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The Fifty Voices of Elvis Presley


By: Jim Burrows
Source: Elvis Australia
August 16, 2017 - 5:51:52 AM
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'Elvis Presley has been described variously as a baritone and a tenor. An extraordinary compass- the so-called register, and a very wide range of vocal color have something to do with this divergence of opinion. The voice covers two octaves and a third, from the baritone low-G to the tenor high B, with an upward extension in falsetto to at least a D flat. Presley's best octave is in the middle, D-flat to D-flat, granting an extra full step up or down. Call him a high baritone. In 'It's now or never', (1960), he ends it in a full voice cadence (A, G, F), that has nothing to do with the vocal devices of R&B and Country. That A-note is hit right on the nose, and it is rendered less astonishing only by the number of tracks where he lands easy and accurate B-flats. Moreover, he has not been confined to one type of vocal production. In ballads and country songs, he belts out full-voiced high G's and A's that an opera baritone might envy. He is a naturally assimilative stylist with a multiplicity of voices - in fact, Elvis' is an extraordinary voice or many voices'. (Henry Pleasants, in his book 'The Great American Popular Singers' 1974).

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The Fifty Voices of Elvis Presley

'Elvis' lowest effective note was a low-G, as heard on 'He'll Have To Go' (1976); on 'King Creole' (1958), he growls some low-F's; going up, his highest full-voiced notes were the high-B's in 'Surrender' (1961) and 'Merry Christmas Baby' (1971), the high-G at the end of 'My Way' (1976 live version), and the high-A of 'An American Trilogy' (1972); using falsetto, Elvis could reach at least a high-E, e.g, as in 'Unchained Melody' (1977), so, it was very nearly a three-octave range, although more practically two-and-a-half'.

No wonder Elvis is responsible for the sale of so many records, for who could do that, by sounding the same.

I've found that Presley gave us, in his twenty-three-year career, about fifty voices, from the bottom to the top registries. Incidentally, there is no trend, chronologically, as to why this was possible.

In other words, Elvis Presley could go to the bottom, then to the top, not just within the same recording session, but within a song, actually. It has little to do with his aging process and a lot to do with, on the one hand, his having a highly unusual center of gravity, on the vocal registry side and, on the other, his endless search and willingness to sing better, as his career progressed.

So different are Elvis' voices, that if one could find a person who has never heard an Elvis Presley recording, and you put him, or her, on an island, then had that person listen to these fifty songs, mixed with say, those of 12 other distinctive singers, and then you then ask him or her, to classify them, to separate the singers, I could bet a million dollars that the person would never say that there are 13 singers, as would be the case, but at least 25. So below the titles of 50 Elvis Presley renditions yielding as many different voices.

The following list is from the lower to the higher registries.

Low

He'll Have To Go (1976)
King Creole (1958)
Blue Moon (1954)
Baby, Let's Play House (1955)
Anyway You Want Me (That's How I Will Be) (1956)

Low To Middle

Lawdy Miss Clawdy (1956)
Such A Night (1960)
It Hurts Me (1964)
There's Always Me (1961)
Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
Jailhouse Rock (1957)
Santa Claus Is Back In Town (1957)
If I Can Dream (1968)
Miracle Of The Rosary (1971)
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (1956)
Milky White Way (1961)
Hard Headed Woman (1958)
Don't Be Cruel (1956)
Treat Me Nice (1957)
One-sided Love Affair (1956)
Viva Las Vegas (1964)

Middle To High

Are You Lonesome Tonight? (1960)
Guitar Man (1968)
Got A Lot O' Living To Do (1957)
Anyplace Is Paradise (1956)
Mystery Train (1955)
Milkcow Blues Boogie (1954)
Wearin' That Loved On Look (1969)
Any Day Now (1969)
In The Ghetto (1969)
Hound Dog (1956)
My Baby Left Me (1956)
Stranger In My Own Home Town (1969)
An American Trilogy (1972)
It's Impossible (1972)
I Need You So (1957)
Money Honey (1956)
I Believe In The Man In The Sky (1960)
Suspicious Minds (1969)

Highest

It's Now Or Never (1960)
Hurt (1976)
Trying To Get To You (1955)
Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
Burning Love (1972)
Promised Land (1975)
A Big Hunk O' Love (1958)
That's All Right Mama (1954)
How Great Thou Art (1976)

You mean that's all the same guy?

I introduced my grandson to Elvis Presley songs by way of the cassette 'Elvis A Legendary Performer, Volume 4' which includes When It Rains, It Really Pours; One Night; I'm Beginning to Forget You; Mona Lisa; Plantation Rock; Swing Down Sweet Chariot; The Lady Loves Me; Wooden Heart; That's All Right; Are You Lonesome Tonight?; Reconsider Baby; and I'll Remember You. Even at age 9 my grandson had a good ear. With great surprise he blurted, 'You mean that's all the same guy?' (From Kathleen L : United States).

Read more about Elvis Presleys vocal ability at ....

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Articles about Elvis Presley The Fifty Voices of Elvis Presley

'Elvis' lowest effective note was a low-G, as heard on 'He'll Have To Go' (1976); on 'King Creole' (1958), he growls some low-F's; going up, his highest full-voiced notes were the high-B's in 'Surrender' (1961) and 'Merry Christmas Baby' (1971), the high-G at the end of 'My Way' (1976 live version), and the high-A of 'An American Trilogy' (1972); using falsetto, Elvis could reach at least a high-E, e.g, as in 'Unchained Melody' (1977), so, it was very nearly a three-octave range, although more practically two-and-a-half'.

No wonder Elvis is responsible for the sale of so many records, for who could do that, by sounding the same.


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