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I think I'm a bass... help me diagnose my voice type?

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ridiculousfrequency
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So first off, here is an mp3 of my speaking voice and me descending from middle C:

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

The main reason I'm asking if I'm a bass is because a friend loaned me Singing Success and Roger Love's "Set Your Voice Free", both which talk about the middle voice. But when I'm doing the exercises, I feel like I'm transitioning from chest to head voice, and I can't really find my middle voice, but then I also realized that my voice is a lot deeper than Brett and Roger's, which lead me to the possibility that I might already be using my middle voice when I'm hitting the lower notes of their exercises.

So then I googled "middle voice bass", and one of the sites said this:

"The Bass voice would have a vocal range of between the F note 1 octave below the middle C (F2) to the E note just above middle C (E4)

The Bass voice would probably transition from chest voice to middle voice somewhere around the A or A flat note just below the middle C (A3 or A Flat 3), and then shift into head voice somewhere around the D Flat note just above middle C (D Flat 4)."

And that made me further believe that I am already using my middle voice - I just can't bring it up as high as Brett and Roger can since I have a lower, bass voice. But there's also the fact that I can take my supposed middle voice and strain it to sing higher. For example, if I'm singing middle C, I can take that same vocal "mode" that I'm using to sing middle C and strain it to sing up to E, but then it sounds like I'm shouting, and it "tickles" my vocal cords a little, which I'm guessing isn't a good thing. In other words, I don't know if this is still my chest voice or my middle voice- I've never heard of straining the middle voice but I have heard of straining the chest voice, and I'm just confused.

So can someone help "diagnose" my voice type and tell me if I'm already using my middle voice? Because I don't want to spend hours trying to look for it if I've already been using it this whole time! Thanks a bunch!!! :D

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So first off, here is an mp3 of my speaking voice and me descending from middle C:

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

The main reason I'm asking if I'm a bass is because a friend loaned me Singing Success and Roger Love's "Set Your Voice Free", both which talk about the middle voice. But when I'm doing the exercises, I feel like I'm transitioning from chest to head voice, and I can't really find my middle voice, but then I also realized that my voice is a lot deeper than Brett and Roger's, which lead me to the possibility that I might already be using my middle voice when I'm hitting the lower notes of their exercises.

So then I googled "middle voice bass", and one of the sites said this:

"The Bass voice would have a vocal range of between the F note 1 octave below the middle C (F2) to the E note just above middle C (E4)

The Bass voice would probably transition from chest voice to middle voice somewhere around the A or A flat note just below the middle C (A3 or A Flat 3), and then shift into head voice somewhere around the D Flat note just above middle C (D Flat 4)."

And that made me further believe that I am already using my middle voice - I just can't bring it up as high as Brett and Roger can since I have a lower, bass voice. But there's also the fact that I can take my supposed middle voice and strain it to sing higher. For example, if I'm singing middle C, I can take that same vocal "mode" that I'm using to sing middle C and strain it to sing up to E, but then it sounds like I'm shouting, and it "tickles" my vocal cords a little, which I'm guessing isn't a good thing. In other words, I don't know if this is still my chest voice or my middle voice- I've never heard of straining the middle voice but I have heard of straining the chest voice, and I'm just confused.

So can someone help "diagnose" my voice type and tell me if I'm already using my middle voice? Because I don't want to spend hours trying to look for it if I've already been using it this whole time! Thanks a bunch!!! :D

RidiculousFrequency: Yes, you have the bass end, but also a really easy upper middle. The jury is out as to whether you are bass-baritone,or some type of bass (there are at least 3 different categories, based (pun intended) on the weight of the phonation and the overall depth.

Here are some clues for you. The true bass voice is one of the rarest male voice types, even more rare than tenor.

For the Bass, middle voice begins about the B the 9th below middle C, and, depending on vowel, ends somewhere from Ab3 (Ab below mid C) to the D above that. ALL the exercises from the CD programs can be used, but you will need to transpose them down a major 3rd (4 half steps) or even a perfect 4th or 5th (5-7 half steps) to get them into the right range for the register transitions.

The particular kind of bass you are depends on the weight of the phonation, and where the resonance transitions are. The lyric (cantante) bass is a bit higher than the profundo. From your example, you could be either. I'd have to hear you sing the 5-note scale from the G below middle C to the D above mid c to tell.

However, you do have a head voice that goes above that E next to mid C, its just way tricky for the bass to get to, as the sensation are quite different, and your passaggio is lower than the teachers suggest. If yiou want to get up there, I can help you with some exercises that I do personally (I am a cantante) and have found to be of good use generally.

C'mon back. Let us know how you'd like to proceed.

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Thanks for your insight, Steven. That was exactly the kind of response I was looking for!

I can hit the D above middle C, but not without a shout to help me hit it, but I don't feel any strain with the shout. But if I try the E, I do feel some tension. And I can also sing the D in a falsetto... I just tried it and can sing down to the A before middle C in a head voice. Any notes after that (technically, before that) and the head voice gets weaker and I switch to my chest/middle voice. (Still not completely sure where my middle voice is :/ )

So I guess I can try out that 5-note scale from G to D you were talking about, and I can record it with a better microphone, too. (The mp3 I posted before was with my computer mic.)

And yeah, I can find my head voice with the SS and SYVF exercises, but like you said, it's difficult to smoothly transition into it, and it's not powerful at all. I'd be happy to get help with those exercises you were mentioning. Ideally, I'd want to be able to do this: (at 0:31)

So once again, thanks Steven!

Edit: You can hear me hitting the D above middle C in my cover of "Little Lion Man" by Mumford and Sons @ around 2:57:

http://www.box.net/shared/y6zltvpyps

I know it wasn't the cleanest... I still have to work on it, as you can hear for yourself. I guess what I'm trying to do is to find out the best "mode" as CVT would put it for that D. Or in other words, what I'm supposed to be doing/feeling in order to get the best sound for the D, and of course all my other notes. :D

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Thanks for your insight, Steven. That was exactly the kind of response I was looking for!

I can hit the D above middle C, but not without a shout to help me hit it, but I don't feel any strain with the shout. But if I try the E, I do feel some tension. And I can also sing the D in a falsetto... I just tried it and can sing down to the A before middle C in a head voice. Any notes after that (technically, before that) and the head voice gets weaker and I switch to my chest/middle voice. (Still not completely sure where my middle voice is :/ )

So I guess I can try out that 5-note scale from G to D you were talking about, and I can record it with a better microphone, too. (The mp3 I posted before was with my computer mic.)

RF: (RidculousFrequency) we'll take this one step at a time. I promise not to warp your mind too rapidly.

There are two inter-related concepts to grasp: registration (which is about the muscles involved in phonation, particularly pitch-change) and resonance, which is about how your vocal tract makes vowels. Over then next week or 10 days, I will introduce you to the basics of these as they apply to all singers, and specifically with the nuances that apply to the bass voice.

As we do this, no question is out-of-bounds. Curious about something.... ask it. Confused by something I write... say that. Wonder what makes something 'chest voice' or 'head voice' or.... whatever... say that.

To start, here is a core concept.... as you are rising in pitch, your voice is makng subtle, minute changes in registration so that the laryngeal muscle balances are maintained in correct relation with the force of exhalation. No single muscle group ever 'gives up'. All of them stay involved, but trade off the work.

2nd core concept, while those registration changes are occuring, resonance is changing as well. It is HUGELY BENEFICIAL to be singing resonant vowels... much more sound, and much less strain, than singing non-resonant vowels. We will be discussing what makes a vowel resonant, so get ready. :-)

Key definition: siren... a frequency slide between two notes. A siren is a very good exercise for experiencing the gradual change that is needed to traverse the scale.

more later. Questions so far?

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No questions yet. I'm very excited! Especially since I do feel like a majority of these vocal instruction materials don't give too much focus on people with lower voices, like me. If it wasn't for your advice, Steven, I would most likely have gotten frustrated by now with my materials and given up! So thank you very much, and thanks in advance- it's much appreciated. What you're doing is awesome. :D

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No questions yet. I'm very excited! Especially since I do feel like a majority of these vocal instruction materials don't give too much focus on people with lower voices, like me. If it wasn't for your advice, Steven, I would most likely have gotten frustrated by now with my materials and given up! So thank you very much, and thanks in advance- it's much appreciated. What you're doing is awesome. :D

RF: I listened to the recording you added with your edit. The tone quality and vocal weight I hear there is fairly baritone, so while you have a good low extension (that low C in your initial post), your vocal approach here has a casual baritone quality to it.

As to the D, to my ear, it sounds curbed, but not in the center of the mode. To me, feels shaded somewhat toward neutral. There is no metal in it at all, but neither does it sound yelled, either. In fact, this particular song does not really show your full voice off.

I think it may be useful for you to take a vocal 'inventory' as a part of this process. Particularly, I think it would be useful for you and us to hear a D major scale and an E major scale with you singing several different vowels at a firmly comfortable volume level from your mid voice to your upper middle. Its perfectly OK during this for your voice to 'feel' yelly, in fact, I'd like to hear what feels to you like a yelly tone. The vowels I'd like to hear for the two scalse are EE, AY, AH, Oh, OO and EH.

Looking forward to your reply.

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Im hearing a lighter typed bassbaritone by the clips you posted. But youve got a really nice low end to your voice wich is really cool, so grats on that! I know many people with similar voices as yours who have had a lowrange, but in the end by getting down vocaltechnique also managing to sing tenor :P

So basicly i think you can pick whatever style you want and youll get there ;)

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I think it may be useful for you to take a vocal 'inventory' as a part of this process. Particularly, I think it would be useful for you and us to hear a D major scale and an E major scale with you singing several different vowels at a firmly comfortable volume level from your mid voice to your upper middle. Its perfectly OK during this for your voice to 'feel' yelly, in fact, I'd like to hear what feels to you like a yelly tone. The vowels I'd like to hear for the two scalse are EE, AY, AH, Oh, OO and EH.

Looking forward to your reply.

D Major:

http://www.box.net/shared/7er39dj4eu

E Major:

http://www.box.net/shared/qv0xefcdno

Actually, when I did those, I didn't really feel anything in my throat that I usually would; I felt fine after singing the high D and E's. This is why I'm so interested in learning more about the "modes", cause I feel like I can extend my range, I'd just need to do it properly. And yeah, they were a little shaky, but that's because 1) I just came back from a day-long trip from NYC 2) I didn't warm up - these two were the first two things that came out of my mouth singing-wise 3) I'm sorta self-conscious cause I'm recording this in my room and my family's home, and they're probably wondering what has to do with all this yelling lol. I could probably hit them cleaner, in fact I'm almost certain I can hit them cleaner.

You definitely don't sound like a bass to me, Mate. Granted, I'm no expert, but, at least in the clip you posted, you don't seem to have the vocal weight for a bass. I could certainly be wrong, though.

Yes - that's why I am so confused! Haha. I would start with the exercises in Singing Success and SYVF with the lowest notes, but once they started heading up to about D or E after middle C, I had to start using my head voice, and therefore I wasn't sure how to get into my middle voice, or if I was already using my middle voice! Everytime the lady would go, "This is Brett hitting his first bridge and transitioning to his middle voice", I'd say to myself: "Wait - I can only hit this using just my head voice! But I hit all the other lower notes with the same tone quality and timbre (are those the right words?) as when Brett was singing them?!?!"

Im hearing a lighter typed bassbaritone by the clips you posted. But youve got a really nice low end to your voice wich is really cool, so grats on that! I know many people with similar voices as yours who have had a lowrange, but in the end by getting down vocaltechnique also managing to sing tenor :P

So basicly i think you can pick whatever style you want and youll get there ;)

That's exactly what I'd love to end up being able to do - hit the high's but also reserve that extra bass power! It sucks too, having to transpose on the guitar every song I hear on the radio about 3 to 5 half steps down in order to put it into a key where I can comfortably sing it :/. Like for example, the "Little Lion Man" cover I posted was transposed 3 half-steps down from the original key. But hopefully with your guys's help I won't have to do that anymore! :D

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I seem to recall that Seth Riggs, in his Singing for the stars program, starts with a bit lower pitch in his exercises than Brett does. I have both programs and I tend to like Seth's program better, although I rarely do either of them these days.

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RF: I listened to your two scales, D and E, and also ran them through the spectrogram to get a sense of where your resonances are.

This is what I heard:

1) You have a firm phonation, and a good sense of pitch.

2) The D scale did not sound yelly at the top, but the E was starting to. Looking at the spectragram, your first formant for EE and OO is at ~294 Hz, which is the D above middle C.

3) As the scales progress upward, you are letting your larynx rise, but not much.

4) There is a small amount of twang in your voice.

All of this is consistent with a strong-voiced male singer, of any voice type or tone quality, who has not yet learned how to let the registration lighten smoothly on the way up. This is a very common circumstance in large, young male voices, and almost universally found in baritone and lower-voiced singers. So, for the time being, I think its useful to approach this as a fundamental male-voice technique topic, and not specific to being a particular bass or baritone type. You can revisit the voice type question when you've got this technique down.

Regardless of whether the terminology used is Classical, SLS, TMV, CVT or some other nomenclature system, the physical reality is that there are three sets of muscles in the larynx that have to cooperate smoothly for a clear, consistently powerful, wide-range voice to result. One of these muscle sets dominates the speaking voice range, one other dominates falsetto, and one brings the vocal bands together, regardless of range. To sing well, they all have to be working all the time, collaborating.

As an aside, I had this exact circumstance in my own voice during high school and early college years.

The exercises I found most useful in my own singing, and when working with other large voices, are those which use a bodily reflex to cause the coordination, rather than trying to 'think' the coordination. The new coordination feels differently, and the discovery of these new sensations is an important part of incorporating the new coordination into singing.

The exercises are easily done, and based on sounds you already know how to make, as they occur in English and many other languages.

Try this: On the D below middle C, sing the word "the", firmly, but only medium-loudly. Now, reduce the volume 1 notch, to medium-soft, but still firm, and go back and sustain the initial sound of it, the voiced 'th'... it will sound like a buzz.

The production of this kind of sound causes a reflexive re-adjustment of the muscles in the larynx that control phonation, reducing slightly the involvement of the muscles which dominate the speaking voice. In vocal tech-speak, the sound has been re-registered, to a slightly lighter, but still firm production. Some people call this 'adding head' to 'chest', or 'blending the registers', but the point is that your body knows how to do this without you having to try anything special. You just have to set up the right circumstances.

Now, lets take this sound out for a spin, by moving it around.

With this firm but medium-soft, voiced th, do a slow vocal slide from the D below mid C, to the A above it... a perfect 5th up, and then back down, aka a siren, attempting to keep it roughly the same volume. It may take a few tries, but I think you'll find it fairly easily done, and with some new sensations.

Transpose the voiced 'th' perfect-fifth siren up by semitones, keeping the volume fairly constant, until the top note is the D above mid C. Extend your awareness out to what you are feeling.

I find that this exercise is a wonderful way to wake up the voice at the beginning of a day, or the beginning of a practice session. If done before 10 am, its also useful to use it into the bottom voice as well, in which case you can start the siren down at low C, and siren up as far as you are comfortable.

More later.

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I would certainly defer to Steven's judgement and words. Here's my layman interpretation. First, here is an example of bass register in a hard rock (techno-industrial mix). This is Guns and Roses with the song "Shackler's Revenge" from the album Chinese Democracy. This is Axl Rose singing bass.

When I have mentioned before having trouble with the lowest notes in this song, this is what I am talking about.

I'm the usual GnR freak around here. So, I have seen most every interview with Axl there is to see. You and he have the same speaking voice.

There are some schools of thought that say that the lowest usable note defines your range. Which would make Axl a bass who can reach to castrati. But I think Steven's definition is more reliable. Your singing range is based on where you have the widest dynamics of usable tone at a usable volume. So, I can do some baritone but mostly, bass is out of my reach. Plus, too, in a studio recording, they can amp a track that recorded at a whisper or soft growl and have it come out like a booming basso profundo. Just on the first hearing of your cover song, I would say a light baritone, mainly because you are singing so softly and with low singing volume.

But that's not the end of the diagnosis. We really need to hear a sample after you have worked through some of the stuff that Steven has for you. He is the man, not only in vocal anatomy, but in classical fach, and certainly in assessing any range. There are others here who have had classical edcation. Robert Lunte (founder of this forum and the main website) has studied pretty much every vocal program under the sun. And there's some guys here that can hit some scary low notes. I had even had a thread in the critique section called "How low can you go?" Got my butt whipped, too. But I have learned to accept my limited range (mid-baritone to tenor.)

Here's a pop song from a solid baritone.

"Brandy" by Looking Glass

His singing volume is conversational, except for the choruses.

Anyway, I'm not an expert, just showing how I see it.

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You sound a bit like Bugma, who hangs around here, when speaking. Though you seem to have a very light approach to singing, and have some trouble achieving folds closure. I don't have any advice on this as I'm dealing with the exact same problem (by problem, I mean that I don't know how to do something else yet, not that light is bad). Steven has wonderful advice though :)

I can't say anything about your topical question, as I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to vocal classification (I have a basic grasp of supposed usable range and that's about it).

ronws : I'm pretty certain you reach a bit higher than standard tenor :p

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ronws : I'm pretty certain you reach a bit higher than standard tenor :P

Thanks, Ronron. I usually describe myself as a full-on tenor that can do some baritone but I guess it depends on which perspective we are using.

I just did a version of "Last in Line" where I start an octave below the original. It's in the process of being mixed before I post it. But I noticed that it was a reach to get to some of the lowest baritone notes, regardless of my speaking voice.

I think it can be inaccurate to base the range of one's singing on one's speaking voice. Most people, even singers, when speaking do not phonate and breathe as they do when singing. Heck, the basis of any good "singing system" starts with how to breathe. Therefore, we don't actually sing as we speak and we more often don't speak as we sing. So, it would be inaccurate to say that rf is a bass or even a low baritone simply because he has a low speaking voice. His breath support and fold closure is different in each case.

And it reminds me of a case I once read where a teacher received a student who thought he was bassbaritone or just baritone, and he had been previously classified as such from other teachers. But he was having problems with resonance and breath support. So the newer teach said, in so many words, just for giggles, let's try some higher register, light at first, then lean into it. And it turns out the guy was an effortless tenor, forcing himself to sing low for so long.

That's why I rely on Steven's definition. One's range is defined by the dynamics, as opposed to the absolute lowest note one can utter before descending into growl.

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