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The Formant

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ronws
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Steven often mentions the formant and I think it is in relation to classical voice training. Not that I'm training for opera but I wanted to know if I have the right idea of how the formant feels, as opposed to twang which is practiced much here.

So, I recorded a sample of two things at different ranges.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8750209/Formant.mp3

I've "played" with this sound off and on since I was a teenager. Listening to my step-grandfather sing "Sunrise, Sunset" in church choir had it's effect, just as much as Kansas, Jackson Browne, or "Tommy." Watching Kip Winger on "Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp" was a treat because I didn't know he could sing in a classical style.

Steven might answer this best if I am anywhere close to understanding the formant, as it differs from twang, for they seem different to me.

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Is your media player coming up? They were having a 5xxx error recently and I had to change the link with one character.

http://redirectingat.com/?id=6784X659132&xs=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdl2.dropbox.com%2Fu%2F8750209%2FFormant.mp3&sref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.punbb-hosting.com%2Fforums%2Fthemodernvocalist%2Fviewtopic.php%3Fid%3D1659

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btw - I was interested in hearing for sure what that formant region SOUNDS like, so I found some free log sweeps from http://binkster.net/extras.shtml

I cut out just the singer's formant region (about 2.6-3.4kz here - not exact), and looped it a few times

you can hear a loop of this sweep over the singer's formant region here

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/19046930/logsweep_formantregion.mp3

I'll see if I can take a look at your spectrogram and hope Steve F pipes in

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ok - listening

on the first one, there is a serious lift at 2.4-2.6khz, and a seems like even more energy on the 2nd one (which has a little scream or something towards the end :))

so you're trying to the do the formant thing? How is this different than what you try to do for twang?

aside - some an interesting noise floor going on there - that upper ramp after 10k is what my preamp (fast track ultra) looks like if I turn it up too high. wonder if it's just 60hz hum, but there's no 180hz peak. interesting spike at about 3.2kz too.

and does anyone know of a good bandpass filter? I was going to try to isolate the formant region but it's a pain. Stringing together lowpass/highpass is disappointing - I want it to have brick walls on either side of a frequency range.

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This is my new favorite site recommended by another on this forum: http://tenortalkblog.com/

Has a lot of great classical examples of squillo.

BB,

I'm sure Steven does, but if not, maybe you could email Jack(from tenortalkblog.)

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Yeah, BB, I broke into a little bit of twang at the end there. When I originally tried this, I was on pitch with Sarah Brightman's version but I used too much twang on the high end, so I did the whole line lower to minimize that. And yes, that whole line has more energy. I was standing about 10 feet away from the pop filter so that I wouldn't overload the mic. The first sample is about a foot away from the pop filter with a very low volume at the low pitches.

And this discussion may not come to much of anything but it is an interest of mine to wonder sometimes what it is that I am doing.

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Guys:

Sorry to be so late to this party.

Depending on the range being sung, there are multiple formants in a male voice. Because of the content of the prior posts, I will assume for now that you'd like some comments on the so-called "Singer's Formant", the boost that occurs in many singing voices, (male and mid-voice females, principally) in the 2500-3500 Hz range.

Earlier in this thread, it was asked how this formant differs from twang. Twang quality is accomplished with a combination of two motions: 1) the narrowing of the arypiglottic region, which is immediately above the vocal bands, and 2) raising of the larynx. To produce singer's formant, only #1 is used, and the larynx remains low.

The lower larynx also has an effect on the vowel, as the formants which are responsible for the perception of the vowel (formants F1 and F2) decrease in frequency as the vocal tract is lengthened. Letting the lips round forward has somewhat the same effect. The resulting tone quality , which is often described as a 'classical' one, or 'chiarroscurro' (clear-obscure,) has darkness and ringy brightness simultaneously.

There are several ways to cause the aryepiglottic narrowing. As has been suggested, twanging is one. Witches' cackle, 'monkey on crack' and others work just as well. In all of them, when you get a good twang going, and then let the larynx back down, the singer's formant will show up.

Here is the way I learned to do it: pinch the nostrils together, and honk the brightest nasal ee vowel possible into the nose. Really obnoxious. Its an ugly sound when done right, but easier to do if you hear someone do it first. Just trying to make this bright nasal ee honk reflexively causes the two twang motions to happen, and also is semi-occluded to boot. :-) In terms of sensation, when I do it, the intense buzzy brightness of the tone seems to center on the bridge of the nose, like a dozen angry bees doing battle in the bones.

Once that is going, I just let the soft palate back up, and the larynx glide down, and voila!

I'll post some examples of the 'angry bees in the bridge of the nose' twang in an edit of this post in a bit, and include a spectrogram as well.

Here is the exercise, run it though your own spectrograph to see the trace. I think you'll agree that the buzzy bees can really honk!

http://api.ning.com/files/t90ssX-ki23EGbjOX-nxTf86INhHTRIUDBrfnHAro8CUyfe0TrDhmxtAp6IGZVOIUtkkxdDARhJRl7n63mS41uxh1fwtm*eR/honktoee.wav

the final sound:

You see the really tall peaks? The one on the left is from first formant tuning to the 2nd Harmonic, and the 2nd one (on harmonic 8) is that really ringy part of the tone. The singer's formant, strongest just to the left of the red bars, sounds like a buzz with no particular frequency.

Enjoy

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This is my new favorite site recommended by another on this forum: http://tenortalkblog.com/

Has a lot of great classical examples of squillo.

BB,

I'm sure Steven does, but if not, maybe you could email Jack(from tenortalkblog.)

thanks for the link analog...more stuff to confuse the hell out of me......just kidding.

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A most outstanding explanation, Steven. And I tried what you suggested by pinching the nose, singing the tone, and then causing the larynx to drop, monitoring with finger on it. I think I had a low larynx until I hit the high notes and then I transitioned to twang, which does have a different feel and tonal quality, now that I remember it. Thanks again for clearing that up for me. I am by no means singing opera or even always making the formant. But sometimes knowing where you are, or are not, is a revelation.

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very cool - holding the nose I can seem to do it, at least based on watching a spectrogram. Right now, I seem to lose the boost in the formant region when I try to go back to a "normal" note at the same fundamental, but I'm going to play with it.

thanks ronws for suggestion to monitor larynx with finger, too.

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very cool - holding the nose I can seem to do it, at least based on watching a spectrogram. Right now, I seem to lose the boost in the formant region when I try to go back to a "normal" note at the same fundamental, but I'm going to play with it.

bb: An excellent first step toward the non-honky tone is to leave the fingers pinching the nose, and simply let the soft palate go slowly up so that the nasal ee becomes a regular ee vowel. The resulting clear vowel just 'pops' into existence. To me, that motion feels simply like the soft palate lifts gently up, without any other motions. The bright core of the singer's formant, which was nasalized with the palate down, remains. It does take some practice to learn the new sensations associated with the epylaryngeal narrowing. There is no tenseness involved, but it has a certain feel in the throat.

BTW, the original exercise works perfectly well done softly, too. When singer's formant is present, the clarity of the soft tones is improved, as well.

IMO, all the pitch-changing exercises that work well for the voice generally can be done with this nose-pinched,honky-ee. For example, sirens are especially good. A siren done with singer's formant, even with the nostrils pinched shut, will transition across the upper middle voice into the top very smoothly if done slowly at first. Let the resonance configuration do the work. My shorthand way of remembering this idea is to "let the voice 'ride' the ring" as the siren is done.

Next after that would be starting a given note on the nose-pinched, honky-ee, 'bees in the bridge of the nose' sound, and then transition to another nasal vowel, such as /e/ (ay).

On the spectrograph, you'll see that the formant position remains constant as you do the slide, and on the way up, fewer and fewer harmonics will fall into the region, but will be taller.

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steve,

a couple of things i notice when singing with singer's formant/twang is that the singer needs to become "comfortable" and "accepting" of the newer tonal/timbre changes that take place.

i also feel like the voice has been given a tone control if you will.

also i notice you have greater "control" over the vocal folds. they seem better isolated?

would you agree with those observations?

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steve,

a couple of things i notice when singing with singer's formant/twang is that the singer needs to become "comfortable" and "accepting" of the newer tonal/timbre changes that take place.

i also feel like the voice has been given a tone control if you will.

also i notice you have greater "control" over the vocal folds. they seem better isolated?

would you agree with those observations?

Bob: Anytime a singer or speaker makes changes in vocal production, there is a period of physical and psychological adjustment. For some, more time, for others, less.

The idea that the voice has been given a 'tone' control is very accurate if expressed this way: The natural EQ of the voice has received a boost in 2800 to 3200, and the gain of the whole voice has been upped 15-20 dB.

As to the sense of vocal fold 'control'... that is pretty individual, but though they may seem better isolated, they are actually better coupled to the resonance. That coupling reduces the load at the level of the larynx, freeing the muscles from some of the work, and the acoustic feed-back helps the vocal bands increase the rapidity of their shutting motion, raising the strength of the high harmonics.

The net effect is more sound for less work, and the experience for the singer (or speaker, as well), is greater expressive power with less effort, which can lead to a sense of bouyant vocal freedom. When present in a voice, this is what people interpret as 'projection'.

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Bob: Anytime a singer or speaker makes changes in vocal production, there is a period of physical and psychological adjustment. For some, more time, for others, less.

The idea that the voice has been given a 'tone' control is very accurate if expressed this way: The natural EQ of the voice has received a boost in 2800 to 3200, and the gain of the whole voice has been upped 15-20 dB.

As to the sense of vocal fold 'control'... that is pretty individual, but though they may seem better isolated, they are actually better coupled to the resonance. That coupling reduces the load at the level of the larynx, freeing the muscles from some of the work, and the acoustic feed-back helps the vocal bands increase the rapidity of their shutting motion, raising the strength of the high harmonics.

The net effect is more sound for less work, and the experience for the singer (or speaker, as well), is greater expressive power with less effort, which can lead to a sense of bouyant vocal freedom. When present in a voice, this is what people interpret as 'projection'.

got it steve, thanks..and boy, you can get one hell of a ring...lol! for me personally, i felt like i was getting a little too "bon jovi..ish."

but it helped me tackle my sam cooke...

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Well, I'm glad I started this thread, even if I wasn't "where" I thought I was. And Steven, you rock, so to speak. Thanks for explainging these things in terms we can understand with techniques to check against what we are doing.

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got it steve, thanks..and boy, you can get one hell of a ring...lol! for me personally, i felt like i was getting a little too "bon jovi..ish."

but it helped me tackle my sam cooke...

Bob: I think that you will find that the presence of Singer's formant in your voice will make the notes at B4 and above easier to produce, and that a couple more of them will show up.

FYI, some operatic tenors, for example, Placido Domingo, used singer's formant as their principal resonance strategy in the head voice, and did not bother with the 2nd-formant tuning like Pavarotti did. I expect that you will discover that when you do them both, you get a ring in your voice that is beyond your expectation for ease and power.

When the cooke is ready, I'd like to hear a post of it!

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Bob: I think that you will find that the presence of Singer's formant in your voice will make the notes at B4 and above easier to produce, and that a couple more of them will show up.

FYI, some operatic tenors, for example, Placido Domingo, used singer's formant as their principal resonance strategy in the head voice, and did not bother with the 2nd-formant tuning like Pavarotti did. I expect that you will discover that when you do them both, you get a ring in your voice that is beyond your expectation for ease and power.

When the cooke is ready, I'd like to hear a post of it!

b4 and up still needs work to be consistant, but it's almost more classical than rock i would say in terms of tonality.

but i like the ring...it's addictive...lol!!!

i also like what formant does to "eee's" it's piercing in a pleasant way.

steve, that contest i won parlayed into a steady gig over there. but i've yet to get my copy of the dvd from that event.

i did "change is gonna come" and i'm patiently waiting for the dvd and the check for my first gig there.

as soon as i get it i will.

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b4 and up still needs work to be consistant, but it's almost more classical than rock i would say in terms of tonality.

but i like the ring...it's addictive...lol!!!

i also like what formant does to "eee's" it's piercing in a pleasant way.

Bob: Go back, and listen to Halford on a top Bb, and tell me how that is not the same sort of vocalism as you are now letting loose.

Yes, the ring is addictive, certainly fun. Record yourself, and you will (I think) be surprised at how it actually sounds out in front of you. That bright ring you hear will fuse right into the tone, making the whole thing more solid-sounding.

Yep on the ee. I sure agree. Glad you are enjoying it. I can hardly wait for what you think next week about it ;-)

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Steven often mentions the formant and I think it is in relation to classical voice training. Not that I'm training for opera but I wanted to know if I have the right idea of how the formant feels, as opposed to twang which is practiced much here.

I've "played" with this sound off and on since I was a teenager. Listening to my step-grandfather sing "Sunrise, Sunset" in church choir had it's effect, just as much as Kansas, Jackson Browne, or "Tommy." Watching Kip Winger on "Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp" was a treat because I didn't know he could sing in a classical style.

ronws: I am circling back around to your original question, because I am not sure that my original assumption, that you were interested in the 'singer's formant', is correct.

I listened to your recording. This is a very warm, open sound, with dramatic, deep baritone quality. The most apparent formant is F1, which is the lower of the vowel formants, the one responsible for the depth and 'dark' part of the vocal tone.

F2, the upper vowel formant, is right in the range it needs to be for a dark baritone voice.

The singer's formant is not too present, but the whole vocal effect would benefit if it was. I am reminded of the voice of Hoyt Axton, Both deep and bright.

Is that the kind of voice that you want to have.... depth, brightness, clarity, expressive power?

If so, I can make some suggestions to take you to the next levels in this, some specific areas of focus and refinement. Or, alternatively... mention what kind of tone quality you'd prefer to make your 'main' thing, and we'll look toward how to doing _that_.

Looking forward to your response.

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ok - I'm going to use this thread to post some of my own walks down the path, in case it helps others down the line

I was playing with this some more, and am assuming that anytime I see something like the below (it's a snapshot at the first stage, where you're making the buzz/bees go at it). I think the singer's formant boost is coming into play. I don't yet have a feel for recognizing it without seeing it on screen.

btw - I noticed recently that I was hearing a strong ring when I did eh/ah just right while driving. I did a quick recording of that and it seems like the small space is giving an HUGE boost in the singer's formant region. I didn't check the math of the car dimensions to check that this should be happening, but I imagine that's what's going on.

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Hey Steve - I was looking more into the 8th harmonic ring you've got there (at about 1.6kz). Here's a link to where I boost that region's eq up

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/19046930/stevefraser_honkee_focus_on_8th_harmonic.mp3

I think what is also interesting is the role of the 7th harmonic, which is apparently actually close to a 7th. I think I can hear it in your clip without the eq now and it gives an interesting texture to the whole thing.

I had recorded someone the other day with a nice voice, and I noticed kind of the same thing - a kind of interplay between the 7th and 8th harmonics that was just interesting. In that case, he was using vibrato as well that kind of "rang" the 7th harmonic bell a little.

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Bob: Go back, and listen to Halford on a top Bb, and tell me how that is not the same sort of vocalism as you are now letting loose.

Yes, the ring is addictive, certainly fun. Record yourself, and you will (I think) be surprised at how it actually sounds out in front of you. That bright ring you hear will fuse right into the tone, making the whole thing more solid-sounding.

Yep on the ee. I sure agree. Glad you are enjoying it. I can hardly wait for what you think next week about it ;-)

steve, i'm not that knowledgeable of judas priest......can you point to a song/point in the song they do, to hear halford's ring?

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