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Eough with the science stuff! What does good singing really feel like?

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RedOx
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This may come across as a major flame post, so I would like to appologize for any offense taken in advance.

I wonder why so many vocal experts have such a hard time talking about the actual physical sensations good technique should produce instead of lengthy discussions about which tiny muscle does what, using a ton of anatomical descriptions in cryptic latin and - on top of that - refering to a plethora of different schools of singing or even their very own self-styled terminologies, which to the unitiated are just a bunch of meaningless exotic words anyway.

Let's face it - No matter how much we immerse ourselves in medical studies, spectral analyses or expensive textbooks about singing, the only way anybody is ever going to become good at this is to do it and 'listen' to what our body has to say about it.

One might argue, that only a vocal teacher can do that and that one could never find out what's right if he/she were to solely rely on their own perception. But unless one can afford to have a vocal coach present at any time one practices singing, one would still have to be able to determine all by oneself what feels right and what doesn't.

We might KNOW that maintaining a stable larynx position is crucial or that the vocal folds must be allowed to become thinner when we ascend the scale but there is no way this knowledge will help us to actually find out if we're doing it right.

The only way to know if the techniques we use are actually working is to learn how to judge the sensations they produce within our bodies. No amount of training sirens, vowel modifications, or breathing exercises will ever make a good singer out of anybody if we don't know what good singing should FEEL like.

You might be able to train your voice like an athlete trains his other muscles, but unlike sports, singing is not - or at least should not be - about competing with others and measuring success by means of standardized systems backed by natural science.

I am not saying that training isn't essential - It's just not enough! I believe that none of the great singers, who many of us are referring to on this site and others, would ever have become who they are if they had seen their art as a sport. After all, Isn't the voice a tool to express emotion, a means to an end rather than the end itself?

This is certainly not an easy task for a vocal teacher, which may be the reason for most of them losing themselves in scientific terminology or even coming up with their own 'science' to compensate for their lack of words to describe the sensations that one should feel if the tool is used most efficiently to the desired end.

But it would be nice if someone came up with a better way of talking about what is actually a form of art rather than a purely physical exercise, more like a conveyer of emotion and less like a scientific experiment.

If I'm being too cryptic about what I mean, here is a good example of Phil describing such a sensation:

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We may all feel these sensations different. That is why we go to the scientific or even made up terminology to give some kind of direction. I can make all kinds of different sounds and they can all feel like they are locked into a configuration or "Pocket" or resonance. I can also shift smoothly from one to the other while ascending or descending, but the correct sound or something that "Feels" right for G#4 does not happen for me.

There are many different "sensations" or "vibrations" that I can hold on to while ascending or descending but I must allow other sensations to change. Each can lead to different sound when reaching C5 depending on which sensation I hold on to. How could I possibly describe which sensation that I follow to achieve a certain sound color on the top note?

Some of the science stuff can be defined. Certain muscles stretch the vocal folds, certain muscles thin or thicken the vocal folds, the "RINGING" found in good singing is a result of higher energy in the 2500 to 3000 hz area. but the shape of the vocal tract and the thickness/stretch of the vocal cords and the amount of air pressure used plus the amount of cord closure is what determines the resulting sound. A change in any of these things will effect the coordination of the others.

All of the sensations are subjective. There is no way to define a sensation that is correct for all singers.

I do know what Falsetto feels like to me and I know what modal speaking voice feels like to me. But if I sing what feels like HEAD voice to me others may still tell me that it falsetto when the sensation is more like Modal than falsetto. So even that I cannot trust at this point.

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It tastes like chicken.

"Swallowing the color of the sounds I hear. Am I a crazy guy? You bet! Momma's got to worry, I've been a bad, bad boy. No use saying I'm sorry. It's something that I enjoy ..." John Robert "Ozzy" Osbourne/

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The only way to feel it is to do it over and over. I'm going to post this weeks gig schedule which is actually small but it should give you an idea of how much I and other singers who sing for a living or a second income have to sing in order to become proficient. I will post a thread tonite.

Singing through scales and reading books and vocal forums cannot compete with doing it over and over. Think about your favorite singers whether it's Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke, Amy winehouse, Robert plant, Paul Rodgers one thing they all have in common is not vocal lessons it's love for music and singing all day everyday. Over 10000 hours should help you achieve a good sense of what it should feel like. Not reading 10000 hours.

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Good responses from a smart group...

RedOx

... Let's face it - No matter how much we immerse ourselves in medical studies, spectral analyses or expensive textbooks about singing, the only way anybody is ever going to become good at this is to do it and 'listen' to what our body has to say about it.

Your point is important to consider, but it is not the "only way anybody is ever going to become good". Disregarding the necessity to understand how the voice is working, including some basic science behind it is critical to becoming world class, both as a singer and as a coach of singing technique. To neglect or ignore understanding the science of singing and techniques, is to contentiously choose to be less knowledgeable of the art form and that is never a winning attitude.

... But unless one can afford to have a vocal coach present at any time one practices singing, one would still have to be able to determine all by oneself what feels right and what doesn't.

Yes, that is why "one" should practice and train with a lot of motivation to get better, so "one" can discover the physical sensations of singing great. When you are singing great, the physical sensations are not a mystery and do not need to be pointed out to you by a coach typically. Its obvious. Its obvious in the sound and the feeling. This notion is not experienced by those that do sing great and have felt these feelings.

For the record, what do these feelings feel like? This is a rough sketch ....

- You feel resonant pressure low and in the back of your head when singing through the bridge and into the low head tones.

- You feel resonant energy in your upper cavities and well as the touch points that sound energy is being produced, be it the vocal folds, or the touch points of semi-occluded phonations.

- When you dampen the larynx, you feel a 'warm' increase in pressure in your vocal tract in the sub-glottal position.

- When you modify vowels in your singing with this sound color formula, you tend to feel resonant pressure on the roof of your mouth and forward behind the back of the bottom teeth. Its like a microscopic tickle. You also can feel pressure above your back molars and sometimes, can feel your molars vibrating. Formula from "The Four Pillars of Singing".

ɛ < > ʌ+ ɛ < > ʌ+ ae

- When you modify vowels in your singing with this sound color formula, your larynx relaxes and your larynx tends to lower. The result is added, pleasurable resonant pressure in the throat and sitting low and in the back of the pharynx. "The Four Pillars of Singing".

ɛ < > ʌ+ ɛ < > ʌ+ ae

- Vocal distortion feels like a tickle, depending upon what kind of distortion your using, it is quite varied actually. Sometimes on the hard palette, sometimes on the soft palette, sometimes more of a "wet" and "spity" feeling in the upper vocal track... all very real, physical sensations of distortion.

And many, many more...

I'll continue with this...

... No amount of training sirens, vowel modifications, or breathing exercises will ever make a good singer out of anybody if we don't know what good singing should FEEL like.

? How are you going to know what it should "FEEL" like if you don't train sirens, vowel modifications, and other vocal workouts and these techniques? You have to train in order ever get a chance to feel these sensations, so you can feel them when your singing too. If you want to discover the true physical sensations of singing as I described above, my strong recommendation would be to train sirens, modify vowels and you will begin to feel resonant pressure and contact points all over your singing body. You will feel it again, when you apply the strength and coordination you get from them to your singing later on.

...You might be able to train your voice like an athlete trains his other muscles, but unlike sports, singing is not - or at least should not be - about competing with others and measuring success by means of standardized systems backed by natural science.

I'm not sure what this means, it was a bit unclear. But I'll try... "you might be able to train the voice..."? Let me clarify for you, we do train the voice like an athlete trains his other muscles, that is what students of singing that train do. Singing great has a LOT to do with building intrinsic musculature strength and coordination. "... about competing with others and measuring success by means of standardized... blah, blah, blah". Sorry no offense, but nobody views vocal training or singing in that context. Nobody on this forum post and nobody I have ever met in my life and Ive met a few singers in my life.

....I am not saying that training isn't essential - It's just not enough!

I agree and so does everyone else on this post, I'm sure of it. The feelings that singing creates could be described as a means to an end to listeners, yes. But feeling the sensations I described above and training to get stronger and hearing your voice sound huge, boomy, bridged and free as the mean "itself" in the training studio, is also satisfying for many. If you don't train, you'll never experience either one.

... But it would be nice if someone came up with a better way of talking about what is actually a form of art rather than a purely physical exercise, more like a conveyer of emotion and less like a scientific experiment.

You seem to be confused... You are confused between training and singing. You are not clear on the point that the "art" is an activity called singing. And the "exercising" is an entirely different activity, called voice training. You are chasing your tail, you can't do one, without the other... and in order to be successful with your training... you have to know a little bit about vocal science and train techniques. When people train their voices, they don't just sing songs, the train a lot of scales, onsets, sirens, vowel modifications, semi-occluded phonations (like what Phil was explaining) and a universe of things that are important. If you are going to be a great singer and get the chance to feel the sensations your concerned about, I recommend you do the very thing that you seem to not be an advocate of. Understanding some basic science and techniques for your voice. If you don't embrace training and learn something about training techniques, you are sabotaging your own efforts to get better.

Lastly, there is not one great voice teacher or program that we discuss on this forum that treats singing solely as a "scientific experiment". I know these teachers, I know these products... that 'vibe' simple does not exist.

In any case, you were mostly concerned that "nobody" talks about the physical sensations of good singing. Phil and I have both provided that for you... so I hope that helps.

Ill work on an iphone video for this... should be easy...

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Thanks Ron... I owe you guys an iPhone video on this... I just got buried today... customer calls and lots of things blowing up on in preparation for releasing the new "Online TVS Certified Vocalist" academy online, system... the future of training is coming...

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When you are actually singing properly, which is an almost non-existent skill these days, your mind transforms your thoughts and sensations into something completely alien. Time progresses from a linear abstraction into a radiant force. All the dimensions become transversible. You become one with Infinity. Once in this state you can simply draw a picture using sound of what the pure emotion conveys. What this sounds like is a force of nature, an almost telepathic resonance where your voice is just a vehicle and a medium to relay the purest form of energy.

Your voice sounds like it is made from an infinite amount of dimensional energy. A Fourier analysis of this voice shows all ranges of the voice fully present and balanced from 5-30,000hz.

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When you are actually singing properly, which is an almost non-existent skill these days, your mind transforms your thoughts and sensations into something completely alien. Time progresses from a linear abstraction into a radiant force. All the dimensions become transversible. You become one with Infinity. Once in this state you can simply draw a picture using sound of what the pure emotion conveys. What this sounds like is a force of nature, an almost telepathic resonance where your voice is just a vehicle and a medium to relay the purest form of energy.

Your voice sounds like it is made from an infinite amount of dimensional energy. A Fourier analysis of this voice shows all ranges of the voice fully present and balanced from 5-30,000hz.

Ya, its hard to explain, its like floating naked in the Higgs Boson field where elementary quanta get their mass, then it tastes like chicken.

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Maybe I should be more careful about my choice of words. Sometimes I seem to overestimate my ability to write in the english languiage ;-)

Since Robert took the time to debunk my post almost word for word, I would like to reiterate that I had no intention to offend anybody and - again - I apologize if I did.

I have to admit, the title of the post is a bit on the provocative side.

I didn't mean to say that learning the science or exercising technique was useless, or a bad thing to do. Not at all!

I just think that it can lead some people on the wrong path if they rely on JUST that. I know that most of the people who replied to my post are propably well aware of that. I'm certain Robert is, since he definitely knows what he's talking about and Daniel and Phil more or less said the same thing (if I understood them correctly, that is).

Since this is an online forum and a lot of aspiring singers, including myself, keep asking questions here and on other sites like this that they should propably better ask a real life teacher in person, I was mainly talking about how some (not all!) more experienced singers have a tendency to give very technical answers, and how this often leads to convoluted discussions where a lot of different technical terms from different schools get thrown around.

For a beginner, who may not be that familiar with those terms, this could create the false impression that singing is more about science than 'guts' and that they will just have to understand that science better in order to solve their problems.

Understanding what goes on on a technical level is certainly important. I just think that it is only one part of developing the voice in a way that enables us to use it as freely as possible, in order to express ourselves through this most personal of musical instruments.

As I wrote before, I know it's very difficult to describe physical sensations in a way that can be translated from one individual to the other. Just like MDEW wrote: "We may all feel these sensations different. That is why we go to the scientific or even made up terminology to give some kind of direction."

Though that shouldn't keep us from trying, should it?

P.S.: @Ronws: Thanks for your personal email. You made some very good points there. And no, I am not 'Kickingtone', Who ist that, by the way?

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RedOx... Just to be clear...

I was not offended by your post. I liked your post in the sense that, it is a very interesting and fun question. What does the physical sensation feel like? Thats a fun question that can be answered if you put some thought into it, I tried to do that for you. The physical sensation of good singing has a lot to do with feeling resonant pressure in different places in you vocal tract. Because the respiration and resonant energy is energized in the vocal tract and then focused into certain shapes or areas with the articulators and vowels, it tends to concentrate that energy into specific locations. Like touching a bell when it is ringing, you feel the vibration on your finger tips. When your singing well, you can feel a minuscule vibration or pressure pushing out against the vocal tract.... kind of like blowing through puffed cheeks... but internally, inside your vocal tract. This sensation is pleasant. The resonant sense a wave through your body... the other sensation you will have is the vocal folds...

So I like you question a lot... its just that you were also seemingly stating that techniques and vocal science were a distraction to "really getting good"... and they aren't. On the contrary, its the key that helps you to win big in training for singing. As I said, NEVER let yourself stand behind any notion that seemingly makes an argument for not being more informed. We want science in voice technique training, because we need absolute truth, not just new age, abstractions about "feeling the inner child and the soul of your feelings when you express outwardly chi mantra"... that stuff is important, but always first and foremost... facts and the way nature really works. Let's get down to the physics and anatomy of the thing... only then do you truly stare into the face of reality.

As for me, I just hit hard and cut the crap... a bit of a bull in a china shop sometimes, but it tends to get to the point.

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"[...]Online forums and web sites are not where you go to learn singing."

"[...]When you see talk of muscles and what not on the forum, it's because we already know what those terms mean; meaning we have already EXPERIENCED it first, and just are tacking on the label to the experience so that we have a means of common communication and expanding ideas. That information is NOT meant for someone who has never experienced the correct sound in the first place."

"[...]We try to communicate that abstract experience of singing to others by using terms, but at the end of the day, those terms always fall short because they can never capture the total EXPERIENCE of singing. It's like trying to describe to someone who has been blind since birth what the color blue is like. No amount of words will ever do it justice, because it's something that they just need to experience to understand."

I agree almost completely. Only one point I would like to make: You write that people on the forum already know what all those technical terms mean. I absolutely believe that in your case, But I've read a lot of discussions on this very forum where people were fighting over exactly which technical term to use and that is one reason for my initial post.

I am not saying that people don't know what they're talking about. I just think that even those experienced singers aren't always so clear about what the right 'technical' description is for something they usually don't have to think about that much anymore.

Also - and please don't take this the wrong way - your assumption that these discussions were only meant for people who have already experienced good technique sounds a little elitist (sorry!).

Unless you make this a private forum for members of a certain level of proficiency - e.g. professional singers, vocal teachers etc. - you will always have people following your discussions, who may not have the experience and knowledge to comprehend the topic as fully as you do. It's the internet. Peolpe believe stuff they read on websites and forums and many don't always realize that they don't really understand what they read.

On a personal note, I myself like to follow these discussions, because I find it very interesting how this whole internet communication works (or doesn't). And I am completely aware that everything online has to be taken with a grain of salt.

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Deny all you want... you know who "kickingtone" is.

And if you really, really don't know who he is, well.... he's a horrible filthy human being you don't ever wanna be compared to.

Now, I feel kind of offended myself...

Yes I really really don't knwo who this horrible, filthy human being is.

Why are people comparing me to this guy?

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"[...]The physical sensation of good singing has a lot to do with feeling resonant pressure in different places in you vocal tract. Because the respiration and resonant energy is energized in the vocal tract and then focused into certain shapes or areas with the articulators and vowels, it tends to concentrate that energy into specific locations. Like touching a bell when it is ringing, you feel the vibration on your finger tips. When your singing well, you can feel a minuscule vibration or pressure pushing out against the vocal tract.... kind of like blowing through puffed cheeks... but internally, inside your vocal tract. This sensation is pleasant. The resonant sense a wave through your body... the other sensation you will have is the vocal folds..."

Thank you for this, Robert. That was more or less what I was talking about.

And I totally agree with you about not getting carried away with talk about the 'inner child' or any of that esoteric stuff.

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"[...]I've never seen you go into those arguments and say "hey can you guys please clarify a few things here" I'VE NEVER SEEN YOU DO IT!! don't expect others to guess what you want you have to go in there and ask."

You're right. I haven't done that. Maybe I should have. The thought of coming into one of these discussions as a complete outsider - just like in this thread - is kind of intimidating though, to be honest.

I wasn't demanding that people think about me or someone else without any kind of reputaion who they don't know and have never heard of, when engaging in these discussions.

I was just trying to explain to cuno dante why I thought that this forum is not only visited by experts like him or yourself. Many people read forums and never post a single word on them.

As I wrote earlier. I propably should have been more careful about my choice of words. I realize that the way I wrote this may come across as kind of arrogant and I'm sorry if that's the case.

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if you wanna see kickingtone, check out the posts by "adversusius" or whatever his name is.

Really? you think so?

You see, "kickingtone" was plain annoying you just wanted to smash your computer, while "Adveser" actually has some interesting stuff to say but it's buried inside 50 tons of pure madness and insanity.

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just wanted to add that I'm pretty sure adveser is acting alone, as I remember originally seeing him ~2007-8 on the metalreviews.com forums (go there at your own risk; there's apparently no rules about etiquette so people just berate each other constantly for their opinions) posting about his world record range and ability to copy people note for note, getting in a blabbermouth fight about how Roy Khan sucks compared to Fabio Leone etc, and generally getting a ton of crap for it. Considering he's posted as adveser on every other site I've seen him on, and his "interesting" vocal samples a while ago, I don't think he's any other person.

Though I'm still waiting to hear his new clips, as I'd love to get amazing advice from the only person who knows how to sing correctly and has perfect technique :D Though I will admit I get confused when I see his posts; he seems to think highly of himself/his methods/knowledge etc though he also seems to admit his past vocal clips were horrible so he seems grounded yet not at the same time :rolleyes:

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