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NCdan
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In the quest to beef up my vocals so they don't sound weak I've been cranking my amps and then singing as loud as I can (it's sort of hard to do that without really loud accompaniment; at least that's how I feel). I've noticed that once I'm warmed up and belting vocals that my range is severly diminished in both the lower and higher registers. If I'm singing in lullabye mode I can hit really low notes and high notes at even moderate power. However, when I really start belting out vocals, which I need to do in order to not sound wimpy, I totally lose any power and fullness on low notes and my voice just cannot hit high notes. Think of Fat Mike on the first NOFX records and that is how I sound on high notes. Actually, I probably sound worse than that: really scratchy and totally off the pitch.

First of all, is this normal? Secondly, might I be doing anything obviously wrong that could hurt my vocal cords? Thirdly, are there any ways to build up vocal strength quickly (in order to expand the rather limited "belting range" I have) while singing (or belting) quietly? Thanks in advance.

PS, I do mostly punk rock and would like to be able to get some vox like H.R. from Bad Brains or Michale Graves from the Misfits.

:D

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You'll have to forgive me for I think of punk from the days when the voice was supposed to be de-tuned. Such as in "Anarchy in the UK." Which was baritone.

You can add growl or rattle but it needs to happen over a soft note. That is, adding the distortion to your voice is harder to do when belting.

One thing you can do is find a note in falsetto (the girly, wimpy voice) and try to increase the volume and note solidity from there. Doing that is going to make you realize the importance of twang and breath support. Any way, once you can get that note full power, you're going to back of the pedal, so to speak, and then twang a little more until you hear a rattle. You will be suprised how light the actual phonation of the note is, compared to how it sounds after you add your vocal distortion. Think of it like a guitar. A guitar makes a small noise. Fuzz or distortion happens in addition on top of the signal, not during it.

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Same topic hardly an inch away: http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=1623

If you don't have much experience doing so or there is some wrong in your technique it is most probably normal. Sorry, no quick routes. You might learn a new technique overnight but it will take months and even years to make it stick and consistent. It takes a while until you can reflect back and think "wow, I really get the hang of this".

Unless you are shouting or at the very edges of the scale there shouldn't be that much difference technique in singing quiet or loud. Unsure of this because I find it a lot harder to sing quietly in higher registers, but I don't use a different technique -just more support and extra stable breathing. I may be wrong though.

Cheers

Fred

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Thanks for the responses, guys. I might clarify that I really have my amps turned up loudly so I'm singing as loud as I can. I thought I was building up vocal strength or something like that, lol. This is clean singing, by the way, no grit involved. It's just that guys like H.R. and Michale Graves have really clean, powerful voices that sound full, whereas mine is sort of thin in comparison. Granted, I'm sure these guys put in years and years of practice to get there.

It seems that when I sing really loudly my voice gets fatter and more full. But when I get really loud I lose all power on my low notes and I just can't hit any notes that are very high. So, I was thinking that maybe I just need to sing my guts out more in order to build up strength to hit those higher notes? It seems like my vocal cords can't handle the air flow, in other words, I have to push a lot of air to reach those high notes, and my muscles in my throat just can't contain all that air flow. At least that's what it feels like, which leads me to believe that my vocal cords just aren't strong enough. Anyway...

For the record, I can get a growly, edgy sound using the "taking a dump" technique. I was more interested in building up "clean" vocal strength that will let me sing with power and control. I don't know if anything I said makes any sense. I'm a drummer and/or guitarist, so I don't know a lot about singing. All input on this is welcome. Thanks again.

:D

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Maybe I'm new here... but I've been singing forever live.

It's not about loud. It's about resonance. Letting those resonance chambers really ring and do the work. It might be better to make sure you can hear yourself resonate properly rather than try to scream over your guitar rig. After all, at a show, the monitors crank so you can hear yourself over that drummer with the cymbals... that're always at your head level! ;) Trying to be heard over loud instruments will burn you out quickly.

That's been my experience anyway.

Also, if you sing hard all night, you may not have enough to complete your gig. It's great if you're doing an hour set or something, but if you're doing, say a 4 hour set (with breaks of course), you don't want to be singing that loud. I find that I need to learn to sing quieter just so that I don't run out of steam later in the evening. I usually don't do that, but there are times where, like if it's your 2nd show of the day or something, that you can get pretty toasted by over singing.

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I get it now, NC Dan, your shouting. Shouting is wrong for the voice. And Billy is right, resonance will be the key to volume in your voice. As to whether your voice sounds thin, that's your opinion. We never hear ourselves as others hears, even from a recording. Because we are still using the filter of our own thoughts, even if our voice comes at us from speakers.

Another vocal coach has found just about all the famous singers, and I mean big names we would all know, regardless of genre, thought their voices were full of flaws that the listener hadn't heard, yet.

So, work on resonance and not so harsh breath support. Then you can play with tone and still get round full tones but it's going to take you being able to make sounds that you think are funny or wrong because, guess what, we're going to hear you without the veil of your self-recriminations.

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Its true. I made the same mistake all my life too. I finally realized it really IS about getting a full tone, not loud. Even Dio, who sounds like a roll of thunder, isn't singing all that loud, but he is singing with a lot of resonance, at medium volume. You notice this in particular in studio clips of him at youtube.

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So, I was thinking that maybe I just need to sing my guts out more in order to build up strength to hit those higher notes? It seems like my vocal cords can't handle the air flow, in other words, I have to push a lot of air to reach those high notes, and my muscles in my throat just can't contain all that air flow.:D

oh man, this quote above no, no, no, no, no, no, no!!!!!

no, you never want push a lot of air past the vocal folds for the high notes...you actually need less air! and in most cases less of an inhale!

but you need to pressurize the air to fit through a much smaller hole in the folds. get away from pushing and replace it with placing.

next work hard to not involve the throat. your goal is a fairly relaxed, open throat.

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So, work on resonance and not so harsh breath support. Then you can play with tone and still get round full tones but it's going to take you being able to make sounds that you think are funny or wrong because, guess what, we're going to hear you without the veil of your self-recriminations.

I guess this is where I'm lost. I get the whole diaphragm thing, and I'm keeping my tongue down and the back of my mouth/throat open, but other people, even musicians who can't sing say I sound thin, that I need more power, that I'm singing too softly, etc... I don't know how to figure out what I need to do so differently if it already seems that I'm utilizing proper technique.

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I'm keeping my tongue down and the back of my mouth/throat open.

This, is another huge no no! A relaxed tongue is actually curved up in the back. Like if you would sustain the -ng in 'sing', but let air pass over it. What you could be doing is shoving the tongue down the throat and actually constricting the airflow instead of opening it up. You can feel the soft spot under your chin, if this tense up when you sing your are not relaxing the tongue and opening the throat.

Here's some resources on the matter http://www.voiceteacher.com/tongue.html

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I guess this is where I'm lost. I get the whole diaphragm thing, and I'm keeping my tongue down and the back of my mouth/throat open, but other people, even musicians who can't sing say I sound thin, that I need more power, that I'm singing too softly, etc... I don't know how to figure out what I need to do so differently if it already seems that I'm utilizing proper technique.

how about sending us a sample?

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Bob: He did it in another thread on this same topic.

http://www.myspace.com/rejectconvention

NCDan: Vocal power and tone quality come from the combination of clear, efficient phonation and resonance. From the recordings posted at the url above, I hear a few things that may help out.

- First thing that stands out is that you are singing with no twang or singer's formant whatsoever. For this style of music, I think twang is entirely appropriate, and could be very helpful in adding that tonal edginess that will help your voice cut through the instrumental mix.

- Second thing I hear is that when you are singing anything other than flat out, the tone gets a bit breathy. That is an indicator that, at least for the softer tones, the balance of exhalation force and laryngeal muscle activity is not optimal for power.

You say that you 'get the whole diaphragm thing'. If you really do, and can apply it when you are singing, then a clear, powerful tone will happen even when you are doing it softly. Extending this thought, I'd like to recommend a vocal exercise to you, what is called an 'onset' (voice start) exercise.

In your comfortable middle range, pick a note and take in a very small breath, and the start the note on the ay vowel 5 times in a row, each time phonating for 1 second and then taking a 1 second breath between them. Sustain the last note for 4 seconds.

Repeat the exercise, and extend your awareness to the moment of the beginning of the note, listening and feeling how the note is started. Listen/feel for:

1) The air starting before the note.

2) The air starting with the glottis closed, so that the note 'pops' to start

3) Air and note starting exactly at the same time.

Interpretation of the results: The vocally optimum onset for most singing is number 3. This is sometimes called the 'coordinated' onset.

If you find that #1 is happening, then the corrective is to do a couple of the #2 style onsets, very softly, or even a very soft 'click cough'. Simply described, with the throat open (as if to sing), shut the glottis very lightly, and then pop it open with the least amount of breath energy you possibly can. It sounds like small click. When you can get the click to happen, then start a note in your lower voice that way.... very gently.

This will give you a way to guarantee that your glottis is getting closed fully. Once you have learned the sensation, you can back off of the mental gesture that closes the glottis so that it occurs at the very same time as you intend to start the note, and you'll be really close to the coordinated onset.

When done correctly, this approach will help you get to a clean phonation that should be comfortable and clear. Using that onset and phonation, begin to slide the pitch around.

I hope this is of some help. As you progress with this, it may be a good idea to take a lesson or 2 from a teacher to get things solid. As Fred has said elsewhere, in a lesson things can be accomplished rapidly that would take way longer just by reading and experimenting.

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not that I should ever add anything after steven has posted (and you can take it from anyone here: Steve is The Professor), but just for the sake of discussion, if you're breathy, thats equivalent to letting the air out of a balloon with the lips wide apart so the sound coming out is without much tone and just sounds like blowing a loose raspberry. If you pull the balloon's lips tighter together, you will get much more tone and pitch or squeal from the balloon as the air passes out. Good vocal fold closure is the same way. Incidentally, the way I understand it, that squeal is similar to what people mean by adding a little 'twang'. I had a teacher many moons ago that had me impersonate a creaking door to get that. Thats the theory behind it, the practicality is, sadly, harder.

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not that I should ever add anything after steven has posted (and you can take it from anyone here: Steve is The Professor), but just for the sake of discussion, if you're breathy, thats equivalent to letting the air out of a balloon with the lips wide apart so the sound coming out is without much tone and just sounds like blowing a loose raspberry. If you pull the balloon's lips tighter together, you will get much more tone and pitch or squeal from the balloon as the air passes out. Good vocal fold closure is the same way. Incidentally, the way I understand it, that squeal is similar to what people mean by adding a little 'twang' Thats the theory behind it, the practicality is, sadly, harder.

Matt: I think one of the great strengths of this forum is that folks put ideas in the manner that works best for them. Many times, a comparision like the one you used will 'click' in the readers mind, in a way that my more formal descriptions may not. Keep 'em coming!

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Your formal descriptions may not make things cling magically all of a sudden, but they're still explaining why things work. It's actually by reading your formal descriptions that I think " well, how 'bout I tried it ?"

For example, I've never really thought about onsets. I'm going to try your advice :)

... Especially if it helps me in my crusade against unwanted breathiness. It still pops from time to time.

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First thing that stands out is that you are singing with no twang or singer's formant whatsoever. For this style of music, I think twang is entirely appropriate, and could be very helpful in adding that tonal edginess that will help your voice cut through the instrumental mix.

Fyi, I took down the clip from my previous post and put up a couple different ones, so the people on this forum probably think I"m borderline deaf if they think those are my best attempts to sing with a clean, powerful tone, lol. I was bascially trying to sound scratchy and punky in those clips, which is why I didn't post the same link for this thread. But you are correct in your assertion that I'm not twanging, whatever that is (singing with a country accent? I tried looking for information on it online and got a bunch of conflicting and confusing posts.) I wasn't even really singing in those clips up there now.

Second thing I hear is that when you are singing anything other than flat out, the tone gets a bit breathy. That is an indicator that, at least for the softer tones, the balance of exhalation force and laryngeal muscle activity is not optimal for power.

I think you are right in saying that I get too breathy unintentionally.

Repeat the exercise, and extend your awareness to the moment of the beginning of the note, listening and feeling how the note is started. Listen/feel for:

1) The air starting before the note.

2) The air starting with the glottis closed, so that the note 'pops' to start

3) Air and note starting exactly at the same time.

I'm guessing that I'm losing power and fullness on notes by doing #1 too much. I never really thought that I was lacking in my exhaling skills, lol. I always tried to sing loud and use my diaphragm without sounding nasal, so the odds are that I ended up having bad breath control by focusing too hard on other aspects of singing. Perhaps if the initial transient is lacking or smeared (due to bad breath/voice syncopation) then it could sound like I lack fullness or power? I'd also wager that an overly breathy sustain (leaking too much air) will also detract from the fullness of a note? At least I have some exercises I understand to practice now. Once I get over my cold, that is.

If you pull the balloon's lips tighter together, you will get much more tone and pitch or squeal from the balloon as the air passes out. Good vocal fold closure is the same way. Incidentally, the way I understand it, that squeal is similar to what people mean by adding a little 'twang'. I had a teacher many moons ago that had me impersonate a creaking door to get that. Thats the theory behind it, the practicality is, sadly, harder.

Wait a second, I thought that vocal fold closure was the initial release of the air. You're saying it's a "shape" I need to maintain with my vocal cords as I sustain a note? I think timing my air release and vocal cords correctly will be hard enough for me, haha. So I twang by sounding like a creaky door? I still don't understand what twang really is.

Thanks for the help everyone! :D

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NCdan: Responses intersperse.

I'm guessing that I'm losing power and fullness on notes by doing #1 too much. I never really thought that I was lacking in my exhaling skills, lol.

LOL is right! Actually, its not about just exhaling... its about coordination of the exhale with the laryngeal action. Some teachers, including some of the very best in the world, say that the characer of the onset determines the character of the note.

I always tried to sing loud and use my diaphragm without sounding nasal, so the odds are that I ended up having bad breath control by focusing too hard on other aspects of singing. Perhaps if the initial transient is lacking or smeared (due to bad breath/voice syncopation) then it could sound like I lack fullness or power?

Its not just the smearing of the initial transient. In a voice, the onset sets the stage for the balance of the note, and from there, the phrase. A note well-begun has a much better chance of staying balanced, clear and dynamically elastic than one begun pressed or breathy.

I'd also wager that an overly breathy sustain (leaking too much air) will also detract from the fullness of a note? At least I have some exercises I understand to practice now.

Yes. The leakyness drastically reduces the efficiency of the phonation, and also reduces the intensity of the resonance. Also, it is much more tiring to do than a complete-closure phonation.

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Fyi, I took down the clip from my previous post and put up a couple different ones, so the people on this forum probably think I"m borderline deaf if they think those are my best attempts to sing with a clean, powerful tone, lol. I was bascially trying to sound scratchy and punky in those clips, which is why I didn't post the same link for this thread. But you are correct in your assertion that I'm not twanging, whatever that is (singing with a country accent? I tried looking for information on it online and got a bunch of conflicting and confusing posts.) I wasn't even really singing in those clips up there now.

I think you are right in saying that I get too breathy unintentionally.

I'm guessing that I'm losing power and fullness on notes by doing #1 too much. I never really thought that I was lacking in my exhaling skills, lol. I always tried to sing loud and use my diaphragm without sounding nasal, so the odds are that I ended up having bad breath control by focusing too hard on other aspects of singing. Perhaps if the initial transient is lacking or smeared (due to bad breath/voice syncopation) then it could sound like I lack fullness or power? I'd also wager that an overly breathy sustain (leaking too much air) will also detract from the fullness of a note? At least I have some exercises I understand to practice now. Once I get over my cold, that is.

Wait a second, I thought that vocal fold closure was the initial release of the air. You're saying it's a "shape" I need to maintain with my vocal cords as I sustain a note? I think timing my air release and vocal cords correctly will be hard enough for me, haha. So I twang by sounding like a creaky door? I still don't understand what twang really is.

Thanks for the help everyone! :D

you may not, but you would want to...there's twang posts all over the forum...

it's really a good skill to learn..a.k.a., singer's formant...

it's helps with resonance, brightens the tone, helps with high notes, plus .....

again, axl rose, jon bon jovi, chakka caan, robert plant, are some blatant examples...even the late comedian paul lynde used it ...lol!!!!

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Wait a second, I thought that vocal fold closure was the initial release of the air. You're saying it's a "shape" I need to maintain with my vocal cords as I sustain a note?

Not sure what you mean by that. I dont think you mean what I meant.

twang is when you have good vocal folds closure. to creak like a door, or meow like a cat, or quack like a duck or talk like a robot and all the other similar descriptions that are used to explain methods of learning twang, are ways of teaching the body to bring the folds together well. when you make those sounds, the folds move closer together to make them. Once you get the hang of that, you can add just a little bit to your singing, just enough to bring the folds together, without necessarily having to sound at all like a creaking door.

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