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Questions About Increasing Range (Methods, pitfalls, references etc.)

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jankungamba
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Hello,

I've been reading this forum for a while now and it's been a big help to my singing knowledge. I would like to ask some questions and hope you guys can help me with this.

One of my priorities in singing is to be able to increase my range. I don't have that high of a range and not being able to sing a lot of my favorite songs (which are pretty damn high for me right now) to be honest is mortifying. So I decided to just stop trying to sing those high songs over and over again in hopes that I will finally nail it someday and started to take a step back and educate myself about singing. So I gathered information on the net, picked up some books etc. and would say that having some knowledge about it does help (though this is not the end of my study).

So I was looking for a book that more or less teaches how one can increase their vocal range and found Jamie Vendera's "Raise Your Voice". I read the book and re-read specific chapters that I didn't understand much from the first read. I started doing the exercises about 5 months ago and kinda hit a brick wall.

Before I started the exercise, the note which I can hit (and sing as well) comfortably, and pretty much big-sounding (it feels that it's resonating really well) was E4 (I'm a guy by the way). F4-G4 was pretty much around "I can hit it but it's not as powerful as E4 and below" kinda level and G#4 above is pretty much weak or non-existent.

During those 5 months I've been doing the siren and transcending tone exercises relatively consistent and I got my F4 into full voice. I can sing it as well but am having problems with an "oo" and "eh" sound. At that point I realize that those exercise were effective at least for me and continued to do it up until F#4 which also improved but...

it's been like 3 months (2 months with the F4) of doing this and although it feels and sounds like it's resonating really well there are a few problems:

(1) It doesn't feel like it's in full voice yet. Comparing it to my F4, it's still very weak. Does it really take this long and should I just be persistent on this?

(2) It does hurt the throat a little bit but after trying a couple of sustained "AH"'s, it will finally turn into that "scratchy-throat" feeling and I need to rest at least 10 minutes just to be able to do it again. I feel like I'm definitely vocalizing it in a wrong way. What are the usual causes for this?

I'm sorry that the introduction was too long for just two questions but I felt that I should at least give some background as to what I am aiming for. Also, if you guys can give me some tips, alternate methods etc. about increasing range in general I would very much appreciate it :)

Thank You.

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Are the sustained ah's at your highest pitches, such as the F4 to G4 range? Just saying, you shouldn't make all the work at the extremes of range, though obviously increasing range is a desire and I would venture to say that the majority of people looking for singing training or tips are looking for larger range, more specifically some tenor range to sing the more popular stuff.

You might try different vowel sounds or shades of vowel sound. Everyone is made differently and you might have a slightly different "sweet spot" for resonating than someone else's, so to speak.

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I read your post and was left with my own questions :) I can appreciate your effort in trying to increase your range but nowhere in your post does it mention how long you have been singing. So my first thought (question) is are you putting the cart before the horse? If you are fairly new then I would suggest getting a good foundation first and learning the fundamentals "very well." Otherwise you may just be spitting into the wind. If you do finally reach higher notes they will be weak in technique due to a lack of foundation and may lead to problems later. But I think learning basics first will ultimately make it easier and better. BUT, maybe you've been at this a long time already so if so disregard my post..:D

I was totally surprised and confused when I read this:

So I decided to just stop trying to sing those high songs over and over again in hopes that I will finally nail it someday and started to take a step back and educate myself about singing. So I gathered information on the net, picked up some books etc.

Because you followed it up by saying you went out and purchased a book on how to increase range!! That isn't taking a step back, that is exactly what you have been doing already. Trying to increase range. :) Taking a step back is by actually going back to basics and finding mistakes in your fundamentals and technique.

As for part 2 of your questions. If it hurts it's bad. Period. Again, fundamentals and technique.

Tommy

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If it hurts, you are doing it wrong and it can damage your voice. Yes it does take a long time, however, if you are doing it right you can gain big range rather quickly, like a few weeks. But it takes a long time to smooth out the coordination so that it is "2nd nature". The passagio and learning head voice are very tricky things to master and it helps to get a teacher that knows what they are doing. It doesn't sound like you are doing modification correctly - vowel mods are essential for you to do this correctly and safely. It all ties in together. Proper support is another key to the puzzle.

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I'm gonna agree with geno here, you should be able to very quickly access a big range if you do it right.

Try the advice in this video:

You should be able to do a crying high note, start in falsetto on maybe A4, add a cry like you are moaning, for me I used an Ih vowel and managed to change falsetto into curbing/middle voice and was pretty much instantly able to access range up to about D5.

It took me a couple of tries to get into the right coordination here and I tried and failed this very method before but I did get it to work.

Good luck

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Thanks for the replies guys :)

Are the sustained ah's at your highest pitches, such as the F4 to G4 range? Just saying, you shouldn't make all the work at the extremes of range, though obviously increasing range is a desire and I would venture to say that the majority of people looking for singing training or tips are looking for larger range, more specifically some tenor range to sing the more popular stuff.

You might try different vowel sounds or shades of vowel sound. Everyone is made differently and you might have a slightly different "sweet spot" for resonating than someone else's, so to speak.

My sustained pitches starts at C4 up to F#4. I would like to include pitches below C4 but I only have like 45 mins. to an hour of practice everyday and doing warm-ups, specific exercises, and singing songs combined, there isn't a lot of time to cram those other pitches.

I read your post and was left with my own questions I can appreciate your effort in trying to increase your range but nowhere in your post does it mention how long you have been singing. So my first thought (question) is are you putting the cart before the horse? If you are fairly new then I would suggest getting a good foundation first and learning the fundamentals "very well." Otherwise you may just be spitting into the wind. If you do finally reach higher notes they will be weak in technique due to a lack of foundation and may lead to problems later. But I think learning basics first will ultimately make it easier and better. BUT, maybe you've been at this a long time already so if so disregard my post..

I started singing for about a year now. Before that, I was just occasionally going to karaoke bars with my friends like 4 times a month then finally decided to take it seriously. I understand that I may be putting the cart first before the horse but is one year of serious singing (at least 1 hour per day) still "fairly new"?

I was totally surprised and confused when I read this:

Oh sorry about that. What I meant by "step back" is to stop forcing my way singing songs way over my abilities and start first at producing a good and strain-free tone of a certain pitch. I thought that if I can't even vocalize a certain pitch on an "ah" vowel then there's no way that I will be able to sing it.

however, if you are doing it right you can gain big range rather quickly, like a few weeks.

I'm gonna agree with geno here, you should be able to very quickly access a big range if you do it right.

I'm not sure about the "range" you guys are talking about here. I have actually tried the tutorials from Vocal Power UK before and one of the things that clicked to me was when he mentions about not thinking in terms of registers but just one unified voice. Anyways I can do a crying sound up to G5 but it isn't singable. Raise Your Voice has this falsetto slide exercise that sounds like a crying also (to me at least) and I was able to hit until G5 (a little bit louder than what the book is telling to do). So I have that "range" if it means just being able to hit it regardless of volume and tone. But it isn't singable (sounds like a cat being skinned to me LOL). Are you guys talking about a "singable range"?

I'm going to look more info about vowel modifications. It may actually be what I'm missing since my "ah" is kinda broad sounding as in the word cat and it's kinda hard to vocalize on F#4.

Thanks again.

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From your description it sounds like you are not doing what is described.

Personally I had to put in tons of effort and support to make my voice switch from falsetto to the proper crying sound (curbing). Start with that "skinned cat" sound and try establishing a "hold", the feeling in your throat like you are going to moan or lift something heavy (careful not to constrict), support and try to get your voice to switch from falsetto/neutral/headvoice/skinned cat to this legit crying tone.

Yes I'm talking about singable range, the falsetto slide from RYV is not what I'm describing. Thing is you can switch from "chest" to "falsetto/pure head" without a crack easily but this does not mean you are singing in a full voice, it just means you hid the switch of vocal setup.

As always, a recorded clip of what you are doing would be the best so we can hear.

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i'll preface with saying try to get a few lessons with a vocal teacher if possible.

there are so many exercises you can do to increase your vocal range. you just have to do them....lol!!!!

do something!

even if it's just a bunch of lip bubbles.....do something!

my vocal range increased with a tremendous amount of repetitive scales and arpeggios done with support and mental intent.

one thing a lot of books and dvd's and teachers won't be able to help you with is learning to sense through feedback from your body and mind "the way."

don't get hung up on the "best way" and end up procrastinating and over-contemplating.

pick 3 basic, tried and tested exercises and just start doing them. you can always change exercises or shift gears anytime....but at least you're on your way...

i favor holding onto chest voice "musculature" as much as possible before releasing into head.

the key is to understand the voice has to be developed and like geno said, it's takes time.

vocalizing up high in your range and singing up high in your range is not the same thing.

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Don't get me wrong jankungamba, I'm only asking for information just to get a better handle on where you're coming from. I don't have much experience either. Well, not true. :D Experience I do have. I just have years of uneducated experience. I only recently began to learn properly so I'm in the same position as you. I wasn't questioning you as if I know something special :D

Tommy

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There is one important thing to remember; many rock tenors have a naturally high chest voice and can sing high C's on narrow vowels in one hundred percent chest voice, hours on end as if it's nothing..

Most of us don't have that physiological luxury and either have to pull chest (which usually can sound awesome (airy, raspy, strained sound) but tires you quickly and eventually ruins your voice. You most likely have to either learn how to overdrive and stick to a shoutier sound at certain vowels or use your head voice. It does not sound the same but... If you're not a high tenor, there just won't be any ridicilously healthy high chest notes...

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Thats bull snejk... Its about technique sure some have it easyer, but man you are à tenor indeed à lower one but still there are maaaany people with heavyervoices Than yours that sing in the range you speak of in chest.

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Isn't it more like for tenors, it's easier to bridge the head voice and chest because they're timbres are more similar? I don't know if anyone hits those notes in FULL chest, there must be a little mixing involved. Just more chest in there than head. Or more TA involvement that CT (?), depending on how you look at it.

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I can pull up chest to high C but it tires me in a second and sounds very airy... Very... Emotional.. So I will continue using it for some very rare purposes...

What I mean is for people to have a register that high in an effortless chest, just as speaking voice for some of us.

Sure, I've heard some heavier voices as well, carrying a high note on narrow vowels in full chest but I've never ever heard them do it effortless, without sounding strained...

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seth, i'm a heavier weight tenor. it's not always true that head and chest timbre are more similar. also, i may need to generate more air pressure to sing, than a lyric tenor.

if you choose to hold on to more chest voice musculature as you sing that's a decision that's made by the singer, regardless of vocal fach.

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Hello,

I've been reading this forum for a while now and it's been a big help to my singing knowledge. I would like to ask some questions and hope you guys can help me with this.

One of my priorities in singing is to be able to increase my range. I don't have that high of a range and not being able to sing a lot of my favorite songs (which are pretty damn high for me right now) to be honest is mortifying. So I decided to just stop trying to sing those high songs over and over again in hopes that I will finally nail it someday and started to take a step back and educate myself about singing. So I gathered information on the net, picked up some books etc. and would say that having some knowledge about it does help (though this is not the end of my study).

So I was looking for a book that more or less teaches how one can increase their vocal range and found Jamie Vendera's "Raise Your Voice". I read the book and re-read specific chapters that I didn't understand much from the first read. I started doing the exercises about 5 months ago and kinda hit a brick wall.

Before I started the exercise, the note which I can hit (and sing as well) comfortably, and pretty much big-sounding (it feels that it's resonating really well) was E4 (I'm a guy by the way). F4-G4 was pretty much around "I can hit it but it's not as powerful as E4 and below" kinda level and G#4 above is pretty much weak or non-existent.

During those 5 months I've been doing the siren and transcending tone exercises relatively consistent and I got my F4 into full voice. I can sing it as well but am having problems with an "oo" and "eh" sound. At that point I realize that those exercise were effective at least for me and continued to do it up until F#4 which also improved but...

it's been like 3 months (2 months with the F4) of doing this and although it feels and sounds like it's resonating really well there are a few problems:

(1) It doesn't feel like it's in full voice yet. Comparing it to my F4, it's still very weak. Does it really take this long and should I just be persistent on this?

(2) It does hurt the throat a little bit but after trying a couple of sustained "AH"'s, it will finally turn into that "scratchy-throat" feeling and I need to rest at least 10 minutes just to be able to do it again. I feel like I'm definitely vocalizing it in a wrong way. What are the usual causes for this?

I'm sorry that the introduction was too long for just two questions but I felt that I should at least give some background as to what I am aiming for. Also, if you guys can give me some tips, alternate methods etc. about increasing range in general I would very much appreciate it :)

Thank You.

jankun, its impossible to know whats wrong through text. If you want, send us a sample of what you are doing right now.

But unfortunatelly, there will be no easy answer. Whatever the problem is, you will need professional help to fix it using technique. Just as everyone else.

And if its hurting, stop doing it. Its useless and all you will be able to accomplish is to damage your voice.

On this argument about tenors, high Cs and chest voice... Chest is not the same as speaking voice, not by a long shot, tenors do not use chest configuration for a high C even if they could, and squeezing and struggling to sing a note that cant be used with comfort is neither chest or head, its simply technical deficiency to do what you want.

Now if by chest what you mean is full voice, which as I recall is the case, then besides a few spots where the interpretation line requires falsetto, most of the material writen for tenors is done with full voice and lots of it requires Bs, Cs, some C# or even D.

Unless of course by tenors you also do not mean tenors, but simply light voiced persons. And even if we translate all this information, most males are light voiced and being able to develop technique to sing a high C properly is not so dependent on it, some light and agile voices can go much higher if trainned within technique and if restrains of dynamic range and tonal quality are ignored. What IS rare on the other hand is the willpower to undergo the trainning and keep the discipline to stick to it.

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Again, thanks for the tons of replies guys.

I'll upload some recordings of my sustained pitches when I get back home (I'm still at work right now).

I appreciate telling me that I need to seek out a vocal teacher but the thing is I was actually going to voice lessons until about 4 months ago. I was singing a song which has an F#4 as its highest note and during that part my teacher's comment was "hmm... you're really good but the thing is this part (pointing to the F#4 note) is pretty weak. you can hit it but it's very weak."

So we kinda did sustained pitches on an "ah" vowel and there it was apparent that even an F4 was not that strong compared to my E4 and the notes below. The next session I tried the same song again but with the same result. During this time I was already doing the RYV exercise and decided to invest some time to see if the 3 exercises (falsetto slide, transcending tone, siren) can help me get my weakest note at the moment get stronger. So I stopped going to the school and just focused on doing the exercises at home. It was very expensive and the fact that I'm almost doing the same exercise as what I'm doing at home didn't seem worth it at the moment. (I'm living in Japan by the way and one session costs 5500 yen [around 55$] )

As I mentioned in my previous post, my F4 definitely improved from constantly doing the RYV exercises so I know that it works (The transcending tone was the most helpful one I think). However now that I'm working on my F#4, it feels a lot harder compare to my F4 so I needed some feedback as to what I maybe doing wrong.

pick 3 basic, tried and tested exercises and just start doing them. you can always change exercises or shift gears anytime....but at least you're on your way...

I'm all in favor of this. I chose RYV for my exercises because of its simplicity and now that I got one note improved from doing it, I also know that it works. Maybe I just need some feedback on the exercises so that I don't spend so much time figuring out what's wrong by myself. Though I'm of course open to different methods (that's why I made this thread in the first place) but mainly my exercises will revolve around those taught in RYV.

I wasn't questioning you as if I know something special :D

I honestly didn't take your post like that. I was just honestly asking if one year of experience is "fairly new" cause I thought I may be getting ahead of myself not having to establish my singing foundations before I go on to specific (increasing range) stuff.

Just because a note sounds weak doesn't mean you're not in full voice. Generally speaking, if it feels more muscular than falsetto, you are in full voice. So why does it sound weak? Probably because you are missing our good friend Twang. Search it on this forum and you'll find a ton of info on it and realize how important it is in singing powerful high notes.

For the tricky vowels, usually the answer is vowel modification. I generally modify any difficult vowel toward "uh" as in cup. That doesn't mean literally change the vowel to uh, you just want to shade the troublesome vowel a little bit in that direction.

Thanks. Okay I maybe using the term full voice a little bit wrong here. My F#4 definitely feels more muscular than falsetto but when I compare it to my E4 or F4 it definitely sounds weaker even when I record it. And I'm gonna look up more about twang.

Thanks again guys.

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To the OP, here's what I think you are missing:

The voice must thin out as it goes higher. Do a little research into the TA and CT muscles of the vocal folds and you will get this concept once and for all. Basically, TA is the muscle that thickens the folds, and CT is the muscle that thins them. As you go higher you must progressively decrease TA activity and progressively increase CT activity, or else you will hit a wall and won't be able to go higher. I think Jamie's definition of "full voice" really just means the TA muscle is always active, not that it is always dominant like it is on chest voice notes.

Just because a note sounds weak doesn't mean you're not in full voice. Generally speaking, if it feels more muscular than falsetto, you are in full voice. So why does it sound weak? Probably because you are missing our good friend Twang. Search it on this forum and you'll find a ton of info on it and realize how important it is in singing powerful high notes.

For the tricky vowels, usually the answer is vowel modification. I generally modify any difficult vowel toward "uh" as in cup. That doesn't mean literally change the vowel to uh, you just want to shade the troublesome vowel a little bit in that direction.

But here's the thing, the longer you resort to self-teaching yourself by things like reading this forum, the slower your progress will be. You will get so many conflicting answers and have no idea who to trust. For me, the key to fast progress was taking skype lessons with Robert Lunte and buying his program. I picked a method that I could trust, I'm following the direct orders of its creator, I'm way more motivated to practice, I have way more confidence, and I am improving so much faster. There is no one perfect method for everybody, but following a method with doubt is as bad as having no method to follow. If you're following RYV and you still have a ton of uncertainty clouding up your mind while you practice, I think you probably either need that information in a different format (e.g. private lessons) or you need to switch to a different method.

Good reply Owen, you get a rep. point. I particularly like your point about getting off the damn forum long enough to actually practice and work out! Totally, I love this forum as much as the rest of ya, but sometimes it seems like people are just looking to get better by catching "tips" from a forum. It just doesn't work like that, does it Owen? You have to train... Yes, use this forum and the entire TMVW web site system, but if you don't work on your chops, you will never build the muscle strength and coordination to really soar. There comes a time to put the computer down and pick up the mic.

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