway, and back on the West Coast with Vision TV’s Let’s Sing Again, The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and the Victoria International Jazz Festival.