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Larger range in the mornings?

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wtewalt
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Hi everyone,

I've recently (past 6 months) been working on learning proper vocal technique and losing a lot of my bad habits. Only since I started singing again have I learned about diaphragm support, head voice, low larynx...etc. Since I've started singing again, I've learned how release a ton of tension and blend my head voice and chest voice together pretty seamlessly.

This brings me to something I've noticed lately but haven't been able to figure out on my own. My normal useable range during the day is about a D2-E5. I can force out an F5 but it usually makes things a little tender so I don't do it. However, when I wake up in the morning, I consistently have a range of B1-B5, sometimes C6. The thing is, the extra head voice range I get is pretty effortless and clean though I can't get much volume out of it . It also feels like it has a different placement after E5 that is super hard for me to find without playing around for a few minutes.

Lately I've been trying to work on my cord abduction (very weak area for me) and have noticed since then that I can get up to about a G#5 sometimes during the day if I'm fresh, but there is still not much volume. I also tend to go back to my normal range (D2-E5) after a little bit of singing.

Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm curious if I can eventually work these extra notes into my range but even more curious on whether there is some sort of bridge around E5 that needs a change in placement or technique to get past. Any help is appreciated! Thanks!

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If you refer to hearing a dry or anemic quality it could be due to dehydration in the morning? I don't have more range in the morning so I'm not sure if I can help, but I can sort of understand a lack of adduction allowing more range, due to faster air being used because of space between the cords. That's how head voice starts for most folks. Does that sound about right?

As for the bridge around E5, I experience that to. Especially now that my G4-D5 range is getting thicker. For a male singing rock music, you might want to start spreading the tone more here. Your mouth should be quite wide. It'll be a very high, thin placement. The same kind you might use for falsetto. But with lots of support from the right place it can be very loud and connected. It seems like with my voice there is some kind of bridge like phenomenon in every octave.

Are you a bass? I feel like the only bass here :P

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Wow, that was an awesomely fast reply!

I actually always make sure that I'm well hydrated before I start singing so I don't think that its due to dehydration. Also, when I say morning, I really mean that my range is that high whenever I first start singing during the day (which is usually once I get up). That could mean 7AM or 1PM, it just depends. The point is, my range is way bigger when my voice is totally fresh. Not sure about the adduction issue beyond the fact that increasing my adduction is seeming at least to open up a little bit of the range.

Okay, so there is a vocal bridge around E5... I'll work on getting that super high placement and maybe concentrate on utilizing that area more. I also feel like maybe the placement falls back in the throat a little bit, is that what you experience?

I definitely do need to work on my head voice singing since its so new to me. The weird thing for me is that I'm pretty comfortable and pure sounding up to an E5 and then there is just a wall and things fall apart, with the exception of my weird extended range issue. I also feel like I have NO falsetto at all because none of my upper range has that airy quality and instead feels like head voice the whole way.

Dude, I have no clue if I'm a bass or what. I really don't know how to figure it out.

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I guess it wants to pull back in the throat up there and getting it forward is what makes it louder. Definitely experiment but don't hurt yourself because I could be wrong. However, every soprano or alto I talk to agrees that there is a bridge or shift up of some kind up there. I've only known a couple other males who can go this high and they either top out completely at E or F5 or start to thin out (which I definitely do). I can also feel a bridge or switch around E3-G3 and even another at E2. I'm pretty sure it's not my imagination. Do you have wasted air in the higher range? If not, idk what you mean by adduction. But a very narrow forward placement with wide open vowels is what I think solves or helps this.

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I'll definitely be careful with it. I've learned to be more careful and not force things.

I may be experiencing a "thinning out" at E5 because that's definitely what it feels and sounds like, though I'm not completely familiar with that description. It feels like I can hit an E5 with a lot of weight and stretch it up to the F5 or I can lose the weight and go up from the E5 to A5-C6ish.

I have the same bridge at E2 and another at E4 that I know of. It sounds like the E5 is another bridge that I just don't have a lot of experience going past and that right now I'm either doing one placement or the other and not mixing them together correctly. Does that sound about right?

I mention adduction because my voice tends to tire and get airy quickly, even though I try to sing around speech level. I also have this problem when I have to talk for extended periods of time. I've always had the problem but instead of really working on those muscles, instead I tried to over-compensate by pushing more and more air through. Only within the past month have I started working on adduction exercises and it seems to be helping with those problems. I'm sure I have some wasted air too but I'm working on it. That's the only reason I mention it.

I do need to be working on my open vowels. For some reason I can get my "ee" and "oo" ones pretty easily but my cords get overly airy on "ah".

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There is not really a bridge up in that area, it is more like you are "hanging" on to a certain vocal fold thickness, and this prevents you from going higher without a break. What needs to be smoothed out is the very gradual "thinning" of the folds as you go higher. It's more of a habit to break. Whenever you feel like you're approaching a "speed bump" or barrier like that the best thing is to think of going to a "smaller place." Think small and light and you'll overcome it. I was on vacation for a week and when I got back I had a little barrier up around Bb5. Took me a couple days to smooth it out again to where I could go up to C6 with ease.

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Dropping your jaw low and really opening your sinuses can actually help slow down air that's coming out too fast on open vowels. The rest is support, which cannot be learned or taught quickly. It sounds to me from your description like you are doing everything you're supposed to do, although we love to hear clips on here because they're helpful and interesting to listen to. I don't post enough clips. :/

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Idk some pedagogy literature describes a prima-passaggio in the mid third octave. A lot of resonance is shed here for me. Some days it's really distinct. I think there is a highest possible place that I can efficiently use some fold thicknesses.

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Thanks everyone for the input so far.

It sounds like the general idea is that I need to be concentrating on "thinning" the cords around D5-E5 and losing some of the thickness in vocals if I want to use the upper part of my range. In general, my vocals always do have a bit of thickness to them so it makes sense that, coming from that, the coordination to thin out the cords is weird and awkward right now. Can anyone elaborate on what "thinning out" actually means and feels like? From what I understand, it involves a reduction in airflow along with a more open throat/ low jaw?

Whether or not its technically considered to be a bridge, the E5 area for me definitely requires a change in technique to continue up the scale.

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wtewalt - I can tell you from my own experience that I did not concentrate on a low jaw to overcome those high barriers. The open throat concept is a general principle that applies to the whole range, so for me, that was already in place. The reduction in air flow may be a good idea to couple with going small - that does go hand in hand. You've got to make sure you've got good solid support underneath while doing this. The main thing for me was making the tone really small and light. This helps get the folds thinner. Once you get over that barrier smoothly, over time, you can open up the tone and make it really big. So it is psychological - you have to live with the small tone for a while before you make it huge.

You don't want to force the large tone though - over the course of days and weeks it will get bigger on its own. The trick to making it really big is to open everything up. Especially on "ah" or "eh" keeping the tongue down - and concave to the bottom of your mouth is key. Again - don't worry about that until you've smoothed everything out with the small tone.

The reason this is awkward to most of us is that in Chest - our general speaking range - we are used to holding thick folds with the TA muscle. When we are in Head (not falsetto) we have to constantly adjust TA depending on the pitch. That's the awkward part. It's easier to just leave TA at a certain strength. And at a certain strength, we can still vary the pitch with CT, but only to point. So we have a tendency to ratchet these TA strengths in "steps", each step down in strength allows another few semi tones of pitch, but no more. Like gears on a bycicle. We take the next step down in strength for a higher range. The trick is to constantly adjust this muscle - like a linear motor, where we don't have any gears.

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Another thing about the area around E5. That is approximately where tonal shift takes place in most singers. Not so noticable in light or lyric tenors, more noticable in baritones.

Please bear with me on this experiment. Make an oo sound, such as the italian u. At any comfortable pitch, even speaking pitch no incredible breath support. As if you were saying the english word you and decided to hold the note. While you are making that oo sound, change to the r sound in english, which is not the tongue roll that it is in german or spanish.

What happened? you raised the tip of your tongue but did not stop airflow. How does that sound occur? Because you are changing the space of the resonant cavity and therefore are changing which overtones are present. Vowels are a matter of overtones being reinforced.

The deal about E5 and higher notes is that they require resonating spaces sometimes so small, there is not enough room to reinforce the overtones that make distinct vowel sounds. There is just enough room for the fundamental, mostly. This creates an apparent tonal shift. And many people will say of a singer after he has reached E5, "ah, well, he's in head voice now, having carried chest all that way." So, what people may think of chest is wider vowels, wider because there are more overtones present to clearly define the vowel.

But many is the singer that is already in head voice, yet we all will still have this resonant shift at around E5. Physics is physics and singing is mental.

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geno-

Concentrating on making the sound small is the only way I can get to that extra range. It probably says a lot about how much unnecessary weight I'm carrying up into my head voice usually. I'll have to concentrate on learning to open everything up and release the muscles a little at a time. Maybe for a while I'll concentrate on lightly using my head voice and work on getting that control throughout the range. Light head voice is something that is still really hard for me so everything you said makes sense. Thanks!

ronws-

It definitely does feel like a tonal shift in that any of the vocal thickness I usually have goes away. Also, though I start switching to head voice around E4, the only time I feel like I'm completely in head is when I sing in this way (beyond the E5). The rest of the time I have a lot of chesty resonance in there. I probably need more practice in just pure head voice to get used to what it feels like.

I don't know what vocal classification I am but it's probably baritone which would make sense with why the shift is more noticeable.

I tried the experiment and felt a a large shift in resonance up into my head. Almost into my forehead. I tried using the technique going above E5 and I could definitely feel a difference. The notes became easier to find and control was waaay easier and more consistent.

It makes sense to me that smaller spaces are needed to create notes as I go higher. Using the oo to r exercise helped me understand that more and will help a ton because now I know what it needs to feel like. Thank you!

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I bridge around E4 because it just feels and sounds the most natural to me. It wasn't really a conscious decision to bridge there.

My redneck opinion is to stay with that, then. Each person is different, with slightly differently shaped resonators. It is not uncommon at all for different singers to have a sweet spot a little different than someone else's. Others have an easier time lightening as they go (bridging later,) such as our own Geno.

I like the notion that "chest" is not a place, it is a description of resonance and volume. If you can achieve those in head voice, it will have the sound effect of being "high in chest." Follow the sound.

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There's a couple different transitions that occur - one is reasonance based and E4 is the common spot where you have to start modifying the vowels. And then there's the point at which CT takes over and you actually start to go into head. This point is more variable - for me it starts around A4.

For natural tenors like our brother Ron the resonance switch is more or less automatic and natural. The rest of us have to put more work into it!

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Hmmm...well I'm not really sure where I start to transition then. E4 for me is really where I start to really be able to tell a difference but I guess the transition into head voice is gradual anyway (thats the plan, it seems) so I'm sure it starts earlier in small amounts.

I don't know what my vocal classification is but I'm sure that also is a determining factor on where the bridges are. I guess is also determines the upper range that you are still able to bring a chestier resonance into your singing?

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wtewalt - the resonance shift that you experience at E4 is governed by physics and changes per vowel. The main thing is the 1st formant of the spoken vowels don't work up high and have to be modified. It is pretty universal - you can start shifting the resonance earlier as do basses and baritones. But E4 is exactly where a lot of people feel this - me included.

The issue is that people define Head voice in different ways. I go with how it is defined in this chart:

This definition of head is different than the resonance shift. As you go into head (defined the way in this chart) you can feel the tone getting less bright. The trick is to keep TA active so that you can't tell the difference between Chest and Head.

The Passagio - is like a range of notes that encompasses the resonance shift and going into head voice. It is confusing and challenging to master. Typically from E4 to A4 - but again it changes per vowel and person.

Hope this helps.

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Geno-

This is a ton of helpful information. Thank you!

Going off of this chart, it seems that its my falsetto that needs work, not my head voice. My passagio from E4-A4 is getting pretty smooth at this point, though I'm still working on figuring out the right resonance for different vowels. However, it may be that I'm not bridging into falsetto correctly(except for in the mornings when everything is relaxed) because I'm failing in disengaging the TA muscle. That would fall in with what yourself and ronws have said about thinning out and dropping vocal weight to access that upper register. It also explains why the extra notes I've been singing in the morning seem to be totally disconnected from the normal way I sing.

This makes me think that I've probably (until just recently) never really sung without engaging the TA muscle. It feels very weird.

I'll plan on taking extra time to practice singing in a lighter tone above D5 and try to get some coordination and a feel for releasing the TA muscle. If anyone has any specific exercises or tips that worked for them, let me know!

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i was thinking about this a lot lately....

singing with t/a engaged (varying degrees) up high can be very disconcerting for some singers. it is an area where you must get used to the feelings and sensations associated with phonation of this type.

some may actually back down from it out of fear of injury, or the fear that the voice is being pushed too much. it is a demanding mode of singing because you are simultaneouly aiming to do several processes....

thickening and thinning the folds (literally holding it all together!)

dealing with support yet not pushing (if you don't support well, you're simply not going to hit the notes)

keeping the tongue, the jaw, the throat all relaxed (all the while the lower core is working and your powerful and resonant....hopefully)

some folks might even say "holy shit, this is really physically demanding" and simply not get there...

singing this way (this full powerful chesty sound up high that most singers want) is something some singers sadly may never get to.

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Jens-

I realize that there is a swelling early in the morning and stuff but like I mentioned earlier, the extended range is less about the time of day and more about having a voice that is sort of fresh. For example, yesterday I was able to get up around Bb5 well into the afternoon because I didn't have to talk a lot that day and I only worked on quiet siren exercises instead of singing songs. Once I start singing songs, its really really hard for me to find the placement again to get up above E5 and every time I try it feels like I'm either just pushing or something.

VIDEOHERE-

I totally agree with you, singing with a lot of chesty resonance up high is really tiring. I've only been to the point where I can start working on it for about 2 months now and I still get really tired out from it. Sadly for me, I'm better at this kind of singing than any kind that requires even a drop of finesse. I also think that my desire to pull up the chest resonance as high as it can go makes it that much harder for me to drop out the TA muscles and get a nice easy head voice or falsetto.

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For me the difference seems to be completely mental. When I consciously try to go above my second break, it's like I'm standing on a bridge with a bungee cord around my ankles, and self preservation kicks in and tells me to back down.

Just now I was playing around with some FX, singing unconsciously into the mic whilst focusing my thought on the settings etc. when I realized that I was sliding effortlessly through the second break, luckily I'd been recording all of it and it turns out to be topping out at a G6.

So, for me it helps by NOT thinking about it, not pushing and going into that thin co-ordination earlier (C5) and not leaving to the last possible note.

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yes, but if you commit to exercising the full voice (that means pretty loud, support, the whole nine yards) and trying each time to let go of a little chest (t/a) and bring in a little head (c/t) you will develop the strength to not only hold on to it, but regulate it's involvement.

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