Jump to content

Range restriction / constriction / change keys?

Rate this topic


SH
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello all. I'm a newbie.

Been having voice lessons for nearly a year, after a 10 year break. Developing a natural feel for jazz - it seems to be my home.

So, my trouble is basically tension / constriction in the throat resulting in restricted range, and sometimes even pain / raspy feeling etc. My voice teacher can often coach me through a hard spot, but I wonder if I am causing this problem by choosing music which is not within my natural range. Perhaps I should just aim for a lower key, perhaps I am not really meant to belt on a C5? I can sing E4 without any trouble, and in a lip roll excersise I can manage a tone less than a three octave range. But, actually singing, I am much more restricted, not even managing a strong two octaves. I think I cause alot of emotional stress which causes this problem, and I just wonder - is it cheating to just change the key so that I can manage the song more easily? Am I less of a singer if I do this? Perhaps trying to sing Big Spender in C minor is just setting myself up for failure, for stress which causes tension. How do I know if I am trying to extend myself unwisely? That may all seem pretty confused. I am pretty confused at the moment.

Edited to add: I am a female singer! (in case you were thinking C5 is pretty impressive)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I first started singing I wouldn't have believed I would reach the notes I can right now. I'm still not good though and I'm still working on increasing my range. I'd say practice songs in lower comfortable keys but also work on increasing your range by doing exercises and learning about your voice. The CVT book taught me how to breath and support properly which made me constrict much less.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I first started singing I wouldn't have believed I would reach the notes I can right now. I'm still not good though and I'm still working on increasing my range. I'd say practice songs in lower comfortable keys but also work on increasing your range by doing exercises and learning about your voice. The CVT book taught me how to breath and support properly which made me constrict much less.

THIS.

Btw. I originally thought that Bruce's songs were low and easy but then I realized that that wasn't always the case. F.ex. the song Dancing in the dark has several Ab4s, which makes it a pretty tough song to sing in the original key, not to mention making it sound good. But he also has lots of incredibly great songs that don't go so high so ronws has a very valid point. High notes are just another pencil some singers have at their disposal to paint an emotional auditory picture with their voices. But there are lots of ways for singers to create a reaction in their listeners besides high notes. Elvis Presley is a living example of that.

*that last scentence came out a bit wrong but in a funny way so I left it in*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the replies.

I agree, that there are many other ways to connect other than high notes. And i feel I have a good rapport on stage, and connect quite easily with my audience. I am comfortable making eye contact, jokes, kind of doing a little act, not just hiding behind the mic and singing. People say they enjoy watching me perform because they can see how much I am enjoying myself, and they feel safe coming along with me for the ride. I've very high standards re performance. But I'd love to add that extra crayon to my box. And I feel it should be there, I've just got to get around the barriers.

What is the CVT book. I'm really interested in learning more.

I've been reading a bit about breathing and have come to the idea that I have dropped quite a bit of my breathing technique, so tried really hard to reapply that this afternoon. I even managed Big Spender in Cmin without restriction, but in quite a sloppy manner ( I was majorly focussed on the in breath, and the resulting openness and relaxation). I'm also looking at ways to reduce tension, emotional and physical. I've booked a massage for next week. Hope this all helps.

I listen to singers who are famous and who seem comfortable where I am. People like Bette Midler, Peggy Lee, Julie London. They all sang those standards quite low. Surely I'm not in bad company. There is such a pressure on a female contemporary singer to sing high though, I feel like a bit of a failure not being able to do it at the moment. And of course, the genre that I love, does sometimes call for a real belt on some quite high notes. Head voice doesn't cut it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two things to say :

First and foremost, changing key is not cheating : it is better to do an astounding version of song a few half steps lower (or higher) than botching it on key, or really only doing it ok. Even professional singers do this, live, for some of their songs.

Second, assuming you are taking C4 as middle C, I firmly believe that absolutely everyone, male or female, can get as high as C5 and do it well. You just need to find how :)

You already can, since you can lipbubbleroll up there. Have you try lipbubblerolling, then opening your mouth and sing an " Ah " (oh, eh, whatever suits you best, what is of interest here is the placement of the voice) ? Liprolls tend to help the whole voice relax and support well. You might also want to check out how adding some twang feels (you will find information about all this on the forum).

And head voice absolutely does cut it. It just doesn't cut it right away, it's got to be trained.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello all. I'm a newbie.

Been having voice lessons for nearly a year, after a 10 year break. Developing a natural feel for jazz - it seems to be my home.

So, my trouble is basically tension / constriction in the throat resulting in restricted range, and sometimes even pain / raspy feeling etc. My voice teacher can often coach me through a hard spot, but I wonder if I am causing this problem by choosing music which is not within my natural range. Perhaps I should just aim for a lower key, perhaps I am not really meant to belt on a C5? I can sing E4 without any trouble, and in a lip roll excersise I can manage a tone less than a three octave range. But, actually singing, I am much more restricted, not even managing a strong two octaves. I think I cause alot of emotional stress which causes this problem, and I just wonder - is it cheating to just change the key so that I can manage the song more easily? Am I less of a singer if I do this? Perhaps trying to sing Big Spender in C minor is just setting myself up for failure, for stress which causes tension. How do I know if I am trying to extend myself unwisely? That may all seem pretty confused. I am pretty confused at the moment.

Edited to add: I am a female singer! (in case you were thinking C5 is pretty impressive)

okay now, this is coming from a self-professed high note junkie...lol!!!!

if i may comment, i personally would advise you to make range extension (key:both up and down) a part of your regular vocal exercise regimen.

there are goals in singing, and i strongly believe this one of them.

but perhaps all that needs to be done to make a change in the way you feel about high notes..perceptually, you might be assigning a level of difficulty to them when many times they may be just as easily sung as low notes when you do it correctly.

believe me, they scare all of us, but as you stretch and reach (correctly) for them, support them, they eventually get progressively easier.

but if you don't try to sing higher, you'll never know whether or not you could. see where i'm going?..don't shy away from them...

reduce your perception of their difficulty. each day i exercise i "reach" for another half step...okay not today, there's always tomorrow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The book is Complete Vocal Technique by Cathrine Sadolin. It's really great and gets into everything. Most people here are very familiar with it. For breathing I started doing exercises from Jamie Vendera's Ultimate Breathing Workout with CVT's recommended breathing technique. I've been doing this for 3 days and I'm seeing an improvement. There's a forum specifically for CVT. Just search CVI forum.

This place has been also incredibly helpful. I'm sure you'll find lots of valuable info using the search button.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've put a call into my music store to see if the book is available in Australia, and I will give it a go.

I have a sensation, alot of the time, of a lump in my throat. This is not just when I am singing, nor just after singing, but just alot of the time. I've been putting this down to tension, but I'm wondering if I should go and talk to a dr about it. I think I am a bit neurotic about this at the moment. I'm a stay at home Mum, so there is nothing to stop me from experimenting with my voice basically all day long (off and on of course), so perhaps I'm my own worst enemy. I really should concentrate more on housework. But I hate housework and I love singing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've put a call into my music store to see if the book is available in Australia, and I will give it a go.

I have a sensation, alot of the time, of a lump in my throat. This is not just when I am singing, nor just after singing, but just alot of the time. I've been putting this down to tension, but I'm wondering if I should go and talk to a dr about it. I think I am a bit neurotic about this at the moment. I'm a stay at home Mum, so there is nothing to stop me from experimenting with my voice basically all day long (off and on of course), so perhaps I'm my own worst enemy. I really should concentrate more on housework. But I hate housework and I love singing.

allergies, reflux, over tensing your cords, mucus....?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What jonpall said.

And by the way, though I was never a big fan of Springsteen's voice like I am of other singers, I simply cannot imagine anyone else but Springsteen doing "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road." As singer Bruce Hall (I think) put it, he could emote so much in what he did. Range is really a secondary issue. The meaning of the song and how you convey that is what the audience remembers. Only technical geeks like us care about hitting a C5 or C6. "Born in the USA" only used about 5 or 6 notes in upper baritone and it was his biggest hit for the longest time. And it wasn't even sing "pretty." I think he did it with that much growl to convey anger, as it is a song about the anger of military veteran coming home to find the country he fought for was not what he thought it was.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where does one buy this CVT book?

Some more careful thoughts:

My quiet and gentle singing voice sounds alot more breathy than it used to, and I have less control when easing out a note gently (like holding a long note very gently fading it out). The note ends up dying out completely before I want it to, and before I predict it to. I can get rid of the breathy tone, but only with force, which causes pain or a scratchy feeling, like I've been coughing lots.

Thanks for your help so far. Much more careful attention to my breathing technique is already helping.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I got my CVT book on-line. http://www.completevocalinstitute.com/

SH: you can definitely extend your range if done correctly. The book is a great reference book. It is the most comprehensive book on modern vocal techniques that I know of. To extend your range you need to create a practice regimine that excersizes your whole range - every day. You'll find that you'll gradually extend your range over time to hieghts that you never thought possible. That you can get by either working with someone that really knows how - or, as in my case (I can sing up to C6 and I'm a male singer - so I know you can do it) finding a good DVD from a great teacher like Ken Tamplin or Robert Lunte. A good practice regimine - practicing the right stuff - is the key.

By the way - can you post an example of your voice? That will help us assess your situation so we can make better recommendations.

What you are describing - constriction, tension - these are all symptoms of not permitting your breath control to do the heavy lifting. Sounds like all the hard work is in your throat. You need to shift from your throat to your breath.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What you are describing - constriction, tension - these are all symptoms of not permitting your breath control to do the heavy lifting. Sounds like all the hard work is in your throat. You need to shift from your throat to your breath.

Thanks for this, guitartrek. This may well be the problem. When tackling Big Spender, and talking about my difficulty with the big belted notes, my teacher said it should feel easy, except in the abdominals (she didn't actually use the word abdominal, but she was refering to the breathing mechanism), which she said would be working very hard. It's not hard at all in the breathing mechnism, which means to me, exactly what you just said. My lessons are over skype, so she may not have spotted the breathing problem. Hopefully therein lies my problem. Thanks again.

I'll go and get that book. Thanks for the link.

That's a good idea to post something of me singing. I'll have to work out how to do that.

jonpall, I've been experimenting alot with moving my jaw and my tounge. I find a release in the tension if I stick my tongue out alot. Like too much to sing with. I sang some excersises pretty much with my tongue out. And found the lump feeling went away. But, of course if I stick my tongue out that much I can't sing. And it gets sore eventually too because it is such an unnatural posture. But, I've really been concentrating or releasing tension in my neck, jaw and tongue, aswell as revisiting my basic breathing training. I do find that having released the tension, I can sing for a bit, but very quickly the tension comes back, then comes the restriction and if I keep going, the pain.

I think I might be having a few problems, but how it came about is a bit of a mystery to me. I was singing really well last November, then there was all that extra performing around Christmas, then I didn't sing for 6 weeks, since then I've had nothing but pain and trouble! Never taking time off singing again!

Thanks again for the help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you had some kind of illness, coughing etc... during those 6 weeks without singing ? Have you tried keeping an open throat (keeping a slight yawn feeling, or an inner smile, sure helped me get rid of the unwanted breathiness)?

That's a good idea to post something of me singing. I'll have to work out how to do that.

A good recording program is Audacity, which can be found here : http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

It's free, it's kinda simple. Then you need something to upload the mp3 that Audacity will make out of your recording (export -> mp3),

like dropbox : http://www.dropbox.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you had some kind of illness, coughing etc... during those 6 weeks without singing ? Have you tried keeping an open throat (keeping a slight yawn feeling, or an inner smile, sure helped me get rid of the unwanted breathiness)?

A good recording program is Audacity, which can be found here : http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/

It's free, it's kinda simple. Then you need something to upload the mp3 that Audacity will make out of your recording (export -> mp3),

like dropbox : http://www.dropbox.com/

yes, audacity and my trusty $20 logitech notebook mic is all i use.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

Yes, I have audacity and a little video camera that I use for skype. I also have a Rode M1 through a small Behringr mixer into an audio input on my laptop which I use for practising, recording and listening. I don't know how to upload the resulting file to the net though. Never uploaded anything to youtube.

I had an illness in October, which I really battled through. Basically couldn't practice for the week before a major performance. No illness in that 6 weeks though. Alot of stress though!

I ordered the CVT book. It may take a while. I am in outback Australia. In the mean time I'm reading about the appoggio. I'm not sure if it is a sensible thing for a contemporary singer, but I can't really see the harm in it. My breathing technique up until now has been much the belly goes in and out with little effort type of technique. I've noticed I';m not filling adequately so perhaps appoggio can help me fix that. It is quite a difficult sensation, but I am getting the sense of those lower ribs moving slightly out. I'm concentrating on that and onholding the rib cage up.

cheers

S

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Stress? Me?

Three children aged under 7. School, kindy, day care, swimming lessons, swim club, football.......

A business to run.

A house to run.

Volunteering as the director of a children's choir which has swelled from 4 to 27 children in three years.

Chasing my own musical dreams with difficult pieces of music and very high personal standards.

Yes, I think stress is a big part of my problem too.

I'm finding lots of possible solutions.

Unfortunately, no one has yet come up with a flick the switch type 3 second solution!

I just want to be talented and amazing without having to do all this work!

At least working on breathing excersises for the time being is distracting me from endlessly working my voice.

Breathing excersises are quite relaxing too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you set up your dropbox account, a dropbox folder is set up on your computer. It's essentially a virtual folder. Anything saved in the "public" sub-folder of it is on-line. But just remember, it can take up to 5 minutes for it to actually show up on line. Then, when you open up your dropbox page and open public, the song will appear there. Go to the right of the song and you will see a down arrow appear. Click on that and click on "copy public link." When that shows up, right click, copy, then go back to the page in the forum where you are entering a post and paste it in.

When the link is in the message, people can click on it and it will open whatever media player they use. mp3 is a popular format. With audacity, you will need to download a LAME mp3 encoder (also free.) Just remember that mp3 has some losses. It is a compressed file format. So, it may distort some of your highs, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hello all. I'm a newbie.

Been having voice lessons for nearly a year, after a 10 year break. Developing a natural feel for jazz - it seems to be my home.

So, my trouble is basically tension / constriction in the throat resulting in restricted range, and sometimes even pain / raspy feeling etc. My voice teacher can often coach me through a hard spot, but I wonder if I am causing this problem by choosing music which is not within my natural range. Perhaps I should just aim for a lower key, perhaps I am not really meant to belt on a C5? I can sing E4 without any trouble, and in a lip roll excersise I can manage a tone less than a three octave range. But, actually singing, I am much more restricted, not even managing a strong two octaves. I think I cause alot of emotional stress which causes this problem, and I just wonder - is it cheating to just change the key so that I can manage the song more easily? Am I less of a singer if I do this? Perhaps trying to sing Big Spender in C minor is just setting myself up for failure, for stress which causes tension. How do I know if I am trying to extend myself unwisely? That may all seem pretty confused. I am pretty confused at the moment.

Edited to add: I am a female singer! (in case you were thinking C5 is pretty impressive)

I am certainly no expert on this, but I'm going to comment because I help my wife with her vocals and she and I both come from a showtunes/jazz background. I understand the significance of being able to "belt" to Bb4 or C5, in terms of the way those songs are written. Barbra usually stops belting at Bb4, by the way.

For my part, my natural range is bass-baritone. I totally feel your pain, in terms of struggling with range. The good news is that you can improve it.

My wife had lots of "classical" lessons when she was younger, but she still had a huge problem moving from her Broadway belt to her head voice. In classical terms, she is mezzo-soprano. She doesn't have the richness of a true "contralto" but she can sing down to those notes. She can sing to Bb5 in head, but her break was dead in middle of her range. She was auditioning for a part where she had to "belt" up to C5 and in the same song, hit a clean E5 in head. The E5 wasn't an issue, but the B's, Bb's, and the one or two C's were the problem. I had been working with Setting Your Voice Free, by Roger Love in addition to talking classical lessons, and I passed the CD's on to her.

A month of working with that CD did wonders for her. That book helped me and it was a starting point, but for her, there were almost immediate results. After 3 months with it, I hit a wall and moved on to another program (Kevin Richards Breaking the Chains, to be specific), but the Roger Love stuff really helped my wife and it did it fast. She was able to carry her "belt" tone up to C5 once she learned to use what Love calls "middle voice" and that came to her very easily. There are lots of other terms for it around hear, depending on who you ask.

I don't know if you have developed your head voice or not. I have a theory that my wife was able to benefit from the Roger Love stuff more than because she had such a clear division and her head voice was already strong. She just needed to learn to connect it. I never developed my head voice, so I had no idea that I use anything other than straight "chest" and I didn't really have any thing to connect to my chest voice. That's currently a work in progress.

Oh, and key change is just fine. I change keys all the time when I sing folk and country and people are interested in song interpretation as opposes to song replication. In a jazz/cabaret setting, nobody will care about the key. It's more difficult if you are interested in rock or theater where people want you approximate the known version of a song.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reccommendation, Rozzy. I've ordered the CVT book, and if I'm not happy after giving that a whirl, I might try that course.

BTW, I'm now belting Big Spender in Cminor, but I'm not holding the big notes, just hitting them and getting away. Trying to change the psychology a bit.

I'm going to make a seperate post re vibratto.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have bought CVT, I doubt you'll have any need for Roger Love's stuff. If you need a cheap and fast way to improve your passagio, it does the trick, but you would outgrow it pretty quickly if you are serious. Good luck with Big Spender. If you are looking for new material in that genre that isn't played out, check songs from Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party." It had an off-broadway run that featured Idina Menzel. It's got a number of great jazz belt songs. My wife is using one of the songs as an audition piece.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...