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A breath support epiphany thingy

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ronws
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Some describe it as a downward push, as if one is gently pushing while on the commode. The idea is not to force air to the folds but to control it. The diaphragm is an inhalation muscle. You exert to breath and relax to inhale. The relaxation of the diaphragm may certainly aid in exhalation. By using the abdominal muscles not in a clench but in a slightly metered fashion, it seems to me that you help counteract the tendency of air under pressure, thanks to adducted folds, from building too high, in essence, trying to balance air pressure somewhat between above and below the folds, the below the folds being just a smidge higher so that one is making a sound, rather than holding breath. So, one might think of it as slowing down the escape of air while not stopping it entirely. When the pressure is less, then there is less pressure on the folds, which can vibrate as necessary, and not wear out or blow apart.

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I'm new here and I haven't posted before but this really helped me alot. I've gotten up to B5 before and I never knew how I did it and after doing what you mentioned as "trying to balance air pressure somewhat between above and below the folds, the below the folds" just clicked and I slid right up to a C6! I've heard of breath support being mentioned as metering and pressure balance before but the image of above, below, and between let me control with my mind and an "internal sense of balance" the pressure between these three areas.

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Some describe it as a downward push, as if one is gently pushing while on the commode. The idea is not to force air to the folds but to control it. The diaphragm is an inhalation muscle. You exert to breathe and relax to inhale. The relaxation of the diaphragm may certainly aid in exhalation. By using the abdominal muscles not in a clench but in a slightly metered fashion, it seems to me that you help counteract the tendency of air under pressure, thanks to adducted folds, from building too high, in essence, trying to balance air pressure somewhat between above and below the folds, the below the folds being just a smidge higher so that one is making a sound, rather than holding breath. So, one might think of it as slowing down the escape of air while not stopping it entirely. When the pressure is less, then there is less pressure on the folds, which can vibrate as necessary, and not wear out or blow apart.

Ronws: Others describe it as a more 'outward' thought, as if the epigastrum (the area between the bottom of the sternum and the belly-button) is pushed forward gently but firmly in the general sense of expansion. All the other things you mention are spot-on as imagery and metaphors, and are very helpful in communicating the sense of breath balance. Good job.

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this is the one area in singing that always confuse me.. breathing support.

from what i know, the steps are, breath in, hold down on it, and sing.

the problem is, it seems like im suppose to juggle two things in 1 time. maintaining air support, and pitch accuracy and words.

if i concentrate more on pitch, i tend to lose control of support, and the other way round too.

even worst, sometimes when i know im going on a higher pitch, which needs more support, i will think, more pressure down, but it always result in bad sound.

can someone enlighten me..?

thx!

aLiz

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this is the one area in singing that always confuse me.. breathing support.

from what i know, the steps are, breath in, hold down on it, and sing.

the problem is, it seems like im suppose to juggle two things in 1 time. maintaining air support, and pitch accuracy and words.

if i concentrate more on pitch, i tend to lose control of support, and the other way round too.

even worst, sometimes when i know im going on a higher pitch, which needs more support, i will think, more pressure down, but it always result in bad sound.

can someone enlighten me..?

aLiz

may i make a suggestion that has helped me?

first off, it's not about tensing and clamping and huge inhales.....it's actually very subtle which i have learned.

try this to feel basic support...gently inhale just a tiny bit....now without holding your breath not even for a second, immediately sing a 6 note arpeggio on the vowel "ah" as in hot. keep your abs gently firmed throughout the ascent and the descent. you can even try it at the middle of an exhale. also, configure your mouth as if to yawn when you begin the ah

do you feel a sensation like you were compressed below your lungs?

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may i make a suggestion that has helped me?

first off, it's not about tensing and clamping and huge inhales.....it's actually very subtle which i have learned.

try this to feel basic support...gently inhale just a tiny bit....now without holding your breath not even for a second, immediately sing a 6 note arpeggio on the vowel "ah" as in hot. keep your abs gently firmed throughout the ascent and the descent. you can even try it at the middle of an exhale. also, configure your mouth as if to yawn when you begin the ah

do you feel a sensation like you were compressed below your lungs?

yeah i do. its very very little.

whats next?

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The yawn is a nice setup for a bunch of things like opened space, keeping larynx low, tongue out of the way, and on a real yawn the air moves to a low spot and feels nice and compressed. I think some people mistake the yawn for being only around the throat. Sometimes yawning can cause my tone to get stuck back there though..

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Thanks, guys. What initially led to this thought was imagining that the visualization of a downward push (sometimes expressed as "think down to go high") was to counteract or slow down the speedy exhalation caused by the relaxation of the diaphragm upon exhalation. So, to whit, you still want exhalation, you are just slowing it down to a near balance of air pressure below and above the folds.

And I'm glad I could help, Wildcat. I'm not a vocal professional. I'm an electrician. But outside of my specialty, I try to express or think in terms of images that, though they may not always be accurate, illustrate a concept that helps explain "why that is." And electrical is applied science and engineering so that kind of makes sense to me.

Not that I always wanted to be an electrician. When I was 10, I was teaching myself to play guitar and I would sing along with what I played. And then put down the guitar and attempt dancing ballet. (I could have been the next Kip Winger.) And then my step-grandfather would give me books on electrical and electronic theory.

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Hey Guys, great discussion!

I’ve got a question though ))

I’ve always thought of support as keeping my ribs expanded while slightly sucking in my stomach. And until now, that was the sensation I was getting when singing.

The other day I was laying on my bad and tried to sing, and you know what, my ribs pretty much stayed as they were, yet my stomach would push out on every note – that was the only way for me to produce a decent note.

Now, I always thought that supporting by inflating the stomach (as some teachers suggest) was wrong – now I’m not that sure.

Any comments?

Thanks,

Vlad

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Hey Guys, great discussion!

I’ve got a question though ))

I’ve always thought of support as keeping my ribs expanded while slightly sucking in my stomach. And until now, that was the sensation I was getting when singing.

The other day I was laying on my bad and tried to sing, and you know what, my ribs pretty much stayed as they were, yet my stomach would push out on every note – that was the only way for me to produce a decent note.

Now, I always thought that supporting by inflating the stomach (as some teachers suggest) was wrong – now I’m not that sure.

Any comments?

Thanks,

Vlad

vlad, you don't want to suck you stomach in. your stomach should be gently firmed out. i'm a proponent of gently tensing the abs especially for top notes. not all folks subscribe to that theory.

but breath support can be a very individual sensation...like for me, i can take in very little air, or support on the tail end of an exhale, or sometimes i feel like there's a ball in my stomach and when i support it rises up. but if you're supporting the notes you will know it in the consistency of the tones. it's almost as if you are singing with your breath suspended.

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thanks videohere for the link!! that was indeed helpful!

looks like everyone is feeling differently about their breath support..

im still not sure about one thing, videohere said, the support is juz a little compression under the lungs, so even i sing higher and more power, the support will roughly be the same?

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The stomach should not be rigid, nor should it be depressed inward as a posture. Because "expanded ribs" is a misnomer, in my opinion. When you exhale or sing with rib compression, you limit your air flow, causing the note to be under-supported, plus the movement of the ribs will cause motion in your throat, causing undue tension and strain there. By breathing with the belly, the ribs are left alone or "expanded." Because when you breathe from the stomach, your floating ribs at the bottom of the rib cage float outward. This gives the appearance and feeling of "expanded" ribs. They do not stay this way, that is why they are floating ribs. Trying to hold them out at all times is just as constricting as hold them in. I swear to God, sometimes I read an extensive description of the precise postures of all the parts of the body and I am left with a mental image of Mick Jagger doing his chicken-walk on stage.

The stomach should be somewhat soft and you will compress with it, slightly. This brings a solid supply of air to properly vibrate the folds, really, at any pitch. Again, I invite any one to watch actor William Shatner speak, with the sound turned down. Watch either "Star Trek" or "T.J. Hooker." you will see his abdomen compress slightly, while not affecting the ribs. It is something he learned to do as he started out in theater, not movies and t.v. It's what you do to project the voice without mics. Then listen to him with the sound up. Full, rich, round tones regardless of register. And some kind of formant or twang that allows the voice to resonate. Actors call it speaking into the mask. Approximately the same thing we are doing.

In "Set your voice free," all the exercises are applied equally to both singing and speaking.

And a number of professional singers refuse to whisper speak breathy. Either fully phonate or don't speak at all.

So, it can be confusing. Just remember that the stomach is in motion. If it doesn't move, then the ribs must move and therein lies ruination. Let the stomach do the moving, whether it counteracts the natural compression of the diaphragm or keeps movement away from the ribs, or both. That's why the stomach needs to be supple, rather than rigid or muscle-bound. In fact, I would say that you shouldn't do a lot of sit-ups. Instead, do yoga that keeps the stomach relaxed and supple. But holding the stomach out to mimick Buddha is just as constricting. Let the stomach move. This is what I mean when I used to call it a gut punch. I didn't mean the stomach should be rigid, but it should be involved.

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The stomach should not be rigid, nor should it be depressed inward as a posture. Because "expanded ribs" is a misnomer, in my opinion. When you exhale or sing with rib compression, you limit your air flow, causing the note to be under-supported, plus the movement of the ribs will cause motion in your throat, causing undue tension and strain there. By breathing with the belly, the ribs are left alone or "expanded." Because when you breathe from the stomach, your floating ribs at the bottom of the rib cage float outward. This gives the appearance and feeling of "expanded" ribs. They do not stay this way, that is why they are floating ribs. Trying to hold them out at all times is just as constricting as hold them in. I swear to God, sometimes I read an extensive description of the precise postures of all the parts of the body and I am left with a mental image of Mick Jagger doing his chicken-walk on stage.

The stomach should be somewhat soft and you will compress with it, slightly. This brings a solid supply of air to properly vibrate the folds, really, at any pitch. Again, I invite any one to watch actor William Shatner speak, with the sound turned down. Watch either "Star Trek" or "T.J. Hooker." you will see his abdomen compress slightly, while not affecting the ribs. It is something he learned to do as he started out in theater, not movies and t.v. It's what you do to project the voice without mics. Then listen to him with the sound up. Full, rich, round tones regardless of register. And some kind of formant or twang that allows the voice to resonate. Actors call it speaking into the mask. Approximately the same thing we are doing.

In "Set your voice free," all the exercises are applied equally to both singing and speaking.

And a number of professional singers refuse to whisper speak breathy. Either fully phonate or don't speak at all.

So, it can be confusing. Just remember that the stomach is in motion. If it doesn't move, then the ribs must move and therein lies ruination. Let the stomach do the moving, whether it counteracts the natural compression of the diaphragm or keeps movement away from the ribs, or both. That's why the stomach needs to be supple, rather than rigid or muscle-bound. In fact, I would say that you shouldn't do a lot of sit-ups. Instead, do yoga that keeps the stomach relaxed and supple. But holding the stomach out to mimick Buddha is just as constricting. Let the stomach move. This is what I mean when I used to call it a gut punch. I didn't mean the stomach should be rigid, but it should be involved.

ron,

respectfully, i have disagree with you on the expanded ribs...but just on the point of what we mean when we say "expanded."

i've come to learn it's much more subtle an expansion than we think, or are initially understanding it to be.

so many said "now breath in low and deep and feel your sides and back push out", but i think that was just to help you get the hang of breathing. but in the actual application in singing (at least for me) it's very subtle.

i believe breath support is such an individualized feeling. the trick i think, (steve chime in anytime to straighten my ass out...lol) is when you apply it correctly tension is transferred towards the stomach thus alleviating tension in the neck and throat.

when you sing and you're in the moment you aren't even aware of it...

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Bob, I don't see how we're in disagreement. You just described what I was saying. Motion and tension is in the abdomen, not the ribs or the throat. That is, the floating ribs at the bottom float, hence, floating ribs. If all the rib cage is trying to expand out from it's relaxed position, I think that is just as constricting. I'm not trying to contradict your mental image, just saying that the ribs seem expanded because they should not be involved.

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