Vocal Boot Camp: Riffs and Runs

A step by step guide to modern vocal improvisation for musicians and intermediate vocalists.
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1,179 students enrolled Bestselling in Vocal Training
Instructed by Paul McKay Music / Music Techniques
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  • Lectures 14
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level Intermediate Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 6/2014 English

Course Description

Vocal riffs and runs are a skill that most of today's top selling Pop, R&B and Gospel vocalists seem to have mastered. They're often performed quickly and expressively. Riffs and runs add artistic flair to a vocal performance.

This program is designed to give musicians vocalists introductory exposure to riffs and runs. It begins with a brief introduction explaining, with demonstrations, the difference between a "riff" and a "run".

The introduction is followed by a systematic, progressive explanation of the pentatonic scale and its 5 inversions. The exercises themselves are in the key of D major and the listener can choose a lower octave than demonstrated depending on his/her preference.

Finally, non-pentatonic Riffs and Runs are explored with mp3 tracks to supplement.

It takes about an hour to complete the course, but the skills introduced should be regularly reinforced by practice for a period of at least 8 months.

What are the requirements?

  • Participant should have reasonable vocal ability
  • The course requires your active participation. Sing along with the exercises, practise them and your improvisation skills will improve.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • By the end of the course, you will be able to perform many of the riffs and runs of modern contemporary vocalists
  • In this course you will learn how to use the Pentatonic Scale to perform riffs and runs
  • How to creatively apply riffs and runs to your current improvisation style
  • You will develop Vocal flexibility-modern coloratura styling.

What is the target audience?

  • Participants with at least moderate vocal ability will find this program useful
  • Course intended for those interested in developing modern vocalization technique

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Riffs and Runs: A Brief Introduction.
05:05

This Video describes the difference between a "riff" and a "run" and explains how to perform them, giving specific examples. The last phrase of the "Star Spangled Banner" is sung as a demonstration.

Further, this lecture encourages the participant to practise Riffs and Runs slowly before speeding them up.

04:07

This vocal exercise is designed to train your ear for modern vocal improvisation.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ------------> 1=A4, 2=B4, 3=D4, 4=E4, 5=F#4

The above lecture starts using a progressive number system (1, 121, 12321, 1234321, 123454321) This number system helps you to keep track of which pentatonic note you are singing.

Next, the 5 vowels of a basic "vowel spectrum" are used and the same notes are sung again.

Basic Vowel Spectrum: "Ee", "Eh", "Ah", "Oh", "Oo"

This particular inversion of the pentatonic scale has been chosen as the "1st inversion" because it is the most commonly used inversion (along with 2nd and 3rd).

Please refer to lecture 7 for a demonstration of how is pentatonic inversion is used in a performance.

04:05

Blues/Soul singers like Aretha Franklin, Alisha Keys, and Bebe King, use this inversion in their improvisation. Please refer to lecture 7 for a demonstration of how it is used in a performance.

In this exercise the order of the notes of the pentatonic scale are rearranged, starting with number "2" and ending with number "1":

2, 3, 4, 5, 1 -----------------> 2=B4, 3=D4, 4=E4, 5=F#4, 1=A5

PENTATONIC EXERCISE 2:

2, 232, 23432, 2345432, 234515432.

The numer "1" now represents the last note of the scale. In the previous lecture, the number "1" represented the first note.

Next, the 5 vowels of a basic "vowel spectrum" are used and the same notes are sung again.

Basic Vowel Spectrum: "Ee", "Eh", "Ah", "Oh", "Oo"

(Please note the external resources included in as a part of this lecture"

05:09

Pop and R&B Vocalists like Beyonce Knowles and Mariah Carey use this inversion of the pentatonic scale. Please refer to Lecture 7 for a demonstration of how it sounds when used in a performance.

This third lecture demonstrates the 3rd pentatonic inversion using a number system that starts with "3". and ends with "2":

3, 4, 5, 1, 2 -----------------> 3=D4, 4=E4, 5=F#4, 1=A5, 2=B5

PENTATONIC EXERCISE 3:

3,343,34543, 3451543, 345121543.

"2" now represents the last note of the scale. In the previous lecture "2" represented the first note.

Next, the 5 basic vowels of the vowel spectrum are used and the same notes are sung again.

Basic Vowel Spectrum: "Ee", "Eh", "Ah", "Oh", "Oo"

05:25

R&B and Gospel vocalists like Mali and Kierra Sheard use this 4th inversion. Please refer to lecture 7 for a demonstration of how it sounds when used in a performance.

The fourth lecture demonstrates the 4th pentatonic inversion using a number system that starts with "4" and ends with "3":

4, 5, 1, 2, 3 -----------------> 4=E4, 5=F#4, 1=A5, 2=B5, 3=D5

PENTATONIC EXERCISE 4:

4, 454, 45154, 4512154, 451232154.

"3" now represents the last note of the scale. In the previous lecture "3" represented the first note.

Next, the 5 basic vowels of the vowel spectrum are used and the same notes are sung again.

Basic Vowel Spectrum: "Ee", "Eh", "Ah", "Oh", "Oo"

04:48

This final inversion of the pentatonic is used by R&B, Gospel and some Pop vocalists. Please refer to lecture number 7 for a demonstration of how it is performed.

5 is the first number of this scale and 4 is the last:

5,1,2,3,4 -----------------> 5=F#4,1=A5, 2=B5, 3=D5, 4=E5

PENTATONIC EXERCISE 5:

5, 515, 51215, 5123215, 512343215

"4" now represents the last note of the scale. In the previous lecture, "3" represented the first note.

Finally, the 5 basic vowels of the vowel spectrum are used and the same notes are sung again.

Basic Vowel Spectrum: "Ee", "Eh", "Ah", "Oh", "Oo"

Section 2: Pentatonic Style
05:38

This lecture demonstrates how to perform "pentatonic exercises" 1 through 5, with a style that is more appropriate for modern vocalization.

All of the same notes are used, but a variety of different rhythms are applied. Glissandos and other vocal accents are also demonstrated in context of the pentatonic scale.

02:33

Paul McKay performs "Amazing Grace" using the pentatonic scale to improvise.

Throughout the performance, editorial notes describe selected riffs and runs.

Section 3: non-Pentatonic/mixed riffs and runs
08:34

Not all riffs and runs are purely pentatonic. This lecture introduces a modern, non-pentatonic/mixed run, and demonstrates step by step how to perform it.

Seven audio files are included in this lecture for you to download and practice.

05:29

This lecture builds on the ideas presented in lecture 9 and expands on them. It introduces a new run and demonstrates how to perform it.

Seven audio files are included in this lecture for you to download and practice.

non-pentatonic/mixed riff #3
06:06
non-pentatonic/mixed riff #4
07:09
non-pentatonic/mixed riff #5
06:32
non-pentatonic/mixed riff #6
07:17

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Instructor Biography

Paul McKay, Voice Coach

Paul McKay has worked with many of the Music Industries leading producers, songwriters and performers (Midi Mafia, Dangerous LLC., Drake, Fantasia Barrino, and Anthony Brown to name a few). High belted mixed and head voice sounds are characteristic of his style as well, as extraordinarily unique improvisation.

Paul McKay is a classically trained pianist with the Royal Conservatory of Music and also attended the University of Toronto to obtain his Bachelor of Commerce Degree.

His method of voice coaching is an eclectic mix of traditional opera technique and more contemporary, vocalization styles.

Paul currently operates OneVoice Music Academy; a place where potential vocalists and musicians from all over the world are trained and mentored by experienced professionals.

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