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Breath Release

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MB20
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I've been working on Jamie Vendera's UBW but am having problem with one particular issue. I find I am unable to slow down my breath release. I have been working on expanding my lower back, ribs and abs to try and let the diaphragm move freely but am unsure at how to control the rate at which the diaphragm moves. I notice it when doing particular techniques as my vocal cords feel immediately tired as I am creating too much pressure. Can anybody shed some light on this for me?

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I've been working on Jamie Vendera's UBW but am having problem with one particular issue. I find I am unable to slow down my breath release. I have been working on expanding my lower back, ribs and abs to try and let the diaphragm move freely but am unsure at how to control the rate at which the diaphragm moves. I notice it when doing particular techniques as my vocal cords feel immediately tired as I am creating too much pressure. Can anybody shed some light on this for me?

did you improve upon how long you can hold your breath?

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I have been doing it for a week and so far, have gone from 42 seconds to 71 seconds.

MB20: That is cool. However, its not so much about how long you can hold your breath, but the ability to provide just the right amount of air for the sung note.

Try to let just a little bit of air out, and turning it all into sound. What is the length of the longest note you can sing that way?

Tosi, famous teacher of singers in the 19th Century, said that 20 seconds or so for a single sustained note is a goal. Is that close to what you do now?

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The longest I have recorded is 22 seconds, however, this is only on one pitch that sits very comfortably in my range and the actual quality of the note is nowhere near where I would like it to be. It's more in my mix and top of my head voice I find it happening. I'm sure a big part of it is probably my technique in these areas, but I just don't feel like I have control over the release and it ends up just choking the note and tiring the cords.. I am also trying to learn to fry scream at the moment and I really notice it when doing this as the breath release for this technique is minimal. I also find I sometimes slip into what sounds like whistle register and within a few seconds, my cords feel like they've had a gale force wind pushed through them!

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The longest I have recorded is 22 seconds, however, this is only on one pitch that sits very comfortably in my range and the actual quality of the note is nowhere near where I would like it to be. It's more in my mix and top of my head voice I find it happening. I'm sure a big part of it is probably my technique in these areas, but I just don't feel like I have control over the release and it ends up just choking the note and tiring the cords.. I am also trying to learn to fry scream at the moment and I really notice it when doing this as the breath release for this technique is minimal. I also find I sometimes slip into what sounds like whistle register and within a few seconds, my cords feel like they've had a gale force wind pushed through them!

MB20: Ok, thanks for filling in some of the details.

I agree that the issue is the technique. To help you understand how to get your technique from where you are to where you want to be, lets discuss the interrelationship of the exhalation force and the laryngeal adjustment, and use your success with the 'fry scream' approach as a case-in-point. I think your experience with it can be carried over to other kinds of vocalism.

The laryngeal adjustment (adduction and registration) sets the stage for the phonation. Adduction is the bringing of the vocal bands toward the midline, closing the front 2/3 or so of the glottis (except the posterior chink) which is then closed by the action of a separate muscle. When both these things happen, the glottis is fully closed, as you would do to perform a light, clear cough. The registration is the vocal band configuration (length, tension, vertical thickness) accomplished by the pitch controlling muscles. Registration not only determines the note you will sing, but (along with the quality of the adduction) how much resistance the vocal bands provides to the breath. This also determines how much breath it takes to get the vocal bands vibrating reasonably.

The vocal fry is excellent as a glottal-closure exercise and test. That is why its good for the scream training. It the glottis simply does not make a clear fry tone if either the adduction is incomplete, or the posterior chink is not closed, or if the breath is oversupplied for the registration.

Summing all this up, the clear, efficient, strong tone comes from bringing these bodily actions into balance with each other. The fry is an excellent starting point for the singer who tends to use too much air in phonation. If done softly, it is perfectly safe to do in all vocal ranges.

Of course, in most singing we want a better tone than the fry. It snap, crackle, pops... and what we want is real vocal tone. The amount of additional exhalation force that is required to go from a midrange fry to a clear tone is teeny, and IMO is best found by doing a simple transition exercise, from fry to clear, on a comfortable midrange note like you have been using for your 22 seconds, as follows:

Starting: Pick the absolutely most comfortable note in your midrange, and do the softest fry you can on it that is clear and poppy. (If you were to talk a little louder on this tone, and add lots of twang, you would sound like Elmer Fudd in the Buggs Bunny movies, because that is how Mel Blanc did the voice.) Onset and sustain the very soft fry for about 5 seconds, and repeat. The sense of the production is that there is no effort, other than a little mental concentration, anywhere.

Transition: From this softest fry, the attempt to make it progressively a bit louder fry will eventually result in it becoming a regular tone. You need do no more than will your voice to do a wee crescendo, and when you get to the transition point, the phonation will suddenly stabilize into clear tone. You do not need to change your mental approach away from the attempt to fry... the will to produce the extra volume will reflexively draw just the right amount of extra air needed.

Run the transition a number of times, each time starting with the fry and doing the little crescendo until the clear tone appears. As you get better at it, you may sustain the clear tone for a progressively longer time, to get the feel of the sustained, efficient sound.

When you feel comfortable with that, add 1 more note at the end. Do your transition, breathe gently, and onset a clear tone on the very same note, with the same mental approach. The goal here is to onset the clear tone you have been getting, but without having to go through the fry first.

When you can do that, then transpose the note upward 1 whole step, and repeat the transition exercise leading to the clear onset.

This resulting sound is perfectly appropriate for use in all sorts of sirens and resonance exercises, throughout the entire vocal range. The sensations you encounter will vary by range and volume, but as long as you start with the soft fry, you will get a reasonably clear tone, and (I think) have a way you can discover and address those parts of your range where you may habitually either underadduct, or oversupply air.

I hope this helps.

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