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Trouble with A4 (Anything past G#4)

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Jabroni
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Hello everyone,

Since I last posted, I took a couple of Skype lessons with Rob. Really great help.

Worked with pitch, onsets, quack and release, wind and release.

I can safely siren and onset up to and including G#4.

However, starting at A4, I cannot maintain a full sounding head voice. Instead, it sounds like I flip into falsetto.

Anything past G#4 feels constricted and choke-y.

Any ideas?

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You may be confusing head voice and chest voice. In Rob's terminology, head voice isn't just a shift of resonance, it's also a lightening of mass and entering a more released configuration similar to but not quite falsetto.

Try going from the top down, do a descending siren starting around B4 in whatever is the strongest configuration you can achieve on that note (don't scream, just sing it as loud as you can comfortably) and go down. What happens, if you just do that, and don't think about it too much? Does it bridge a little better, or abruptly flip back into chest, or stay in falsetto the whole way down?

If there's any chance you could put up a sound file of what you're currently doing below and above the G#4 and how they are different, then it would be easier for us to help you.

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post1, that's not bad at all....work with it....

post 2, you simply let go and that's not what you want to do......that's borderline disconnect and will never blend into anything.

post 3, if you're new to this, that's really not bad...you have to work more to get it more stable and consistent. give yourself credit....that's a high note in that setup...the breath is a bit inconsistent ....

keep at it...it will get stronger and more solid as time goes on......

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I basically agree with Bob

Last one sounded best, but I'm assuming that's the one that's making you strain? Better to work with the sound in post 1 than post 2, but ultimately, you want to find a middle point.

I'd recommend going back to the TVS lift up pull back exercise and really mastering it. Try this

Start with a cry/fry onset at a comfortable pitch, light mass, soft volume, pick any vowel you like (try different ones too). Siren up and try to keep the volume about the same without changing too much. Maintain a partially open glottis but also try to maintain that connected sensation that the cry/fry onset brings. Don't engage the intrinsic anchoring set, don't modify the vowel.

Once you can get to the top successfully, in your case at least A4, without flipping or straining on the way up, once you're at that top note, gradually bring in the intrinsic anchoring set (and optionally, the vowel mod if that helps you) like a mesa di voce onset, get it as loud as you can within that lighter setup, without flipping back to chest or letting go into falsetto again. You may find that right now you can only take it so loud before your voice cracks - that is normal and temporary. Over time and training that upper volume limit will raise up and then eventually disappear.

If you can get it to at least a medium soft volume and sound and feel slightly thicker than what you did in the 2nd file, but nowhere near as pushy as the 1st and 3rd files, AND most important you didn't flip drastically on the way up the scale to get to that sound, you have found the foundation from which to build TVS head voice. Over time that voice which just sounds like a slightly more connected falsetto now will grow into a powerful head voice that doesn't require strain to produce. It still takes effort of course, more than falsetto, but it will feel like a breath of fresh air compared to the effort it takes to pull chest voice up to the same pitch.

However, while you are working that light voice, don't neglect your chest voice (what you're using in files 1 and 3), do some sirens or workouts in that too and just don't go higher than you are capable of without strain. But there is a right and wrong way to train that sound you were using, which is what Rob would call a "covered belt", so consult Rob or another teacher about that, it's not something that can be really explained in text.

The danger with neglecting the belts is that your chest voice range will actually decrease if you don't work it out too. So it's important to work both the belts and the head tones, even if you aren't able to bridge the two together at full volume yet.

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that 3rd post could grow into a solid a4 (and up) if you just focus on the vowel and your support.

take the "eh" and think in a little bit of crying "ih." if you do this right, you will sense the "ih" narrowing the sound and letting you up.....you'll be amazed.

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I basically agree with Bob

Last one sounded best, but I'm assuming that's the one that's making you strain? Better to work with the sound in post 1 than post 2, but ultimately, you want to find a middle point.

I'd recommend going back to the TVS lift up pull back exercise and really mastering it. Try this

Start with a cry/fry onset at a comfortable pitch, light mass, soft volume, pick any vowel you like (try different ones too). Siren up and try to keep the volume about the same without changing too much. Maintain a partially open glottis but also try to maintain that connected sensation that the cry/fry onset brings. Don't engage the intrinsic anchoring set, don't modify the vowel.

Once you can get to the top successfully, in your case at least A4, without flipping or straining on the way up, once you're at that top note, gradually bring in the intrinsic anchoring set (and optionally, the vowel mod if that helps you) like a mesa di voce onset, get it as loud as you can within that lighter setup, without flipping back to chest or letting go into falsetto again. You may find that right now you can only take it so loud before your voice cracks - that is normal and temporary. Over time and training that upper volume limit will raise up and then eventually disappear.

If you can get it to at least a medium soft volume and sound and feel slightly thicker than what you did in the 2nd file, but nowhere near as pushy as the 1st and 3rd files, AND most important you didn't flip drastically on the way up the scale to get to that sound, you have found the foundation from which to build TVS head voice. Over time that voice which just sounds like a slightly more connected falsetto now will grow into a powerful head voice that doesn't require strain to produce. It still takes effort of course, more than falsetto, but it will feel like a breath of fresh air compared to the effort it takes to pull chest voice up to the same pitch.

However, while you are working that light voice, don't neglect your chest voice (what you're using in files 1 and 3), do some sirens or workouts in that too and just don't go higher than you are capable of without strain. But there is a right and wrong way to train that sound you were using, which is what Rob would call a "covered belt", so consult Rob or another teacher about that, it's not something that can be really explained in text.

The danger with neglecting the belts is that your chest voice range will actually decrease if you don't work it out too. So it's important to work both the belts and the head tones, even if you aren't able to bridge the two together at full volume yet.

Owen,

Thanks a lot for the suggestion. I was under the impression that a G4 IS head voice because the passagio sits lower than that. Is this incorrect? In files 3, I do feel strained. Would you say I am pulling chest?

Also, should I maintain a cry/fry throughout the siren?

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that 3rd post could grow into a solid a4 (and up) if you just focus on the vowel and your support.

take the "eh" and think in a little bit of crying "ih." if you do this right, you will sense the "ih" narrowing the sound and letting you up.....you'll be amazed.

"ih" as in "sit"?

Thanks for the suggestion.

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Owen,

Thanks a lot for the suggestion. I was under the impression that a G4 IS head voice because the passagio sits lower than that. Is this incorrect? In files 3, I do feel strained. Would you say I am pulling chest?

Also, should I maintain a cry/fry throughout the siren?

It depends how you define head voice, but I'm pretty sure in TVS terminology, what you are doing on the higher notes of the first and third clips would be considered chesty belts, not head tones. So yes you would be pulling chest or possibly singing in what TVS would call a "shallow placement", where it's almost a head tone but a little too constricted. Either way, it's not really the configuration Rob would want you to train, you need to release the constriction, and starting from a lighter foundation and building up the volume gradually will help a lot with that.

You don't actually maintain the cry/fry sound itself, just a particular sensation associated with it. This is something very hard to describe in text, you have to feel it to get it. And you when you do feel it it is a pretty distinct sensation. The fry onset kind of helps encourage a bit more of a gentle but controlled grip to the vocal fold closure which is delicate enough to allow the vocal folds to thin and stretch to reach higher pitches but strong enough to keep them together while you do so, so that you don't flip into falsetto. Just that sensation of gentle compression (and you'll also feel it in the respiration too, the lower torso, around the abs, gets slightly more tense and controlled) that keeps you from flipping is what I mean you should maintain through the whole siren, if possible. Again it's very very hard to explain in text, when you actually feel it it's very simple, it's just hard to explain in words. Also hard to find...you'll probably only feel it every now and then when you're very warmed up.

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jabroni,

that did not sound strained....don't always fear some strain...it's not always detrimental.....it will be strained in the beginning till you develop more.....you are (and you're asking your voice) to go to place it's not accustomed to.....

add the cry, don't overdue it....think in the "ih" as in "sit" or 'sing"...try it out, you may also try to think in a little "uh" ...that might work better....

these modifications will keep you from widening out and hitting a ceiling.

the cry is a squeeze that should not be feared either...just don't overdue it. the crying sound with a lower larynx position can do wonders for your voice.

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Update:

I managed to phonate an A4 yesterday without strain. I was practicing cry/fry onsets, then decided to do a wind and release onset at G4/G#4, and I SLOWLY lightened the mass. It felt like I would lose the phonation, but I kept it at light as I possibly could. Then I took it up in pitch to an A4 as had it for a couple of seconds before crapping out.

It was an interesting sensation, it was a very floaty feeling note. I am going to try to replicate it and record it so I can post it here. Like you guys mentioned, it was extremely light, almost no mass at all. I let the twang compression do the work.

Thanks for the help.

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Update:

I managed to phonate an A4 yesterday without strain. I was practicing cry/fry onsets, then decided to do a wind and release onset at G4/G#4, and I SLOWLY lightened the mass. It felt like I would lose the phonation, but I kept it at light as I possibly could. Then I took it up in pitch to an A4 as had it for a couple of seconds before crapping out.

It was an interesting sensation, it was a very floaty feeling note. I am going to try to replicate it and record it so I can post it here. Like you guys mentioned, it was extremely light, almost no mass at all. I let the twang compression do the work.

Thanks for the help.

Let me get a little einsteinian on you. In explaining his Special Theory of Relativity and when asked by others how he thought light would escape the effects of gravity, which acts upon objects of mass, he said that light as a massless particle.

Then, later, hoisted by his own petard in General Relativity, based upon the math for an aether, though Einstein said there was no aether based on the inconclusive evidence of the Michelson-Morley Experiment, he surmised that objects of mass bend space and any behavior going through space, such as light, would be affected by the bending of space. Evidence from lunar and solar eclipses show light bending, though it could easily be proof of light having mass. Aether reared its head again in Quantum Mechanics with Einstein in the supposed EPR Event. The field of an electron microscope has an effect on the spin direction of an electron in the outer orbit, aligning it up or down. The electron on the other side of the orbit must always have the opposite spin. This alignment of spins happens instantaneously, thereby disproving Einsteins theory about nothing travelling faster than the speed of light. And, in QM, light being a wave function, can exhibit mass.

Have I put you to sleep, yet? :lol:

It's okay to have the note feel like less mass. It is also okay to let that smaller mass note find a place where smaller or lighter mass notes feel strong. Is the mass something you are feeling or hearing?

Redneck Physics with ronws.

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Update:

I managed to phonate an A4 yesterday without strain. I was practicing cry/fry onsets, then decided to do a wind and release onset at G4/G#4, and I SLOWLY lightened the mass. It felt like I would lose the phonation, but I kept it at light as I possibly could. Then I took it up in pitch to an A4 as had it for a couple of seconds before crapping out.

It was an interesting sensation, it was a very floaty feeling note. I am going to try to replicate it and record it so I can post it here. Like you guys mentioned, it was extremely light, almost no mass at all. I let the twang compression do the work.

Thanks for the help.

This sounds like you are on the right track. The fact that the A4 had a distinct new floaty sensation but it was still unstable suggests you are learning to gradually lighten the mass instead of flipping. Good job. In time that sensation will become more comfortable and you will have the note.

Btw that feeling shouldn't just start abruptly on a note it should gradually creep in the higher you get, so I would also practice trying to get that floaty sensation on the G#, G, etc down and down as much as you can...truthfully, your whole range should feel floaty to an extent.

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Let me get a little einsteinian on you. In explaining his Special Theory of Relativity and when asked by others how he thought light would escape the effects of gravity, which acts upon objects of mass, he said that light as a massless particle.

Then, later, hoisted by his own petard in General Relativity, based upon the math for an aether, though Einstein said there was no aether based on the inconclusive evidence of the Michelson-Morley Experiment, he surmised that objects of mass bend space and any behavior going through space, such as light, would be affected by the bending of space. Evidence from lunar and solar eclipses show light bending, though it could easily be proof of light having mass. Aether reared its head again in Quantum Mechanics with Einstein in the supposed EPR Event. The field of an electron microscope has an effect on the spin direction of an electron in the outer orbit, aligning it up or down. The electron on the other side of the orbit must always have the opposite spin. This alignment of spins happens instantaneously, thereby disproving Einsteins theory about nothing travelling faster than the speed of light. And, in QM, light being a wave function, can exhibit mass.

Have I put you to sleep, yet? :lol:

It's okay to have the note feel like less mass. It is also okay to let that smaller mass note find a place where smaller or lighter mass notes feel strong. Is the mass something you are feeling or hearing?

Redneck Physics with ronws.

Both, honestly. It sounded lighter and floaty. It also felt like it was in a new heady placement, very light in mass. Almost disconnected, but still having the proper mass.

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I'm assuming those lessons you took with Robert he explained the "roadmap" for how you need to train and what to work on correct? Do what he recommended to you and work on that.

Yes, he did and I have been working on that. :)

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  • 1 month later...

So, my A4 has been getting more consistent now. I have been splatting the vowel out to more of an 'aa' as in 'cat'. It lifts the soft palette and lets me go a bit higher to that A4.

Also, I noticed that by keeping the mass extremely light and flexing my abs for good appoggio, I get what Owen said: a more connected sound compared to the 2nd file I submitted. It's extremely unstable and weak, and I cant add any mass to it. Also, I feel like I don't know where to go afterwards. I can't take it any higher with it becoming really windy.

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