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an excerpt from a great book


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This is just some of my rambling thoughts.

I’ll define head voice as singing on a thin edge of the cords and chest voice a thicker edge of the cords. And of course you can have infinite degrees between thin and thick.

There is a common perception that singing too high in chest voice is unhealthy and will ruin your voice if you do it long enough. But why is that assumed? Probably because most new singers don’t have the ability to thin out the folds as they go higher and choke themselves, blast too much air across the cords blowing them apart, over squeeze the cords causing too much friction and discomfort. So in general pushing chest voice too high is not good.

Now the way I see it, if you can keep thick folds with the right amount of air pressure underneath, so they are not being blown apart or over squeezed, then there shouldn’t be any abuse to the cover of the folds (grinding friction or excessive drying air that causes damage).

So with enough training, building both coordination and muscular strength of the folds, you should be able to handle more air pressure and healthy adducted vocal fold contact.

The tonal affect will vary with the thickness you choose for any given pitch. Thick folds throw off more powerful lower overtones, medium thickness more mid tones and thin folds more high overtones.

It is really a multiple of choices of what sound you want to make. In general it will take a lot more physical effort and energy to sing with thickened folds at higher pitches than the lighter thinner folds.

And after the sound is produced, we then have even more options for shaping the tonality. You can twang, modify vowels, sing with a high/low larynx, hi/lo soft palate, lip shape, pharynx shape, etc etc.

So yes you can more easily mess up your voice on powerful thick folds, but only if you are blasting too much air across them or over squeezing the adduction (out of balance). It takes more strength and the proper coordination to do it in a healthy way.

i totally agree with both you and geno , dante too...you have to exert more effort but now the effort is being concentrated at specifically where it needs to be not involving the throat and jaw and all. but like i've been trying to say for a long time (and frisell himself confirmed it) this stuff can be very hard work. you can get a little gun shy about it if you fear nodes and damage..i know my little experience with the node and the steroid and now the end of my dosage, plus the fact that i cannot look down into my larynx to see if it's gone like you can with an exterior pimple is a little unsettling.

every night i finish the workouts the following day i'm ready to go again. i feel i'm not hurting myself, but there's no concrete assurance.

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I just want to add one other thing. Thank you Dante… once again. I’ve been really focusing on the “core” as Dante has described for the last week or so. It is something I keep feeling in the MDV exercise but I didn’t have as good of a visual term as this to describe it, and it makes it more meaningful. Developing the different degrees of how much core you can make is very worthwhile. Basically what I am trying to say is I’ve found focusing on the level of core you want to engage while singing different parts of a song can make a huge difference in the ease of getting through some areas that typically give you problems. In other words, I’ve discovered a lot of places where I was simply to thin (cord depth) and was making it way more difficult than it is… didn’t like the sound either. Kind of like having some extra reinforcement reserve at hand if you want. The pitch and quality of tone has really benefitted.

So don’t think of cord depth as simply trying to muscle your voice with more power, it gives you way more dimensions to how you want to handle the phrase. Your choice.

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Well, the point of Frisell's book, which agrees with the other classical sources I have read, only more explicitly stated in his is that the tenor should have mainly head tones and very little to no chest tones. That being said, the head tones are strengthened to the point of sounding like chest. So, it will be about learning to coordinate the head voice muscles more than the chest voice muscles. That most tenors are shooting themselves in the foot, so to speak, by starting with bottom up scales in the chest voice. For the vary reason that you are exercising the wrong muscle set. Because what needs to happen is to bring head voice down, not chest voice up. And this sentiment is echoed in other classsical texts.

And that in so doing, you are probably going to lose your gravelly lows and should lose them. As I have said before, what is the use of a 5 or 6 octave range if it is not connected or usable, other than as a stunt? Better to have an awesome 2.5 to 3 octaves in the range that is right for you.

Frisell's method is not about getting rid of the "chest" sound. It's about getting it in the right way for a tenor. And that most programs, even some classical programs, are approaching the tenor voice from completely the wrong direction and I totally agree with him on that.

For example, what I have been doing before even getting this book is a reverse siren. I start high, descend, and ascend back to the starting pitch. Then pick the next hgher pitch, etc. And starting out light, almost falsetto. And the main criteria as I do these is resonance.

And I read further in the book, and that is what he is suggesting, although he starts out more simply with the descending scale.

My first impression just from excerpts was wrong and I am glad I am reading it for it is matching what I have learned elsewhere and found to be true in my own experience.

And I have misunderstood others, such as Bob, when they mention it's a lot of work. Well, it is, whether or not it is the "weightlifting" variety or simply learning new coordination. That is work. And so many people today expect instant results. Email at the speed of light. Instant coffee, insurance quotes in an hour. All the "labor-saving" devices that were meant to our life more leisurely have caused it to speed up. There's no magic pill that you can take, there's magic technique that instantly transforms you from croaking frog to Bevery Sills or Pat Benetar.

For there is conditioning. Conditioning the nerves that control the muscles that create what you are looking to create. Conditioning the abdomen to control the breathing. Here is what is truly meant by diaphragmatic breathing. By allowing the abdomen to relax, you allow the diaphragm to automatically flex, for that will draw in air quicker than any chest heaving. Then exhale with your abdomen. So, when you first start a program, you should not feel strain in the throat. You should mainly feel like you did too many sit-ups at one time.

When I hit a high note, I am pushing some air. The times I have screwed myself up and wore myself out was when I moved away from that, mainly by following along with some of these other bottom up programs.Well, I think there is some sliding adjustment between air and pitch. And that a high note needs some pressure and a focus, so to speak, to get up to where it should resonate.And that resonation presents a loud volume that my brain ears and feeds back how much to pour on the gas or back off, to us a car analogy.

Nor do I mean this to sound easy. If any of you have liked any note or song I have sung, it may help to know that I have been singing a really long time. But even I am learning every day. Even more recently. And that is the sign of a singer. We are constantly evolving. That doesn't mean that you or I are not already good enough to perform. That can be done any time you can manage at least one octave since many songs cover that much.

I don't consider myself an authority in anything. And things I have quoted recently come directly from an authority or expert. Nor do I always agree with everything they say, either.

The other hard part in this or any other system is that you are going to sound funny, starting out. You will not immediately sound like Rob Halford or Placido Domingo to begin with. Not only from a genetic standpoint but from a technical skill standpoint. It takes time to build the right habits. Look at golfer Tiger Woods. He has been playing golf since he was literally just big enough to grab hold of a little club. And he's had as many lessons as any one else. Plus having a natural talent. And he doesn't win every game or every season. Even the "perfect" are not perfect. Which doesn't mean that we don't keep working on our "game," so to speak. Nor does it mean that we should be "perfect" before we attempt something.

But sometimes the greatest work is to change your mind. In what you expect.

Some may think I "give up" when I say, this is what my voice can do. But I don't give up. What I mean by that is by learning what it is my voice can do, I make it stronger. I sing mainly in head voice. Can I make my head voice "chestier"? Maybe so, maybe it is already chesty enough. Even though I have a decent mic now, it is not getting everything. And I can be two feet away from the pop filter and still overload the mic and I can hear that distortion in playback and there's nothing I can do but back up farther. But the problem with that is the farther away from the mic, the less it picks up. To where only the blistering highs are coming through.

Does my studying the classical methods mean I expect to be an opera singer? Not specifically, though I'm not scared of that description, either. Will studying classical methods help me sound like, for ex., Steven Tyler? No, and no system will, for that matter.

Personally, I don't need to sound like Steven Tyler. Even if I could "manufacture" that sound, why? We've already got a "Steven Tyler." If I could manufacture that sound, should I? Maybe, maybe not. But I will not sacrifice pitch and tone for an effect. Many have described me has having a light voice and I am fine with that. And when I say that I accept my voice, that means I am not trying to make it darker or into something that it is not. And those that have a heavier voice would strain and dry their folds out trying to sound like me and I would end up straining my throat (again) trying to sound heavy like they do. Which is what happened to me in the last year, twice. Trying shift away from my voice type. And it took about an average of two weeks working only on light, descending sirens in headvoice to get my coordination back, plus the absolute amount of time for the muscles to repair themselves from the strain.

Learning to accept my voice does not mean that I give up on evolving. It means I avoid the pitfalls of reaching in the wrong direction or having the wrong goal in mind.

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And if I may offer a bit of advice that will help both you and your audience.

Don't apologize. Especially before a performance, audition, whatever. STFU and sing. You always give your best effort every time you sing. Even the great opera singers of yesterday will swear on a stack of bibles that the voice, even the trained one, changes from day to day.

When you start out by saying that you had a cold or were really tired or whatever, you set yourself up for failure. You presume the reaction of the audiences. Audiences are not there to hear you fail. They are there to hear you sing. And you sound different to other people than you do to yourself. What sounded like crap to you might have sounded fine to others, especially given the acoustics of the venue. That is, what you thought was a wobble got absorbed by the attenuation factor of the room at certain frequencies so they didn't even hear what you thought was a blaring mistake.

When you start out with apologies, you set the audience up to hear only your mistakes, rather than the 99 percent that went right. STFU and sing. If you then receive a critique, than that is what you need to work on, not what you thought you needed to work on.

Only after a review might an explanation be necessary. When I was recovering from my second bout of vocal strain, I re-recorded "Heaven and Hell." Personally, I thought my highs were scratchy but I was concentrating on keeping my throat open and relaxed. Usually, I hit them cleaner. But someone else liked them. Only then would I say "I probably could not do that again as that is the result of (whatever) vocal malady." Which is not an excuse or apology but an explanation as to why I probably could not repeat that sound. For, I truly did my best on that day, at that time.

No apologies, no excuses.

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Hey, Dante, where I screwed myself up was trying to achieve distortion as a "layer added upon the pure tone." And I screwed myself twice because I assume that I don't know enough and maybe did it wrong the first time. So, the second attempt, just in case I was doing it wrong the first time. Well, I was doing it wrong the second time, too.

When I first came to this forum, a number of people were actually striving to sound like Brian Johnson. But I had to go and be an idiot and try to still achieve the timbre, mainly of Bon Scott, on my theme song, "Highway to Hell." (It's not just a song, it's a life, but that's a long thread at another time.) And the advice of others is that I was doing it wrong. My natural timbre in doing it is probably closer to Justin Hawkins from the Darkness or ole what's-his-name from Foghat.So, I had to be an idiot and go against my instincts and try the suggestions. And paid the price, twice. What it did was cause constriction in my throat. Not from rising larynx, which is actually controlled by the tongue (which is an anatomical fact and I beg on bended knee for anyone to find a doctor to prove me wrong ... hello ..... what? no takers? ...)

And strained my throat. I had no mid range. I was either in mid baritone, or a squeaky, almost whistle like high. Nothing in between. I gave myself partial situational laryngitis (no infection, the usual cause) following this erroneous idea that the voice was plug and play with effects that can be dialed in and out. I swear to God or whatever you find holy that I rehabbed myself by returning to light, falsetto, descending sirens. And nothing else for two weeks. Each time. Two-fold. It takes time for muscles to heal from a strain or sprain. And, it takes time to recalibrate the coordination.

As well as time to re-examine myself, my goals, what I am capable of. I am, for better or worse, a light tenor. Lyric tenor, if you wish. Legerro(?), maybe? Coloratura, maybe. Just to be using classical fach, which is certainly a flawed description. That is why I stick with "light" tenor. I am not a bari-tenor. I am not a baritone-tenor. I am not a baritone with counter tenor. I am certainly not a bass. I do not have a 5 or 6 octave range and have no need for one. At least to do what I want to do. I am never going to hit the Axl Rose lows in "Shackler's Revenge" from Chinese Democracy. I am not going to get the earth rumbling low of Geoff Tate in "Silent Lucidity" except as a sub-gutteral growl and I would need amplification to carry that off. And I could only do that sound once per evening. And it will sound like a "monster" voice, not a sung note. Nice for an effect but not a method of singing.

And the problem with bottom up scales and starting in chest voice is that, and Frisell explains this so well, the muscles in males for chest voice are physically larger after puberty than the head voice muscles. Except for the time in history of the castrati. Castrated males never had the influx of testosterone that enlarged the chest voice muscles, so their head voice muscles developed naturally. In fact, I used to describe myself as a tenor with reaches into castrati, which only the die-hard opera fans would understand. Be rest assured, I am not castrated. I have all my equipment down there. And, in my vocal tract, I still have my tonsils and adnoids. My doctor, an osteopath, did not believe in surgery except as a last result. So, when I got tonsilitis, he gave me antiobiotics. And it's been almost 30 years since I had a case of tonsilitis. That doesn't affect head resonance, by the way. The tonsils are just below the soft palate and could only affect "chest" resonance, which is commonly in untrained singers, in the throat.

So, I have gone back to my original influences and source material, the classical method, written by Graham Hewitt, who was from the same "school" as Lilli Lehmann. And Dr. Thomas Fillebrown. And a few others from the classical school. And I am so glad that Bob recommended this book from Anthony Frisell. Not only does it re-iterate everything I have learned from the best of other classical texts, including that of Lilli Lehmann, but it matches EXACTLY my personal experience. It's funny but I will write something that I understand in classical method or have incorporated into my daily regime and now, this day, read the same thing in Frisell's book, after I have already written of it or actually practice it (one and the same at this time.)

So, Dante, I'm going to have to disagree with you at this time. The path to tenor is not through chest voice. It is through head voice, similar to the classical teachings of the early 20th century. And this is where I get to be didactic. And will probably incur the wrath of others, with "great wailing and gnashing of teeth." Oh well, I haven't ticked off anyone today, yet. :-)

For those not willing to take the time to learn classically, even if your genre is rock, you are setting yourselves up for a harder time than is necessary. Which is not to say that my way is the only way and you can learn from teachers outside of classical. But I, unlike many others, including some classical teachers, do not see a dichotomy between classical technique and rock singing.

Because, for me, rasp is employed primarily by detuning the note. In classical training, the note is focused quite sharply. By taking away some of the focus, the note encounters a detuning, as timbre is defined by the resonator, not the motor or the tone generator.I have spoken with Bob twice. Recently was just yesterday evening (a 1 hour time difference between us during the summer.) Please, anyone ask him if I have a natural rasp in my speaking voice. For that is the rasp I am going to produce. Just as any other singer. I delete the rasp by focusing the resonance, mainly by air pressure driving the note into the right resonance. That is, I get rasp by detuning the resonance, just a little, whether that is actually detuning the resonance or backing off the gas, so to speak. Rasp is actually about relaxing, not constriction or greater effort. At least for me.

Of all the systems I have read, Frisell most closely matches what I have learned of value and what it is that I do with my voice. Given a choice, I would follow his program. If I lived in the Northeast, I would make a trip or two just to see him. Even as a rock singer.

In the words of Ricky Nelson in the song, "Garden Party," "You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."

So, howzabout someone tell my I can't sing rock or heavy metal with a clean voice? Go ahead, I double dare you. I triple dare you. Because a decade or so ago, you (in general) would have said that heavy metal has no room for the baritone, when that is all there is, right now. So, go ahead, open mouth, insert foot. Tell me I can't sing hard rock or heavy metal with the voice that I have. I will prove you wrong, not just for the pleasure of proving someone wrong, if that is a pleasure. But to show that the only person that limits you is yourself. Your mind.

That does not mean that I am limiting myself. But I am not going to attempt the Brian Johnson sound in order to sing hard rock. Even Brian would say, "Hey, mate, sing like yourself. It's what I do." As has every other hard rock and heavy metal singer has said in interview after interview. The three commonalities in the singer interviews I have read is 1) hydration (water), 2) rest, lots of it. 3) Do what your voice can do.

It takes some training and some time to figure out what your voice can do. I have been singing all of my life (I turned 47 in March of this year) and have really concentrated on my voice,at the risk of developing my guitar playing (since 1974,) since 1988, which is 23 years. And this day, Sunday, 06-12-2011, I am still learning new things about what my voice can do. And what it cannot do, as well, though it is better to concentrate on what it can do. For example, I will never sound like David Lee Roth. But if I could dance half as well as he did ... I'm not going to sound like Scott Stapp or Geoff Tate. Or even David Byron, to whom I have been compared. Or Luka Bloom, another comparison. ( David Byron was the original singer of Uriah Heep and Luka Bloom is a contemporary irish folk singer with a tenor sensibility, most specifically on the traditional song "Ciara." (pronounced keer-a.))

I am going to sound like Ron, as bad, or good, as that may be. And I am still learning what "Ron" sounds like. So, if I could beg jonpall's forgiveness, let me get a few more weeks of nailing down my evolution before I can give a good example. Believe it or not, while I was in the shower this evening, I thought of coming up with a "classical" version of "Don't Stop Believin." As a lark or as an example, I am not sure. Salable? Maybe not. Fun? Most definitely. Believe it or not, jonpall, with your magic voice, you are an inspiration, even if you beat the crap out of me from time to time. Of anyone here, you have the widest range of sounds and I don't think it's all CVT, which is the only terminology you speak in (regardless of your protestations, otherwise.) I think it is genetic. You have a one-in-a-million voice and I think you sell yourself short and I wish you would stop beatin the crap out of yourself. Me, I can handle it. I am a tough guy. As you described, a bearded large biker from Texas. Well, I am the biker type though I don't currently have a motorcycle. And during the summer, I trim my goatee to a fu-manchu moustache. And I am a mere 6' 6" and about 225 lbs (which looks slim on me.) But isn't that the irony of life? Even with short hair, I look like a Hell's Angel who can convincingly sing "Love of a Lifetime" by Firehouse. But I digress.

Dante, the danger of starting in chest voice, especially for singers who think they are tenor, is that the wrong coordination is being carried upward. I think faster results come from learning headvoice and bringing it down to chest voice volume. And Frisell explains it better than I can. You say you have read his blog. What do you think? In his book, he surmises that developing head voices will pull up the volume and some of the timbre of chest voice, rather than pushing up the chest voice into head, which might seem to be the path of many a system that has you starting at say G3 and "ascending" upward.

I know some newbies think they need to be able to sing from the second octave to the 6th. I'm here to break some bubbles and say no, you don't need that. You need to do what your voice can do for the song you wish to sing, regardless of range. I think I said that out loud. :-)

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My apologies, Dante, for I think I misunderstood what you were stating earlier. And we might be saying the same thing, you with the more technical teacher lingo, and me, a "redneck" from Texas. Granted, I have a penchant for science and math but that doesn't mean that I always state it correctly. For what I find, for me, is that to press the air activates what the folds need to do to have a "full voice" up top and and give it enough force to rise to the higher resonating chambers. Frisell describes it as free flowing air. I used to describe it as a gut punch, and other times, a modified "kiai" from my martial arts training. The reason for the kiai is that it firms the abdomen muscles to withstand a punch and it empties the air from the lungs. You cannot get the wind knocked out of you if there is no wind to be knocked out. When I was 13, I was studying Kenpo Karate from my scoutmaster, a 5th degree black belt. And part of our test to achieve a new belt ranking was to withstand a punch to the abdomen, showing our ability to use the "kiai" defensively. I went on to study seveal other styles but that lesson stuck with me.

Anyway, with enough pressure of air, the folds can be activated for high pitches and have enough inertia, for lack of a better word, to reach the resonating chambers in the head. Even Frisell notes that the higher notes will have more volume. And I think his description of bring down the head voice into chest capabilities is more about volume and ring, than it is having the overtones of a low chest note, which simply cannot happen in a high note. For that is physics and I will, in fact, whoop anyone's behind on physics. But the "weight" of the high note can be "chesty" if it has the volume and ring to it. However, I think some people confuse rasp with "chest" timbre.

When I press the air, the "gut punch," my abdomen is compressing, not my chest. It is similar, in my redneck mind, to what a horn or reeded instrument player must do to coordinate breath pressure and embouchre, prior to resonating in the rightyl shaped space by pressing their valve keys. I could see this physically because my brother, who plays more instruments than I do, also played clarinet. And piano. And guitar, and bass. And some drums. And he sings. Although, I think I have a higher and more focused voice than he does. But he makes it work. Had his own band for a while. Wrote jingles for websites. Recorded an album. All I do is play guitar and sing, mostly I sing. Anyway, the other trick that Frisell employs is inverting the process for tones below middle C. The voice of tenor should lose "weight" as he goes lower. This will actually help maintain an even tone and keep the voice sounding connected. And the nearest example of someone I can think of who does that well is Geoff Tate. His lower notes sound booming but they are probably at least half the volume of his higher notes.

And a tenor will have lower volume in the low notes. And what is everyone scared of. If you are using mic's and pa's, develope the power of your head voice and let the amplifier take care of your low end. But there I go, doing it the easy way. Dr Fillebrown: "The right way is usually an easy way." Damn him for making sense.

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i just finished reading this and it was so profound i had to post another excerpt:

After the singer’s voice has reached an advanced state of development, there comes into existence three separate and distinct muscular mechanisms for controlling the tones of the complete vocal range. These three separate muscular mechanisms (or layers of the vocal cords participation, as they are physiologically called), are located in very close, parallel proximity to each other. These mechanisms do not exist at the beginning of the singer’s vocal training, but gradually come into existence. with the gradual and proper creation of the entire resonance channel. Each of these three mechanisms has its own distinct, individual muscular actions and tonal qualities, and each relates to any given tone in proportion to the depth or percentage of the vocal cords’ participation with the tone:

1) The detached falsetto (detached from the power of the chest voice), serves as the “starter” of all tone; 2) The mezzo-falso, commonly known as the mixed voice, which when subjected to an increase of breath pressure, brings into play an increased depth of the vocal cords’ participation. This mixed voice mechanism controls the addition or subtraction of the chest voice‘s power, to any selected tone, which can be accomplished by the swelling or diminishing of the volume of the “starter”, detached falsetto tone; 3) The “joined together” state of the two registers is called the “full voice”, a translation of the Italian term la voce piena. When the full voice is operative, there exists a maximum connection of the chest voice’s muscular controls to the muscular controls of the advanced developed falsetto, with every tone of the vocal range. The joined together state of the two registers automatically gives any tone its “real” sound (as opposed to the “false” sound, which all phases of detached falsetto usage give to any tone), or the readily recognizable “performing quality” of the singing voice. When we say that the full voice requires a maximum connection of the falsetto voice to the chest voice’s power, we do not imply that the singer must produce the maximum volume which a tone is capable of rendering. We merely mean that, all the potential uses of the singing voice are not available to the singer until the muscular controls of both the chest voice and head voice have been put into maximum connection to each other.

Anthony Frisell (2010). THE TENOR VOICE (Kindle Locations 3653-3674). Branden Books. Kindle Edition.

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Yes, Bob, the closeness, especially in passaggio is subtle and easily overlooked. A fine balance that does take a while to accomplish. It is "work" in that sense and God (or whomever or whatever one believes in) grant us patience to get there. (Politically correct statement due to the fact that I have friends who are pagans. I don't belong to any particular christian denomination, though, years ago, I was baptised as a mormon and ordained as an aaronic priest and I do not follow any particular pagan tradition, though I like the stories of my germanic heritage, namely, the Norse myths of Odin and Loki. Again, I'm on the highway to Hell. When I record a "campfire" version of a song, it is usually one I have sung at one of their campfires. But, again, I digress.)

And I think this is what Frisell is talking about the mixte voix (mixed voice.) It's not that one is mixing resonance or timbres of head and chest. But mixing the weight of head with the volume of chest. Again, Frisell is right, what is missing from modern singer training is the use of falsetto. Most modern "rock" systems, in particular, avoid falsetto like the plague. When actually, developing the falsetto as a starting place and learning to messa di voce that into full voice has so much power and magic in it that most problems could be solved by that, alone. But so many people are scared of sounding too "operatic" to take advantage of that pathway.

I can't do much to help people there. You (in general) limit yourself. But then, that is probably from people being impatient in this modern age of instant gratification.

And I am not saying one has to have opera lessons or even study someone like Frisell but he has much good advice to apply to any genre of singing. And, from what I understand, will coach you even if you are not seeking the operatic stage.

Because some of the basics of good singing and technique are found in the classical method. The "rasp" can come later. Unless one is dead set on sounding like Chris Robinson or Brian Johnson and you are destined for futility because that is created by genetics. Here's a tissue to dry the tears.

Dante, yes, chest volume can have ring and that is why most people default to it. And, perhaps, put to much weight on it in bottom up systems. Anyone and their aunt can ring a G3, for example. Because most people speak in the upper 2nd to 3rd octave. And therein lies the problem. They are stuck in chest muscle and coordination and take those speaking habits higher and that, I think is the problem with speach-level singing. Frisell dares to state that the emperor is naked. That what you do to sing tenor and what most people do to speak are different. I know that's unpopular. Feces occurs.

The object of true tenor training is to have that ring up high. But I must ask again, what is the goal of any singer in question? To be a tenor? Or a baritone who can squeak a few high notes? Do you think that Steve Perry could ever hit the low of "someone close to you leaving the game of life..." from "Silent Lucidity"? Of course not. And how does Geoff Tate do it? Genetics. I know that hurts some feelings and no one wants to listen and I can't help that, either. There's always a brick wall one can beat one's head against. Of course, the aggie (alumnus of Texas A & M University) stops beating his head against a brick wall because it feels so good when he stops (old aggie joke.)

Or, to quote what many a singer has said that has lasted more than a few albums and tours, do what your voice can do. Anc it's corollary, don't do what it cannot do. And I know that's going to hurt some feelings, too.

But who are we training here? Baritones, or tenors? Not to be didactic but there is going to be more dynamics in one range than the other, for most people, genetic flukes like Geoff Tate aside.

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From reading this it's helped me understand a lot more and made me realize a lot of things with singing.

I've pulled back a lot with breathing and support and pushing my voice too much. Before I'd sing along with a song and try and match it, now I bring it down in pitch or sing it in my own style.

I think my voice type is a Baritone because my talking pitch is around b2-ish. But I can lighten my voice up. I just simply want to conquer the passagio region off E4-G4. Just having those 3 notes would be fine to me, I'm not bothered about anything like above a C5. Would be nice but it's rare to hear some stuff in that area in R&B.

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what this book is positively confirming for me is the significant gains you can make as a singer if you stick with the messa di voce.

in fact, just that transition from a light head voice to a full voice tone and back again, just thay physical movement alone is gonna help your singing because in essence your uniting the voices.

even if it's shaky and full of skips and all, you have to stay with it for a lot of years. i'm willing to give it a try....i had stopped for a while but i'm gonna get back to trying to do it. i'm hoping years from now (maybe for my 60th birthday...lol!!!) i'll get it smoothed out.

that one is the toughest one i can think of.

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I was just thinking about different analogies for the voice… how it is a wind instrument. A lot of people compare it to a reed instrument. But I was just thinking today how it is more like a sailboat. Reeds are stiff and not as flexible as the vocal folds.

You hear people describe getting more power and lower overtones by “leaning” into the voice. Kind of like a sail boat. The sheet can be slack; or you can angle it into the wind a little to create resistance and get a little power. Or you can angle the sail in such a way and get full resistance and power. There are lots of ways to tack and take advantage of a wind that is variable. It takes a lot of practice and experience to navigate smoothly and efficiently.

You don’t really change the angle of the folds to get the resistance, but instead use the various chest muscles inside the vocal folds. A little weird sounding but it makes some sense to me. :lol:

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hopefully i'm not boring you folks with these excerpts...it's just that each one really hits home with some of our daily struggles.

here's another

When a singer, who possesses a correctly trained voice, sings a vocal phrase that ascends to the top of his vocal range, there is an appropriately, graduated increase of projecting volume accompanying it. However, the singer perceives this increase in volume very differently than his listeners do. Unlike the wide increasing spray of voluminous tone that his listeners hear, as he ascends to the top of his range, the singer is not privileged to hear his voice with the same external reality as his listeners do. The singer is instead obliged to “feel-hear” these tones, through his throat sensations, as to how they possible sound to others. As a phrase mounts to the top of the range, the tone in question "feels-hears" to the singer as though it were growing smaller in volume and “width”. And, as though the tones of a phrase were less powerful at the top of the range, than in his middle and lower range. This discrepancy of perception, between what the singer feels and hears, and what his listeners hear and perceive, has a very logical explanation. As the singer attempts to bring the “core solidity” and "ring" of the chest voice to the top of his range, the singer is obliged to reduce and narrow its inherent thickness and bulk, to conform to the narrow physical shape of the upper, advanced falsetto area of his Top Range. Otherwise, precise intonation, pure vowels, beauty of tone, and control of dynamics will be denied to him.

However, the average singer is not able to directly control this necessary “narrowing” of the chest voice’s volume and bulk. Those negative factors can only be dealt with by the muscles of the gathered voice. When most contemporary singers sing a phrase that mounts to the top of their ranges, the top tones of the phrase tend to narrow as did the voices of the great singers of the past. However, present-day singer tones do not increase in ringing, projecting power at the top of their range. Without the perfection of the swelled-tone, falsetto exercises, these singers can not add the maximum chest voice “core” and "ring" to their top most tones. Instead, they produce top tones that are generally small in size, limited in volume, and consistently lacking the ringing, core brilliance and focus of the chest voice. Therefore, their top tones are usually overpowered by the orchestra. The most critical factors missing from contemporary singing are: 1) in the upper range, the full, correct addition of the chest voice’s power; and 2) in the lower range, the use of la voce canta-parlando (cantilena), granted to the singer by the controls of the advanced falsetto operating fully there, which creates a large variety of tonal colors and grants the singer the ability to swell and/or diminish all of his lower range tones, and to clearly pronounce the words being sung with them with authority and authenticity, all of which give the drama vitality.

Anthony Frisell (2010). THE TENOR VOICE (Kindle Locations 3884-3898). Branden Books. Kindle Edition.

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Hey, Bob, that is also one of my favorite passages of the book. For a few reasons. First, it is so accurate. I have hit high notes and think that it may be small, even though it is vibrating my eyeballs. In playback, the mic is overloaded and I get some distortion on the track. Because, how you think you sound is not how you sound to others. And I can probably keep saying that until I am blue in the face (means running out of air, an american idiom) and it will fall mostly upon deaf ears. Conversely, how you think someone sang a note may not be how they sang it or felt as they sang it because you hear them differently than they hear themselves.

Or, as I have said so many times before (I dare anyone to count how many times I have said it,) a high note is a small note, amplified properly by resonance.

To paraphrase Frisell, one might state that a high note sharpens in focus or stream much more so than a low note. And will, because of this, and the mechanics of resonance and what any waveform, sound or electronic does, have different overtones. A high note will simply not have the same overtones as a low note. It's physics, regardless of what any training program says.

However, I think, what I am gathering from this book is that a "chesty" head voice, is a head voie weight with the volume of chest. Rings similar to the way chest does, but for the smaller note that it is.

And Bob, I am glad we agree on the "magic" of messa di voce. Not only for the control that it creates, but the range of tone and what it does for breath support and resonance. This one exercise will fast-track you to into controlling your breath pressure and resonance so much.

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Or, as I have said so many times before (I dare anyone to count how many times I have said it,) a high note is a small note, amplified properly by resonance.

ron, what do you mean exactly when you say a high note is a small note? i'm inclined to disagree, unless i'm not understanding you correctly.

i believe a high note can be a huge note depending how much is under it.

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You did misunderstand, Bob. I did not say a high note needs to be small in volume. But I am speaking of physics, specifically, acoustics. Granted, I have an advantage over most people in my understanding science. And certainly Steven Fraser has a greater understanding or command of language in regards to vocal anatomy than I do. Blame it on studying electricity and electronics since 1975. Wavelength is wavelength and that is all there is to hit. Frequency equals wavelength repetition in an amount of time, nominally, a second of time. The A note at the fifth fret of a guitar on the 1st string in standard tuning is 440 cycles per second, 440 Hz. The waveform is repeated 440 time in one second. To do so, it must be a smaller wavelength to fit into one second of time. This is an elemental fact of physics and I lack the ability to make it any simpler than that. 440 A is also A4. A note higher than that is a shorter wavelength, in order to accomplish it's number of repetitions in the same second.

I know I am losing people here and I can't help it.

When I say small note, I mean wavelength. There is a limited dynamic range to the folds. Approximately, there is only so much amplitude, or height of the wave the folds can produce. And it is feeble in comparison to other tone generators. The only way to increase volume is to have the note in space of the right size or length to allow the note to reflect back on itself in phase to create a doubling of amplitude. This doubling of amplitude is an increase in volume, for the volume of the note comes from amplitude, not frequency. The doubling of amplitude does not create a doubling volume, it creates a logarithmic increase in volume, which is non-linear. It is why you can even be heard when you speak.

Yes, a certain amount of air pressure is needed to create a high note that may not be needed to create a soft, low note but that is not what gives the note volume. All the air does is drive the folds to vibrate, given that the are adducted properly. What gives the note volume is resonance, where the note is doubling back on itself to create a larger amplitude.

And that is cold, hard science and I cannot change it and no system of singing or belief system or personal view can change that.

Now that I have everyone confused and befuddled, my work is done. :cool:

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Yes, a certain amount of air pressure is needed to create a high note that may not be needed to create a soft, low note but that is not what gives the note volume. All the air does is drive the folds to vibrate, given that the are adducted properly. What gives the note volume is resonance, where the note is doubling back on itself to create a larger amplitude.

Ron, I don’t quite follow what you are saying. Maybe I am misinterpreting you.

Here is my limited understanding on the subject.

Sound is our perceptions of the changes in the air pressure hitting our eardrums. A tone, such as an A4 440 Hz (cycles per second) would have 440 puffs of air/sec emanating from the sound source. The strength of those air pressure puffs would be the initial amplitude. The sound source can create multiple degrees of amplitude, depending on how much energy disturbs the air medium.

So for example, if a small tree falls and hits the ground, it won’t produce the same initial sound amplitude as a large tree falling in the forest.

Resonance or even absorption doesn’t create the sound, but can further modify the air pressure amplitudes (loudness) that were created.

The way I understand it, it is the interplay between resonance and physical sound source that varies the loudness (amplitude) and gives us multiple ways to affect perceived loudness.

For example we’ve all made high energy inefficient sounds with our cords and felt the release of hitting a resonant sweet spot that explodes the amplitude. Giving us the choice to back off the high energy effort at the source if the volume is inappropriate.

So while we can and do make huge changes to the volume with our resonators, it is much easier and more precise to control the dynamics at the source with the cords and air pressure.

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Hey ronws,

I'm just curious...

How do theses scientific facts translate into actual singing?

Are you saying that singing an A4 requires less "effort" than, say, an E4?


Hey, Vlad, it depends on what you mean by effort.

A little bit of fluid dynamics, here. The lung is a spongy, wet bladder. Let that sink in, for a minute. And allow me to get something off of my chest (I do love a pun.) The chest is full of organs and the lungs are wet sponges. How do you resonate in a wet, spongy balloon that is deflating as you sing the note? Experiment, take a plastic bag and put some wet sponges in it and sing a note or make some kind of tone with anything, even a tuning fork. Tell me how much it resonates? What one feels in the chest on a low note is a sympathetic vibration but it is not the act of resonance. In a lung full of air, not all the pressure is on the small section that is the vocal folds. It is dispersed throughout the entire cavity. However, as we direct expiration (the act of exhailing, were are providing a pressure that is placed, in some part, against the vocal folds. Even if you press hard, not all the pressure you create is against the folds. The compression in directed expiration is applying against all parts of the cavity. It is similar to what happens with a balloon full of air and you control the release by regulating what the mouth of the balloon is doing. At a certain proximity, a tone is created as the membrane of the neck of the balloon is releasing air in puffs at a certain amount in the time of a second. But that pressure does not blowout the membrane, at least as the internal static pressure is applied. Create more pressure and the balloon neck will vibrate faster, a higher pitch. But there is a limit.

Anyway, As others, such as Bob and Dante are talking about maintaining fold adduction in higher notes, they are right. To get a full volume note of roundness and clarity requires an amount of fold adduction. Well, that also means that some pressure is required to create the air puffs that are released by the folds. How much? Enough to create a reasonable volume at whatever volume the folds create, which is not all that much. Deeper fold involvement gives intensity but, in essense, the basic tone has been created. But volume does not come from the generation of the tone but amplification.

What does it mean to amplify? It means to take a waveform and increase the height of it. A wavlength is from peak to peak of an alternating signal, a sine wave. Zero is the axis. The puff creates an increase to a peak and then back down again, across the axis and then the other direction. This is what happens as the folds vibrate. That is wavelength. Think of the peaks passing through a point so many times in a second. That is frequency, or pitch. But it is not volume.

Volume is how tall the wave is and that is how much air it moves. There is a severe limit to how much amplitude the folds can create. Well, you take a wavelength and increase it's amplitude (height of peak, not peak to peak measurement) to get more volume. In a guitar amplifier, the small, almost inaudible pluck of the strings is changed into a sine wave of alternating current, doing much like what the voice does. That small signal is then placed as the control of a circuit with a transistor. This transistor operates a larger amplitude signal. The small signal varies what is happening to the large signal.

The difference between that and the human body is that the human body is passive, not active. Well, in acoustic resonance, human voice or acoustic guitar, a certain space or length of space will cause the waveform to double back on itself and it is physically added (air molecules bouncing into other air molecules). The tone having the same wavelength, is now at twice the height. But the apparent effect of volume is a logarithmic (non-linear) increase. Most of the increase possible in volume happens in that first doubling. Another effect of a resonating space and the mathematical relationship of reflected frequencies is harmonics. There will be other frequencies that are a result of the addition of two frequencies and some that are a result of the subtraction of two frequencies. Whether these are prominent enough to be detected depends on whether there is a resonating space of the right size or shape to allow those to double, as well.

You already have resonating spaces. You don't create them, they are already there. All you have to do is get out of the way of the note and let it get to the resonating space it needs. People have talked about aiming notes but really, there is no specific musculature that aims a note. It can either find a space to resonate in, or it doesn't.

The key factors in make pitch. Air to drive the folds. Folds to create a sound. Resonance, to amplify and give timbre to that sound. The pitch or frequency of the sound is determined by the vibration of the folds which is dependent on how much is involved and if they are close enough to emit the air puff that is needed. And that requires subtle changes in air pressure from below. A high note will require more controlled pressure than just exhaling or even how most people talk. But it must be controlled. How do you do that? When you hear the note is loud enough, your brain fine tunes it and has been doing so since you emerged from the womb. So, if pressing the air is more effort, than sure. Not a whole lot, in my opinion, but subtly more. When I sing or speak, I am pressing with my abdomen, not chest heaves.

That all should definitely be more confusing than ever before. It's a good day. :P

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Thank you, Ron.

So, what you're saying is that a high note doesn't need more "air", but more "air pressure"?

And that air velocity has a very limited role in creating a LOUD note, as opposed to the resonators that do most of the job.

Did I interprete you correctly?

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You already have resonating spaces. You don't create them, they are already there. All you have to do is get out of the way of the note and let it get to the resonating space it needs. People have talked about aiming notes but really, there is no specific musculature that aims a note. It can either find a space to resonate in, or it doesn't.

That all should definitely be more confusing than ever before. It's a good day. :P

ron, man, you know your technical stuff, but i'm inclined to disagree with the above.

i believe a singer can definitely direct the sound beam to an appropriate resonating cavity or multiple cavities. it's called vowel modification per the particular anatomical and physiological makeup of that singer.

perhaps a better way to say it is you can fine tune the sound beam to maximize resonance and also reduce effort analygous to the way we fine tuned an fm radio to get the best reception before the days of digital tuning. remember the old, old...lol!!! slide rule dial?

another point i'd like kick around a bit is the analogy of a a singer who needs to seriously and quickly intensify a note.

let's assume you are singing a song which has a serious intensity spike (not volume, but loudness spike) built into it...if the singer already has the resonance cavity set up for the intended note, and he's engaged his core for support needed to hit the note (assume it's a high chesty note) what else is at his disposal to elevate the intensity? answer? his breath pressure or perhaps his wattage, like the wattage of an amplifier? now i'm not sayin this is the way to go all the time nor am i saying it's "correct" but generating more breath pressure (controlled breath pressure) will be analygous to pressing the loudness button on the old time receivers...there isn't an increase in volume...but there is an increase in loudness.

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Dang it, Bob, I wasn't going to post any more, as people are getting tired of me again and saying things about me that are untrue but your question deserves an answer, regardless of what others think of me.

As far as aiming the note, I will grant you some on that by use of vowel. My mental image was sending up a vowel which controls the tongue. Watch what your tongue does on each vowel. It's just that you are not physically aiming, like with a bow and arrow, but are creating a vowel that will find the resonating space.

As for the amplifier analogy in the human body, I think you gave it a kick in the pants. The amplifier circuit is the brath support diriving things up into your head. And the larynx, with its tiny limits controls the output of that. That's a nice way of putting that and I'm glad you thought of that.

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Dang it, Bob, I wasn't going to post any more, as people are getting tired of me again and saying things about me that are untrue but your question deserves an answer, regardless of what others think of me.

As far as aiming the note, I will grant you some on that by use of vowel. My mental image was sending up a vowel which controls the tongue. Watch what your tongue does on each vowel. It's just that you are not physically aiming, like with a bow and arrow, but are creating a vowel that will find the resonating space.

As for the amplifier analogy in the human body, I think you gave it a kick in the pants. The amplifier circuit is the brath support diriving things up into your head. And the larynx, with its tiny limits controls the output of that. That's a nice way of putting that and I'm glad you thought of that.

ron, no one is getting tired of you....isn't it okay for others to have a different p.o.v. from time to time?

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