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Lowest Note Hit by Karen

Karen4ever

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Thread Starter
I recall years ago reading somewhere (I'm too lazy to track it down on the internet) that Richard had stated that the lowest note hit by Karen in a recording was in A Song For You. However, to my ears Karen hit notes lower still in (I'm Caught Between) Goodbye and I Love You as well as in The End of the World.

Did Richard's statement pre-date the releases of the Now and Then and Horizon albums?
 

Chris May

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I recall years ago reading somewhere (I'm too lazy to track it down on the internet) that Richard had stated that the lowest note hit by Karen in a recording was in A Song For You. However, to my ears Karen hit notes lower still in (I'm Caught Between) Goodbye and I Love You as well as in The End of the World.

Did Richard's statement pre-date the releases of the Now and Then and Horizon albums?
Her lowest note was a "D" below middle "C", which was heard on A Song For You.

Karen's lowest note in both (I'm Caught Between) Goodbye and I Love You as well as End Of The World is "E", which is still an entire step above. And I believe he mentioned it in the Fans Ask section of the official website about 10 years ago. :)
 

Joe P.

Member
Richard is correct...

"He's playing sol - i - taaaaaire" ... is an E note.

"Like the devil and the deep blue seeeeeeeeeeeea ... is an E note.

"It ended when you said good bye, eye... eye... eye... is an E note.

"I've made some bad rhyme"... is a D note.
"You are a friend of mine" ... is a D note.
 
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Chris May

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I would love for someone to make a Karen Carpenter vocal range video on YouTube. There's so many Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, and Mariah Carey videos where people have done that. Heck, even Madonna has tons of vocal range videos. Karen belongs up there too.
Well, like I said, figure her lowest note is heard in A Song For You when she sings "I've sung a lot of songs, I've made some bad rhyme...", ending on a "D" below middle "C". And her highest can be heard in the backing vocal overdubs on Calling Occupants, during the "Aaaaah" section, hitting a high "F sharp", landing on "E", two full octaves above the low "E" heard on I'm Caught Between and End Of The World.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
And her highest can be heard in the backing vocal overdubs on Calling Occupants, during the "Aaaaah" section, hitting a high "F sharp", landing on "E", three full octaves above the low "E" heard on I'm Caught Between and End Of The World.
Chris, what about the highest note she sings in B'Wana? Just before the last drum fill towards the end, where the backing vocals go "ooooh ahhhh!". I've always been convinced that's as high if not higher.
 

Chris May

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Chris, what about the highest note she sings in B'Wana? Just before the last drum fill towards the end, where the backing vocals go "ooooh ahhhh!". I've always been convinced that's as high if not higher.
Believe it or not, the note you're referring to (which ends on a B flat) is four whole steps lower than the highest note in Occupants. It's just featured more prominently in the mix of B'wana, so it sounds higher to the ear.

Going back to the question earlier in the thread about Karen's low register, often times people think Karen hit her lowest note(s) on Horizon and subsequent albums. And they WERE low - within a half-step from her lowest in comfortable range. However, I think this is because her voice had fully developed by this point and the timbre of her lower register was most defined. Also note that a *word* itself that a vocalist sings has everything to do with the way a note is shaped. Often times regardless of the register, you can give someone the same note or tone, sung on top of two entirely different words, and the shape of the vowel will construct the output and strength of the note. There are lots of these examples when it comes to Karen obviously. :)
 
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Don Malcolm

Well-Known Member
Chris, as always, fascinating info and musical analysis. I would love to see you write something more extended about Karen's singing, as much of what we have just doesn't do her justice--YOU could do that!

You were talking high notes--since the Occupants example is from her backing vocals, I was wondering what's the highest note she hits when singing lead? GaryAlan has a thought about this in another recent thread, and I agree with him that Karen hitting high notes can be just as thrilling an experience as the "basement notes" (the closing note on "Two Sides" certainly qualifies in my book, and I remain enamored with the higher stylings on early songs such as "Love Is Surrender" and "Help!")...but I would love to get your info/perspective on this...
 

Tony

Active Member
And her highest can be heard in the backing vocal overdubs on Calling Occupants, during the "Aaaaah" section, hitting a high "F sharp", landing on "E", three full octaves above the low "E" heard on I'm Caught Between and End Of The World.
Chris, can you be more specific where this particular high note is?

Just curious, what's the low note that Karen hits in the backing vocals at the 1:50 mark on Still Crazy After All These Years?
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Chris, can you be more specific where this particular high note is?

Just curious, what's the low note that Karen hits in the backing vocals at the 1:50 mark on Still Crazy After All These Years?
Chris will confirm but I think that's a D below middle C as well.
 

Chris May

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Chris, can you be more specific where this particular high note is?

Just curious, what's the low note that Karen hits in the backing vocals at the 1:50 mark on Still Crazy After All These Years?
The low note you're referring to, where she sings "...longing my life a-way..." lands on an E flat. This is still a half-step higher than her lowest recorded note. For more direct reference, it's the same note that she sings at the opening of Only Yesterday: "After long enough...". Hope this helps! :)
 

Tony

Active Member
Thanks Chris! I'm still curious where exactly the high note takes place in Occupants. I listened to it earlier and couldn't detect it.
 

Chris May

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Thanks Chris! I'm still curious where exactly the high note takes place in Occupants. I listened to it earlier and couldn't detect it.
So sorry! It's located at the third "Aaaaah" near the end of the tune. For the most transparent reference, listen to the iso'd stem here at 4:55:

 

Tony

Active Member
So sorry! It's located at the third "Aaaaah" near the end of the tune. For the most transparent reference, listen to the iso'd stem here at 4:55:

That's fantastic! I had no idea this was there. Thanks a million.
 

Chris May

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Chris, as always, fascinating info and musical analysis. I would love to see you write something more extended about Karen's singing, as much of what we have just doesn't do her justice--YOU could do that!

You were talking high notes--since the Occupants example is from her backing vocals, I was wondering what's the highest note she hits when singing lead? GaryAlan has a thought about this in another recent thread, and I agree with him that Karen hitting high notes can be just as thrilling an experience as the "basement notes" (the closing note on "Two Sides" certainly qualifies in my book, and I remain enamored with the higher stylings on early songs such as "Love Is Surrender" and "Help!")...but I would love to get your info/perspective on this...
That's a great question. I too agree that she really shines at the end of Two Sides as well as on much of the Christmas stuff as GaryAlan alluded to. I'll sift through the catalog at some point maybe today to see if I can recall where some of the upper register on the leads would sit with Karen overall. On a side note, I've always been a fan of vocal doubling, not only in stuff I've produced but very much so in the way Richard would do with Karen. You'll notice that most of those (bridges and choruses) tend to sit in the upper range and sound incredible on many of the Carpenters recordings. There's what's referred to in pop as a [pop] "strain" when artists push their upper range below the breaking point, and doubling the unison leads like Karen did so brilliantly just accentuated that in my opinion.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Believe it or not, the note you're referring to (which ends on a B flat) is four whole steps lower than the highest note in Occupants. It's just featured more prominently in the mix of B'wana, so it sounds higher to the ear.
Chris, I might be wrong but my ears hear Karen hit a note several tones higher in B'Wana than that section of Occupants. I've done a sound file comparison of the two parts I mean.

I can hit the Occupants note myself in falsetto, but the B'Wana note is way out of my range!

Vocaroo | Voice message (http://vocaroo.com/i/s0XghojgW6eT)
 
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Mark-T

Well-Known Member
The low note you're referring to, where she sings "...longing my life a-way..." lands on an E flat. This is still a half-step higher than her lowest recorded note. For more direct reference, it's the same note that she sings at the opening of Only Yesterday: "After long enough...". Hope this helps! :)
I find this discovery fascinating! I am not musical at all. But these two examples reflects two spots where I am constantly reminded what a great vocalist she is. I LOVE Still Crazy (probably my favorite solo album cut) and Only Yesterday. Both very different but both distinctively Karen.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The upper vocal in Occupants is buried in the final mix. Try doing a comparison with an isolated mix of the backing vocals here (at 4:55):

I took a listen but the B'Wana note sounds higher to me - by my reckoning 4 semi tones higher! Strange!
 

Mike Blakesley

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What is the low note she sings at the end of "The End of the World" (in the oldies medley) during the word "goodbye?" That's a pretty low one.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
It would seem we've got two separate threads running now with some of her highest notes now mentioned in the "lowest notes" thread :laugh:
 

Chris May

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I took a listen but the B'Wana note sounds higher to me - by my reckoning 4 semi tones higher! Strange!
I'm hearing it down an octave from where you're placing it, making it 6 semitones lower than that Occupants reference. :)
 

Chris May

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I took a listen but the B'Wana note sounds higher to me - by my reckoning 4 semi tones higher! Strange!
I stand corrected!! I figured I'd break away to A/B the two more seriously and you're right! The Occupants overdub is actually voiced an octave lower than I first assumed, putting the high note in B'wana 4 semitones above. Great ear and my apologies for the misinformation! :D
 
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