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Transitioning from Passagio to Head - Quesitons

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For example, as I am ascending on a scale on "ah" at about A4 is about the spot where I switch from my Passagio (CVT=Curbing) into Head.

1) I've been experimenting with carrying the passagio up higher before going into head, but it seems difficult to transition at a higher level like B4 or C5. Does this seem right, or should I be able to adjust this transition point higher with practice? Right now I just practice trying to get a seemless transition at the point that feels right - A4. And when I listen to other singers, it seems this is a very common transition point.

2) Chest and Passagio (CVT =Overdrive and Curbing) both seem to have CT and TA active - for thick folds. Head (Neutral, or twanged neutral), on the other hand, seems to be primarily CT, where the TA activity disengages. Is this correct? And when transitioning from Passagio to head is the subtle disengagement of the TA muscles?

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For example, as I am ascending on a scale on "ah" at about A4 is about the spot where I switch from my Passagio (CVT=Curbing) into Head.

1) I've been experimenting with carrying the passagio up higher before going into head, but it seems difficult to transition at a higher level like B4 or C5. Does this seem right, or should I be able to adjust this transition point higher with practice? Right now I just practice trying to get a seemless transition at the point that feels right - A4. And when I listen to other singers, it seems this is a very common transition point.

2) Chest and Passagio (CVT =Overdrive and Curbing) both seem to have CT and TA active - for thick folds. Head (Neutral, or twanged neutral), on the other hand, seems to be primarily CT, where the TA activity disengages. Is this correct? And when transitioning from Passagio to head is the subtle disengagement of the TA muscles?

guitartrek: If you delay the transition into head until A, that is more about vowel shades than it is muscle action balance. You can do that transition as low as G if you want, at your choice.

As you ascend the scale through here, the TA does not disengage, but it has to reduce its activity or the CT cannot continue to thin the folds. If you pick the right vowels, the progressive thinning will not be noticed by the listener.

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Thanks Steven. that makes sense. So if TA doesn't disengage, it must drop into a different "gear" so to speak. Like the ratio of strength of TA to CT goes from 50% to 20%, and then stays there, for a while anyway. It feels like there is a definite change, not a gradual change. Am I correct on that?

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I believe that this talk about TA and CT and the different % etc. can't really explain the different textures (or modes in CVT) - simply because no one really knows! Also in regards to the TA and CT relationship, when contracting the TA you are tensening the vocal folds and that is actually the main reason for raising the pitch! So one might ask why the TA has to reduce it's action when singing higher? Actually there has not been many studies comparing different voice qualities(textures) to the amount of activation of the TA and CT! :)

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I believe that this talk about TA and CT and the different % etc. can't really explain the different textures (or modes in CVT) - simply because no one really knows! Also in regards to the TA and CT relationship, when contracting the TA you are tensening the vocal folds and that is actually the main reason for raising the pitch! So one might ask why the TA has to reduce it's action when singing higher? Actually there has not been many studies comparing different voice qualities(textures) to the amount of activation of the TA and CT! :)

Martin H: I will respond to this post more fully later today, but to address one of your interior comments: Contracting the TA, on its own, does not tense the vocal folds. Its only when this contraction is resisted by CT action that vocal fold tension can rise.

The relationship of CT action, TA action and vocal fold tissue characteristics which result in a particular phonated wave form and fundamental is a complex one, with multiple tone qualities producable for a given fundamental. When I write later today, I will try to summarize the current understandings.

More later....

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Steven,

Well, I do believe that we are talking about some CT action here. So there will probably be an antagonistic relationship from the CT. My point is, that the TA or CT relation are very poorly understood....especially when it comes to different voice qualities! :)

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Man,

Geno...I thought you had the whole modification thing mastered :) Interesting that you bring this up, because this was the MOST confusing part about vowel modifications(Ken T. system) to me. There's no black and white clear cut method of where to transition(ex. Ah-OH-U-OO.) Especially considering that the OH(Overdrive) can be taken up so high(High C.) Also, depending on the volume I use, the transition points for the vowels move.

I'd like to be able to understand(if not master) this concept.

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Man,

Geno...I thought you had the whole modification thing mastered :) Interesting that you bring this up, because this was the MOST confusing part about vowel modifications(Ken T. system) to me. There's no black and white clear cut method of where to transition(ex. Ah-OH-U-OO.) Especially considering that the OH(Overdrive) can be taken up so high(High C.) Also, depending on the volume I use, the transition points for the vowels move.

I'd like to be able to understand(if not master) this concept.

geno, analog...i'm playing a lot with this issue as well. but isn't it mostly a personal, experimental kind of approach per singer?

i am thinking the vowels but really not singing the modifications.

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Steven,

Well, I do believe that we are talking about some CT action here. So there will probably be an antagonistic relationship from the CT. My point is, that the TA or CT relation are very poorly understood....especially when it comes to different voice qualities! :)

Martin H: Yea, agreed. Brad Story even commented in a 2006 paper abstract that they were poorly understood, and difficult to study in vivo. That does not mean that they have not been studied at all, just not voluminously.

However, experimentation and theoretical work are continuing anyway, including some interesting mathematical models. Here are some abstracts that seem to bear on our topic:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8132896

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11411473

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12410121

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19230603

And a couple very interesting articles from Ingo Titze:

http://www.ncvs.org/e-learning/nats-pdfs/2007_03_04.pdf

http://www.ncvs.org/e-learning/nats-pdfs/2002_09_10.pdf

Titze comments in the last of these that the results seem to contradict Hirano (1988) on the relationship of CT and TA activity, though Hirano was studying male voices and Titze was studying a female voice.

An important nuance in that latter Titze article is the sustained (and increased) activity of the TA as CT opposition rises during the stretch of the vocal bands. This certainly makes sense when working to maintain consistent closed-quotient, essential for tone quality consistency. With this in mind, I may need to revise my earlier statement about the need to reduce the activity of the TA when ascending the scale. It may be more accurate to say that the TA, while increasing its activity in the upward scale, must also allow itself to be stretched by the CT. This would not be a reduction in activity or action, but definitely an adjustment in position.

If true, this means that it may be possible to hypothesize a description of 'pushing chest', which would be to increase CT and TA activity without the TA allowing sufficient stretch by the CT. I will have to think about that some more to determine if its reasonable and occurs.

However, I am going to get my hands on the Hirano paper, and see his method and measurements, before I go that far.

Interesting discussion.

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Wow - great input on this. And it still remains somewhat of a mystery. Great articles Steven! (unfortunately they are a little over my head) Thank you for trying to unravel this mystery.

I just tried tonight - Ascending on a Cmajor Scale starting at C4 up to C5. I didn't switch into head until B4. I thought I switched lower, but I guess not.

analog - how high can you go in curbing or overdrive and still make a smooth transition to Neutral (head)?

Martin - do you find it difficult to transition from Overdrive or Curbing at any certain pitches? Can you transition up at C5 (like C5 Overdrive, D5 Neutral)?

Bob - I don't know - Maybe you are right.

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I just tried tonight - Ascending on a Cmajor Scale starting at C4 up to C5. I didn't switch into head until B4. I thought I switched lower, but I guess not.

guitartrek: Here is an idea for you to consider. If you think you 'have' to change your phonation to get into 'head', you'll tend to over-do the change It may be more productive to not think the phonation as different, but rather, keep it as consistent as you can, and let the VOWEL change. With a small amount of experimentation, you will be able to find the vowels with the most resonance up there.

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Thanks Steven,

I've already read those papers some time ago. :) Besides the fact that the "model" papers are interesting...the complete isolation of the different muscles probably will not happen in humans....muscles most often work in synergy. I recall that Brad Story also mentioned this in the paper from 2006 - that this isolation is very unlikely in "real life". :) Another problem I see with these studies in regards to the TA and CT relation when compared to different voice qualities is the fact that we never get any audio! We only have terms like "covered", "speech like", "chest", "modal", "mixed" etc. and then ex. pp, mp, mf, ff etc. - and as we all now (especially from many discussions on this forum), these terms HAS to be very concretely defined - WITH audio! - Anyways they are great articles - thanks for sharing! :)

Geno,

Martin - do you find it difficult to transition from Overdrive or Curbing at any certain pitches? Can you transition up at C5 (like C5 Overdrive, D5 Neutral)?

Of course the higher you go the difference between the modes become more prominant. And therefor it also becomes more difficult to transition between modes. But Overdrive>Curbing and Overdrive>Neutral are both possible -of course the C5 is the limit(Overdrive-limit). The goal is to not make the two modes to "differently" in regards to voulume, soundcolour etc. when transitioning because then it becomes more difficult to switch and the chances that you'll hear a "flip" instead of a seamingless transition becomes greater. :)

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guitartrek: Here is an idea for you to consider. If you think you 'have' to change your phonation to get into 'head', you'll tend to over-do the change It may be more productive to not think the phonation as different, but rather, keep it as consistent as you can, and let the VOWEL change. With a small amount of experimentation, you will be able to find the vowels with the most resonance up there.

Thanks Steven. I'm coming off a throat / sinus infection where my voice went "lower". I've been practicing most of the way through this and noticed that the first thing to "go" was my Passagio to head transition - I would break and flip and I wondered why this was happening. The worst was going from a high note back into a low note - from Head to Chest. Of course muscles were inflammed and the coordination was terrible. I would flip into head at A4. I'm almost back to normal and the "flip" is gone, and my transition point is higher and very consistent - no problems anymore. Normally I just "let" my voice transition when it wants, and I guess it is B4 (on "ah"). Of course I can "feel" a gear change, like going into a different gear on a bike. When you are picking up speed you change gears and your legs don't have to go so fast, and you can go faster with less effort. It's got to be something like less TA activity, or like you said, the TA streches out or goes into a different position. Something is definitely happening.

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Geno,

Of course the higher you go the difference between the modes become more prominant. And therefor it also becomes more difficult to transition between modes. But Overdrive>Curbing and Overdrive>Neutral are both possible -of course the C5 is the limit(Overdrive-limit). The goal is to not make the two modes to "differently" in regards to voulume, soundcolour etc. when transitioning because then it becomes more difficult to switch and the chances that you'll hear a "flip" instead of a seamingless transition becomes greater. :)

Thanks Martin. I have questions with this in relation to CVT. in "bel canto" passagio to head I can feel this "gear" change in TA / CT or whatever - something is going on down there. In CVT - if I take Curbing (passagio) up higher lets say D5 or E5, are the TA / CT in the same gear, or does it start shifting? I assume Overdrive and Curbing are similar to each other down in the larynx (CT / TA coordination is more or less the same) and the difference is vowel and resonance higher than the larynx. Whereas Neutral is different from both Curbing and Overdrive down in the larynx, in that CT is dominant. Is this correct?

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geno,

i'm in ny (united states) and i'm toying with the exact same thing you are at b4 up...i'm feeling the same sensations and if you want to talk about it offline feel free to call me or i'll call you. i'm right there with you on this and it's hard to articulate. if you'd rather not, that's okay too.

from 8 months of exercising i feel like i have a taller mouth..lol!!!

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Geno,

I've been having the EXACT same problem with my voice the last few weeks(James Earl Jones range) and it has NOT been fun trying squeak out tenor rock songs(actually had to change set list because I couldn't sing some songs.)

For me, changing from Curbing to Neutral is easiest around E5 range.

{I may record a clip to demonstrate how insanely deep my jacked up voice is. I say screw high notes...I'm gonna record all the Crash Test Dummy/Type O Neg songs I can :) }

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Geno,

I've been having the EXACT same problem with my voice the last few weeks(James Earl Jones range) and it has NOT been fun trying squeak out tenor rock songs(actually had to change set list because I couldn't sing some songs.)

For me, changing from Curbing to Neutral is easiest around E5 range.

{I may record a clip to demonstrate how insanely deep my jacked up voice is. I say screw high notes...I'm gonna record all the Crash Test Dummy/Type O Neg songs I can :) }

Man that's a drag - I know what you are going through. It's not like we can call a sub to do the gigs! Cool that you can switch way up at E5. I haven't experimented doing that yet.

At one point about two weeks ago my voice was 2 octaves below normal. That lasted a week. I'm still not perfect - chronic sinus infection. The doc said I may have to have surgery. I'm on my 2nd batch of antibiotics and on heavy decongestants. But my sinuses are still plugged and it affects the resonance. My range is almost all back, but the tone is affected.

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I've been trying to get that big soul sound(getting away from the extreme twang stuff)...so I pulled out my Ken workouts last month. Decided to go back over his stuff now that I have couple of years of knowledge and more refined ear. It's still hard because if you follow the model of AH to OH/AW(around E4-G4) then transitioning to curbing UH( at A4) then Neutral OO(at C5,) he's assuming that it's a NATURAL slope/shift in vowel/resonance. For me, depending on my volume and then laryngeal balance/sub-glottal pressure, the natural transition happens at different spots(meaning sometimes I don't go into Curbing until maybe Bb/B4.)

The reverse is also true: I can sometimes lay back on the AH/AW and go into Curbing UH around E4 and then slide into Neutral at Bb/B4. It's very much NOT a black and white issue and then options get a bit overwhelming.

Maybe I'm retarded, but it gets very confusing :)

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Besides the fact that the "model" papers are interesting...the complete isolation of the different muscles probably will not happen in humans....muscles most often work in synergy.

Martin H: During actual phonation, I agree that's mostly the case. However, some muscle actions can be isolated pretty well in certain boundary conditions:

The muscles which adduct and abduct the vocal bands can move them without any flexing of the TA or CT.

During phonation of high pitches, CT can be active without TA in certain types of falsetto

During phonation in the extreme lower range, TA can shorten the vocal process without resistance from the CT.

I recall that Brad Story also mentioned this in the paper from 2006 - that this isolation is very unlikely in "real life". :) Another problem I see with these studies in regards to the TA and CT relation when compared to different voice qualities is the fact that we never get any audio! We only have terms like "covered", "speech like", "chest", "modal", "mixed" etc. and then ex. pp, mp, mf, ff etc. - and as we all now (especially from many discussions on this forum), these terms HAS to be very concretely defined - WITH audio!

In recent years, some papers are being presented with sound clips, even video of spectrgraphic analysis, at the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing meetings. I agree its much more fun to have the sounds too. :-)

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analog - maybe I've got it wrong. I thought when I went "ah" to "oh" at E4 with Ken's stuff, that I was going into curbing right there. And then Neutral at A4 or B4. Of course Ken doesn't talk about CVT terms. But that's what I was thinking curbing was.

It is confusing.

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Well...I only have the old Masters DVD/CD(I spent an hour on phone w/ Ken going over stuff before I ordered anything.) I think I would have been better off with the Beginner/Intermediate series initially.

I will tell you that during lessons with him...he absolutely had me stay in OVERDRIVE up to A/Bb on the AH vowel. I spent 2 lessons doing nothing but AH(both in a light neutral/curb...and the "full voiced" Overdrive AH.) The problem was that I have a natural affinity for OD and I had been working with CVT for about 6 months on my own...so I was able to continue up well past the traditional transition point.

Ken had me trying to find my own specific passage point, and concluded that I had a very high voice naturally(he understandably had no knowledge of CVT.) I unfortunately was caught in the middle, because I had basic CVT knowledge, but was not skilled enough to blend from Overdrive into that heavy Curb that Ken uses. Ken, not understanding what was tripping me up, was actually encouraging me to take OD as high as possible(assuming that I would eventually blend into the head voice.)

He is a great guy with a phenomenal ear. I was far too involved w/ CVT at the time, so decided to follow that path, but the more I've learned, the more I realize how sound Ken's method is(in general.)

To answer your initial question, according to Ken, it really depends. I think he transitions to an Overdrive blend(Gillyanne Kayes calls it a Howling Belt) around G, and depending on the song...I've heard him take that sound up to the High B/C. I also believe he uses a creak distortion, singing between Overdrive and Curbing in the High part of the voice(to get that gritty sound.)

To my ears, you absolutely nail this style of singing. I missed the boat somehow :)

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I simply just decide what sound I want and then I pick the mode I find the best...that's it. I really don't think about all these transitions unless I HAVE to sing on a slide/siren or a diphthong (and these transitions can happen almost ANYWHERE in your range depended on the sound you want and the rules of the modes - they are not fixed in certain places like the "passagio" area etc. ). Keep it simple! :)

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Geno...I recorded 2 Ken scales on AH then EH. This is my interpretation of where the modifications should be(w/ a nice full volume.) I am certainly transitioning to Curbing early on but feel like I'm staying in curbing all the way to the top(just changing the vowel from UH to O.) Let me know if this sounds close to what you're doing.

http://www.box.net/shared/i6muk3yrhg

Martin...I certainly agree. But what I'm trying to find is a specific sound/coloration that seems to exist when modifying vowels a certain way. If I use CVT Curbing vowels I/O/UH, but want all other vowels in the High part, I still have to modify the vowels to get as close as possible to the alternate vowel(ex EH vowel AH vowel OH vowel etc.)

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analog,

I'm sorry but I don't really completely understand your reply. :( Are you talking about a slightly darker soundcolour (which makes the transition more audible seamless)? Because this is what I hear in your clip (Overdrive > Curbing). :)

I will tell you that during lessons with him...he absolutely had me stay in OVERDRIVE up to A/Bb on the AH vowel. I spent 2 lessons doing nothing but AH(both in a light neutral/curb...and the "full voiced" Overdrive AH.)

Also remember that AH as in "father" is a Neutral vowel - especially in the higher parts of the voice (so AH in Overdrive on A/Bb is VERY unlikely - and CVT advices you to avoid even trying!)...This vowel can cause a lot of problems if people are not aware of that! Actually too many vocal coaches/teachers use this vowel as a "standard" vowel when teaching scales - when infact, as mentioned, it often can create problems.

"In general, the higher the pitches one must sing the less useful a real [ɑ] is. (An eminent Italian baritone said to a student of mine that the secret of singing is “never sing ah”?)"

http://www.sci.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~jones/Shirlee/carrying_power.html

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