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Felipe Carvalho

Weird Exercises III - How to "lean on"

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This is a hard one, at the same time we all repeat "stay in full voice" and "stay in modal voice", I understand perfectly that the question that would naturally arise is:

"How the hell do I do that?"

 

And usually, the recommendation is to go strong. Which is not a perfect solution, but when used with the correct positions CAN allow someone trying it out to figure it out and feel how its like to use the voice in this way. Its such a special and different sensation that many people label it as a new register even though its just the same voice you use to speak with.


When that works, its quite nice. However, it can be very frustrating when it doesn't, and there aren't many other choices to experience it. Messing around with something that Daniel mentioned one of these days in a conversation, I kinda rigged together some aspects that make sense thinking of physiology and that I got people to do it (and it worked on both more experience and new students).


So first, lets explain a bit the idea.

 

What is the problem to begin with?

Well the problem is that the use of modal voice is associated with habitual tensions, and its very frequent that the release of the tensions produces a break in modal registration. Independent control of this is of course totally possible, but can be tricky to figure out.

More specifically, when the tensions are released, medial compression is lost and the body of the folds disengages from the movement. So what we need is a reference to increase the medial tension without adding the habitual tensions back in.


When should I give this a try?


When you have issues breaking above the first passage even though you are sure you are adjusting the vowels and supporting it well.


What do I need to know in order to try this?

You will need to know how to use vocal fry.
You will need to know how to use falsetto WITHOUT being airy.
Its very desirable that you know how to use falsetto with a piercing quality, the Bee Gees voice I often mention.

 


How to do it:

- First define what you will be working on, for example, and its a quite good example because it goes on the wound almost every time with males. Let's say you want to sing the chorus from "Man in The Box" from Alice in Chains. That A#4 is tricky, because it has a HUGE amount of power behind it and anything less just doesnt cut it.

So, lets take a look at the note, the line goes:

Feed my eyes.

A narrow EE in there will not work (you can do it but it will start to sound like heavy metal, not good for this song), so listen to Layne and you will hear that he sang it like:

Fehd mah ahs. (I know some of you got all happy with this one, but its not supposed to sound like that in the end result! ;)  )

Which is good enough for the purpose of this exercise.

Ok, but wait, don't just go there yet.


BEFORE, you are going to practice doing this:

- Sing it as LOW as you can possibly go in VOCAL FRY, making sure that all the vowels adjust in the way written up there (Fehd Mah Ahs), trying to find a very relaxed way to produce fry, and already using the placement you normally work with. And by low I mean Siberian Deep Bass morning voice.

Map down how it feels like to produce vocal fry, pay close attention to the adjustments and most importantly, what happens as soon as you intend to produce it. Practice going just for this "intention of fry" but not producing sound.


Then, sing it on the normal pitch (attack in the A#4), however, in a relaxed falsetto. Try to make it piercing already because you will need it, again using the vowels you will need for the phrase, again using the placement you need. And map this down also.


Now practice alternating, VERY DEEP vocal fry, then totally detached piercing BEE GEEs like falsetto. Go back and forth. And feel each.


- Finally, you will do this, you will simply create the intention of singing it in the very low fry voice, KEEP that feeling, then just add the falsetto to it and go strong with this, don't think of modal voice or chest, think of this weird combination (fry and falsetto INTENTIONS) and **blast** it out.

 

Chances are, it will be weird and all over the place, which is good. Weird and strange is better than a secure half-assed voice that can't do what you want, at least there is a chance to correct it.

Insist on it, give it some shots, even if it doesnt work right away. If you feel tired, or if you are trying it over and over and it just dont work, relax, go do something else, then after 30 minutes or so, try again.

 


If you believe the A#4 is too high for you in the moment, try another phrase that uses G4, G#4 or A4, lower than that will probably go outside the problem spot for most males, but feel free to try it. Girls can raise these references by 3 or 4 semitones (or just work on the A#4, it won't be easy either :P).


 

What you should not do (IMPORTANT):

The idea is producing the intention you have when you PREPARE to produce fry, and not to produce a fry like sound. Its NOT supposed to be a "creaky door" exercise, and its NOT supposed to produce creak distortion, the "falsetto" intention should prevent it. Sing that thing clean and strong, and make it sound good.


Also, don't try to produce soft voice yet, think powerful, because it is. I strongly recommend you get the basics of breathing/support down because you won't be able to sustain this if you do not breath properly and create the necessary pressure (the attack at least should work).

 

 

And that's it!

I would really like to know how it goes for you folks, even if you already have the necessary control down. There are several exercises that make use of fry in a somewhat similar way, but this particular idea I have never seen explored.

 

Video is done:

 

Felipe

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Felipe, that's kind of the same feeling I use for singing high. Without trying it, I know for sure the end result hahah Cool exercise, its a good way to get people into that area of their voices in modal voice.

Would it be useful to do the phrase on C5, for example ? I personally found it more useful to go higher than the "trouble zone" when I was discovering the high area, at least for the first couple of minutes. Then I got back down to work on the troublesome area A4-B4 when it felt more solid above it.

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Thanks for the feedback folks.

@Bob and @D.Starr yes, I will do it this weekend if everything goes according to plan (which rarely happens haha).

@Xamedhi It should work well, although I believe that trying it lower first is wiser. The catch here is avoiding to think full, but making it happen anyways.

Also the people that train with me have all more or less the same foundation by the time they get to this, so there will be probably differences with people with different backgrounds (which I am looking forward to hear about).

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Felipe,

 

I know you used the example of  " Fehd mah ahs ".....are these particular vowels important for the exercise....or can it just be something generally in the edging category?

 

I got me a few nice songs in E that I could work on a phrase around G4, G#4, A4.....what vowels other than " Fehd mah ahs " would u recommend?

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we are essentially talking about belting up into the low head tone range, yes?

 

How about the words "hit" and "spit" along these lines..?

 

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I think the mapping of the tract shaping is infinitely important, guys, so be sure to practice the hell out of that. I started training on October 2013, but I had been singing my whole life, badly, but singing, lol.
I think that because I used to play when I was around 15 ( and to aprox 20-21 years old too so that's like 5 years of unconscious training , hahah I'm 23 now btw ), imitating the tone of Fabio Lione from Rhapsody or Bruce Dickinson, in my medium comfortable range, with all vowel mods and nuances, and high in falsetto too, so I think I memorized placement without knowing it. Then when I started studying the voice and training by the end of 2013, headvoice felt "natural" or... already visited somehow. It was hard as hell at first, and I had to use a lot of energy and concentration to make it work, but it worked. 

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Love that weird excercises, keep 'em coming Felipe.

A related excercise I use from time to time is to just try to get your vocal fry as high as possible in pitch. I think the key lesson to be learned here is how to sing with low airflow/volume levels without losing the "chest voice" engagement. Fry is a nice tool because it has lots of that engagement (it is probably the only part of the voice that is actually TA dominant) but it needs very low amounts of airflow to work. I think the falsetto part of the excercise is mainly to avoid unneccessary tensions, right?

For vowels I can personally recommend the IH as in "sit" and the UH as in "up", so the phrase would be F-IH-D M-UH UH-S. 

I think it is very helpful for this excercise to avoid the belt resonance, because that one will boost the "chest engagement" a lot by itself and can hinder you in getting the sensation for that isolated engagement. That means just don't open the vowels too much. While edging vowels are good for the excercise I think, I would recommend the "medium edging" vowels IH and UH as opposed to the "open/heavy" edging vowels EH and A. But I'm also interestined in what Felipe has to say about his intention on the vowels.

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  Thaks for your posts Felipe.  Today was the first that I had a chance to try this. A coordination that I have tried over the years and thought it was wrong because I still get too airy and it distorts for me. This may be because I am just not getting enough cord closure yet.  I have not tried the Alice in Chains reference yet but the sound I get is more of a Phil Collins sound as in the ending of "In The Air Tonight".

 

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Keep trying it, mdew, even if it distorts. A few times when I've been very tired and cant support well, my second passaggio and above can distort a bit. I think it has to do with balance and energy of the phonation. So keep experimenting!

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If you do this too low and on narrow vowels the tendency to distort will be bigger, since you will probably go stronger than what the position/note can take. (which is what I hear him doing on these points you mentioned Jon Jon).

Thanks for the feedback everyone, I will make a video tomorrow for sure showing what I mean with this wall of text haha, or at least trying to ;) 

 

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After the webcam fighting me a bit its done :P

Since other positions were mentioned, I added a sample of a Iron Maiden song that uses covering. The idea is to produce fry on the same position that you intend to sing, and then map that sensation.

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