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Singers Formant

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MDEW
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Some say that the singers formant is due to "Twang" a narrowing of the aryepiglottic sphincter. This forms an extra area for sound to resonate. The sound of twang is usally associated with "Witches Cackle" or a "Quacking" sound. Is this also used for closing off the throat as in "Straining" sound? "Grandpa Simpson"? or are those sounds due to the False Folds?

If the Straining/Grandpa sound is caused by the false folds couldn't this also produce the space needed for the singers formant? The false folds only used to narrow the passage not close it off completely.

Or is it the sphincter that is creating the strained/Grandpa sound not the false folds?

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Two different things, and MDEW you should be not worrying about singers formant yet. Plus you naturally have brightness in your tone, you need to get it darker through vowel mods.

A healthy free bright ring in the tone is something that grows by itself when you train correctly and sing a lot. It grows slowly though. As slow as the process of blending registers.

In my experience the contemporary bright ring we want is always a byproduct/result of other things happening correctly, but if you try to force it without knowing what youre doing you're just gonna squeeze and choke through the passaggio.

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I am aware that they are two different mechanisms. I wanted to steer the threads away from things like How singing Feels and Coffee. A discussion on singers formant seemed more in line for a Vocal Technique Forum.

But I could be wrong. :P

Here is why I was wondering. #1 You often hear or read about Compression as grunt action when lifting something heavy. When I imitate the grunt sound or the sound of Granpa Simpson or the sound of air being held back I use the false folds to shut the passage.

I believe it is the false folds because if I relax the feeling enough and use a little more pressure I can emit a clean whistling tone. If I keep the closed feeling of the false folds( not tight ) and create sound with true folds also, there is an added ringing tone to the sound which makes the over all sound deeper and fuller. This RING seems more in the Lower frequencies.

#2 The ring of the "Twang" is in the higher frequencies. If I was closing off the sound(Or my throat) whith the Sphincter I do not believe I could achieve a solid whistling tone from the vibration of those muscles but I could with the false folds if they were close enough and loose enough.

#3 The relation of the size Vocal folds to the width(or vice versa)of the tube is supposedly what accounts for this formant. Narrowing(or widening) the sphincter or False folds can adjust this tube.

I do agree that thinking about things too much can lead to other problems but experimentation is the only way to map sound creation and modification.

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MDEW,

- Adducting the false folds is a lateral-medial compression (scientifically a type 2 compression).

- Twang is an anterior-posterior compression of the laryngeal inlet or aditus laryngis (a type 3 compression).

When we are speaking of the singers formant it's the ratio between the laryngeal inlet and the lower pharynx (hypopharynx).

:)

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All 3 are different things then? If so then I am not the only one confused. :P Some of what I have read claims Twang or narrowing as responcible for this formant and others say lowering the larynx will widen the Pharynx and enhance this formant.

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MDEW,

Yes, often Twang alone has been used interchangeably with the singers formant. However, this notion is not entirely correct. To obtain the singers formant you'll need a cluster of the 3rd, 4th and 5th formant which theoretically happens when the ratio approaches 1/6 between the laryngeal inlet and the hypopharynx. :)

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To obtain the singers formant you'll need a cluster of the 3rd, 4th and 5th formant which theoretically happens when the ratio approaches 1/6 between the laryngeal inlet and the hypopharynx. :)

Now, that's just talking dirty. And I like it.

I've not thought a lot about formants. Like a blind hog finding an acorn once in a while, if I am singing and everything feels right and seems to sound right, then I think I got me one of them there formant-things going on.

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MDEW,

Yes, often Twang alone has been used interchangeably with the singers formant. However, this notion is not entirely correct. To obtain the singers formant you'll need a cluster of the 3rd, 4th and 5th formant which theoretically happens when the ratio approaches 1/6 between the laryngeal inlet and the hypopharynx. :)

Great stuff. Thank you for the thread MDEW.

Martin - can you explain this a little more? When you are calculating the ratio are you using square millimeters of the inlet? It seems that the hypopharynx would be measured as a 3 dimensional volume whereas the inlet would be measured as a 2 dimensional area? Or are you measuring the Hypopharynx as an area?

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You're right, Martin. I need some more coffee. :lol: :cool:

Actually, I do think about alignment, which I think might be somewhat related to this. But I don't have micrometers in use when I sing. That is, I am not eschewing the scientific thought about it but in the midst of song, all I have left is feel. Now, if I hear myself off-pitch or at odds, somehow, then I will stop and re-address the passage and work on whatever it is that is de-tuning me, which is usually vowel shape. And I think vowel shape is related to formant tuning, though I could be wrong and plainly admit to not being an expert.

And yes, MDEW, this is a good thread, regardless of my attempts at jocularity. I may seem irreverent (and I usually am) but I mean well.

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Martin - can you explain this a little more? When you are calculating the ratio are you using square millimeters of the inlet? It seems that the hypopharynx would be measured as a 3 dimensional volume whereas the inlet would be measured as a 2 dimensional area? Or are you measuring the Hypopharynx as an area?

Geno, that's a good question. I can't remember it on top of my head but I believe the original area was measured in 2 dimension by Sundberg.

http://www.ncvs.org/ncvs/tutorials/voiceprod/tutorial/singer.html

I don't believe it matters much though if it's in 2 or 3 dimension since the ratio would be the same.

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It just confused me when one(or more) texts would mention narrowing the pharynx and another would mention Widening. I did notice that one (Twang) would add a High frequency whistle( if only heard by my myself inside my head) and the other (Lowered larynx)would add a lower frequency(closer to the fundimental). I never saw them mentioned together before in relation to Singers formant.

I have also read about the clustering of the 3,4, and 5 formants.

Thank you all for your responces. Much more interesting than Coffee. ;) I'm a Mnt Dew man myself. :D

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You're right, Martin. I need some more coffee. :lol: :cool:

Actually, I do think about alignment, which I think might be somewhat related to this. But I don't have micrometers in use when I sing. That is, I am not eschewing the scientific thought about it but in the midst of song, all I have left is feel. Now, if I hear myself off-pitch or at odds, somehow, then I will stop and re-address the passage and work on whatever it is that is de-tuning me, which is usually vowel shape. And I think vowel shape is related to formant tuning, though I could be wrong and plainly admit to not being an expert.

And yes, MDEW, this is a good thread, regardless of my attempts at jocularity. I may seem irreverent (and I usually am) but I mean well.

It seems that formant tuning is all about vowel shape. Or vowel shape is all about formant tuning. :/

This was interesting. Sunberg.

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I'm a Mnt Dew man myself. :D

I just knew that was how you got your login name. I have a friend who drinks nothing but mountain dew from morning to night. And she is in her 60's, so, it must be doing something right.

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this was interesting.....so basically he's saying that singing with singer's formant causes the notes to go a bit naturally sharp?

is that how you folks are interpreting this?

(referring to section 45:10 to 47:00)

I just skipped to 43:00 so I may be missing some context, but I think he is not talking about singers formant at all, I think he is just talking about pitch and the art form of singing....how it's preferred to be slightly sharp on high notes than slightly flat

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he's saying that pitch correction is actually robbing good singers....

This is true and for many other reasons as well.

I wonder if what he says applies in pop music with straight tone singing though. The perception of the in tune singing being slightly flat and the slightly flat being very flat might have to do with our ears perceiving the bottom pitch of the vibrato as the main pitch (which goes against how vocal vibrato naturally operates, so you have to compensate and sing a little sharp?). Why that happens I do not know.

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With the pitch correction what he is saying is this; Emotional content (the human factor) will be reflected or perceived in the slightly out of tune/out of tempo elements. A sharper note on top reflects more energy.......A lower note reflects lack of energy. It is how we perceive these things. Pitch correction and Snap to grid tempo robs music of the human factor and natural emotional cues. It becomes bland and boring.

When an instrument is out of tune it is better to be a little sharp than a little flat. :)

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Its best to be on the pitch that you want to be, not above, not bellow it.

That is true. I do not think anyone is trying to convey that you need to be off pitch purposely. Only saying that it will happen if you are human. When you are singing and conveying emotion and sounding really good and expressive most likely you will be off a little bit.

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I don't think Sundberg is saying that you need to be sharp the be expressive but being a little sharp may be a result of expressor state. In the example of the reknown singer, that singer is 7/100ths sharp. Although, one might say that the perception was 7 cents. Was it a matter of hearing more of the upper part of the vibrato, which I think was what Owen was suggesting? Maybe. And Sundberg is also saying that the modern practice of autotuning recordings is taking away from expressiveness and I do agree with that.

Bon Scott ends "Highway to Hell" noticably flat. Robert Plant is a smidge flat from the A4 in "Stairway to Heaven." And, in my opinion, if you pitch-corrected those, you would ruin works of art. Which is not to approve of being pitchy as an "artistic exercise" or excuse for laziness. However, humans are not digital machines.

Mark Evans, long-time bass player for AC/DC plainly admits that a number of the early albums, especially prior to Mutt Lange's production of the album, Highway to Hell, had out-of-tune moments. A missed beat, either Angus or Malcolm having a string slightly out of tune, and certainly Bon fudging a note here and there. And he cringes at the idea of someone taking the old masters and pitch-correcting them. They breathe, just fine, as is.

And there will always be imperfections. To me, I can tell the difference between a programmed drum and someone like Steven Adler, a real and live human pounding on "skins." Precisely because of how Sundberg stated it. We are responding to music as played by the actual range of human motion.

Even if I were to incorporate drums into my recording, I would not program them, nor do I have the room or patience to mic a full drum set. But I could see getting an electronic drum kit because the human element is still in the fall of the stick on the pad, regardless of what style patch is being used.

Formant is not exactly a place, though it is helped or hindered by changes in alignment. Formant is allowing the stronger presence of the partials. Steven Fraser had both a thread and an article in the main site that was excellent at reviewing many of the things talked about here. For example, Pavarotti would have the fundamental and 2 or 3 more strong partials. Caruso had something like 4 or 5 (?) I think. But I say that just to make the point. And what you are hearing is affected by what partials you are hearing.

And that some scientific approaches to studying the structure of numerous singers shows variations that are linked to various voice types. And that what gets heard is a result of the size (which would include shape and length, in my opinion) of the total resonator package. Size of mouth does not matter as much as does the length of the pharynx and length from there to the velar port area.

That a discrete vowel depends on the partials. And the presence of the partials being heard depends on whether or not they are resonated. Which is also why, for a lot of guys, discrete vowel sounds seem to disappear at about D5. The partials may still exist but there is not a space available to resonate them to be heard. And a lot of guys describe this as "pure head voice" when you have actually been in head voice since, at most, F4, which is passagio point (per Anthony Frisell and a few others, in case you happen to not like Frisell,) generally, for tenors.

I also do not think that Sundberg is suggesting that having a "legitimate" singer's formant creates pitches to sharp. I do think it sharpens the clarity, but there might instances of sounding sharp because of the presence of some partial or other tone. Or, the singer, no matter how good, may actually be sharp a bit but the performance still works because of audience perception, rather than a digital frequency analyzer. The vast majority of humans have relative pitch, which I have understood as the ability to hear and create pitch that is within 10/100 (10 cents) of "true" pitch. Very rarely does someone create digitally perfect pitch with his voice. Listening to the example from Sundberg, I could not readily hear that the singer was sharp but the autotuned example did sound tonally different.

I can hear, especially in retrospect, when I am off-pitch. I don't mean different vowel sound that sounds "odd" or different from what is expected. I mean honest-to-goodness wrong pitch. So, while my hearing may not be as fine, it is not the worst. And I wonder, was Sundberg able to hear the sharpness of the singer or was it something that became apparent in digital freq analysis?

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Here is another point: Certain notes on a piano must be tuned OUT of pitch for the different chords (2 or more notes played together)to Resonate in pitch. The guitars G sting should be tuned a little flat for the popular E chord shape to resonate in "tune".

None of this means that anyone should purposely sing out of tune, only that on a note by note structure to sound in tune you may be OFF by a cent or two and that is perfectly fine and normal.

Our musical system is not exactly aligned to mathematical perfection. They tried that in the past and it never quite sounded right or felt right.

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