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Hi all I'm Anthony from the UK. As a massive music fan I've learned to play a number of instruments, but have always struggled with improving my vocals, more specifically increasing my range. I love most styles of music but the ultimate dream for me would be to be able sing the high octane, high range belty rock/metal stuff! Yes I could transpose these songs to my comfort zone, but it's just nowhere near as impressive (And I wouldn't be pushing myself to my potential).

 

After many, MANY months of trawling websites and YouTube instructional videos (including Robert's) I made the decision to follow the Four Pillars program. I have just purchased my own copy of TFPOS and am currently awaiting delivery. I am so excited and looking forward to finally demystifying the beast that is the singing voice!

 

I also really like that there is an active community of Robert's students and look forward to becoming an active member!

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Here's my progress thread as I work through TFPOS. It's going to be updated with videos at regular intervals.

Here are my long term goals:

 

- Full "chesty" head tones

- Bridging and connecting registers

- Singing without tension

- Giving decent attempts at "vocally athletic" songs (heavy metal, rock)

 

Update One:

 

I have watched most of the lecture videos and read a fair chunk of the book. Two days ago I finally took part in the resonant tracking exercise and a few of the other video exercises. I know it will sound unrealistic but things seem to be "clicking" for me already. I learned to "let go and pull back", the T&R onset is brilliant. But most of all I finally understand what falsetto is, how it isn't different to head voice - merely a mode of it. Manipulation of the head voice can make notes resonate with boomier frequencies.

Buzzing in the car, shower etc. has allowed me to access notes previously impossible without falsetto. I found myself able to sing along with songs on the radio that previously eluded me. I believe now to be singing in the mask, allowing sound to resonate behind the front of my face so I can sing higher notes without pushing M1. I am starting to try to employ twang to higher notes but either choke or sound quacky (but I feel like anything is better than falsetto). My previous comfortable note was D4. The song in the video below has regular F4 and I even attempt Ab4 and Bb4.

I used to truly believe my voice was different to other people's and thought it was unfair because I couldn't train it in the same way as them. Now I believe all it took was finding and using "the mask" to access head tones previously unattainable without pushing.  I feel like resonant tracking is giving me a solid foundation on which to build my range.

My next steps are to carry on with the resonant tracking exercise for now until I feel ready to get more serious with sirens/bridging.

 

 

 

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You're not hitting the note. You sound like you're getting stuck, or pulling a lot, and it shows in your body too.

Just hammer at resonant tracking. When it gets tight, pause and rest (this is very, very important), skip down an octave to start over and work your way back up. Do this a couple of times. Try doing it with an plug-earphone going to one ear. Feel the sensation of "NG" on the M and the N when you go higher, especially when you're past the passaggio.

Your voice doesn't sound resonant. It sounds like you're trying to keep a sort of dark timbre to it, which is fine, but for that song it sounds a bit off. Until your face, teeth and lips buzz throughout your low, mid and mid-high range I'd say don't move on to onsets, but I'm sure Rob can guide you better. It's kinda like moving in before the house is built imho. And the coordination isn't that hard to find with resonant tracking. Ave the patience to keep at it.

Keep working on it man. You've got potential, you have a nice tone.

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You're not hitting the note. You sound like you're getting stuck, or pulling a lot, and it shows in your body too.

Just hammer at resonant tracking. When it gets tight, pause and rest (this is very, very important), skip down an octave to start over and work your way back up. Do this a couple of times. Try doing it with an plug-earphone going to one ear. Feel the sensation of "NG" on the M and the N when you go higher, especially when you're past the passaggio.

Your voice doesn't sound resonant. It sounds like you're trying to keep a sort of dark timbre to it, which is fine, but for that song it sounds a bit off. Until your face, teeth and lips buzz throughout your low, mid and mid-high range I'd say don't move on to onsets, but I'm sure Rob can guide you better. It's kinda like moving in before the house is built imho. And the coordination isn't that hard to find with resonant tracking. Ave the patience to keep at it.

Keep working on it man. You've got potential, you have a nice tone.

Khassera, thanks for your help here, we really appreciate it. Anyone else that can jump in and add feedback will be greatly appreciated by myself and Anthony, we don't expect this to only be me giving feedback.

Anthony, your post is well done and I appreciate your effort here. It really means a lot to me to see meet my clients in this way and see how its helping you, so thank you for giving me this special insight. Now then, I will give you some feedback on your cool video in another post, but first I need to go get my coffee, then I'll be right with ya.

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Enjoy your coffee, Rob. I look forward to your comments. :)

 

Khassera, yes all very valid points. I fear I may have appeared too cocky in my initial post and come across like I've quickly unlocked the key to success. I know I missed a lot of notes in that performance and the ones I did hit were far from beautiful, but it's the fact I felt even able to try that I feel good about! :4:  I'm glad you mentioned the straining in the resonant tracking video because I was meaning to ask about tension. I feel like maybe I push too much during that exercise because I know what the end result will sound like (chesty head tones). It feels like there has to be some pushing in order to eventually strengthen the musculature. But this is not the case? Am I right then in thinking that if I persevere with no tension at all during resonant tracking then it will naturally strengthen by itself?

 

 

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Enjoy your coffee, Rob. I look forward to your comments. :)

 

Khassera, yes all very valid points. I fear I may have appeared too cocky in my initial post and come across like I've quickly unlocked the key to success. I know I missed a lot of notes in that performance and the ones I did hit were far from beautiful, but it's the fact I felt even able to try that I feel good about! :4:  I'm glad you mentioned the straining in the resonant tracking video because I was meaning to ask about tension. I feel like maybe I push too much during that exercise because I know what the end result will sound like (chesty head tones). It feels like there has to be some pushing in order to eventually strengthen the musculature. But this is not the case? Am I right then in thinking that if I persevere with no tension at all during resonant tracking then it will naturally strengthen by itself?

 

 

Hey, don't be hard on yourself... truthfully, you are correct, that was a big difference... you are not delusional at all. You seem to be realistic about what it is and what it isn't. Your fine in that regard.

BTW... I have coached this song a million times... I know it inside and out...

1). For starters I compliment you on your courage and confidence to put your video on here and share with people. That says a LOT about your character and your potential to do well. You are fearless and that is what it takes to get anywhere in singing or in life... hiding, passivity and being fearful just get you know where... so hats off to you brother, I would be happy to share a fox hole with you any day. 

2). Do you make home recordings? If not, start that learning process as well... you need to be able to make real recordings.. 

3). Stop tilting your head to the right, that is a tick that needs to go immediately... it is doing nothing for you but threatening tension creep. Lose that immediately before it gets worse more ingrained in your muscle memory.

4). 3:41 "... again..." and example of a good Edging vowel with good resonance and vibrato. Nice little momento there... notice your embouchure is has a lot of 'lift' and bite to it.. actually a pretty good embouchure throughout the performance... your embouchure is helping you a lot and NEVER underestimate how important the embouchure is... people dismiss it and take it for granted and never want to do that. The embouchure is sleeper component... you can toil away at all this other stuff... and never pay attention to the embouchure and get no where. Nice work on that...

5). 3:45 ... and all the "... back then..."!s.... you have to shift the formant here, that is why its getting choky. G#4 / A4... as the training program points out, is a special situation... for most people you have to shift resonance there or it will never work. 

Train SLOW melodic 5th sirens from D - A & E - B... and train this formula:

eh < > ae (but with an anchored larynx/dampened = + Uh-ishness).

This will help you to begin feeling the formant shift on the 2nd bridge.

Then... work on edging that eh + ae/uh-ish vowel on G#4 & A4... you need to build the strength of the CT and Vocalis there, as well as Bernoulli fold closure... so... now you begin working with your TVS onsets... :bang:

Working with the above mentioned sirens... your top down onsets should be:

W&R = To learn how to relax the glottis and let Bernoulli physics kick in.

A&R = To build the strength of the CT, Interarytenoids and Vocalis to support that belt.

You could also work Q&R onsets as well... 

You will find that that top G#4 will begin to feel less choky and more solid...

6). 3:54 (... my way!... )... save as point #5... same issues, same solution and you will get this.

... btw... make sure you are leveraging your tongue on all those high notes, you need the added anchoring it gives you to make those notes really "pop".

7). 4:22... it was not quacky.. I disagree, but it was more what we are looking for... if you listen closely, you will hear that that note has more "ae" shading in it, this is helping you to shift the formant.

8). 5:18... ( would YOU!)... you are correct... modify that from "you" to "Yuh-oo".... 

 

You are a perfect case study of someone that CAN do it, but just needs to train and practice... your on your way, seriously... now don't give up. Keep going! Also, take some skype lessons with me if you can to accelerate all of this... 

MASTER THOSE ONSETS AND ACOUSTIC MODES!!! AND THAT MEANS NOT ONLY EXECUTION, BUT UNDERSTAND WHY AND WHEN YOU USE THEM.

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It feels like there has to be some pushing in order to eventually strengthen the musculature. But this is not the case? Am I right then in thinking that if I persevere with no tension at all during resonant tracking then it will naturally strengthen by itself?

You don't appear cocky at all mate, just a bit cockney, mate ;D haha, just messin' witcha. I spent almost a year in Exeter, I love the place. But I bet you're from Australia or something and now I look like a dick.

Anyhoo, no. You don't need strain at any point to nail resonance and twang. No. Strain. Anywhere. No matter what Videohere will try to tell you. It's not a resistance training thing. It's a finesse thing. My recommendation in how to do T&T:

- Onset with a vocal fry to minimize tension

- gently press up into your digastrics below your chin, there should be no tension at any point. At all.

- upon occurrence of tension STOP IMMEDIATELY (not because it'll wreck your voice, your life, your car and your wife 'cause it won't, but because practice makes permanent), grab some water or something, rest for a couple of minutes and continue one octave below where you got to.

If you persist doing exactly this while focusing on maximizing the buzz in your face, teeth, lips etc, it'll take you maybe a week to nail the placement. And I mean in a way that you'll never have to worry about it again.

It'll feel really funky to let the headvoice take over. Worry about getting beefy after you nail bridging and connecting.

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I totally agree! What could possibly be cocky about this video?  If that is "cocky" then Ill take some... because this video shows confidence and "balls" and integrity... 

It'll feel really funky to let the headvoice take over. Worry about getting beefy after you nail bridging and connecting.

Yes. Submit to the head voice... and build it from the inside as well as belting up to it... BOTH approaches.  

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Wow what a response from you both. This thread was already well worth it! Thanks to you both for taking the time to respond.

 

Khassera, I will bear that in mind. It's just so hard to fight the natural response to push at higher notes! I will try from now on to remove ALL tension from notes. I will post a video of me trying it soon. And no, I'm not an Aussie! :) Just from the North of England hence my odd accent.

Robert first of all thanks for the encouragement your words meant a lot.

I thought recording videos was going to be the best way to illustrate my progress and it has already proven useful as you were able to point out my head tilt (something impossible to know from an audio recording).

I do have experience using recording software. Examples of this are in the June jazz and country competition thread, I recorded and mixed everything myself.

I will record a video right now of me practising the following:

- Resonant tracking without tension up to where it is comfortable before dropping an octave to navigate the bridge again.

- Slow 5th sirens focusing mainly on D - A and E - B using vowel modification eh to ae with uh-ishness. I'll use T&R on the way up then W&R and A&R for top down.

This video won't be up today, but soon. Probably tomorrow.

 

In the meantime here is another video of me documenting where I am now in terms of performance..

 

Video Two

*This was recorded yesterday before any input received so far so expect similar mistakes*

Yes, another Alice in Chains track. This is another case of me surprising myself with what I'm allowing myself to try out. Yes there are BIG notes in the chorus but it's worth pointing out that other, lower notes in this song are coming much easier to me and feel good to be able to try. (Namely the line "Won't you come and save me")

CAUTION - This video contains vocal breaks, straining and the occasional yodel!:lol:

 

 

 

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This song gets about 500% easier after you take in the information from this thread:

I know you know about vowels. I know you know edging and whatnot, it's in your trainig program.... BUT nevertheless, read the post and try out doing it exactly. And obviously eith very little to no tension. Let the sound really project from the top part of your skull (as if you have norhing below your upper jaw).

My nationality helps me sing since I've grown up speaking only cardinal vowels and no diphtongs, so by abusing pure vowels i'm able to really keep the vowels similar to eachother. So in addition to emphasizing on the vowel, try avoiding te diphtong.

Don't sing "Ah-eh-ee-m the mae-eh-n een the bawks" etc, rather sing "Ah-m the mae-n een thoe(ö) bah-ks" ... Or something-or-other.

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Khassara,

There is nothing in this idea that is radically mind blowing in my opinion. I'm sorry... I read the post and Guy seems like a knowledgable fellow and I appreciate his post, but this is not a revelation here.

Remove the diphthongs in your singing?  Well, that is fine... lets be clear that if you did that, it is a form of vowel modification. Because a big part of vowel modification techniques is to avoid or simplify the diphthongs. Even though Guy does not point out in his post that this is fundamentally the idea he is advocating, removing the diphthongs is exactly what the end result is of his idea. 

I can tell you that sometimes removing the diphthongs is a good idea, and sometimes it isn't. BEWARE getting in the habit of AVOIDING diphthongs makes your ability to sing narrowed vowels weak. I know this first hand, because I have been down this path before as a singer.

Yes it makes it easier because you don't have to navigate the narrowed vowels that are in diphthongs, but you pay a price for this... your articulators grow weak in the formation of narrowed vowels. Too much avoidance of narrowed vowels can add up to become a real problem that you then have to go back and fix. Its like going to the gym and only working the upper body, never the legs... you get out of proportion. 

If your native language doesn't have diphthongs, then I can understand why this would be easier for you because singing the diphthongs would be even more difficult for you. It is a good idea, go for it... but I don't advocate a wholesale avoidance of diphthongs/narrowed vowels.

... btw... if you don't sing or "Hint" at the diphthongs in "Man In The Box" , then you can't do the Yarl effect that gives you that sound. The Yarl is a coloration of the diphthongs!!!  And what performance of "Man In The Box" is 100% without a Yarl?... a song I have coached and sang a million times... 

Khassara, I really Appreciate Guy's post... don't misread me. I even invited him to come back and contribute more, but he has failed to return? But I am very pleased to see good ideas like this shared with the community. 

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Tony, I just saw your "Man in the Box"... sorry guys, I didn't realize Tony had embedded this... 

I think it sounds pretty good... but the chorus ... the vocal folds are blowing open... 

Bro, just keep doing your ...

D&R < > A&R ... routines... 

Also, work the "vinnie set" of call register ideas in your new "Pillars" system... because that trains you how to articulate inside the belt configuration on that Bb4... 

You have to strength your adductors... thats all... keep going!

Get in front of me on a lesson if you can... we can pound this out and Ill help you...

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The prob with english is that it's so full of diphtongs that you actually need to emphasize cardinal vowels.

I'd imagine if you spend most of your life speaking with diphtongs it shouldn't be hard to sing them. It should be harder to sing pure vowels. Not because of physiological things, narrower vowels are harder to project, but because you're already used to saying a certain word in a certain way, a "man" is sometimes "mae-eh-n" or "meh-ae-n" rather than "mae-n" etc. To me it's vice versa, but I just never thought the emphasis should be so huge. And obviously you shouldn't avoid the diphtong to the point of sounding like a 'tard, only up to the point where you can get the note to release, then you can start playing around with narrowing and feel the physical sensations that take place. If it's getting tighter, it's something you might need to manage, since tightness is something that will accumulate, and resetting in the middle of a song is extremely difficult.

Edit: I'm just an amateur, so to me these things are a lot about HOW something is said rather than what is said. So if I understand something in a way that opens new avenues for me, it's extremely helpful and mindblowing for me. :) That's really all I need to be concerned about, what works for me.

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Khassera,

The influence on dialects from other languages when bi-lingual people like yourself sing English songs is a real issue and fortunately, I have had the opportunity to witness how this works with people that speak German, Italian, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and other languages. There are always some unique issues that need to be addressed for sure. Some languages are more difficult then others. Italians and Spanish speakers do ok with English, as do Germans most of the time, although it is hilarious how they can't make this sound /th/... You want to get a good laugh and pick on a German, ask them to say, "Those three thieves in a thicket thought they were through"... lol...

Russian and French speakers tend to struggle a little bit more... for different reasons. French, because they have a hard time getting the sound color in the mask... edging is hard for a French speaker sometimes... and Russians... just so much throatiness that it is a big challenge to lift the voice out of the dark depths of throaty Russian... 

I am stereotyping here a bit. It is not everyone of course... but it is a general observation. What language is your native language Khassera?

Regarding your post above...

It is difficult to learn to speak and sing diphthongs if it is not native to you... but it is NOT difficult to sing languages that have more pure vowels without dipghongs... it is easier for me to sing in Italian and Spanish and probably your native language, then it is for you to sing in English... sorry, but that is the way it is.

But to your point... anything you can do to make the diphthongs easier... such as vowel modification tricks is perfectly fine!!

I know you have "Pillars"... I would assume that the vowel modification lesson in the book would help you with this...

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I'm Finnish. Like Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica and Marco Hietala of Nightwish. I'm much better looking though.

Yeah. You're probably right.

Worth trying though, vowel emphasis.

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Khassera, Im not being stubborn, ... Im just saying... I have tried "vowel emphasis" as described by Guy... and the result was... weak coordination of narrowed vowels which ended up being a detriment to my singing... you cannot avoid narrowed vowels and diphthongs 100%... for starters, as far as the art is concerned, you wouldn't want to anyways... but it can lead to weak musculature...

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Again, thanks so much for the comments!

 

Here are a couple of videos regarding the resonant tracking and siren tips from earlier.

 

I struggled quite a bit, but I will get better at them. Also, I still feel like I'm getting used to TFPOS. I've barely got my teeth into it all yet!

Video Three & Four

 

 

 

 

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Thanks Khassera, I will fix that immediately. I was trying track and release as demonstrated in the Four Pillars 5ths sirens. I have just quietly sat and tried fry onsets quietly to myself at work. Hopefully they will work for me in a louder setting.

 

I feel like as soon as I can sing in head register I will have opened the door to hundreds of songs I previously couldn't sing! Expect a video tomorrow.

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Anthony,

1st video:

1). Don't buzz notes, buzz a phrase... try not to poke at notes... more legato.

2). Don't retreat from the passaggio so quickly. Just because its awkward , that is not a cue to retreat back to the chest voice. You need to begin working that musculature into the head voice; compression.

3). Try sobbing the larynx when you "buzz".

... but overall... well done. Very good that you are not pushing... if you push on the resonant tracking your done... so, keep up that good work.

Thanks again for your help Khassera...

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Thanks as ever!

 

I get a good practice session tomorrow. And aim to eradicating falsetto in favour of a head voice I can actually work with,

 

Meanwhile I am constantly trying to navigate the bridge using various onsets while walking around / driving.

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Your doing great Anthony.... be sure to work in the D&R and A&R onsets... carefully, but you also need the heavier, resistance training stuff too , starting in about 1 - 2 weeks.

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Ant let me chime in. What i was doing and made ALOT of progress was this.

10-20 min of resonant tracking - T&T and T&R

10 min~ of doing sirens with various onsets - but i always go for either light mass or belting stuff...so i either do D&R and A&R,,,,, or P&R and Q&R (Q&R is both high and low mass depends how you use it)...the reason why i separate my high mass and low mass each time i practice is because it sometimes puts me off balance to do both, i get confused and start doing stuff incorectly.

10min-30min~ of fun exercises like groove, blues, staley, and anthem of reverie, also minor scale is also preety good cuz its a bit unconventional but gives a great insight how to apply scales to singing, cuz most of the time metal/rock songs are in minor keys (mostly E G and A) so some of these notes sit there in a manne it would in song melody.

By now you should be decently warmed up, and now you should sing. Singing is so important. I would say 70% of the ingrained knowledge and progress you get from singing USING THE PRINCIPLES OF GOOD TECHNIQUE YOU DID EXERCISING.

If you do this as much as you can you will be golden in no time.

P.S. i know all these posts here can be daunting, when Robert writes you an essay you dont know what to make of it.

My advice is, to try as much things as possible and find out what works good for you then DEVELOPE your own routine after a while. But always experiment, you never know what good can come out of "tips" here and there.

Also my routine is really straightforward and should be usefull to you also.

BTW SINGING IS NOT COMPLICATED..people are..it took me 7-8 months to find out what to expect and what everything means.

My mantra is this. GOOD TECHNIQUE INGRAINED IN MUSCLE MEMORY + GOOD RESPIRATORY BALANCE AND SUPPORT are CORE to good singing.

Esspecially good breath support. If you let your throat do everything for you you will get tired in 10~ min, and thats not how you will be able to do any show, esspecially with higher register stuff. What good is singing high when you cant sing more than 5 seconds without lossing breath and collapsing.

2 goals im working for

-applying good mechanical and respiratory techniques (all in 4 pillaars) (takes about 3-5 months of good training to get a hang of it)

-strenghtening the musculature to be able to carry those high notes without blowing them open (also included in pillars)(takes 6-12months)

AFTER that you are still not done, by a long shot. you just actually started, now ahead of you is a LIFELONG proccess of refining and preserving the vocal health.

NOT TO MENTION ART and SINGING that you also have to train and make "anthony sound like anthony".

Hope i helped. Cheerios!!

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Thanks for sharing Elvis, that is helpful... 

I like your routine btw... 

There is a routine in the current book, back in the red pages called, "The High Performance, Onsets & Sirens. 20 Minute Routine" that I believe is almost exactly that which you described. It is a simplified routine that isolates coordination & tuning onsets from resistance training onsets... I totally agree with you Elvis, that the TVS onsets become even more efficient in what they do for you, if you separate coordination onsets from resistance training onsets... start by doing a routine that is about compression, respiration, tuning the formant, shaping the embouchure with T&R, Q&R, W&R, P&R onsets... the detail work... then, move onto D&R and A&R onsets for the resistance training for you belts... 

Of course AFTER you have done the nasal consonant resonant tracking stuff first...

Good advise Elvis... 

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