Jump to content

Stuck Between Two Worlds?

Rate this topic


Billy Budapest
 Share

Recommended Posts

Have you guys found that when you're learning to sing correctly, that you're kind of straddling the chasm between your old approach and your new?

Okay, so as a few of you know, I've been having some voice issues for a while. Lottsa singing. Lottsa stress. A really bad throat/bronchial thing- and yet the shows must go on.

So this week, on my 2nd gig of the 3 gig week, I was having the usual BS issues of all the sudden my voice would just kind of dry up and I really had to yell to get the stuff out and even then it was distorted and breaking up. According to my ENT, I've got leftovers from this bad virus I had about a month back. So things like "Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap" I'm having to basically yell out, which I don't normally have to do, and it was more like Brian Johnson than Bon Scott. I have a clear voice, but on this night, I was having a tough time getting that clarity.

Okay, so that brings me to the 3rd gig this week which was the night after the one mentioned above. Lately, I've been working a LOT on my falsetto break area and trying to do the whole La____ crossover through the break. The sirens basically. I've always had difficulty avoiding the speed bump. Lately, possibly because of the steroids I've been on for the virus deal, this has become easy for me. So yesterday, before my gig, I was working this out and doing it a lot. All the time wondering if my voice would hold up for the third show. La_____ah up to a double hi C and back down. Hi head voice notes are not an issue for me, it's the middle that blows. I kept doing this on and off all day. This seemed to help with the overuse the night before, etc., and possibly was reducing the chord swelling.

Okay, here's the point (Finally)- I found on the 3rd gig that if I took a way lighter approach, I could sing great and hi, but the 'power' of the middle suffered a bit. Still, the notes were there and I didn't have to push, I just kind of glided into them.

For 95% of the tunes, this worked pretty well.

However, there was about 5% where I couldn't figure out how to navigate. These spots would be at the top of my chest voice (which normally have been easy but since this virus have been difficult). If I gave them too much air and too much of my old approach, they'd break up. If I approached them with the newer, more relaxed and lighter approach, I felt that I could hit the note, but they were just barely hanging on. Not because of strain or anything, but because there was nothing to "hold on" with. So some of those notes would be really precarious and would shake a bit vibrato-wise because I was trying to figure out how to maintain them in the lighter approach.

It's like I was stuck between two approaches. One approach works great for lower to lower mid stuff, the other approach works for higher mid to higher, head voice stuff.

However that middle headvoice point was really tricky to navigate and I don't trust it with this lighter approach. It seems like if I try to give it ANY power it'll crack.

2 questions:

How do you handle this?

Is this post making any sense?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you guys found that when you're learning to sing correctly, that you're kind of straddling the chasm between your old approach and your new?

<snip>

However that middle headvoice point was really tricky to navigate and I don't trust it with this lighter approach. It seems like if I try to give it ANY power it'll crack.

2 questions:

How do you handle this?

Is this post making any sense?

Billy Budapest: Thanks for posting the description of this very interesting situation. Every strong voiced singer confronts it at some time or other... do I sing this in my strong voice, or the lighter one?

I am sure others will have very valuable insight and advice. Here are my thoughts:

1) singing in the lighter production, add a smidgen of twang. That will give the notes more substance (volume, too) and help to stabilize the lighter laryngeal configuration.

2) Tune the vowels, so that they ring, or at a minimum, so that they are definitely in your top production when you are in that range. To do that, close them just a bit. Let the jaw come up a little, and that will lower the 1st vowel resonance so that you are definitely in the top voice. Then, play around with the pronunciation of the vowel to find the easiest production of it.

I hope this helps,

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you guys found that when you're learning to sing correctly, that you're kind of straddling the chasm between your old approach and your new?

Okay, so as a few of you know, I've been having some voice issues for a while. Lottsa singing. Lottsa stress. A really bad throat/bronchial thing- and yet the shows must go on.

So this week, on my 2nd gig of the 3 gig week, I was having the usual BS issues of all the sudden my voice would just kind of dry up and I really had to yell to get the stuff out and even then it was distorted and breaking up. According to my ENT, I've got leftovers from this bad virus I had about a month back. So things like "Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap" I'm having to basically yell out, which I don't normally have to do, and it was more like Brian Johnson than Bon Scott. I have a clear voice, but on this night, I was having a tough time getting that clarity.

Okay, so that brings me to the 3rd gig this week which was the night after the one mentioned above. Lately, I've been working a LOT on my falsetto break area and trying to do the whole La____ crossover through the break. The sirens basically. I've always had difficulty avoiding the speed bump. Lately, possibly because of the steroids I've been on for the virus deal, this has become easy for me. So yesterday, before my gig, I was working this out and doing it a lot. All the time wondering if my voice would hold up for the third show. La_____ah up to a double hi C and back down. Hi head voice notes are not an issue for me, it's the middle that blows. I kept doing this on and off all day. This seemed to help with the overuse the night before, etc., and possibly was reducing the chord swelling.

Okay, here's the point (Finally)- I found on the 3rd gig that if I took a way lighter approach, I could sing great and hi, but the 'power' of the middle suffered a bit. Still, the notes were there and I didn't have to push, I just kind of glided into them.

For 95% of the tunes, this worked pretty well.

However, there was about 5% where I couldn't figure out how to navigate. These spots would be at the top of my chest voice (which normally have been easy but since this virus have been difficult). If I gave them too much air and too much of my old approach, they'd break up. If I approached them with the newer, more relaxed and lighter approach, I felt that I could hit the note, but they were just barely hanging on. Not because of strain or anything, but because there was nothing to "hold on" with. So some of those notes would be really precarious and would shake a bit vibrato-wise because I was trying to figure out how to maintain them in the lighter approach.

It's like I was stuck between two approaches. One approach works great for lower to lower mid stuff, the other approach works for higher mid to higher, head voice stuff.

However that middle headvoice point was really tricky to navigate and I don't trust it with this lighter approach. It seems like if I try to give it ANY power it'll crack.

2 questions:

How do you handle this?

Is this post making any sense?

Makes perfect sense.

I'm still struggling with this situation - mainly due to the fact that I hardly have the time to sing songs - but here's what I did about 2 months back

when I was rehearsing and gigging ; I figured that my usual approach (shouting)

a) would bring me in a difficult position during the 20 metal tune set

B) would make me compromise my voice or loose it and I am a teacher, loosing my voice is not an option

c) would destroy all my 7month groundwork of rebuilding my voice

So my decision was to do what you did ; sing everything using the la....ah ktva thing as my onset for every single note.

After an hour or so in rehearsal I noticed the opposite of tiredness... I could sing in my passagio as if it weren't there..

resonance had replaced the whimpy tone and instead of forcing my voice, I had power without the strain... I'm not saying I

miraculously got the perfect voice or anything but it seemed dead easy to sing anything. Resonance is the key here and with

time I was getting better and better at it. I used that during the concert... it worked and the best thing about it, I warmed down,

went to sleep, woke up, warmed up and was ready for 10 hours of teaching straight. Unfortunately I had to stop training with the band

but I keep on doing my exercises every single morning.

However, if you've reached the point where you sound hoarse or you get unintentional distortion (especially in the middle to high C area)

then it's time for you to rest your voice for a few days. You'll be shocked at the power it will have after that - I know I was.

I am giving myself the time to get away from the straining territory and I'm slowly getting results... then again, I don't expect 7months

of exercising to replace my 15years of screaming murder....

I hope I haven't confused you... and please remember I'm an amateur learner

Thanos

PS. Steven's advice is what I always have in mind when singing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven, I noticed you didn't mention cry/hold. I've found that if I don't put in the cry/hold on high notes, I end up in "metal-like-neutral", which has lots of twang, even a dark vowel, even low larynx (if I want to), but it just "lack something", like an extra thickness and has a bit of a "falsetto" quality to it, even though it's not breathy. It even lacks emotion, usually. But adding a cry/hold seems to fix this.

Note that this is just my own personal and extremely limited experience. I'd be interested to know why Steven didn't mention the cry/hold.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, hit those notes in the lighter head voice and bring the mic closer to your mouth. Or step up the mic gain. Or both.

It's not a volume deal ronws, it's a....

Crud! I'm not sure how to describe it. The volume's fine, but it's like there's no beef to it.

I wish I had a recording or something, but I don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Billy Budapest: Thanks for posting the description of this very interesting situation. Every strong voiced singer confronts it at some time or other... do I sing this in my strong voice, or the lighter one?

I am sure others will have very valuable insight and advice. Here are my thoughts:

1) singing in the lighter production, add a smidgen of twang. That will give the notes more substance (volume, too) and help to stabilize the lighter laryngeal configuration.

2) Tune the vowels, so that they ring, or at a minimum, so that they are definitely in your top production when you are in that range. To do that, close them just a bit. Let the jaw come up a little, and that will lower the 1st vowel resonance so that you are definitely in the top voice. Then, play around with the pronunciation of the vowel to find the easiest production of it.

I hope this helps,

I will try this, thanks. You know, it's like you almost have to sacrifice one or the other.

As everyone knows by my somewhat whiny posts, and I do apologize for that- I STRUGGLE with gig stamina. 2 gigs in a row, fine. 3 gigs maybe. 4 gigs NOPE. THAT is what I want to fix more than anything. Now, in order to do this, I think I really have to change my approach to singing and find a lighter touch. One thing I've noticed is I sing really loud. Even backing off the volume doesn't help with the stamina thing, it's how I'm producing the notes. Having said that, I like the way I sound in general. But, using this lighter, almost falsetto-like (and it doesn't sound like that, just feels like that) approach means that those notes at the top of my chest voice won't have that same punch and urgency. Hopefully, this is temporary and it will kind of "fill in" with sound as I get better at it.

The other thing I'm worried about is that I just finished a round of steroids because of the aforementioned crud. I hope that I'm not finally able to do the octave slides simply because I'm taking something. I've always had a heckuva time with that. Now, it doesn't seem that tough...

By the way, thanks for your help and patience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven, I noticed you didn't mention cry/hold. I've found that if I don't put in the cry/hold on high notes, I end up in "metal-like-neutral", which has lots of twang, even a dark vowel, even low larynx (if I want to), but it just "lack something", like an extra thickness and has a bit of a "falsetto" quality to it, even though it's not breathy. It even lacks emotion, usually. But adding a cry/hold seems to fix this.

Note that this is just my own personal and extremely limited experience. I'd be interested to know why Steven didn't mention the cry/hold.

The whole cry thing is not something that I intentionally do at all. It's just not part of my toolbox. I remember going through the Seth stuff years ago and that was a big part of that. I noticed doing the cry thing made my voice a lot more tired and actually caused some muscle tension, so I just tossed that out. I may try to get back into that, but at this point, I don't use it.

Not sure what Hold is

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Billy - I know what you mean about being right on the edge between two modes - and the vibrato is kind of oscillating between the two modes and it becomes a weird kind of warble. I've been working on being able to control and adjust the chest to head transition pitch so as to avoid the vibrato going in-between chest and head. This gives me more range to play with so I can avoid being on the edge. To adjust this transition point down in pitch I have to have lighter and lighter registration, so there is somewhat of a sacrifice to make. Or carrying it up means heavier and chestier tone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Billy - I know what you mean about being right on the edge between two modes - and the vibrato is kind of oscillating between the two modes and it becomes a weird kind of warble. I've been working on being able to control and adjust the chest to head transition pitch so as to avoid the vibrato going in-between chest and head. This gives me more range to play with so I can avoid being on the edge. To adjust this transition point down in pitch I have to have lighter and lighter registration, so there is somewhat of a sacrifice to make. Or carrying it up means heavier and chestier tone.

Cool, it sounds like you get what I'm talking about. The warble thing is definitely what happened this weekend. Right now, I'm not even sure I could reproduce the whole thing. I'd like to find time to see if I can "FIND" this again somehow. By the end of the night, I kind of went back into my "normal" production method, but for the entire first half, it was that lighter production which I really liked. There was barely any sensation and the range was pretty limitless. But yeah, the warble thing is something that I definitely don't want in there.

One more thing, I noticed it was tougher to get any 'grit' on the voice too. So songs that required it were coming out pretty smooth. Definitely a trade off to make.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

folks, i'm gonna say something all i ask is just hear me out. once again, i'm just a singer (not an instructor).

let's reduce this issue to it's lowest terms. i know exactly what you mean billy.

you have breath support and breath compression generating an appropriate amount of air to sing notes. we know (and as a new cvt reader) sadolin states many times how higher notes need more support and more pressure to sing in full voice. okay so we need metered pressure..sometimes more, sometimes less.

now the other component are the vocal folds to make the pitches and if you are desirous of holding on to full voice these folds have to be able to flex (unencumbered) to the higher pitches (or lower) and be strong enough to withstand the additional breath pressure, right?

so, correct me if i'm wrong, if we strenghten the ability of the folds to flex (ca/ct, whatever you call it) to the higher pitches and strenghen them to stay together longer, more adducted, make them able to withstand greater pressure basically make them simply stronger, more resiliant to the pressures placed upon them, aren't we improving the ability to sing powerful, connected, supported notes?

the answer to me is simple (now that i think i've seen the light) the exercises build this strengh. we've got to routinely exercise the voice. i will even go so far as to say quoting james lugo "each time you do it (meaning an exercise) you've got to try to get a little more connected, quoting roger kain "resist the temptation to go into head voice...this exercise must be done in full voice no matter how difficult, remember take the strain with the stomach, and there's always tomorrow."

i personally think the middle voice (where you're teetering on the break area) is the hardest part of the voice to sing in. notes overlap, it needs a lot of control but i'm seeing now it really needs a lot of strength especially for an resonant chesty sound.

now some of you may be saying "no shit bob" but it's more (muscle strength related) i think than you may realize, especially folks just learning to sing.

when i exercise i use an imagery that the folds have to come together and kiss. then i sing demanding notes i imagine that the folds are glued together to hold the note but everything else around them is relaxed as can be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as "strength"- see, that's what I'm not experiencing, though I could be doing this wrong...

What I actually feel is a LACK of sensation and tension. I basically 'get out of the way' of the vocal mechanism and don't try to manipulate it with muscles like the throat and the jaw. It's like you need to just let it happen and not try to manipulate it. Obviously, you maneuver the notes and air, but if you try and push it to happen, it's not going to work.

It's definitely a different sensation and tough to describe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As far as "strength"- see, that's what I'm not experiencing, though I could be doing this wrong...

What I actually feel is a LACK of sensation and tension. I basically 'get out of the way' of the vocal mechanism and don't try to manipulate it with muscles like the throat and the jaw. It's like you need to just let it happen and not try to manipulate it. Obviously, you maneuver the notes and air, but if you try and push it to happen, it's not going to work.

It's definitely a different sensation and tough to describe.

Hi, Billy Budapest! I really appreciated all the other's posts. Great perspectives.

In practice, the overlap between the 'chest' voice and the 'head' voice is something like a minor third. There is a range in there where you can sing a note in the 'lower' production and pronunciation, or the 'higher' one... your choice. Do either one correctly, and you will be fine. Yes, they will feel differently, and sound a bit differently, but both are correct technique.

For any given vowel, there are two notes which are questionable... the one right 'below' the transition, and the one right 'above' the transition. They will both work, but in order for them to be un-warbly, you should be in either the lower resonance adjustment for the vowel, or the upper one. If you are 'on the crack', then you will get what you have described... a note that warbles between head voice and chest voice while on the note. Kinda like vocal schizophrenia, I would think.

So, choose to sing it in the lower production, or the higher one... your choice, but make it _definitely_ one or the other, and sing with good resonance. Remember: the audience wants to hear great sound. Clear head voice, clear chest voice... those will be appreciated by the audience, and your separation of the two will be forgiven very readily by them. Warble between the two, and you may make them a little tense.... just like you feel while you are doing it.

I don't talk about this aspect of singing much on this forum, since it is about technique, but how you feel while singing

comes across to the audience. When you feel secure, you sound more secure... and they sense it. The emotions you imagine while you are singing... they 'get'. Among all the things an audience expects from a singer... the authentic emotional connection from you to them. If it does not happen... they will not be a satisfied audience. If you sing with surety, even if your lower and upper voices have somewhat different sounds... they will love it... if what you are singing about comes across to them.

I hope this helps.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't talk about this aspect of singing much on this forum, since it is about technique, but how you feel while singing

comes across to the audience. When you feel secure, you sound more secure... and they sense it. The emotions you imagine while you are singing... they 'get'. Among all the things an audience expects from a singer... the authentic emotional connection from you to them. If it does not happen... they will not be a satisfied audience. If you sing with surety, even if your lower and upper voices have somewhat different sounds... they will love it... if what you are singing about comes across to them.

^this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Damn dude, I hear you on this one. I play in an original band (singer/songwriter stuff), and I'm stuck between my "signature" sound (breathy raspy) and a more correct sound (solid but "normal" sounding mix). I was wrong to assume early on that the two approaches would just come together into a harmonious blend... the setups are just too different, and working too hard on "traditional" technique makes it more difficult to access and improve upon my "signature" technique.

What I did, and maybe you'd want to do the same, is just shamelessly ask your friends, fans, peers, teachers, and family what they think of each sound/approach. It takes a bit of explaining and you'll feel like a real idiot, but for me there was instant consensus - that my greatest asset was the signature sound, and that no other sound was worth compromising it for. We get so close to our own sound and our own progress that it can be very difficult to see the forest through the trees... reaching out helped my confidence and sense of direction immensely.

This does bring up a tricky question though... if you found the lighter approach was more sustainable, but you liked the sound of it just a little less, would that be an acceptable trade off? I know I flipflop on that issue... some weekends I think "this is my art, and I'm going to make it sound perfect on fri and sat even if it means a little wear and tear by sunday" and other weekends I think "I'd better cop out and go mixy fir and sat or I'm going to have a lousy time on sunday".

I know it's a rather different issue than yours, but I dunno, I see some common threads too.

Hi Raphaels- The sustainability is what I'm after for sure. I'd rather NOT give up my own sound and from what everybody says, you'll still sound like you, just it'll be more dependable. For a breathy sound, I can see what you mean. For someone like that, I'd say, does the breathyness screw with your voice? Does it make it difficult to schedule more gigs because that approach takes longer to bounce back from? If not, I'd say, keep the signature sound. For me, my approach (the same one I've had for 30whatever years) is just not allowing me to bounce back quick enough now that I'm working more than 2 nights a week. Use to be able to swing that fine with a few days of recovery time. Now however, I'm working with several bands and I can't really afford those "off days", so something needs to change.

One thing I do find that is also frustrating is that the more that I search for a way to sustain my voice, the worse the problem gets. Try this method, try that one.... in the end, if I just "let it go" I'd probably be happier, but it's kind of this quest I'm on to find the right way for me that lets me sound how I want and lets me bounce back in time for the next gig.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great reply Steven. Hopefully, the next gig I have, I'll be able to find this technique again. I've been trying it at home and not having a lot of luck. The octave slide from low to head is working better than it has, but as for songs, I'm not sure. I've got two gigs this week, instead of 3 (YAY!), I'll let you know how it goes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...