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Alexander Kariotis Podcast & Vowel Modification

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Hi, JJ.

I have put the question out to a friend who studied with Coffin at UC in Boulder...

In the meantime, I found a quote from Shirlee Emmons that indicated that they knew each other from singing on the first tour of the Robert Shaw Chorale, in which they both sang.

So, I would have to answer your question with a 'Yes, He sang!'  at this point.  Knowing the quality of singer Shaw recruited for the Chorale,  I would have to guess he was quite accomplished.   

I will let you know further info I get from my friend.

 

47 minutes ago, JonJon said:

I have a feeling though that the singer (and audience) will already know when the singer hits the correct vowel/note/resonance combination, even without seeing the fundamentals and harmonics on a screen.

I agree with this impression.  Its one of the reasons listeners are largely unaware of the vowel tuning (modifications) that the singer is doing... because when done well, the singing appears effortless, and sounds wonderful and appropriate, regardless of the genre of music.

Best Regards,

Steven Fraser

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12 hours ago, Robert Lunte said:

Wow.

We miss your posts Steve.

can we repurpose your post as an article , gIving you author credits?

what you been up to?

Hi, Robert.

If you would like an article, I'd like the opportunity to craft it better, and fill it out with other relevant references to what Coffin actually did in the studio.

His approach to vocal pedagogy, which he taught at UC Boulder (and took to SMU, Dallas as visiting professor, and also while resident in Vienna), was continued at Boulder by Barbara Doscher (The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice) and Dr. Patti Peterson, who studied with Doscher.

Under fair use, I could pull together some of the web comments made by others about what he did in the studio... how he used his own principles to guide vocal development, for example.

Just let me know the scope of the article you would like, and I would be happy to cover the topic in a 2-4 page offering for the site.

As to what I have been up to... working hard this last year on a major IT project for a hospital in Saudi Arabia.  Not travelling, but telecommuting there.

Best Regards,

Steven Fraser

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2 hours ago, Steven Fraser said:

 Its one of the reasons listeners are largely unaware of the vowel tuning (modifications) that the singer is doing... because when done well, the singing appears effortless, and sounds wonderful and appropriate, regardless of the genre of music.

Best Regards,

Steven Fraser

I was implying as much that it is the SINGER who is often unaware of the technical specifics of what is being done. Simply because most singers of popular music have never heard of vowel modifications and certainly never heard of formants...never mind TA dominance or closed quotients.

Would Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, 2 of the best ever, be aware of any of those mechanical ideas? I strongly doubt it. They were already superstars before the internet info age. Were they sitting around reading Berton Coffin or Lilli Lehmann? lol

 

This is why I sometimes blanche  at the term "vowel modification". Is a vowel mod the ONLY way to manipulate sound? It cant be or id never be able to sing anything because I dont consciously modify vowels lol. Of course I have an accent, like we all do, so I pronounce things in certain ways and I notice I have certain artistic tendencies for whatever reasons. I also have certain sounding tendencies  because I just naturally tend toward singing more in the back of the throat and have to force myself to ever sing in the mask.

But as far as an actual thought process of "okay, im going to shade this such and such vowel towards this other such and such vowel"....as far as I know I have never done that lol. My head gets dizzy just looking at those type of formulas on charts.

There are many other ways to think about it. if Im going higher in pitch then im directing the resonance "back" or "back and up". If I want to sound huskier or whatever then I try to keep at least a small piece of the resonance down in my mouth even as I go higher. If I want to sing lighter, but in chest voice range, then I try to keep the resonance mostly OUT of my mouth and with very light support. Doesnt matter what vowel.

Or, if im in pretty strong chest voice and im going to do a phrase thats going higher into head voice, then im going to have to pick up some bright resonance one way or the other or that note is going to die a muffled death. So im either going to have to close things down and try to feel the sound on the soft palate or maybe try to go into the mask area.

I can do all of those things and many other manipulations without ever thinking 5 cents about this vowel or that.

It may sound like I shaded toward this vowel or that, but I never CONSCIOUSLY did. Matter of factly I generally just try to sing the vowel as it is written in the lyric. "Me"....is "me". "Me" is not "may" or "muh"

Of course, I am doing original music so there is no "right" or "wrong" in it and there is no director or conductor insisting on a particular sound quality at a particular pitch. I dont have to project over an orchestra

I guess I just dont see "vowel modding" as being some sort of be all end all thing. I think the reason people react against it is the way it is presented sometimes. Whereas it could and should be ONE tool in an arsenal to widen our artistic arsenal, it seems to sometimes be peddled as some sort of fix all to make beginners into great singers overnight.

The whole Ken Tamplin vowel mod "formula" turns me off altogether. As we go higher in the scale 'Ah' goes to "aw" (loft) which then goes to " /ʊ/ " (hook) which then goes to 'oo' (who)

In his course he demonstrates it going up a scale starting on the "ah" and he says that by the time you get to c5 you should be fully singing " /ʊ/ " (hook).  Thats one of the most ridiculous things ive ever heard lol. Im assuming it comes from some sort of bel canto or other operatic approach or maybe theater because he is doing these sounds with his mouth WIDE open. Well yeah, if you are going to fix your mouth wide open then you are going to have to jump through some hoops to get certain sounds as you go higher up.

That being said, the day I have to sing " /ʊ/ " (hook) for "ah" is the day I stop singing lol.

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Jon, vowel mods can be taken to the extreme, for sure. That's one of the things I didn't like about Ken's method - it was easy to over do it. TVS methodology explains it different than that. Then again, these simplistic explanations can help new students dramatically, and are often taken to more detail in private lessons as they progress. I imagine Ken does the same thing. I personally explain it as the vowel moving with the pitch, deeper into the soft palate. Although, I do still often explain the shading of the vowel with others, to help someone find the resonance more easily. I also often start a student with /ah/ to /uh/ and /eh/ to /ou/ sirens just to get them moving. It doesn't stay there, but it's a great way to start.

You call it directing the resonance back and up with the pitch. Funny thing, so do I! But I also call the exact same thing "vowel modification" when helpful for a student (which is most of the time). I've heard more classical explanations of the same exact thing as different registers, overtones, etc. I actually go a step further and talk about resonant anchoring (also known as narrowing vowels) towards the front of the soft palate or slightly further back, and then pointing the voice from there deeper into the soft palate as the pitch goes higher. I would imagine in any given lesson, I describe the same thing in about five different ways. And each way ends up being helpful to the student for different reasons.

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    The scientific perspective comes from studying HOW others did it. Trying to figure out why it sounded so good and gave them the ability in the first place. You are right Jon that you do not have to know this stuff to figure it out. Like it or not the description you gave of how you figured out what to do is also the same as modifying a vowel. Modifying is really keeping the vowel shape and either adding brightness/darkness or changing placement or intensity to be able to sing the note. 

    The vowel modification formulas or scales or whatever you want are just guides to get you in the ball park so to speak.

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34 minutes ago, JonJon said:

Would Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, 2 of the best ever, be aware of any of those mechanical ideas? I strongly doubt it. They were already superstars before the internet info age. Were they sitting around reading Berton Coffin or Lilli Lehmann? lol

     Whitney Houston sang in church from an early age. Mariah Carey had family who were singers I think her mother sang opera. They may not have known about Berton Coffin or about formants but there were plenty of people around to tell them to stop trying to sing a hard A when an Eh will make them sound better.

      When you are singing with other people who are better than you IF you mess up they will get the point across one way or the other to prevent it from happening in front of an audience.

    All I am saying is that even if they did not have formal training, they did have guidance in their younger years.

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14 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

Jon, vowel mods can be taken to the extreme, for sure. That's one of the things I didn't like about Ken's method - it was easy to over do it. TVS methodology explains it different than that. Then again, these simplistic explanations can help new students dramatically, and are often taken to more detail in private lessons as they progress. I imagine Ken does the same thing. I personally explain it as the vowel moving with the pitch, deeper into the soft palate. Although, I do still often explain the shading of the vowel with others, to help someone find the resonance more easily. I also often start a student with /ah/ to /uh/ and /eh/ to /ou/ sirens just to get them moving. It doesn't stay there, but it's a great way to start.

You call it directing the resonance back and up with the pitch. Funny thing, so do I! But I also call the exact same thing "vowel modification" when helpful for a student (which is most of the time). I've heard more classical explanations of the same exact thing as different registers, overtones, etc. I actually go a step further and talk about resonant anchoring (also known as narrowing vowels) towards the front of the soft palate or slightly further back, and then pointing the voice from there deeper into the soft palate as the pitch goes higher. I would imagine in any given lesson, I describe the same thing in about five different ways. And each way ends up being helpful to the student for different reasons.

 

moving the resonance around etc...but the vowel isnt consciously changing lol. Thats the difference. I might be modding a lot of other stuff so as to NOT change the vowel. My main practice routine for about a year was long sirens on 10 different vowels. from low to high and then back down again (or vice versa), crossing the passagios....but keeping the vowel pretty constant

It might be because im from Virginia. We dont even do diphthongs. for me "eye" has one syllable and one vowel

I know its (modding) a type of crutch or training aid but it seems that it gets lost in translation as being "this is how to properly sing". Like there is a teacher online, good guy and sings good (deep baritone speaking voice) and he preaches modding the vowel to get thru the first passagio. I guess I just dont see the need unless one is a struggling beginner. Or like the guy is a deep baritone, so when he is singing basic tenor stuff he is already around his own personal passagio.

Then there is the whole thing where people go to do a cover and David Coverdale or Steven Tyler sing a certain vowel on a certain pitch. Then someone comes along and says "oh, it'd be a lot easier to change his vowels to other vowels (plus lower it 2 keys)".  Why? Why not just train and get better at singing?  If someone is singing Journey and they have mutated the vowels into oblivion then dropped a step and a half.....they aint singing Journey lol. Its like saying "I replicated Evel Knievels jump of 15 buses".....and then you look and the guy only jumped over 3 shopping carts lol

 

The "resonant anchoring" thing is probably something I do as well....and several variations of it. Thats why I say I dont mod vowels....I do a few dozen other things instead. I sort of like looking at "vowel" as more like "vocal tract setup". So lets say I want to sing nice bright late 80s rock like the BulletBoys. I sort of get into a nice bright "ee" position and use that as my "home base" for the song. But I will sing any and all vowels from that position.

Thats how I analyze someones voice. Their natural vibe is somewhere on the IPA vowel chart. You find that basic spot and you set up shop and sing the song based around that position. But thats a far cry from modding individual vowels. thats too much like math homework

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2 hours ago, Steven Fraser said:

Hi, Robert.

If you would like an article, I'd like the opportunity to craft it better, and fill it out with other relevant references to what Coffin actually did in the studio.

His approach to vocal pedagogy, which he taught at UC Boulder (and took to SMU, Dallas as visiting professor, and also while resident in Vienna), was continued at Boulder by Barbara Doscher (The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice) and Dr. Patti Peterson, who studied with Doscher.

Under fair use, I could pull together some of the web comments made by others about what he did in the studio... how he used his own principles to guide vocal development, for example.

Just let me know the scope of the article you would like, and I would be happy to cover the topic in a 2-4 page offering for the site.

As to what I have been up to... working hard this last year on a major IT project for a hospital in Saudi Arabia.  Not travelling, but telecommuting there.

Best Regards,

Steven Fraser

Steve the scope of the article is only limited by your imagination and available energy to put into it.

Do whatever you want to do.

If you would like to invite Barbara and Dr. Patti Peterson to join in, that would also be great.

Here is the link to where the articles are published:

http://www.themodernvocalistworld.com/index.php?/articles.html/article/

Why don't we speak this week on the phone... its time for us to catch up.

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35 minutes ago, MDEW said:

 Like it or not the description you gave of how you figured out what to do is also the same as modifying a vowel. .

no its not.

the vowel itself isnt getting mutated lol. other qualities may change but the vowel itself will NEVER go from "law" to "luh"...not for me anyway.

Now if I am going to do some sort of Robert Plant type scream or something then who knows what will happen. I will probably just go to some pet vowel or something no matter what the original word was.....but thats a scream, its not really meant to be an intelligible word

 

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27 minutes ago, MDEW said:

     Whitney Houston sang in church from an early age. Mariah Carey had family who were singers I think her mother sang opera. They may not have known about Berton Coffin or about formants but there were plenty of people around to tell them to stop trying to sing a hard A when an Eh will make them sound better.

      When you are singing with other people who are better than you IF you mess up they will get the point across one way or the other to prevent it from happening in front of an audience.

    All I am saying is that even if they did not have formal training, they did have guidance in their younger years.

 

you are making my point for me. You are getting over into the realm of "natural" singing or "feel" based. A little kid sees other kids playing baseball and he wants to try. So he swings and misses. He swings again and foul tips one. Finally he lucks up and hits one back to the pitcher. Maybe he get some advanced instruction like "choke up on the bat when you got 2 strikes" lol. But eventually he gets better and maybe he gets to be an all star hitter. Kid doesnt know 2 cents about weight shift, swing plane, hip rotation etc. He DOES those things....but its not so much at the level of consciousness.

 

Thats the huge difference with us adult learners. We forget that you can learn with the right hemisphere as well as the left. I think we can get way to bogged down in dictionary definitions. Feelings, sensations, mental imagery and feedback will outrun a text definition any day of the week.

Im as geeked out/nerdy/techie as the next person but I try to keep the horse in front of the cart. One can support, resonate, mod, release and yet still not SING lol. Id rather experiment and learn HOW to do something, and how it feels and THEN go back to the reference material and figure out what I just did

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4 minutes ago, JonJon said:

no its not.

the vowel itself isnt getting mutated lol. other qualities may change but the vowel itself will NEVER go from "law" to "luh"...not for me anyway.

Now if I am going to do some sort of Robert Plant type scream or something then who knows what will happen. I will probably just go to some pet vowel or something no matter what the original word was.....but thats a scream, its not really meant to be an intelligible word

 

I am not saying you are going  from Law to Luh, Opening a little wider, darkening a little, spreading your mouth a little while maintaining the LAW shape is modifying. Each little movement is a modification. The LAW to LUH is extreme as a means of guidance.

 we are talking from two different standpoints. I see what you mean from your last post. You are not consciously modifying and "Natural" singers are not either.

from my standpoint( at least what  I have been trying to convey) any change you make in the vocal tract is a modification.

You do not need to consciously think I need to add "UH" because I am approaching the passaggio to be able to find a path......

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16 minutes ago, MDEW said:

I am not saying you are going  from Law to Luh, Opening a little wider, darkening a little, spreading your mouth a little while maintaining the LAW shape is modifying. Each little movement is a modification. The LAW to LUH is extreme as a means of guidance.

 we are talking from two different standpoints. I see what you mean from your last post. You are not consciously modifying and "Natural" singers are not either.

from my standpoint( at least what  I have been trying to convey) any change you make in the vocal tract is a modification.

You do not need to consciously think I need to add "UH" because I am approaching the passaggio to be able to find a path......

yeah, I think its just like the word "belt". "Vowel modding" might mean 50 different things to 50 different people

tell me what you think. Okay, I used to do this home made exercise which was cool. Take a vowel, lets say "a" (cake). Start with it on a low pitch and placed forward in the mouth. Basically you are taking that "a" and starting it in the "ah" position. But its still "a"...its simply NOT "ah". Then you do your normal siren up and you go up the 'North face' (dont try to steal my lingo lol) or the front path. Right up the front of the IPA vowel chart more or less but you just keep the "a" vowel. Then when you go as high as you like you then bring it all the way back to the "oo" position. Then bring it down to the "dot" or "bomb" position. Then if you havent ran out of breath or fell apart, bring it back forward to where u started. You just made the whole round trip.

So you might call that a 'vowel mod" but I dont. the vowel was "a" the whole time. yeah, it started off edged and open, then it was edged and closed, then curbed and closed, then curbed and open, then finally it was edged and open

To me, thats not a VOWEL mod. The Vowel itself didnt change. the quality of it did of course and all kinds of physiological stuff happened but it was still an "a"

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Jon, I would never tell someone to sing Luh instead of Lah, just to get through their bridge. I have yet to see any coach teach that as what vowel modification means. When getting the voice moving, perhaps, /ah/ to /uh/ sirens, but not as the end goal. The simplest explanation I've seen was more to sing an /eh/ and as it raises in pitch, add shades of /ou/ and /uh/ into it - which is essentially the same overtone modification everyone here has been talking about, including in the podcast as registers. That particular explanation, from Robert, is what ultimately helped me find the right modification for being able to sing a strong /eh/ on a C5. I didn't change the vowel to an /ou/. It was/is an /eh/. Different than the feeling I had on an /eh/ at C4 or even G4, but still an /eh/. 

When I tell a student to relax and shade their /ee/ more into an /ih/ as they sing higher, it's to help them find resonance again for the pitch they're trying to sing the /ee/ on. Otherwise they risk a heavy splat and quacky craziness. The /ee/ is still there, it just resonates with different overtones and sounds much more pleasing, not to mention is easier for them to sing without having to completely change the vowel. To think that vowel modification means to change the vowel to a completely different one shows a complete misunderstanding of what vowel modification is, does, or results in. Your description of what you do for your own voice when raising in pitch is exactly one way how I explain vowel modification to my students, and not at all something you have to overthinking while singing. The idea of using overtones and adding vowel shades great for training with, great for keeping in mind when having issues, and often much easier for many to learn than just the explanation of the pitch moving deeper into the soft palate. It is never about modding Lah to Luh to make it easier and such things.

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2 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

. To think that vowel modification means to change the vowel to a completely different one shows a complete misunderstanding of what vowel modification is, does, or results in.

go tell Ken lol

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3 minutes ago, JonJon said:

yeah, I think its just like the word "belt". "Vowel modding" might mean 50 different things to 50 different people

tell me what you think. Okay, I used to do this home made exercise which was cool. Take a vowel, lets say "a" (cake). Start with it on a low pitch and placed forward in the mouth. Basically you are taking that "a" and starting it in the "ah" position. But its still "a"...its simply NOT "ah". Then you do your normal siren up and you go up the 'North face' (dont try to steal my lingo lol) or the front path. Right up the front of the IPA vowel chart more or less but you just keep the "a" vowel. Then when you go as high as you like you then bring it all the way back to the "oo" position. Then bring it down to the "dot" or "bomb" position. Then if you havent ran out of breath or fell apart, bring it back forward to where u started. You just made the whole round trip.

So you might call that a 'vowel mod" but I dont. the vowel was "a" the whole time. yeah, it started off edged and open, then it was edged and closed, then curbed and closed, then curbed and open, then finally it was edged and open

To me, thats not a VOWEL mod. The Vowel itself didnt change. the quality of it did of course and all kinds of physiological stuff happened but it was still an "a"

Trying to explain vowel modification after just saying that you don't use such a term and demonstrating that you don't know what it means, is probably not giving people the impression of you that you want to give. That's like knowing a lot about Karate but not Kung Fu, then trying to explain to someone who does Kung Fu what Kung Fu is. Just because you don't understand it under their terminology doesn't make it wrong, and it also doesn't mean everyone who uses the term means something different (all the well known teachers I've come across who use the term explain it pretty much the same as I do), nor does it mean that you can school them in how to do Kung Fu because you know Karate. In the end, a straight punch is a straight punch, and a side kick is a side kick. I learned the way to get there VERY differently in Kung Fu than I did in Karate (or several other martial arts for that matter). The result was a better understanding of what I was doing, and more tools for me to use in order to get a more effective result.

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3 minutes ago, JonJon said:

go tell Ken lol

That is one exercise to teach the shift of resonance and the narrowing of the vocal tract. Pretty much the same thing as saying the only exercise Robert gives is The Vinny Belt, or the only exercise Manning give is th "Nay, Nay,Nay...... It is just the signature exercise that he gives for free.

 

10 minutes ago, JonJon said:

yeah, I think its just like the word "belt". "Vowel modding" might mean 50 different things to 50 different people

tell me what you think. Okay, I used to do this home made exercise which was cool. Take a vowel, lets say "a" (cake). Start with it on a low pitch and placed forward in the mouth. Basically you are taking that "a" and starting it in the "ah" position. But its still "a"...its simply NOT "ah". Then you do your normal siren up and you go up the 'North face' (dont try to steal my lingo lol) or the front path. Right up the front of the IPA vowel chart more or less but you just keep the "a" vowel. Then when you go as high as you like you then bring it all the way back to the "oo" position. Then bring it down to the "dot" or "bomb" position. Then if you havent ran out of breath or fell apart, bring it back forward to where u started. You just made the whole round trip.

So you might call that a 'vowel mod" but I dont. the vowel was "a" the whole time. yeah, it started off edged and open, then it was edged and closed, then curbed and closed, then curbed and open, then finally it was edged and open

To me, thats not a VOWEL mod. The Vowel itself didnt change. the quality of it did of course and all kinds of physiological stuff happened but it was still an "a"

Pretty cool exercise.

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6 minutes ago, JonJon said:

go tell Ken lol

On the surface, I can see how someone can understand what he says in that way, especially people looking for free handouts on YouTube to magically make them into great singers. However, I got a different impression from his course and students I've had who had taken private lessons with him.

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13 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

Trying to explain vowel modification after just saying that you don't use such a term and demonstrating that you don't know what it means, is probably not giving people the impression of you that you want to give. That's like knowing a lot about Karate but not Kung Fu, then trying to explain to someone who does Kung Fu what Kung Fu is. Just because you don't understand it under their terminology doesn't make it wrong, and it also doesn't mean everyone who uses the term means something different (all the well known teachers I've come across who use the term explain it pretty much the same as I do), nor does it mean that you can school them in how to do Kung Fu because you know Karate. In the end, a straight punch is a straight punch, and a side kick is a side kick. I learned the way to get there VERY differently in Kung Fu than I did in Karate (or several other martial arts for that matter). The result was a better understanding of what I was doing, and more tools for me to use in order to get a more effective result.

well I do have a general disdain for the terminology mess in singing instruction. Im way more concerned with making the sounds I want than figuring out what this or that coach calls it.

The explanation I gave of Ken Tamplins vowel modding method came right off the program which is on my HD. I bought it like 6 months before I bought T4p. He wasnt giving an exercise for some specific benefit, he was showing a scale on "ah" lol. So for him, there is evidently no such thing as an actual "ah" on C5 because he flatly states that you should be all the way through "aw" and into " ʊ " by the time you get to C5

 

Thats his words off his program. As I said, it seems to be that way for him because he keeps his mouth (seemingly) as wide open as possible. I assume this is because of his philosophy of "grow the chest voice as high as possible before handing off to the head voice". In other words he wants to stay TA dominant as high as possible so he opens his mouth to the max and distorts the freak out of his vowels. Its one of the grossest sounding things ive ever heard.

Thats a respected teacher with 365K youtube followers lol. I dont think there is near the consensus you imply on ANY of these terms

I just rechecked and on the volume 1 he first shows the AH vowel....which is his pet vowel and cornerstone of his program. He plainly says that as the tenor or hi bari starts to reach around eflat he starts to feel tension etc and he explains that its then time to go from "ah" to "aw" (loft). Plain as day. its not some special exercise...its the basic scale lol.

Then he shows what he calls the "AA" vowel which he pronounces as "cake"....but then he inexplicably says "So as we sing 'AA' (cake) we're actually going to sing " æ " (cat).  lol.  no explanation given for simply starting on a totally different vowel than the one he stated 10 seconds before.

A lot of that went over my head in mid 2015 when I first bought KTVA but now it just looks really shoddy to me

 

He isnt the only one who teaches that way lol

 

And on the flip side of it, if ALL subtle modifications are considered to be vowel mods then its almost as if its not even a thing then because thats just singing. A little kid does most of the subtle stuff just trying to sing along with the radio. If everything is a mod, then nothing is

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1 hour ago, Draven Grey said:

On the surface, I can see how someone can understand what he says in that way, especially people looking for free handouts on YouTube to magically make them into great singers. However, I got a different impression from his course and students I've had who had taken private lessons with him.

lol

I hope thats not really directed at me brother

I paid for the KTVA program in 2015.

I paid for T4PS in 2016 and paid for a lifetime sub to the review forum.

Then later I paid for Kevin Richards 2 programs he offers for $50.

In 2017 I paid for SS360

Later I paid for Mastering Mix

 

Thats probably close to $1000 just for singing programs. I dont mind because im a committed student of the game. If I thought CVT was worth it, Id pay for it too.

We wont go into the guitar programs ive bought...still wanting to get better while coming up on 30 years playing. We wont go into probably another $1k on EZ Drummer software and expansion packs. Or the 3 electrics, 1 bass, 1 12 string acoustic ive bought in the last 3 years.

 

If you want to see me as someone looking for free handouts, be my guest

 

Ive put in tons of consistent vocal training and experimentation, too much at times. Ive got pretty strong singing, musical, writing, and mixing/producing chops. Not TOO many people can say that. I sort of feel like I have the right to express my opinion on musical matters as I find them

 

if I strike you as someone out looking for magic tips, feel free to keep believing it

 

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Just now, JonJon said:

lol

I hope thats not really directed at me brother

 

That comment definitely wasn't directed at you. I'm sorry if it came across that way. 

I understand what you mean about Ken's program. I pushed my way through it myself. I wasn't a big fan. However, I've had other students who went through it and came out explaining vowel modification the same was I did, and very similar to how you did. The explanation I gave that helped me was straight from Robert, and definitely much more in line with what you described, what I've heard described as different registers in Bel Canto, and what my Opera touring friend taught me as well. 

It appears I do stand corrected concerning your knowledge of Kung Fu, LOL! I apologize for assuming anything there. The type of example you gave was another reason Ken's program put me off a bit. But, since then, I've had students who explained Ken's method differently than I understood it originally. Perhaps they were just being intuitive. Or perhaps their lessons with Ken took it to the next level from there, which is more the impression I got from them.

Each methodology and pedagogy seems to have its own terminology, like in any industry. Each teacher also has their own adapted workflow to get to those different things, not unlike Berton being based in Bel Canto, or this whole vowel modification term. I definitely agree that some teachers are a lot more effective than others, some much more knowledgable, and perhaps even more evident, some more suited to the individual student than others. 

Going back to the Kung Fu metaphor, I still think there's something to be said for a straight punch being a straight punch, whether you call it ku, do, "rock", "horse punch" or something else. And when I say vowel modification, Bel Canto may say a specific register or overtones, and you (and I too) say "pointing the voice". It's still a modification of the vowel, just not as straight forward as the "change /ah/ to /uh/" which loses many of the nuances of the voice that we all seem to be concerned about in this discussion.

And going full loop back around, I still think terms are simply there to help describe the sensations we're trying to achieve. Classical pedagogies have their own terminology, as does CVI, TVS, etc. Some is even shared. A teacher not getting the result they need to, or a student not understanding it (which in some cases is the teacher's fault as well) doesn't negate the term being used. I teach appoggio to my students, but not nearly as in-depth as my opera friend learned, and really only in as much as helps my stuent take their singing to the next level. Most of the time, I simply focus on the tightening the upper abs, or increasing breath support to increases resonance and stability. In the cases where my student already understand what needs done, I get even more simple and just say "push" or "lean". They know exactly what I mean, but God forbid I say something so simple on YouTube or to a beginner.

I'm enjoying this discussion. Please feel free to call me out anytime, especially if I make an assumption.

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7 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

I'm enjoying this discussion. Please feel free to call me out anytime, especially if I make an assumption.

I notice in general you tend to keep a very level head in conversations (though you and I havent had too many because i was away from the forum a good while right after you got here)....that level head comes in handy and is appreciated because most of us here tend to be very opinionated as the ebb and flow of this thread shows lol. Everyone wants to force their own personal philosophy on the crowd hehe. That and the fact that its nearly impossible to discuss singing in text format makes it interesting lol

 

most of the programs have a lot of overlap, which is fine because the physiology is the same for everyone. to me, T4PS and SS360 arent THAT far apart. The differences are more in the emphasis on this or that. KTVA seems to be the oddball of the group and the least effective (one dimensional) program IMO. That being said I guess he has (finally) revamped his program and is going to some sort of subscription based thing. The program I bought had a real 1998 vibe to it lol

 

Overall id say T4PS is the best as far as a one stop shop program. KTVA and SS360 dont really give in depth techie info

And even at that, there are things ive learned from random youtube vids that really help. Sometimes its one little key at the right time that helps.

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30 minutes ago, Draven Grey said:

And going full loop back around, I still think terms are simply there to help describe the sensations we're trying to achieve.

this is the crux of the matter. U gotta find the sounds you want. Some of them you wont even be able to get until you train a lot more etc. But you gotta find them and then re-find them a few thousand times until you really got em grooved.

I have FOUND lot of cool stuff while experimenting at work but probably half of it gets forgotten and then when I go to record it sometimes get into a thing like "wow, why cant I sing like I can sing in the car?".

The major thing for me lately is changing how I feel the placement of the resonance. for instance I used to really think of the sound going more up and down. like chest is down here, head is up there. I still do think of things moving sort of diagonally like from mouth resonance up diagonally and back up into the soft palate but lately ive really realized that a lot of stuff just want to go straight back.

Thats why I related to what u said about resonant anchoring. It all gets pretty metaphysical and zen like lol. There are so many sensation involved with resonance and air pressure. Lately I have really felt to find a spot usually near the back of the throat and anchor (using imagination lol) and from that spot push the air pressure straight backwards

I had tried numerous times to get this phrase that I love from this song:

"If im standing in the crowd you know I STILL feel so alone"  its mellow then it jumps to that nice screechy e5. I kept trying this and that, usually trying to make the sound by going "up". when I finally got it, it was by going "back"

Dude is such a great singer and guitar player

 

So now I am feeling singing on more of a horizontal and sometimes diagonal "up and back".

The only really straight "up" might be if im in chest voice and I want to belt but I want to stay chesty and go up into the mask. But thats a new one to me because 99% of my singing hasnt used the mask lol

for whatever reason I leaned towards closing everything so now i sort of have to go back and start opening things back up and getting more belty like a strong David Coverdale or David Lee Roth thing.

 

The coolest and most valuable sensations AFAIAC are when you are able to combine resonance. It always confused me about using the mask because we are told stuff like "go back, not up" as u go higher. Ok, thats great advice but then its like "well wait, how the heck do I use the mask if im going back?"  So now ive sort of figured out how to spread the sound front to back so that some of the resonance goes into the mask while some goes back. Whether or not that technically whats ACTUALLY happening is not really important. Thats what it FEELS like. Another cool on is going up and back into high headvoice but keeping just a piece of the mouth resonance there too

From singing Coverdale stuff some lately ive learned to really open up and do a strong belt BUT also allow some of the resonance to creep back towards the back of the head as sort of a release valve.

 

 

of course doing all of that at work is one thing....getting it laid down on an original song is something totally different

 

One main snag i am having right now is that I can do a nice high Bruce Dickinson type of vibe where there is still some small amount of TA. But then I have a few more notes above that but I cant gracefully get into them. Maybe that is going into a more pure CT type of thing but its a pretty abrupt change in tone etc. Then again I havent practiced it much. Im assuming it just a matter of finding how to get into those notes and then doing it a few thousand times. Its like "how to get a good rock tone when you have to let go of the squeeze". I have probably already answered myself earlier...the answer is probably along the lines of above the folds compression...i:e: resonant anchoring and finding the right spot to sort of push into

Peace, JJ

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19 minutes ago, JonJon said:

lol....timely video posted

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQMC1_Uw7VM

That complex vowel is exactly the way I teach it, when I have to use vowels as examples because they're not able to "move the vowel with the pitch as it goes deeper into the soft palate." That's a bit of an oversimplified way to say it, but I think I already explained it.

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Hi, All.  Its late, so just a short post for now.  Here is some of my perspective on your topic.

Given a choice in the matter,  singers choose the vowels that are consistent with they way they conceive the song should be done, that is, consistent with their musical and aesthetic choices for it.  It does not matter if they have been trained in a genre, or just grew up with it, the statement still applies.

The issues come when a vowel choice which is perfectly reasonable for one range, does not work well in another.  For the male voice, singing lower fundamental notes, there are very many harmonics above that fundamental that fall within the bandwidth of the vowel resonances (R1, R2 and to lesser extent, R3).  The higher harmonics will also be amplified if the singer has 'twang' or 'singing formant' in the voice, which have their own, relatively constant bandwidth.

As the scale is sung in an upward direction, the harmonics become farther apart, and fewer of them align well with the vowel resonances.  While this changes which harmonics are amplified by the resonances, the perception of the vowel does not change... we still hear 'ah', for the most part, if the posture of the vocal tract remains stable.  Any change in the posture (larynx height, pharynx dilation, tongue hump position, jaw drop, lip shaping) will move the resonances around.  Some of these changes do not change the perception of the vowel (heard 'ah') but are an ah produced with a different vocal configuration that arguably be called a different 'sung ah'.   Such an ah, even though different, can be more appropriate for the aesthetic of the song, or may be inappropriate in the singer's and listener's experience.

Now, as to the reasons for considering modified vowels from an aesthetic point-of-view. Some note/vowel combinations are not very resonant, because few of the harmonics of the fundamental fall advantageously in the bandwidth of the vowel resonances.  This is especially true for voices without twang or ring.  However, because the listener's ear is very accepting and appreciative of resonant vowels, and 'hears' the words intended even though the singer has shaded a vowel slightly darker or lighter, those modified vowels can work in performance: they can be heard, are easier to do, and they are thrilling to experience.  As to what vowel is 'best' for a given syllable on a given note.... that goes to the artist's aesthetic and expressive intent.  How they achieve what they want is what guides their technique, and different singers make different choices based on the aspects of their physical instrument, and how they have decided to 'play' it.

Best Regards,

Steven Fraser

 

 

 

 

 

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