I am a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter. Singing for me has been a long road but recently I found out something very interesting.
I have a certain song that I am very fond of but I have struggled to make a recording that I am satisfied with. Basically it always sound a bit flat at certain points. I've tried bringing it down a tone (a bit of a pain as it has a guitar part that more or less needs open strings, so I tuned down to D) but really it wasn't much better.
I've done quite a bit of work on my voice and I know that I am not always flat, and the reason for this really eluded me. This week I had a bit of an epiphany.
I bought the whole thing UP a semitone, and voila! it sounds much better I think.
I worked on this with my singing teacher and we figured out in the end that it seemed to be about the vowel sounds that come out on certain notes that sit right in the middle of my vocal break. There are certain notes that have open vowels "ah" or "oh" in a descending line. By doing a lot of practice on vowel sounds through the break I found that those notes need to be a bit more in "head" voice but the ones before them more in "chest" (even though they are higher). It's really not comfortable to do that in the middle of a line that goes down, and the result is that the lower notes tend to come out a bit flat.
This really explains a lot to me. It also explains to me why the key is of such importance to a singer.
Can a singer eventually hope to attain true "12 key" technique as most instrumentalists can (of course some keys will always be a bit easier, but a competent musician could play a simple melody perfectly well in any key), or will this kind of thing always be a concern for a singer?