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Sirens and transitioning into head voice

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forgivendays
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I've been trying to do sirens. On EH or OH I can easily slide up to Ab4 in chest voice while warming up with no strain. That's the problem. When I'm in the middle of practicing songs and my voice is being worked my chest range decreases a little like with most people. So that means I can't reach that G-Ab4 without slamming into head voice. How do I force that transition from the start without having to be tired?

Another related question: on a vowel like EE, no matter how much I slow the siren down I always slam into head voice and back to chest voice. Should I ignore this and just give it time?

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Try this for a change and see what it does for your coordination. It's my main warm-up, now. Sirens, yes, but from high to low, in a soft volume, even starting in falsetto tone, which is okay. Watch what your breathing does. A few times, I would notice a gear change until I learned to pay attention to my breathing more than the note. Then, I spent a few days just noticing how I breath, as a general rule, without singing. And that helped to retrain some to breath from the abdomen and not the chest. Until it is second nature. It all starts with a breath.

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What exactly should I look for in my breathing? These falsetto slides are confusing. I don't see how an airy tone can connect with an edgy tone without there being an obvious break. I can try to make my chest voice seem airy when connecting but that to me is pulling falsetto down or just low neutral.

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If you're gonna try a downwards falsetto slide such as ronws suggests, don't use a breathy/airy tone. Some people, including Jamie Vendera, call a light head voice falsetto. Some even say that Brian Johnson sings and sang in falsetto, which was almost never the case. So it should probably be called a downwards head voice slide/siren or a downwards slide/siren in neutral.

Anyway...

You have a very generic problem - you are not singing in the center of a vocal mode. If you were, you wouldn't have these problems.

I know that you've been working on curbing so I suggest you continue doing that and if you have the CVT book, really read it again and again. If you don't, here are some tips to get you started:

First of all, you may THINK that you're singing an Eh and an Oh vowel but it turns out that some people simply aren't. Check if you're singing Eh as in stay and Oh as in so. These are the overdrive vowels, which means that they won't necessarily give you the sound you want near that Ab4 note - they will sound shouty and "splatty".

For some songs and styles it may be just what you want but I'm 99% sure you want to be using curbing this high up in your range. In that case, substitute Eh for either Uh as in hungry or I as in sit (depending on if you want to emphasis the beginning or the end of the Eh dipthong - ask if this is confusing) and substitute Oh for O as in woman. And get these vowels 100% correct, which can be tough for people who don't normally speak english. I can't remember if that's your case. You should also lower your volume a bit and use that hold/cry.

But maybe you just WANT to sing Eh and Oh that high up in your range. That's fine. Just note that you can't take them higher than C5. Any further than that and you have to switch to another vocal mode, f.ex. start to twang a huge amount, add hold, or seriously lower your volume into head voice or falsetto. Lots of options. But if you want to sing in overdrive with Eh and Oh in your high range a lot, you have to stick to only those two vowels, have a shouty, yet relaxed and very non-breathy tone and practise it a lot, stopping if/when it hurts. In my limited experience, this style of singing sounds a bit like either Broadway singing or rock vocals done by male singers who aren't really considered to be very technically good and don't have good vocal ranges - their top notes lie between F#4 and A4 or so. Then again, there are singers who specialize in overdrive, even though they can sing in other modes, and are just technically very good, like Martin H., f.ex.

Regardless of which vocal mode you want to use in the C4-C5 range, I think it's a good idea to do lots of sirens or scales, sustain the final note and, without pausing, sing a word or a few words on that same note, keeping the same feeling in your throat all the time. The helps you bridge the gap between exercises and songs. Good luck with it.

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About that EE siren question of yours:

If you want to use a pure EE vowel like in "see", throughout the siren, you have to use very low volume, because the Ee vowel can't be loud on high notes - unless you modify the vowel. This would be the mode neutral.

If you want medium to loud volume, try this - as you approach your passagio on your way up, start to change to an I (as in "sit") vowel and add a very slight cry/hold. This is the curbing method to do the siren. Don't worry about or overcomplicate your breathing at the moment. Just breath normally, at least for now. That's a great start.

You could also go ever further and modify straight from Ee to Eh (as in "stay") and be careful to not have a hold, GET louder as you go higher, don't be airy and STOP as you get close to C5. That's overdrive, the shouty mode. Btw. if you DON'T get louder with this mode as you get higher, strangely enough, it can hurt your throat. Overdrive needs to be loud (and non-breathy) in order not to hurt. But curbing with twang, centered curbing, meaning with the most resonant vowels and a ringy twang, also starts to get pretty loud as you travel upwards through the tenor range.

Another option is simply add more and more twang as you get higher and start to sound more like a witch with a very thin and sharp tone. This would be neutral with distinctive twang or metal-like-neutral or MLN.

Finally, you could add twang as you get higher AND modify the vowel from Ee to I AND increase the volume. It will sound somewhat similar to MLN but has more "beef" to it, i.e. a more meaty tone, yet very twangy and screamy. This is edge.

Again, of all these options, most singers in most music genres are looking for curbing (which SLS would call mixed voice), whether they call it curbing or not. Once you get familiar with these sounds, it will be up to you which route(s) you want to choose.

I may be leaving something out here, in which case I apologize.

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If you want to use a pure EE vowel like in "see", throughout the siren, you have to use very low volume, because the Ee vowel can't be loud on high notes - unless you modify the vowel. This would be the mode neutral.

Jonpall: I separated out this one comment, because I had something to add to this core idea of yours: Certain notes in the high voice will ring when the 2nd formant of the /i/ (EE) vowel happens to align with one of the upper harmonics. Which note depends on the quality of the /i/ vowel, and the voice type.

Great post!

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About that EE siren question of yours:

If you want to use a pure EE vowel like in "see", throughout the siren, you have to use very low volume, because the Ee vowel can't be loud on high notes - unless you modify the vowel. This would be the mode neutral.

If you want medium to loud volume, try this - as you approach your passagio on your way up, start to change to an I (as in "sit") vowel and add a very slight cry/hold. This is the curbing method to do the siren. Don't worry about or overcomplicate your breathing at the moment. Just breath normally, at least for now. That's a great start.

You could also go ever further and modify straight from Ee to Eh (as in "stay") and be careful to not have a hold, GET louder as you go higher, don't be airy and STOP as you get close to C5. That's overdrive, the shouty mode. Btw. if you DON'T get louder with this mode as you get higher, strangely enough, it can hurt your throat. Overdrive needs to be loud (and non-breathy) in order not to hurt. But curbing with twang, centered curbing, meaning with the most resonant vowels and a ringy twang, also starts to get pretty loud as you travel upwards through the tenor range.

Another option is simply add more and more twang as you get higher and start to sound more like a witch with a very thin and sharp tone. This would be neutral with distinctive twang or metal-like-neutral or MLN.

Finally, you could add twang as you get higher AND modify the vowel from Ee to I AND increase the volume. It will sound somewhat similar to MLN but has more "beef" to it, i.e. a more meaty tone, yet very twangy and screamy. This is edge.

Again, of all these options, most singers in most music genres are looking for curbing (which SLS would call mixed voice), whether they call it curbing or not. Once you get familiar with these sounds, it will be up to you which route(s) you want to choose.

I may be leaving something out here, in which case I apologize.

jesus christ!

okay jonpall, that does it. now i've got to get my mitts on that book!...if i don't, i won't have a clue what this all means...just kidding...lol!!! man, are you a steven fraser protege? good stuff!

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Wow lots of great information jonpall.. I disagree on one thing though. I think I take the sound higher pretty comfortably without transitioning into head voice because I'm in the center of the mode. I'm guessing overdrive. I'm sure I'm singing EH as in stay but I think my OH leans a little towards far. This is usable for the shouty Matthew Bellamy sound but again this only lasts for like 30 minutes.

Curbing to me sounds more shouty. You heard how bad it sounded =/ It still isn't getting any easier.

The siren variations you mentioned are great I can't wait to try these out. Thanks man I owe you a lot

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On a related note, Steven, perhaps you could check out the thread "is this safe to do" again and give some comments on some of the last posts, if you'd be so kind? :) I think it's very interesting.

jonpall: Yeah, I saw your note earlier, but have not hand the time to think through what would be the right response. I agree, it is interesting. These artists have distinctive voices.

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Interesting. I wonder if what you're talking about is the same thing as MLN or metal-like-neutral, i.e. light, thin head voice with lots of twang (witchy sounding), or perhaps something more "meatier" than that?

jonpall: this is not witchy sounding, but a ringing color to the curbing. Its meaty, and would blow out a mic if held too closely. If done with a lowered larynx by a male singer, its a quality quite often heard in Opera singers.

If the /i/ (EE) vowel pronunciation is maintained as the fundamental rises, the singer will have 1 or 2 notes that align well enough to be noticably more ringy. If the singer uses a vowel mod that goes toward the oe or umlauted-shade vowels, the range of notes that 'sound' like /i/ with this ring will be increased.

I will look for some youtube examples of this sort of singing, to help with getting this sound in your ear.

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jesus christ!

okay jonpall, that does it. now i've got to get my mitts on that book!...if i don't, i won't have a clue what this all means...just kidding...lol!!! man, are you a steven fraser protege? good stuff!

Ca'ching! 25.00 just for the shipping. They really need an online downloadable version.

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