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Trouble to constantly get over D#4

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Mattofla
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Hello TMV,

For the last few months I have been slowly learning to build my range from the ground up. Things have been going well, but I have seemed to hit a roadblock. I am able to achieve an F4 with a chesty tone, but 80% of the time I am unable to get over the D#4. Generally I feel as if I have to push to get above this bump, and I end up with a very bad tone and a sore throat.

I have heard that around the D-F area is a trouble spot for males, and would like to have an opinion on things I could do to ease the ascent in this area.

I can post a vocal clip if need be, but I would need specific things to show.

Thanks.

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Hey Mattofla,

The easiest approach to this area would be curbing (traditionally mixed voice). Start moaning as if you're in pain, and you should feel your neck being 'anchored' slightly. Maintain this anchoring sensation, and look for a sound that's medium volume, light and restrained. Post clips if you aren't sure.

Once you've found it, you can extend your range by using the vowels I (sit), UH (under) or O (woman) in simple exercises. Start by singing one note at a time, then extend to 3-note scales and pitch slides. Once you're proficient, you can try longer scales, octave slides and sirens (slide up and then back down). Again, post clips of yourself doing this if you're confused.

A good rule of thumb for range extension is to sing your top note a maximum of 3 times per day. Even if it feels comfortable, it's best to limit yourself so you don't run out of energy.

Hope that helps. Good luck. :)

Edit: One more thing. Make a quiet "sssss" sound with your tongue. Try to hold it for as long as possible, and time how long you last.

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Mattofla - this area is tough because of the acoustics and formants. If you don't start modifying the vowels at this point your larynx has to do increasingly more work which leads to tension. Vowel modification is what bel canto calls it, other programs call it the "cry", and CVT calls it curbing. The other thing is letting your folds begin to thin out here where you switch from TA being dominant to CT starting to take over as you get higher. One easy way to produce the pitch is singing "ng" through this area. You don't have to do vowel mod on an "ng" so you can get a sense of how easy it should feel. It's hard to describe this in text, but an "ah" vowel would start to modify to an "uh" vowel, and "ee" would go to an "eh" (as in eight).

Check out VocalPower's web site and videos - he does an excellent job explaining this.

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I went back and did Vocal Power's exercises, and doing them I can access my range up to an A4. Unfortunately, it's hard to achieve the same affect when I use words.

Bob's suggestion of the lip bubbles is also a good one. This is something you really have to work at. It doesn't come over night. If you can do the Vocal Power exercises you've proven to yourself that you can do it. Singing the words the way you are used to singing them can bring all the old habits back real fast. You'll need to erase how your vocal tract is used to forming those vowels. It's like when I first started working on shred guitar picking technique. I needed to change the way I held the pick and relax my hand. Then when I went to a gig and started playing old songs, my new picking technique disappeared and all the tension in my hand came back. It took a while before my new technique became the only technique I used.

If you want to get there fast you may want to consider a workout program like KTVA or Lunte. When you are working on expanding your range is important not to do too much too fast. You are building muscle and coordination, and you need sufficient rest time for recouperation. If you don't rest enough, you may strain or get into bad habits due to not enough strength. With a workout program you can "meter" the exercises so that after a good nights sleep, you will realize slight improvements every single day.

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I could mention how teachers like Anthony Frisell and Dr. Thomas Fillebrown would approach the problem but I would just get told that I am wrong by people without as much education and experience as they have and that, believe it or not, seems like a waste of time and energy.

Good luck, and may the Force be with you, always.

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All posts I find to be extremely important and truthful - but the last one by Guitartrek (who's photo I find intimidating lol) I consider to be

the one you must focus most on at beginning. Take your time, if it takes weeks or months (it took me several) it's perfectly ok.

Give yourself time to adjust, it's of paramount importance.

In my humble opinion (and experience), "breezing" through the break as you say is ok. In time you will completely renounce and

consciously avoid any tension 'cause you will be used to your "tension free" approach. I've experienced the same thing when

I started retraining my voice - I couldn't but sing through the breaks in a light voice.

It took me about 7 months of daily training to develop a decent singing voice and

lately I stopped doing my exercises for 2 weeks as I was wrongly diagnosed with nodules.

Well, it took me more than 2 weeks to start "feeling" my voice again, so take your time.

I'm an amateur learner myself but I've seen results by training daily and mostly by letting my muscles re-adjust.

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Hello TMV,

For the last few months I have been slowly learning to build my range from the ground up. Things have been going well, but I have seemed to hit a roadblock. I am able to achieve an F4 with a chesty tone, but 80% of the time I am unable to get over the D#4. Generally I feel as if I have to push to get above this bump, and I end up with a very bad tone and a sore throat.

I have heard that around the D-F area is a trouble spot for males, and would like to have an opinion on things I could do to ease the ascent in this area.

I can post a vocal clip if need be, but I would need specific things to show.

Thanks.

Yeah that is where much of the early transitions in the male voice live. I can only tell you from my own personal experience that consistant work in this area is the only thing that helped me breakthrough. Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. Not to say that we are shooting for perfection but training the best way you can will get you the best results. I have been a singer and coach for nearly a quarter century, wow I'm old lol, and I personally have a very extended range, I can sing nearly anything male or female. But growing up I wasn't blessed with a great range, I wanted to sing like Journey, Rod Stewart, Zep etc... but I was religated to the 'puss' songs with the lower more chesty stuff. I hooked up with a good solid fundemantal based teacher named Buddy Mix and practically moved into his studio for a year and he trained me nearly everyday. Within 2 years I was singing GnR. It took time but it happened. I'm 47 and still sing as high as I did then and I sing a friggin lot and I sing hard. My montra is good solid fundementals practiced consistantly and with passion. For me I don't think in terms of technique so much as find the rail and ride it. What I mean is a big wave surfer isn't thinking about surfing when he's coming down a 30 foot face at 45 mph, he'll become shark bait. He is not thinking about surfing he is surfing. Now at first there's some thinking about surfing involved in the learning process but once you are out there you better be doing and not thinking or you're in trouble. Same with big wave singing, you gotta be in the moment or you can hurt yourself and that's not to say that there aren't some scrapes and scratches along the way, meaning few people really develop their voice to the limit without a few soar throats just be careful. So the things that helped me most were:

-relax the shoulders, jaw and face when practicing

-inhale naturally through the mouth and nose without shrugging the shoulder, think down like you're filling a glass of water, from the bottom up.

-if you're doing scales think of the notes as one voice and stay connected. meaning don't get heady, airy or nasally as you ascend. These are characteristics of cheating.

-whatever tone you establish in the low note maintain it as you go up, 1 VOICE!

-as you go up think down as you stay connected keeping the tone and volume as even as possible

-as you ascend slightly tighen the belly as you drop the jaw and keep the tongue flat and forward

-Think of it as 1 voice, whatever tone you eshablish in the low note maintain it, don't get airy, heady or nasally. Nate Lamm told me this and it was like a light bulb went off. It seems to simple to be effective but it is.

If you master this you will be set mate!

-James

p.s. get the book The Toa of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, trust me. Bruce knew! You must transcend technique or you will be a prisoner to it.

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One more question, will this new configuration leave me with a very weak voice at first?

I can breeze through the breaks, but the voice is so weak at the moment.

It doesn't have to be weak. The weakness is coming from how deeply you are vibrating the folds. Think of chest voice vibrating the folds the deepest, whereas falsetto is only vibrating the folds at the very edges. You may be somewhere in the middle, or toward falsetto. Your goal is to try to carry the deep folds into your upper range.

CVT says when singing Neutral (light singing) you can sing pure vowels through your whole range - in other words you don't have to modify the vowels. However, when you start adding volume with deeper folds up high, if you don't modify your vowels, you will start to create tension and pain. Without hearing you, I'm guessing you're singing high in neutral, which will sound weaker. Actually if you can transition from chest to neutral without a break, throughout your range, you've acheived something good, even though you don't want to sound weak up high.

To carry up the deeper folds you'll need to modify the vowels. This is tricky. Some people do this naturally. Others (like me) had to learn and train how to do this. It takes a lot of practice so that it becomes automatic. This is where a teacher or an instructional video can be very helpful.

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I'm so glad that all the great posters/singers/instructors on the forum are finally starting to explain and emphasize to the less advanced singers that this is a process, a very slow process, which takes determination, committment, and hard work. there are no shortcuts, there is no such thing as "results" in three weeks..not for "pro" caliber vocals.

to all beginners: folks, if you really want this as bad as i (or others) do, you have to produce vocals in full voice!, from the bottom of your range to the top...forget falsetto!..as an acoutrement or embellishment yes, but focus on building the strength and coordination and above all be patient!

exercise at least 5 days a week, 30 mins. to an hour a day.

if you're (for example) trying to extend your range, and you're on the way up the scale and it's getting tougher (and believe me it will) don't let up, work up to your sticking point each and every time, don't strain and kill yourself, but go to that point of failure before you head down the scale.

every time i exercise i mentally focus and visualize myself soaring past a sticking point whatever that might be. i just keep plugging away, time after time, day after day...some days you'll feel like you're just starting out and others it's like "shit" that had to be good!!

also, remember something else...very few vocal exercises especially in the beginning are going to go well. expect difficulty but embrace the challenge!

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James, I totally dig the surfing explanation. It reminds me of an episode of "Iconoclast," featuring Eddie Vedder and Laird Hamilton. For those who don't know, Laird is the biggest surfer in the world. He surfs nothing less than 20 foot waves and he rides waves so big that you have to be dragged by jetski to get enough speed to start the crest. He listens to Pearl Jam as a meditation to have his head in the right space to take on a big wave. Eddie surfs to get away from the rock and roll surface and find something bigger than himself.

To quote Bob, it will take work and a while to surmount the D#4 problem. This will mean learning to approach from a headvoice onset, like Frisell, and later re-coordinate chest-like volume and ring back into it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It has only been a few weeks and I have noticed a decent improvement. While it still requires a ton of breath and thought, I can actually get an easy F4 out. I could never do that a few weeks ago.

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It has only been a few weeks and I have noticed a decent improvement. While it still requires a ton of breath and thought, I can actually get an easy F4 out. I could never do that a few weeks ago.

stay with training and you will progress.

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Mattofla - this area is tough because of the acoustics and formants. If you don't start modifying the vowels at this point your larynx has to do increasingly more work which leads to tension. Vowel modification is what bel canto calls it, other programs call it the "cry", and CVT calls it curbing. The other thing is letting your folds begin to thin out here where you switch from TA being dominant to CT starting to take over as you get higher. One easy way to produce the pitch is singing "ng" through this area. You don't have to do vowel mod on an "ng" so you can get a sense of how easy it should feel. It's hard to describe this in text, but an "ah" vowel would start to modify to an "uh" vowel, and "ee" would go to an "eh" (as in eight).

guitartrek, Mattofla: as an alternative for the modification mentioned for "ee", I think "Ih' works quite well, too!

I hope this helps.

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Some people do that, Bob, and don't seem to progress. They must be doing the wrong things when they train.

i really want to help those people because my take is they're likely just need a slight adjustment most of the time.

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Learning is always like this. You reach plateaus and you have to overcome them. The easiest way is with a teacher who has been there and done that, and can basically tell you how to fix your problems... but when you can't afford one, you have to rely on books, videos, discussions with singers and forums like this one. I personally have found this forum extremely valuable, and have found many times in my own development where something "clicked" because of something I read the previous day, whether it be about the technical stuff such as twang, support, vowel modification, etc or the more philosophical side of things, such as imagery, motivation and good ol' perseverance.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I still seem to be improving. Just a thought at the back of my head, but I still feel like I am nowhere near being able to do anything chesty above an f4. Like I can get some good notes of the F, but I haven't ever gotten a G when practicing with Sing and See.

I'm not entirely sure what to do to help this either. I don't like the idea that I've reached the top of my range, but that's possible.

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