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High School Musical voicing

  • 1.  High School Musical voicing

    Posted 15 days ago
    Can High School Musical be done without true tenors? My students really want to do it but I don't even know how we could rehearse it in lower keys...seems on MTI you can pay to lower performance tracks but not rehearsal tracks.

    Would you even venture to do it if you didn't have at least 3 really strong guys?

    Still looking for musical,

    Melinda Carlson

  • 2.  RE: High School Musical voicing

    Posted 15 days ago

    You can always have performers sing things in a lower octave if they can hit the notes. Or even just the parts of the songs that are too high. 

    If you want to bring the songs into a different Key you run into a few different issues, because it's going to affect the other performers as well and the instruments playing the music. 

    if you are using Orchestra for the performance, as you noted, it can change the keys. Rehearsescore also allows you to alter the key, tempo, make cuts etc. This is the best option. I don't know if Rehearsescore is available for HSM, but if it is it's worth the investment.

    if you are using a track, you could lower the key by using a program like Adobe audition or Apple Logic, but again, you're going to have some songs that sound weird because some instruments can't play in some lower keys.

    My strongest advice is to have the actors sing the songs in the original keys and alter the sections of the song they can't hit through different voicings of just those parts. That way it sounds like what everyone is used to hearing except for the trouble areas.

    I hope this helps.

    Break a Leg!

    Randall Adkison,
    Interim Executive Director, Florida Association for Theatre Education
    Assistant State Director for Festival Operations, Florida Thespians

    Teaching Artist, Teaching Artist Alliance

  • 3.  RE: High School Musical voicing

    Posted 15 days ago
    Yes! We did have some strong males in our Newsies cast, but we cast all females we could, for Newsies, one of the Delancey brothers and for one of the Pulitzer group. All of our kids wanted to dance so we double cast many to get them into at least one dance. That's not necessary, we were just accommodating because they were all so excited about the show. 
    It is a great show and the kids absolutely love it!

  • 4.  RE: High School Musical voicing

    Posted 14 days ago
    You can change the keys for rehearsal tracks by using a program that allows you to transpose keys. Try using the free program Audacity. The voices will sound a bit funky but will allow everyone to learn the songs in the right keys. If you need to change key more than 1-2 full steps (depends on the recording), I highly suggest paying the extra money for them to change the key of your performance tracks for you. If it's only 1-2 full steps and it doesn't lose too much quality and sound weird, then do it yourself. It really depends on how the song was recorded. If it was recorded at a higher rate, then you can change the key much more easily and if it's just an instrumental that seems to be much easier to manipulate than vocals. I my book it's totally ok to have vocals sound weird since the kids are only using it as a learning tool. Hope this helps. Good luck.

    Rachel Menconi

  • 5.  RE: High School Musical voicing

    Posted 14 days ago
    I've done the show twice and both times I been lucky to have a very strong tenor as Troy (below). I don't know any way around that unless you can transpose. And the role is written HIGH. It's a hard role to sing and frankly, a bit difficult to cast because of that. If you recall, even Zak Efron didn't do his own singing in the part. 

    On the other hand, I didn't have especially strong singers in any of the other male roles and it worked just fine. My Ryan was an okay singer. He could certainly carry a tune but he was cast more for acting than for his vocal chops and he was great. It's not that hard a vocal part. And none of the other boys have solos; Chad, Zeke, etc were all ensemble singers. None of them had show-stopping voices. 

    So I'd say the good news is that you can do the show with just one strong male singer. You don't need three. But that one boy needs to be pretty good and he needs to be a high tenor belt. If you can find a Troy Bolton, the rest of the cast falls into place pretty easily. 

  • 6.  RE: High School Musical voicing

    Posted 14 days ago

    I co-directed High School Musical a little over a year ago.  Since I was not the musical director, I cannot answer your question about doing it without true tenors directly.  However, I can give a little advice on your other question.  Troy definitely needs to be a strong singer as he has several solos and duets.  Also, Ryan needs to be a strong performer to pull off the scenes with Sharpay.  As I recall, Troy and Ryan sang mostly in the middle and higher registeries, not necessarily low like a true tenor.  Beyond those two, the others just need to be competent singers.  Just be sure you have enough males to pull off "Get'cha Head in the Game."  We didn't have enough males to stage a full team, but we did do the song but it was a little difficult with a minimal amount of guys.

    Hope this information is helpful,

    Ken Robinson

    Kenneth Robinson
    Drama Club Sponsor
    Wapahani High School
    Selma IN