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My Voice is too bright From Twang. How Do I Darken it?

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Hi,

I'm a long time lurker on this forum, but an infrequent poster/contributor. To avoid making this thread unnecessarily long, I will describe my problem shortly. Basically, my voice tends to be way too bright. Particularly on the 'a' vowel, as in 'at'. A teacher I greatly respect once said that I was a dramatic tenor(for what it's worth, I know most of you don't bother with the fach system). But anyway, I'm more into darker voices now, like Hozier(in particular) and James Blake. 

 

  I was wondering if there are any healthy ways to darken my voice, or at least get rid of that excessive brightness/twang/buzz. basically, I'm not trying to sound like somebody else, but I want to do something about that unwanted sound in my voice, if it's possible. Any help would be appreciated.  I'm also  a little bit into classical singing, and try to incorporate a classical sounding voice into my own music, sometimes. 

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A few questions:

  1. Do you choke on higher notes?
  2. Is the harshness the same or worse on higher notes?
  3. How much control do you have over larynx dampening and raising the soft palate?
  4. Are you training with a teacher or course?
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My advice is learn learn about registers and listen to your voice when you sing. Do your vowels sound like the vowels you are singing. To much ah(as in cat) or ah as  mine can be avoided by a real uh vowel. Which has a deeper sound in general. Don't go messing with lowering your larynx or palate that kind of "trying to control " will just make you sound strange. 

Singing ah and ah(cat) to high in the voice usually mixes the registers. Which makes it unbalanced and ugly

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1 minute ago, Danielformica said:

Don't go messing with lowering your larynx or palate that kind of "trying to control " will just make you sound strange. 

 

I agree, but that's not why I asked. I was looking to see if there are certain onsets which could help. There's not near enough information yet to give good advice, even your answer with a question, or 'if X then Y'. He also mentioned Hozier, which has quite the dampened larynx.

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I didn't even read your response I was just stating what most most try to do in this situation and to not try to have control over the larynx or palate let the vowel and support  dictate what they do

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The problem I've most often seen, with students who give a similar description to what he did, is that they don't know how to stabilize the larynx. In terms of The Four Pillars of Singing, I've seen pulse and release onsets do wonders for this when it's overcompressing the glottis. I've also seen dampen and release onsets help build the muscles that help stabilize or anchor the larynx. You're right, Daniel, in that focusing just on dampening and soft palate opening up the resonance chamber, most people go extreme and it gets weird. Learning to tune the formant and properly modify vowels is usually too difficult too, if he's hypercompressing.

Although, s33, if you're not choking off high notes, then there are things you can do to immediately start learning to relax twang. Ingo Titze's Straw Exercise is incredible for learning proper formant tuning and relaxing twang and compression. Do it while singing full voice octaves and fifths across the passagio/bridge, while also trying to relax into the changes and not push the voice. You'll start to gain the sensation of better and relaxed placement of the voice. Then try to recreate that sensation without the straw. 

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You don't stabilize your larynx it will be fine. If you learn how to support and balance the registers. Not need for a straw

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32 minutes ago, Danielformica said:

You don't stabilize your larynx it will be fine. If you learn how to support and balance the registers. Not need for a straw

Stabilization and the straw can be part of training for the support and balance you mention. I've seen it have incredible results in training. I call it larynx stablization, but really it's learning proper instrinsic anchoring for support and balance. Bot the straw and larynx stabalization is a way to approach that anchoring, relaxation, and support, that I've used very effectively to help students with hyper-compression problems. Of course you don't need to stablize the larynx or use a straw if you learn to support and balance the registers. That's the equivalent of saying that you don't need to do breating exercises if you learn to breathe properly. One is a habit-building exercise and the other the end result or goal.

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Well I learned from proper support and balancing the registers through strengthening each one. No need for anything else but a good teacher with good ears that's sings his ass off. We did solid old school bel canto training. The lineage is me, my coach, Arrigo Pola.  I haven't heard any good singers/teachers that learned from a straw, but if you know one let me know. ;)

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5 hours ago, Danielformica said:

My advice is learn learn about registers and listen to your voice when you sing. Do your vowels sound like the vowels you are singing. To much ah(as in cat) or ah as  mine can be avoided by a real uh vowel. Which has a deeper sound in general. Don't go messing with lowering your larynx or palate that kind of "trying to control " will just make you sound strange. 

Singing ah and ah(cat) to high in the voice usually mixes the registers. Which makes it unbalanced and ugly

Nice Dan!

Your response is very easy to comprehend, yet dense with multiple insights. Concise, and well articulated!  

Goes down like a thin slice of rich chocolate cake! Doesn't take much to satisfy you! 

 

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1 hour ago, Danielformica said:

 I haven't heard any good singers/teachers that learned from a straw, but if you know one let me know. ;)

got a good chuckle out of that!

Don't you think the straw, and many other certain "contemporary" teaching techniques, are aimed at providing a "tangible" experience for associating with the correct configurations?

I also learned from talented (old school) coaches who didn't explain much. It was more like, "I'm the coach that rock stars come to, do these weird vocal exercises at home every day, they work, see ya next week, bye! NEXT!"

This is what drew me to Rob's 4 Pillars, those vocalize that both work the musculature, and convey some relevance in the sensations you feel, with sounds you are producing. I didn't need this to improve yet, it seems like a cool tool for giving the student deeper comprehension.

make any sense?

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1 hour ago, Danielformica said:

Well I learned from proper support and balancing the registers through strengthening each one. No need for anything else but a good teacher with good ears that's sings his ass off. We did solid old school bel canto training. The lineage is me, my coach, Arrigo Pola.  I haven't heard any good singers/teachers that learned from a straw, but if you know one let me know. ;)

I mentioned it was Ingo Titze's straw exercise, who has quite an impressive resumé in teaching. From him, I learned to use the straw for more than just voice recovery, but also for warm ups, cool downs, and even learning to train proper technique. It's a solid method for getting students to quickly learn to tune the formant, modify vowels, relax compression, engage many of the same things as tracking, and more. It's also an incredible semi-occluded and muscle stretching exercise that I now use with all my students for warming up. The trick is learning to relax into the straw, when the tendency is to push into it. Using the stirring straw correctly can greatly speed up how fast a student learns proper support and balancing the registers through strengthening each one.

Also, you and I are both good teachers who sing their asses off. I'm not surprised we use different methodology. Though I don't think one discounts the other. Alternating exercises to sing with and without a stirring straw has greatly helped my students, especially those who dealt with hyper-compression. Most of teh time, they needed the extra support to learn what it felt like to curb/modify their vowels correctly.

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13 hours ago, s334567pq said:

Hi,

I'm a long time lurker on this forum, but an infrequent poster/contributor. To avoid making this thread unnecessarily long, I will describe my problem shortly. Basically, my voice tends to be way too bright. Particularly on the 'a' vowel, as in 'at'. A teacher I greatly respect once said that I was a dramatic tenor(for what it's worth, I know most of you don't bother with the fach system). But anyway, I'm more into darker voices now, like Hozier(in particular) and James Blake. 

 

  I was wondering if there are any healthy ways to darken my voice, or at least get rid of that excessive brightness/twang/buzz. basically, I'm not trying to sound like somebody else, but I want to do something about that unwanted sound in my voice, if it's possible. Any help would be appreciated.  I'm also  a little bit into classical singing, and try to incorporate a classical sounding voice into my own music, sometimes. 

    Without hearing you there is no way for anyone to give good advice other than what Daniel and the others have already said. You may have a thin voice that will seem bright to you and others no matter what you do.  That is not to say that you cannot improve and have a more solid tone that can take the edge off of the brightness.  Think of someone like Geddy Lee or Christopher Cross, even with singing in a more operatic tone they would still sound thin and bright.

    On the other hand I have had the same problem with sounding thin and bright even though my speaking voice is kind of deep and a little raspy. Too much advice of Tone in the head and movement in the abs, nothing in the throat. The problem was that nothing was coming out of my mouth either. My accent was another problem. A southern Drawl that pushes all the vowels towards AE as in cat. Daniels advice of leaning towards UH(which was pointed out to me by someone other than Daniel) was the ticket to taming that AE sound.

      Another problem was that I was trying to sound closer to the original singers instead of allowing MY voice to sound the way it needed to. The singers I was trying to mimic had a brighter tone than what my voice needs. Therefor I was unnaturally brightening my voice to match their timbre. Confidence is a big factor also. If you are worried about what kind of sound is going to be coming out of your mouth, the tendency is to produce a weak thin tone other than a big full tone. Of course this is easier to do when you know you can make the sound you want. A catch22 situation(you may need to look up that reference).

    

 

11 hours ago, Danielformica said:

My advice is learn learn about registers and listen to your voice when you sing. Do your vowels sound like the vowels you are singing. To much ah(as in cat) or ah as  mine can be avoided by a real uh vowel. Which has a deeper sound in general. Don't go messing with lowering your larynx or palate that kind of "trying to control " will just make you sound strange. 

Singing ah and ah(cat) to high in the voice usually mixes the registers. Which makes it unbalanced and ugly

 

6 hours ago, Danielformica said:

Well I learned from proper support and balancing the registers through strengthening each one. No need for anything else but a good teacher with good ears that's sings his ass off. We did solid old school bel canto training. The lineage is me, my coach, Arrigo Pola.  I haven't heard any good singers/teachers that learned from a straw, but if you know one let me know. ;)

What would be your interpretation of registers? You have mentioned balancing the registers before, others seem to avoid the register question and promote a one voice stance on the issue. Would it be something other than the standard Falsetto/Full voice or something along the lines of CVT and TVS acoustic Modes?

 

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I learned it differently from a bel canto lineage from Italy. 

i could list the registers but they would mean nothing to you unless you studied with these guys. But lets just say it's many more than just chest and head how I learned it. 

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18 hours ago, Draven Grey said:

I mentioned it was Ingo Titze's straw exercise, who has quite an impressive resumé in teaching. From him, I learned to use the straw for more than just voice recovery, but also for warm ups, cool downs, and even learning to train proper technique. It's a solid method for getting students to quickly learn to tune the formant, modify vowels, relax compression, engage many of the same things as tracking, and more. It's also an incredible semi-occluded and muscle stretching exercise that I now use with all my students for warming up. The trick is learning to relax into the straw, when the tendency is to push into it. Using the stirring straw correctly can greatly speed up how fast a student learns proper support and balancing the registers through strengthening each one.

Also, you and I are both good teachers who sing their asses off. I'm not surprised we use different methodology. Though I don't think one discounts the other. Alternating exercises to sing with and without a stirring straw has greatly helped my students, especially those who dealt with hyper-compression. Most of teh time, they needed the extra support to learn what it felt like to curb/modify their vowels correctly.

I know ingo I will be at a conference with him in march and his daughter has studied with me in one of my 90 min seminars. 

 

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On 1/29/2017 at 9:35 AM, Danielformica said:

Don't go messing with lowering your larynx or palate that kind of "trying to control " will just make you sound strange. 

When you advise people to shade in /uh/ to their singing colors, which is good advise, you are inducing the larynx to lower naturally. So to tell people to not lower their larynx after advising them to shade in /uh/, is a contridiction. Acoustic color "inputs" to the singer's sound color have direct impact on the physiology of the larynx and the vocal tract.

It is important to understand how different singing vowels change the physiology of the vocal tract and larynx. And what those changes are.

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On 1/29/2017 at 9:40 AM, Draven Grey said:

There's not near enough information yet to give good advice, even your answer with a question, or 'if X then Y'. He also mentioned Hozier, which has quite the dampened larynx.

EXACTLY.

To lower the larynx could mean your dumping... and in that case ( Daniel ), I would have to agree, it sounds like a sick seal and is to low. But a subtle lowering most certainly does not. It sounds great.

- It amplifies F1/H2 in the formant which is CRITICAL to sounding belty.

- It adds very important stability to the larynx with is helpful singing through the bridge and into the head voice.

- It adds warmth to the sound color ( your point ), which is typically preferred more times then not.

- With the right embouchure, it assists in narrowing the upper vocal tract and amplifying the sound energy, which further strengthens the TA muscle for belting.

... and more... larynx dampening is one of the most important skills that all singers need to learn. Let us as teachers, be very clear about what we are meaning to say when we say "lowering the larynx". There is a way to do it that sucks... there is a way to do it, that is beautiful and critical to singing great. Dan, when I hear you sing, your larynx is dampened 95% of the time. It is obvious to me and anyone that is trained to hear it.

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On 1/29/2017 at 10:18 AM, Danielformica said:

let the vowel and support  dictate what they do

YES, SURE!

But when you advise people to add more /uh/ and then tell them not to lower the larynx, it is like telling people to step on the gas pedal and not speed up.

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To the person that posted this...

/a/ and is "cat"... its not /ah/ btw, that is ah as in "ball"... it is important that we are clear on the phonetics. 

Regarding /a/ as in "cat"...

If all you have is /a/ in your sound color, you are going to:

- Sound like a choking cat... literally.

- Most importantly, you are going to be singing with a weak TA musculature ( belting ). Your larynx will break and have instability issues, because you are not narrowing the vocal tract, because you don't have the right vowel to induce narrowing.

So you sound bad and you have weakness in your voice.

What you need to do is learn how to tune a formant... singing formants are not 1 sound color at a time... STOP thinking about singing vowels as 1 sound color at a time. Singing vowels are multi-colored, simultaneously.

Your formant tuning above G#4 , as a general rule, will work great if you tune a combination of /a/, /eh/ & /ou/.  Three colors at the same time. 

 

This will give you the forward hard palate resonance you need for compression. = /eh/

This will give you the soft palate lift you need to get through the bridge at G#4 = /a/

This will give you the warmth and TA muscle stability you need to narrow and keep the whole thing from unravelling = /ou/

 

If you would like to work on this, I am happy to help you with a discounted lesson. I'll show you exactly how to do it.

You HAVE to learn how to hear formants... the problem is, so few people know how to teach that, so students are totally lost on the acoustics of singing. The choice is yours.

Hope this helps.

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On 29 January 2017 at 10:41 PM, Draven Grey said:

A few questions:

  1. Do you choke on higher notes?
  2. Is the harshness the same or worse on higher notes?
  3. How much control do you have over larynx dampening and raising the soft palate?
  4. Are you training with a teacher or course?

1.  Yes, I do choke on higher notes. 

2. Harshness meaning the brightness? It depends really. Usually it is a little better though, there extra twang (which my main problem with is that it sounds too nasal ) is a little less pronounced. 

3  I do not know if I dampen my larynx the right way  I always sound hooty and goofy while doing it, that's not what I'm aiming for  as for raising the soft palate, I do not consciously think about it but it's raised normally 

4  I do have a teacher, I wasn't able to afford a lesson for a bit, during the period when I realised just how much this bothered me I'm going to meet him next week though after I recover from a sore throat, so I was thinking I'd ask him for his advice then  

 

As for recordings of me, I don't have anything recent, and I'm a bit sick. I could record something once I recover  

At the moment, despite how it was said Hozier lowers his Larynx too much, that's kind of the desired sound that I want. 

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4 hours ago, Robert Lunte said:

To the person that posted this...

/a/ and is "cat"... its not /ah/ btw, that is ah as in "ball"... it is important that we are clear on the phonetics. 

Regarding /a/ as in "cat"...

If all you have is /a/ in your sound color, you are going to:

- Sound like a choking cat... literally.

- Most importantly, you are going to be singing with a weak TA musculature ( belting ). Your larynx will break and have instability issues, because you are not narrowing the vocal tract, because you don't have the right vowel to induce narrowing.

So you sound bad and you have weakness in your voice.

What you need to do is learn how to tune a formant... singing formants are not 1 sound color at a time... STOP thinking about singing vowels as 1 sound color at a time. Singing vowels are multi-colored, simultaneously.

Your formant tuning above G#4 , as a general rule, will work great if you tune a combination of /a/, /eh/ & /ou/.  Three colors at the same time. 

 

This will give you the forward hard palate resonance you need for compression. = /eh/

This will give you the soft palate lift you need to get through the bridge at G#4 = /a/

This will give you the warmth and TA muscle stability you need to narrow and keep the whole thing from unravelling = /ou/

 

If you would like to work on this, I am happy to help you with a discounted lesson. I'll show you exactly how to do it.

You HAVE to learn how to hear formants... the problem is, so few people know how to teach that, so students are totally lost on the acoustics of singing. The choice is yours.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for the advice. I will private message you about that discounted lesson, if it's ok. It might be a little out of my price range, but I'm willing to see if it isn't. 

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This is me singing very tentatively after recovering from being ill. However this is I think a decent way to gauge my  current singing ability. Back to the same question, would I be able to darken it at all? If my old teacher was right about my voice type, am I simply more of a brighter dramatic tenor (Francesco Tamagno) as opposed to a darker Caruso type? To put it into classical terms. 

 

 

http://vocaroo.com/i/s1brUjUCm5SE

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it's good to hear you :P

i think you are an average (mid) tenor, not light/lyric as bruno mars, nor heavy/dramatic as jim morrison or the one from franz ferdinand.

it's clear that you need to develop your mix, or m1 with lower volumes, to lower breath pressure and to be able to use a loud m1 and decrescendo gradually into a soft volume on m1 (same register, on the same note) and eventually arriving to m2 (m1 being chest voice, and m2 being the voice in which you break into, on the recording).

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On 10 February 2017 at 6:56 AM, geran89 said:

it's good to hear you :P

i think you are an average (mid) tenor, not light/lyric as bruno mars, nor heavy/dramatic as jim morrison or the one from franz ferdinand.

it's clear that you need to develop your mix, or m1 with lower volumes, to lower breath pressure and to be able to use a loud m1 and decrescendo gradually into a soft volume on m1 (same register, on the same note) and eventually arriving to m2 (m1 being chest voice, and m2 being the voice in which you break into, on the recording).

Hi, thanks for the advice! I also want too thank everyone else for their advice. I've started working with my teacher on it and I can hopefully get to where I want to be with practice. 

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anything that enlarges the vocal tract will darken your sound, some things you can try:

lower larynx

smile a bit less

dont twang

raise palate

dont use nasal voice (close nasal port)

compress tongue can be useful but you will sound like kermit frog xd

 

also sometimes you can curl the tip of your tongue like in english "r" sound, on the vowels, just like young eddie vedder, it sounds cool :P 

 

you can do all of this with any level of thickness: on falsetto, pianissimo, quiet, medium or loud volume, since sound color is a different topic from thickness!

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