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Transition from chest to head voice

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SingingRob
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Hi everybody

I’m (male) new here as a member, but reading the last months a lot of interesting posts in this forum.

Issue:

My voice transits smoothly from chest to a strong head voice around A#4 / B4. But hitting high notes (like G#4 or A4) in chest voice cause me voice fatigue. I have to rest my voice a little bit, the I can continue to sing again. It is almost impossible for me to switch earlier (G4) to head voice. The head voice sounds very weak and instable at level G4 / A4.

I practice every day between 1-2 hours. I toke 10 months of logopedical lessons and 6 months of singing lessons. There I learnt to sing in a safe and healthy way (support, placement…). My voice was checked trough a doctor (phoniatry), and the vocal tract is health.

What should I do? Go ahead this way, and build vocal muscle endurance “pulling” chest voice. I increased my chest voice range from E4 to B4 this way in 18 months. Or should I try to switch earlier (on G4), and try to train this very weak low head voice.

Any answer would be appreciated.

SingingRob

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For that passagio range or basically the C4-C5 range (the tenor high notes), you need to develop a voice that is a mix of the chest voice and head voice. In addition, the sound should have a broad spectrum of overtones without your throat feeling that you're pushing and straining. If you give us a vocal example of yourself singing AND failing like you described it, then some of us here might be able to give you tips of what you could be missing from the big equation of singing the high C with cajones. The mother of all awesomeness in singing that every one of us here is trying to achieve (and some already have).

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Hi Jonpall

Here we are. It is not full in pitch and not well done, but you will hear the problem area:

http://www.box.net/shared/071kkhj90o

I would mean I’m using some sort of mix (the vocal folds becomes thinner and thinner ascending the scale). When I switch to head voice, the vocal folds change to another setting and I fell less tension.

The first example goes from C4-C5. I switch at B4 to head voice.

The second example goes from C4-C5 too. There I try to switch at G4 to head voice. At A4 I can stabilize the head voice a little bit, but it still sounds weak. B4 and C5 it is strong again.

Hope this helps to clarify my problem.

SingingRob

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Hi. I listened to your clip. Your first example was closer to what I'd call "good". :) You see, you used the Uh vowel there, but in the second example, you used the Ah vowel. The Uh vowel is a "curbing" vowel which works great for high, full notes. The Ah vowel works better for very low volume singing in the high part of the voice. So I suggest you continue doing what you're doing in the first example, with the following few changes:

1. Reduce the "hold" or "cry" just slightly. It sounds like your constricting your throat just a bit more than you really need. At least see if you can get away with it.

2. Reduce your volume just slightly. Let the "hold" or "cry" create your volume or loudness - or more specially what makes your sound go past the loudness of singing in a lullaby style (very soft) and into and slightly past "medium" volume. Medium volume (and slightly past) can still sound very full. Just make sure you feel that you COULD get a bit louder - which would probably put you into a type of shouting, overdrive mode. Don't create your loudness by shouting - do it with the cry/hold sound and by letting the sound resonate fully in your throat (you should feel it mostly in the soft palate - the back top of your throat).

3. For the B4 and the C5, keep that hold/cry but just reduce it slightly and increase your twang very slightly. That way, your sound from the C4-C5 range merges nicely into the sound from the C5-E5 (and past) range. You CAN have your B4 and C5 with "pure head voice" but doing this makes your voice powerful all the way to the male high C (which is a cool thing). You should be switching to head voice gradually. I think you may be switching just "all of a sudden" on a single note - the B4. Do it gradually, going from chest voice to mixed voice to head voice, if those terms help you.

4. Experiment with slightly less support effort and also with slightly more support effort. It works for me to not think about it too much but keep a bit of a "noble chest" (like imitating a king with a slightly puffed out chest) which automatically seems to make my abs know how hard to work for each pitch, vowel and volume.

Just take this with a grain of salt and remember that singing should never hurt your throat. Have a nice one.

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I don't feel that I should offer advice on the specifics due to others here being more apt for such a job. But I just wanted to say that I struggled with this for ages, I had a topic thread just like this a couple of weeks back. I'm now able to do exactly this.

What I reccomend you do is book a private lesson with Rob Lunte, who I'm sure you know founded this forum. I'm not paid to endorse him or anything, it's just he'll definitely be able to help you with this. I was able to transition to headvoice after just 1 lesson with Rob.

So if you still struggle with this after a while, and if you can afford it, maybe take a lesson with Rob. Based on my experience, you won't have this problem for much longer afterwards.

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Hi Jonpall

Here we are. It is not full in pitch and not well done, but you will hear the problem area:

http://www.box.net/shared/071kkhj90o

I would mean I’m using some sort of mix (the vocal folds becomes thinner and thinner ascending the scale). When I switch to head voice, the vocal folds change to another setting and I fell less tension.

The first example goes from C4-C5. I switch at B4 to head voice.

The second example goes from C4-C5 too. There I try to switch at G4 to head voice. At A4 I can stabilize the head voice a little bit, but it still sounds weak. B4 and C5 it is strong again.

Hope this helps to clarify my problem.

SingingRob

it's really hard to write about this, meaning just words, but, in addition to jonpall's advice you need to switch over to a more heady placement sooner than b4.

addendum: but now that i heard you, hymm.....are you possibly in head (or reinforcing your falsetto) at the very start and don't realize it? it sounds to me like your not beginning the start of your scale in chest. can you send that file over without any echo or reverb?

did anybody else think that?

it sounds to me like you were in beginning with head and staying in just head, rather than initiating with chest and transitioning to head

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Hi Jonpall / VIDEOHERE / Nathan

Thanks for the answers. I appreciated a lot.

@VIDEOHERE: Here the dry one without echo / reverb:

http://www.box.net/shared/l1fijjoaql

Perhaps it sounds “heady”, but I would mean that I start (C4) with chest voice. I can feel the difference between chest and head voice in my larynx.

Chest voice = more tension

Head voice = less tension

Perhaps my perception is wrong. But that’s the way I feel. I have to mention that the sound of my higher chest notes (above C4) is “light”.

Here a full song. You will hear what I mean with “light sound” already at the first notes:

http://www.box.net/shared/60huslpv14

Best wishes

SingingRob

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Hi Jonpall / VIDEOHERE / Nathan

Thanks for the answers. I appreciated a lot.

@VIDEOHERE: Here the dry one without echo / reverb:

http://www.box.net/shared/l1fijjoaql

Perhaps it sounds “heady”, but I would mean that I start (C4) with chest voice. I can feel the difference between chest and head voice in my larynx.

Chest voice = more tension

Head voice = less tension

Perhaps my perception is wrong. But that’s the way I feel. I have to mention that the sound of my higher chest notes (above C4) is “light”.

Here a full song. You will hear what I mean with “light sound” already at the first notes:

http://www.box.net/shared/60huslpv14

Best wishes

SingingRob

hey rob, the "n" prefix assists your transition by shifting the resonance up more into the nose. can you send this same file over using "lah" as in "father?

also, if you applied more support to those top notes and some twang you can really get them resonant and chestier.

(nice vocal on your song.)

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Hi analog

Thanks for your nice comments. You’re right – that is a sort of mixed voice and I don’t switch to head voice on the notes G4 / A4.

The song fits to me, because the high parts are not very long and then going down to the lower notes (after the high part), I can rest and recover my voice for the next climbs.

Singing those high notes, I feel uncomfortable only a little bit. I apply strong breath support und “body tension”. But as you know, there are more challenging songs, where the higher parts are longer. And then I feel more uncomfortable. That’s the reason why I put the question “switch better lower (G4) or later (B4) to head voice”.

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Hi analog

Thanks for your nice comments. You’re right – that is a sort of mixed voice and I don’t switch to head voice on the notes G4 / A4.

The song fits to me, because the high parts are not very long and then going down to the lower notes (after the high part), I can rest and recover my voice for the next climbs.

Singing those high notes, I feel uncomfortable only a little bit. I apply strong breath support und “body tension”. But as you know, there are more challenging songs, where the higher parts are longer. And then I feel more uncomfortable. That’s the reason why I put the question “switch better lower (G4) or later (B4) to head voice”.

wooo .....rob, you said a cool thing......"body tension." but where are you feeling the "tension?"

if you say in your body below your throat (ideally) you may be experiencing that "appoggio" thats talked about.

it feels like your leaning against yor sternum.

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VIDEOHERE

What you wrote is important and fundamental in singing. Good remark from your side.

When I sing higher notes I try to generate tension on my body (below my throat) and it feels like I would stretch a band:

That helps to relax my throat.

It sounds funny, but my vocal coach gave me a band like this and we practiced. Pull on higher notes, and release on lower notes. It works great.

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VIDEOHERE

What you wrote is important and fundamental in singing. Good remark from your side.

When I sing higher notes I try to generate tension on my body (below my throat) and it feels like I would stretch a band:

That helps to relax my throat.

It sounds funny, but my vocal coach gave me a band like this and we practiced. Pull on higher notes, and release on lower notes. It works great.

yes, i've read about that or take a dish towel hold it vertically and pull from either side to experience appoggio.

thats why i always say, singing in the "amazing" level is more physically demanding than people realize.

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VIDEOHERE

What you wrote is important and fundamental in singing. Good remark from your side.

When I sing higher notes I try to generate tension on my body (below my throat) and it feels like I would stretch a band:

That helps to relax my throat.

It sounds funny, but my vocal coach gave me a band like this and we practiced. Pull on higher notes, and release on lower notes. It works great.

Interesting exercise. I still think in terms of guitar. A high note is actually a "small" note resonated properly. But it also needs the right attack or amount of force applied to create the faster vibrations (higher frequency) which we call breath support. Also, in keeping with the metaphor, less effort is involved in creating a high note with a smaller guage string than with a thicker guaged string. That is, you could hit a note on the 6th string, the fat one, but it will be easier to hit the note on the first string, the skinny one. That is the difference between hitting a high note with thick folds and doing it with the folds stretched out and using only a small part of the thinned out folds. The latter requires less effort and even less breath push, though it will need some, slightly increased from speaking. What happens when you pull on the exercise band? Your ab muscles compress to provide structural support, even if you are exercising your arms, as the guy is doing in the pic. That ab compression is what helps provide metered air and is similar to what Vendera calls the power push.

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@:ronws: Interesting comparison and explanation…

@VIDEOHERE: The „lah-lah stuff” is not my favourite one. Not intended to win an award, but here we are :D:

http://www.box.net/shared/iknydq3h99

rob, i'm no teacher, but i do hear a nasality on this which may be an issue to resolve. try to get steve fraser or one of the instructors to listen. and of course, i may be wrong. just trying to help.

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rob, i'm no teacher, but i do hear a nasality on this which may be an issue to resolve. try to get steve fraser or one of the instructors to listen. and of course, i may be wrong. just trying to help.

Bob, SingingRob:

I finally had a moment to listen to this. Its a very pleasant voice, and I would not worry about any nasality.

What I do hear is a fairly smooth transition from middle voice to top voice, both lightly registered. There are some slight intonation problems on a few notes, but I think those will even out as you get more confident in the exercise.

IMO the reasons you experience some fatigue when sustaining in this transition area is that you are 'mixing' toward a light registration, and not using resonance configurations that reduce the load on the laryngeal muscles as you do so. I hear no twang or singer's formant, and using either of these actions would increase your vocal power by 15-18 dB, reduce the sense of muscular effort at the level of the larynx, and increase the high frequency content of your tone. The second thing I hear that would benefit from some attention is in the choice of vowels.

As an overall recommendation, I think Ah is the most difficult vowel to sing through this region, as its passaggio entry point is the highest. I think you'll get faster progress is you switch your exercise to the short vowels, as in LIH and LEH, for example, or even use OH.

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Hi Steven

I read a lot of your very interesting posts in the past and I appreciate very much what you wrote regarding my issue. Thank you!

Today I tried to add more twang and you’re right. It helps a lot to reduce the load on the laryngeal muscles! I go ahead this way, also doing the exercises with the vowels mentioned (OH, LEH, LIH).

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