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More practicing today. I quickly recorded these sirens with the dampen and release onset, up to C5. How do the higher notes sound? Also, what's up with the cracking? http://vocaroo.com/i/s0Xp2c0n5GuJ

 Also, I recorded me screaming an G5, A5, and A#5. Is this highly compressed head voice? I can't ever imagine using this for what I want to sing, but still an interesting sound to make: http://vocaroo.com/i/s0Tge8F4NZOA

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I had a pretty big breakthrough today. I managed to refine my head voice much more, and it now sounds better than acceptable (in my opinion). There are still issues with the bridging, but I'm sure additional practice will smooth out those problems. 

Here are some sirens I did using the track and release onset on the bottom and wind and release on the top. 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s14ZQaM0lF5a

 

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On June 7, 2016 at 3:46 PM, muffinhead said:

I had a pretty big breakthrough today. I managed to refine my head voice much more, and it now sounds better than acceptable (in my opinion). There are still issues with the bridging, but I'm sure additional practice will smooth out those problems. 

Here are some sirens I did using the track and release onset on the bottom and wind and release on the top. 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s14ZQaM0lF5a

 

Hi muffinhead, congrats on your progress man! I think that in order to take the most out of the sirens you should try not to rush through them, especially at the passagio, so you are not avoiding the area, and build the muscle memory of the coordination needed. Good job:41:

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I've finally started to make my head voice sound good. I managed to find the coordination today (might have been using the horizontal embouchure) that allowed me to sing a solid A4 and A#4 on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, I couldn't consistently produce these notes with the same quality heard in the recording.

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1kfM6TNEH9M

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That is starting to sound better.  Try to hold the note at the top a little longer and settle into it.

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I agree with MDEW. You are letting the note crash at the top. Instead, imagine the note going one, even as you end it. Something else you might think of. As you start the onset, end with the onset. The onset can be bookends to the note. That might work better than imagining the note continuing. So, if you have a QR onset, end the note thinking of that QR onset.

But your range is really good and you have a lot of usable volume up there, something others struggle for years to get.

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Robert's advice, regarding one of the resistance workouts, worked. I have managed to get more consistent and powerful A4's, and sometimes A#4's. It seems that putting notes after A4 "back into the throat" more helps immensely with stability and power. 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0iYSn8DDU4s

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Another breakthrough today. I think I've gained greater control over the CT muscle, and was overusing the TA muscle before, effectively making my higher notes belts rather than head tones. I was able to go up to a C5 briefly without resorting to using a quacky-sounding, falsettoish, noise. 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1BO1LpvP8PW

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0iTEc1CEgPz

http://vocaroo.com/i/s09lPnInZUYU

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Definitely stepping in the right direction. Now you are not crashing end notes on the siren, which I think is a great improvement. And nice to hear your progress applied to "Black Hole Sun." That song sounds good in your voice and you should keep it as both a song to have in your "set list" and as a benchmark to measure your progress. In the end, even as good as your sirens get, the song is the thing.

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On June 7, 2016 at 11:46 AM, muffinhead said:

I had a pretty big breakthrough today. I managed to refine my head voice much more, and it now sounds better than acceptable (in my opinion). There are still issues with the bridging, but I'm sure additional practice will smooth out those problems. 

Here are some sirens I did using the track and release onset on the bottom and wind and release on the top. 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s14ZQaM0lF5a

 

- Good bridge.

But...

- Slow it down! This is too fast. You are cheating your body/voice from the opportunity of gaining more motor skills and strength. "sloppy" sirens equal, a weak voice and continuation of confusion and frustration about singing and your voice.

- At :50, you need to lift the soft palate and tune in more /a/ (cat) to find the resonance.

- The phonation needs to have narrowing to it. The embouchure and vowel are too splatty and wide on top... use the mid-narrowed TVS curbing vowel, "ou" (would) to narrow the vocal track and anchor the TA muscle more. No narrowing = In ability to articulate / sing in the head voice.

- At 1:01, your voice broke... why would you ignore that and then race forward to the next scale without working on that transition? You can't afford to have the voice break and then ignore it. That is your "cue" to pay attention and slow down and work on that movement!

- Good intuitive use of the onsets!  I hear T&R, A&R, W&R onsets in here and they are all used in a smart, intuitive way. GOOD JOB!!!!  That's the way to do the TVS Onsets... you notice how intuitive they become after a while.

 

Overall, I'll give you a B+... I can see you are practicing. Great work!

Coach

 

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Today saw an even bigger improvement. Up to C5 (and beyond, although tone quality starts to diminish a lot more) with stability. I'd say I've finally found the coordination essential to bridging M1-M2. Of course, not tonally great, but the stability and coordination is there to build upon. 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0nuvXlvL12R

(Please pardon me Robert, I went quickly through these sirens because I was so excited.)

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It's been a while... I've gotten some decent progress, especially after a 2 week break for a vacation. My A4 is getting better, and it's showing in my songs as well. 

A steady held A4: 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s10LUyFdJRf2

Part of "Junkhead" by Alice in Chains

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1Y9rK7up61w

and part of "Love Hate Love" by Alice in Chains

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1XkE7XwdsEh

 

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Man, you are getting a lot of volume up there, which is a good step, I think. And those are the right kind of songs to start with, too. As time goes by and you become more acclimated to that part of your range, your expression will vary. Right now, it's like a long and loud note that changes pitch during the melody. Which I think is okay, for training. Because I can hear you have pretty good vowels and your articulation is nice and easy, allowing the note to go forth.

Right now, you have volume that could crack a mountain and I know that is a delicious feeling. And 30 years from now, when you are still able to do that, it will be delicious, then, too.

Keep up the good work.

 

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2 hours ago, ronws said:

Man, you are getting a lot of volume up there, which is a good step, I think. And those are the right kind of songs to start with, too. As time goes by and you become more acclimated to that part of your range, your expression will vary. Right now, it's like a long and loud note that changes pitch during the melody. Which I think is okay, for training. Because I can hear you have pretty good vowels and your articulation is nice and easy, allowing the note to go forth.

Right now, you have volume that could crack a mountain and I know that is a delicious feeling. And 30 years from now, when you are still able to do that, it will be delicious, then, too.

Keep up the good work.

 

Thanks a lot :D Right now I'm focusing nearly 100% on power for high notes, not on dynamics or agility, which I'm pretty lacking in at this point, and which, as you mentioned, aren't so important for much of the music I want to sing. I really want to be able to produce phonations like these 

as always, very happy to hear I'm going in the right direction. 

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Great progress Muffinhead. It seems to be helping you to get stronger. 

Make sure you review the lesson, "Articulating Lyrics In A Head Voice Belt".

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On 8/5/2016 at 11:39 PM, muffinhead said:

Thanks a lot :D Right now I'm focusing nearly 100% on power for high notes, not on dynamics or agility, which I'm pretty lacking in at this point, and which, as you mentioned, aren't so important for much of the music I want to sing. I really want to be able to produce phonations like these 

as always, very happy to hear I'm going in the right direction. 

And your progress is following the curve of what mine was. I developed huge power and volume up top and the finer control, when needed, came later. And true, it depends on style or genre of music as to how much softer, finer passages are needed. As long as what you can do is repeatable and does not result in loss of voice or pain. Notice I did nt say fatigue. Anything, including singing, can be fatiguing after a while because it is involving the use of tissues and muscles, etcetera, the body corporeal.

With practice and the actual training effect on muscles, down to a certain size, it becomes less fatiguing especially if staying within an expected limited of vocal usage specifically for singing. For beginners, I would suggest no more than 3 hours total in a day. But that's just my amateur idea.

But I do know a smidgeon about anatomy and mainly a little bit about how musculature works because I used to lift weights. I could butterfly 110 lb (50 kg) free-weights, or 135 lbs (65 or 70 kg) on machine. Muscles, when challenged with a workload greater than normal, tear down and re-build bigger, to handle the increased work load. You don't grow more muscle tissue, what you have tears down and re-builds bigger.

But if the muscle, instead, is now being tasked to complete the same work load but more often or for longer durations of time, then it re-builds the same size but more dense. The muscle cell then remains the same size but its material gets thicker. You can see this effect on fingertips when you learn to play guitar. Your finger developes a callus. The skin of the fingertip has not grown bigger, it has grown more dense. Muscles do that, too, to handle the workload expected.

In fact, a vocal nodule is the same thing. One point or another on the meeting surfaces of the folds that suffers repeated collisions, similar to how your your fingertip collides with a string on a guitar, rebuilds itself in that area thicker, to withstand repeated collisions and, in so doing, it is protecting the rest of the tissue and ligaments inside. Nodule is not a cancer, it is a callus. And it can have an effect on the sound produced because it is thicker than the surrounding tissue and may not vibrate as fast as surrounding tissue.

How do you get rid of nodules or any callus? By not doing what brought that on. A guitar player who quits playing guitar will eventually lose the calluses. Because epthileal tissue replaces itself all the time. You are literally not the physical person you were seven years ago.

With some activities you can reduce or avoid calluses by wearing gloves or other protective equipment, the main idea being to avoid the collisions of tissue with tissue or some other substance.

I don't think one can say that any training system will prevent calluses. But a training system like 4 Pillars goes a long way because it teaches you how to sing properly without damaging yourself, in a healthy way designed to keep you singing strong and loud and expressive for the next thirty or forty years. You can be the next John Bush.

When you are using your body in a proper manner, less damage occurs.

Now, you can go and be a rock star, where the pitfalls and dangers are still there. Being a rock star is a job, like any other job. Only, it's like an intermittent salary job, more like a commissions-only job. The exception being union musicians working in studios. but their pay is hourly and they are guaranteed three-hour blocks. But it is a job with difficult work environments. 

Stages may look glamorous but can be filled with danger. Pieces put together improperly. Smoke machine output obscures steps and obstacles and down you go. That's another thing. What's in the smoke machine? Vegetable oil, like a vaping tool? You will live. CO2? That is going to dry out your voice and make you sleepy.

You know why Van Halen put the m&m thing in their riders? I get this directly from reading Roth's memoirs, "Crazy From the Heat." He liked to do all those acrobatic karate moves. Slight bit of history, he had a weak bone condition as a child and had to wear metal braces from foot to shin bone until he was about 11 years old. Once the braces came off, he started studying kenpo karate, in which he holds a black belt. And also, the japanese sword fighting. In fact, he lives in Japan part of the time.

So, he likes to do the more acrobatic martial arts move as part of his show. And union rules in some cities require the use of local union workers to build stuff. And they would consistently NOT build the stage to his spec, Weak spots that would twist his ankle. Or build it in a venue with a low ceiling and not say anything. One show, David started with the jumping leg split off the drum platform and cracked his noggin on the ceiling.

Well the thing about contracts for tours, if either party fails to complete the contract, penalties are awarded. So, if tour management and locals failed to even exclude the proscribed m&m's, Van Halen did not have to pay them. This has the effect of teaching tour managers and union locals to read the contract carefully and do exactly what it says, including stage construction.

But you are also on the other side of the contract. You have to appear and perform on the assigned show dates and any others that are added as the tour goes on. Failure to appear involves a penalty. Either in the form of not receiving the performance fee from that night or some decided penalty amount from the whole amount of compensation.

So, there you are, 6 months into a 15 month tour, trying to sleep on a tour bus bouncing down the road, stretch in a bunk with the drummer's stinky feet about foot from your nose. You are at the mercy of whatever food you can find at truck stops, when you are usually busy making a bee line for the bathroom because you do not want to drop a deuce on the tour bus because that tank is NOT vented.

You have to get up early to do a radio interview because fans like that and it invites them to spend some hard-earned money to come to your show. The more press you get, usually the better the sales numbers in albums, show tickets, and merch.

In fact, side rant impending: every once in a while, people have to rag on Geoff Tate and say how his voice went to crap. And they usually link in a vid where he was doing a radio show interview and sang a song and was sounding rough. But if you listen carefully to the interview, they came into town the day before and did the show the night before. Left the stage approximately midnight. So, he gets back to the hotel to take a shower, change clothes, pack his stuff and check out for prep to ride to the next town. Get something to eat because it is been more than 8 hours since he had anything to eat. And then show up at the radio station about 5:45 am to prep for the interview. So, he has not been to bed since sometime the previous morning. He has been up and about for about 20 hours or more. And is singing a song because they begged him to do so.

And armchair or computer desk experts point to that as proof.

That could be you. So, training with 4 P is going to give you endurance and a methodology you will need to keep with you in those physically adverse conditions. You are on the right path with the right system and I know so because I hear Robert singing and his heroic sound fills any room. You also have one of those heroic voices and will go far.

Just watch out for low ceilings and brown m&m's.

 

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Gotten some good improvement since the last post. 

My coordination up to G#4 is pretty decent. I can now use G#4 in most songs (with practice of course)

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0yF3rTW4Qal

I can get up to A#4 in exercises, but the coordination is not ingrained yet; its application in songs right now is very unreliable 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s0qCWHqeJKtS

Here's a section of "Rooster" by AIC. I omitted a more difficult line with a B4 for obvious reasons

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1Z07dCU4EHZ

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4 hours ago, Gsoul82 said:

Great going, Muffin! You should come join us and take on the challenges in the Challenge forum. 

I'm not too sure I'm up to that yet. But I can definitely attempt it. 

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17 hours ago, muffinhead said:

I'm not too sure I'm up to that yet. But I can definitely attempt it. 

 

 

Don't worry, these are not challenges against each other. These are challenges against yourself. We select songs that aren't easy and work on them. I heard your clips. You are certainly capable. No pressure though. It would just add another element to your practice. :)

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Just agreeing with G. And yeah, the only challenge, as it were, is with yourself and not to put pressure on yourself. And also, remember, go back and listen to some of your earlier sound files so that you can also hear how you have improved. Which gives the inspiration and confirmation that you will improve more. It may not always be fast or overnight, but progress does happen. Then, one day, you look back and go, wow, I had this voice? Who knew?

Well, you always had the voice, you just learned how to unleash it.

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This is really good. You started out shaky and then found a good stride about halfway through. Here is how to solve the shakiness. Quit speaking the words. Sing them. That means staying with the vowel sounds that are working for you on the chorus and the bridges when you are doing the main verses. That is, sing the melody line, rather than reciting prose in however you would normally speak English. For example, your pronunciation of "through" has an oo sound that that is affecting the note. Relax that back to more of an uh or short oo sound.

Here is a little trick you can try. Pick a vowel shape like ee. Then sing and hold a note wherever you like and articulate the lip movements for the letters a, b, c, d, and e, with minimal to no movement of the tongue. Record that and listen. And i bet you will hear those letters even while you were maintaining one vowel shape. You have to sing differently from how you speak.

This song is absolutely perfect for you because it sounds good in your voice. It is also a good song for you because the melody ranges so far and the vocal style ranges from an almost choir-like dirge to a rock scream sound. And it will also serve as a litmus test for your improvement. Keep doing this song at different stages to gauge your changes.

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