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Dio's head voice

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Jeran
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Hello, all.

I read an interview with Dio where he stated that he never uses falsetto, which I assume he's using interchangably with head voice.

Does anyone who knows his voice have any insight into this? Is he simply bridging into a strong head voice without realizing it, or does he really just use chest voice all the way up?

I'm watching Heaven and Hell's live DVD, and while he does to a rare head voice scream or two, it's hard to tell if he's belting chest or using a strong head voice. I'm leaning toward the latter a bit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5sCvCHr9gw

In this clip, for example, it sounds like he may be bridging really well on the higher notes.

Any opinions on this?

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Hello, all.

I read an interview with Dio where he stated that he never uses falsetto, which I assume he's using interchangably with head voice.

Does anyone who knows his voice have any insight into this? Is he simply bridging into a strong head voice without realizing it, or does he really just use chest voice all the way up?

I'm watching Heaven and Hell's live DVD, and while he does to a rare head voice scream or two, it's hard to tell if he's belting chest or using a strong head voice. I'm leaning toward the latter a bit.

In this clip, for example, it sounds like he may be bridging really well on the higher notes.

Jeran: The term 'falsetto' is used to mean so many things that IMO its problematic to take his use of the term and draw a generalization from it. I don't think its necessarily the case that he even thought about 'head voice' and 'chest voice' either. Look around for an interview with him talking about his singing, and perhaps you'll get some insight into that. Please post what you find... it would be interesting to hear him talk about it in his own words. Certainly this recording does not have any falsetto in it :-)

If this recording is any representation, he is bridging into something, but (sorry to say) not doing it as well as he did as a younger singer. It sounds much more like his lower & mid voice are what CVT would call 'overdrive', and that the top is Curbing, and with his characteristic twanged distortion. It may be just what he wanted to do, but it does not have the quality of the middle voice, nor does it have the resonance profile of a 'head voice' production.

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I've read a few interviews and bios of Ronnie James Dio. He claims to have never taken singing lessons. In fact, he started out with the french horn, as a kid. He credits his singing with the breath support he learned in order to play a horn. And, to a large extent, I would say that he draws largely from that experience. Having sang some of his songs, I must say that you need solid breath support, as you would for a horn. And proper resonance. With a horn, a note is create by two things. Embouchre (pronounced om-boosh-er, slight emphasis on the syllable, om), which is the shape and varying degrees of compression of the lips (which would be translated as compression of the vocal folds.) Secondly, on a horn, resonance is changed by operating the valves, which literally change the length and shape of the resonating chamber for that note or range of notes.

Falsetto is a tone. And I've not been aware of Dio using falsetto to any extent that I can recall. Head voice is, in my opinion, a misnomer for a range. In reality, all resonance takes place in the head, from lowest to highest. What changes, like a french horn, is the shape and length of your resonating chamber. What also changes is the thickness and compression of your vocal folds, much like adjusting embouchre on a horn. My brother played clarinet in school. The clarinet uses a reed but changes in embouchre are also needed, as well as operating the valves. And, near as I can tell, Dio produced his distortion in the soft palate, which is why he could sing as he did for at least 40 years.

It's funny that he says he never took singing lessons. For I found him to be quite operatic, from his clean notes to the way he moved on stage, to what he would wear. Watch him again and turn the sound down.

Anyway, I would say that he has a strong head voice that sounds like belting, primarily from the breath support and the added effect of palate-located distortion.

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I've read a few interviews and bios of Ronnie James Dio. He claims to have never taken singing lessons. In fact, he started out with the french horn, as a kid. He credits his singing with the breath support he learned in order to play a horn. And, to a large extent, I would say that he draws largely from that experience. Having sang some of his songs, I must say that you need solid breath support, as you would for a horn. And proper resonance. With a horn, a note is create by two things. Embouchre (pronounced om-boosh-er, slight emphasis on the syllable, om), which is the shape and varying degrees of compression of the lips (which would be translated as compression of the vocal folds.) Secondly, on a horn, resonance is changed by operating the valves, which literally change the length and shape of the resonating chamber for that note or range of notes.

Falsetto is a tone. And I've not been aware of Dio using falsetto to any extent that I can recall. Head voice is, in my opinion, a misnomer for a range. In reality, all resonance takes place in the head, from lowest to highest. What changes, like a french horn, is the shape and length of your resonating chamber. What also changes is the thickness and compression of your vocal folds, much like adjusting embouchre on a horn. My brother played clarinet in school. The clarinet uses a reed but changes in embouchre are also needed, as well as operating the valves. And, near as I can tell, Dio produced his distortion in the soft palate, which is why he could sing as he did for at least 40 years.

It's funny that he says he never took singing lessons. For I found him to be quite operatic, from his clean notes to the way he moved on stage, to what he would wear. Watch him again and turn the sound down.

Anyway, I would say that he has a strong head voice that sounds like belting, primarily from the breath support and the added effect of palate-located distortion.

good stuff ron. you know, i think there's a missing ingredient with a lot of these power singers, and that is attitude and the "willing" the voice to sound like it does.

take a look at lou gramm in this video, sounding and looking like he's gonna fall apart at any moment, and yet he sounds good..this throwing down the shoulders thing he does, does he even know he's doing it? how about the bracing of his body? he's doesn't budge when he braces for those high notes..i see the support and the balls to the wall effort...i think you can't eliminate these non-technique things sometimes. know what i mean? also, he way he grips the mike at certain points with both hands..this stuff facinates me.

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I notice the shoulder drop is preceded by a raising of the shoulders, a shrug. Perhaps he does it for an extra push. Here's where I know some limited mechanics of anatomy. With shoulders and arms raised, it is difficult to exhale properly or to exhale in a controlled manner. When Jesus was crucified, he could breath in with short gulps. But he couldn't hardly exhale. Since exhalation also disspells moist air, his lungs would fill with fluid from moisture condensed out of the air in his lungs. Essentially, drowning on dry land. It's like suffering from pneumonia. Anyway, I agree the shoulder drop sets his body in proper alignment for breath support. Is it a reflex or does he do it on purpose, for visual effect? I'm not sure.

But I also agree that some of a vocal styling may not come so much from a technical viewpoint as it comes from an emotional viewpoint. Even so, the "spontaneous" thing has to be rehearsed. Tom Jackson mentioned this. He is a live music producer. Let's say that you do something spontaneous one night and the crowd loves it. Are you going to ignore that and not do it again the next night? Of course not. You are going to repeat it. Which makes it no longer spontaneous. So, then, you work it into the show. Which means the need to repeat it in rehearsal, so that it comes across effortless in the show. But, whether it's Gramm or Dio, they do use some technique to conserve the power and ability of their voices so that they can do the same thing, night after night. In Dio's case, night after night for 40 years. For Gramm, almost that long.

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I notice the shoulder drop is preceded by a raising of the shoulders, a shrug. Perhaps he does it for an extra push. Here's where I know some limited mechanics of anatomy. With shoulders and arms raised, it is difficult to exhale properly or to exhale in a controlled manner. When Jesus was crucified, he could breath in with short gulps. But he couldn't hardly exhale. Since exhalation also disspells moist air, his lungs would fill with fluid from moisture condensed out of the air in his lungs. Essentially, drowning on dry land. It's like suffering from pneumonia. Anyway, I agree the shoulder drop sets his body in proper alignment for breath support. Is it a reflex or does he do it on purpose, for visual effect? I'm not sure.

But I also agree that some of a vocal styling may not come so much from a technical viewpoint as it comes from an emotional viewpoint. Even so, the "spontaneous" thing has to be rehearsed. Tom Jackson mentioned this. He is a live music producer. Let's say that you do something spontaneous one night and the crowd loves it. Are you going to ignore that and not do it again the next night? Of course not. You are going to repeat it. Which makes it no longer spontaneous. So, then, you work it into the show. Which means the need to repeat it in rehearsal, so that it comes across effortless in the show. But, whether it's Gramm or Dio, they do use some technique to conserve the power and ability of their voices so that they can do the same thing, night after night. In Dio's case, night after night for 40 years. For Gramm, almost that long.

i'm pretty sure gramm would have endured vocally if he wasn't sideswiped with that brain tumor. the guy was simply amazing to me.

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Well, true that. And if it had not been for stomach cancer, Dio would still be singing. He had just finished an album, if I remember his widow's words correctly and was planning tours. He totally expected to beat this thing and was flying from Hollywood to Houston every now and then for his treatments. And, big man that he was, there was a patient there who was a big-time Dio fan. And he would always bring him hats, cd's, all kinds of swag. It was more important to him to pack that in the case than a second shirt.

In a tribute to Dio, radio and tv host Eddie Trunk, who was friends with Dio, would call him up and Dio would lift him up. All that grace and dignity packed into one short guy. Likewise with Gramm, who gave the audience everything he had, every night. Technique or not, that comes from the heart.

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Ugh,. one of the worst Dio recordings I ever heard. He's about 67 here though, and about a year away from death...at his peak I would say he was in strong headvoice most of the time. He never took singing lessons, but he did copy operatic singers as a kid, e.g. copied the operatic sound.

Same song live a few years earlier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrp2vgFy-v4

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I still think he sounded great on the newer one. I saw him twice within the last two years before he died, and I was amazed both times.

I can hear that he puts more distortion on the headier tones in more recent times. Maybe that's to cover up a weaker, aging high end.

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Hello, all.

I read an interview with Dio where he stated that he never uses falsetto, which I assume he's using interchangably with head voice.

Does anyone who knows his voice have any insight into this? Is he simply bridging into a strong head voice without realizing it, or does he really just use chest voice all the way up?

OK, Dio Fans! Go to http://www.padavona.com/mp3.html and find there a raft of the early recordings by Dio, going back into the 60s. For a very good example of his top voice, scroll down to the bottom and listen to 'Hoochie Koochie Lady', recorded in '73.

Its particularly interesting to me because in this 1 performance he uses both 'clean' and distorted top notes. The piece is in Db, and you can hear at 3:12 a perfect example of a clean high Db. There are good examples elsewhere, on other vowels as well.

While I am not the best on this forum at the rock vocalism for this range, my first impression is that the best word to describe his technique up there is curbing, with some twang going all the time, with and without distortion.

Whatcha think?

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Wow, great find, Mr. Fraser!

I'm not the guy to talk to, regarding the modes. I just bought a used and torn up copy of the CVT book, but haven't really delved yet.

Does anyone else hear a little similarity to Cher in Dio's tone in "Hoochie Koochie Lady?" I ask because every once in a while, I'll hit a note and go "Oh, no. I sound like Cher!" I'm a guy, so that doesn't really please me much.

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He did use falsetto a couple of times, though very rarely. Trying to remember which tune it was. He does a tiny bit here in the intro: 'fade away, fade away':

Btw, the 'Feels like the tiiiime' at at 1:27 is classic Dio tone for me. Also at 5:28...A pretty tone that sounds like its being distorted through massive rage. All in all a good tune to showcase him switching between pretty pretty clean and furious distortion. Noone can say 'NO' like Ronnie...Btw, some of the tunes that Steven linked are from the late 50's...

I think some of the most interesting recordings Ive heard of him are the Hammersmith Odeon Bootleg recordings.

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=black+sabbath+hammersmith&aq=f

In great form, unedited, and you can hear his vocals, his breathing, as if you were standing next to him. You can hear his good rhythmic sense here well too. I dont even want to know what notes he's hitting on Slipping Away

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Thanks, Steven, for the link. Man, what an education for me. In many ways.

I paid particular attention to the covers of songs from the Who. I think it's partly due to the mix back then but RJ seemed to have a weak and muddy low end. And, on the break in "Baba O'Riley," he hit the high scream quite a bit below the original. I want to say a full octave but I am not sure because, in his day, Roger Daltry could be positively supersonic and stratospheric. In "Behind Blue Eyes," the guitar player muddied it up and went off time. I think, in that song, the band was simply not up to it and was trying to piece it together at the last minute.

I am certainly not used to RJ trying to sound like other people, as he did in some of these recordings. And I am so glad he found his own sound. Don't get me wrong. I like doing Who songs but I won't sound like Daltrey and won't even try. I can do the high note in "Baba O'Riley" but I don't have the harmonic howl that Daltrey did. And I think there were times when Dio was trying to sound like him and certainly the recording engineer was trying to achieve that effect on this and other songs with some of the drastic eq they would do on his voice, when you could hear the voice at all. In some cases, I could only assume that the mixing of the recording was by someone who just loved drums, as the drums dominated, especially in live recordings.

But the older stuff, ala Strawberry Alarm Clock and Monkees-lite, that was cool, too, and a completely different side of him.

Whatever it was, by the time he got to Black Sabbath, he seemed to have hit his stride. And found people that knew how to mix voice.

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