Elvis Presley’s Three-Octave Vocal Range


Guest blog by Ruddy Adam.

The first song by Elvis is a lead-in to a piece I have coming out on Elvis’ magnificent voice, an extraordinary asset of his that is often not mentioned by the media. Elvis does just about everything a singer can do with his voice. In this song, “What Now My Love,” Elvis displays his rare vocal range. Three-octaves, baby! Three!

Over the years I’ve told people that Elvis had a 3-octave range with either perfect tone or right at perfect, both of which are rarer than people who use their right- and left-brain equally well; but most did not believe it. Even a couple of musicologists (who should have known) have disputed my claim. After playing them this song, they admitted wrong, just after they lifted themselves off the floor. Their view of Elvis immediately jumped a couple of octaves.

Song One: “What Now My Love,” where Elvis finishes the song showing his 3-octave range voice. Live, too! No lip-synching by Elvis, as hundreds of other singers have done and still do, Barbra Streisand for one. Live performance is where you find whether the voice can stand the fire, or whether it melts like ice in August. Notice Elvis conducting his musicians; the man was no slouch in any part of music.

Whether you’ve been trained to hear range or not, it doesn’t make any difference. Anybody can hear this; it’s right at the end of the song. You can tell how satisfied Elvis is that he knows he’s nailed a hat-trick.

Song Two: “Trying To Get To You,” by Elvis (Live)

In this song there are several things to notice: One, Elvis loved songs that brought the Lord into them, because he loved singing about Him, and so he often chose songs with Christian lyrics. Two, notice — again — Elvis’ passion. You have to love what you’re doing to put that much passion forth. Third, listen to what he does with his voice. There are creamy smooth lines, and then there are gruff breathy ones. His decibel level goes from a soft 2 to a full-voiced 5 — the top end of the sound level. Elvis often used his ability to sing from just above a whisper (a 1 on the decibel scale), and amplify to a still soft voice, then to a normal one, and then blast out to a full-voiced five-level, as classical music uses melodic builds to create crescendos.

It’s truly astonishing. (Click the link for the lyrics.)

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