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Legato - a question

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Stacey
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I wonder if anyone would be able to advise me please????

I wasn't really sure what legato was so I had to google it :lol: Apparently I am really very good at this - apart from when I need to increase volume to something like 'ff' and then everything falls apart and it sounds shockingly bad.

I'm really pleased that I've found something that I can't do, that needs work and I know I have to work very hard to correct this. So, my question is what exercises can I do to make sure I am working on this correctly and be able to work towards singing legato at volume?

Thank you

Stacey :)

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If you are producing your fortissimo in a non-healthy way you may be causing tensions in the muscles that directly influence your breathing mechanism, for example your intercostals, pubo-coccyxial, lower abdominal, neck, jaw, tongue, etc. Tensions anywhere that impede the ability of your breath to flow easily and evenly as you phonate will destroy your vocal legato. Other things to pay attention to: Does the problem happen when you sing fortissimo anywhere in your range, or just at certain parts of your range. If it's in your lower register, there is a tendency for singers to allow the soft palate to drop when singing lower notes - and this can affect "placement" and, thus, vocal legato. Keeping the same tautness in the soft palate throughout your range, and the same sense of forward/upward "placement" (i.e., where you feel the vibration as the sound resonates should always be in the front of your face above your upper lip. Resonance may actually occur elsewhere, depending on what part of your range you're singing in (different pharynx resonates for lower vs. middle vs. upper register) - but you should always feel the vibration in that upper front part of your face - it's caused by transferrence of the vibration through your facial bones. If you don't feel it there, you may be unnaturally "covering" which can also make vocal legato more difficult, particularly if you DON'T cover when you achieve it.

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FF is a relative term. It is in relationship to other values in the music. It is something that must be handled with extreme care. And FF does not mean flat out and without reserve, and with everything you've got. So take care not to exaggerate. The louder you sing the more open the throat must be. It is never produced by pushing. And it needs as much support as a pianissimo, by the way.

It would be a good idea if you had a voice teacher to watch over you, as you will not hear what you are doing the way outside ears can.

Best,

Roberta

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Hey thanks you two :D thank you for the advice. It seems to be a problem in middle and upper registers. I'm not belting out the notes, just need to make them louder. Stacey :)

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The important thing to wrap our heads around as singers is that volume comes from resonation, not excess air pressure. Just like playing guitar... if you play the strings (vocal cords) with too much pressure, you actually lesson the richness of the sound.

I have a great visualization I use with my students to the balance between breath support and breath control... in other words, air pressure, right: No matter how soft or how loud, I have them imagine a glass window plane in front of their face- right at their face. I have them sing as if they will not leave a breath mark on the "window" pane. This causes the singer to automatically adjust the pressure so that they can open the throat. A bigger "cave" will make a bigger sound when resonated by the vibrations coming from the larynx.

In performance, I suggest that instead of yelling at the audience, the singer should "resonate" to them in such a way as to draw them towards the performer instead of pushing the song to them, begging to be 'heard'.

This also results in a great vocal recording technique. When we push too much air in yelling sounds, the engineer has to compress the voice too much, and again, the resulting impact is a weaker vocal sound that can't compete with the band like a rich resonant sound can. It's a paradox... the biggest voice is the one which is controlled, making it paramount that you NEVER give 100% of the air pressure you can push. Balance... balance... it's a learned thing. You know it's wrong if you can feel strain.

Hope this helps!

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Why do you speak of airpressure and the amount of air you use as the same thing. Air pressure is infact what you need to get high powerful notes, ...

This airpressure ofcourse needs to be accompanied by something to resist it again, and that is a well adducted cord. If you lack to adduct the cord enough, and use alot of air, then you sing blasty and that to me is dangerous.

I think too many people get confused like this and think they'll get a big powerful note without using much air at all. If you have a well adducted cord you will actually not have alot of air escaping you, no matter if you get more air pressure.

I personally don't believe in open throat anymore. To quote Pavarotti: "Open throate, Open throate, why you Americans always say open throate, open throate do note worke, I squeeze di high note" :P

With this squeeze Pavarotti means the supra glottal narrowing that aids in adducting the cords firmly and as thus making it possible for airpressure to build up and get higher and more powerful sounds.

However it's a sensation, that might work for some, not for others.

Generalisations are really hard to make. Latly it seems to be the mantra of people to teach them how to relax, and so on. While infact alot of people might need to learn how actually to get a heavier adduction, and now they are afraid of it. Infact I see that while like the 80ies and stuff might have featured people maybe going a bit on the heavy side of things, and that might have called for a less heavy approach, this is still being thought while most young singers now actually suffer from a lack of adduction and afraid to go deeper into compression.

What you say about being heared I agree with completly, it does cause an opposite effect usually :P

About not giving a 100% airpressure. You're right for live things. However when practising I think you should dare to go a 100% and more. To expand your limits. What if the only airpressure what you can handle is only like a 30% of what your body could handle with it's anatomical limitations... You should be playing around with what your body can achieve and how to get it to achieve more, in a controlled manner.

I also think people should get more clear on support because it's a multifunctional thing. Support can imply giving or holding back. Neither of them instantaniously result to pressure, unless they are matched with a proper vocal coordination either. Yet people insist on being very vague about it as if support simply equals air pressure.

Just my 2 cents

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I'm with Judy and Elrathion, resonance and vocal fold adduction. I have two videos one the AH sound and one chest to head voice using vowels. You can see what I mean there.

For me the key to all volume from whisper to scream is resonance and the control of air. I agree the term open throat is misleading.

It can be done easily when your mind gets out of the way of the sound you are producing and controls your vocal mechanism appropriately to support the sound, air and tone. :lol:

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