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Singing with the minimum amount of volume you can get away with

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jonpall
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Recently I've been experimenting with singing with the least amount of volume I can get away with, but still keep my voice fairly full.

By this I mean I sing with a good amount of twang, relaxed open throat, resonating vowels, decent cord compression and very little air. BUT I try to keep the volume as low as I can while I'm doing this - as long as I don't lose the twang, cord compression, etc. I could be fooling myself thinking that I sound as full as when I'm singing with maximum volume but I think not. Guys, do you have any idea if most of the best rock and pop singers out there are singing as loud as they can or if they are concious of not getting loud? And what do you think of this idea?

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jonpall, it's cool you should mention this because this seems to be exactly what I have been working towards the last few months. And I personally think it is a great way to show yourself just how little effort and air you really need and still sound full-ish. Trying to find that optimum / least amount of effort that still allows the tone you are going for. I use a few benchmark songs for this exercise and have noticed almost daily a slight improvement with ease and volume. It seems it actually keeps getting fuller and more resonate while keeping the cord compression relaxed and even.

Another thing I try to do is change up the amount of effort every once in a while just to have a different point of reference to compare to. I think the voice needs to be continually changed up and challenged or else it becomes complacent and forgets how to grow.

My only reference to one of the best rock/pop singers I have studied in a lot of detail is Paul McCartney. I find a lot of songs he does is in this light manner… yet it seems a lot of folks hear it differently than me; they hear it with more intense effort; but I think it is more of an illusion. I’ve also listened to a lot of older Elton John and find his voice uses a lot less effort than what most people may think.

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Jon,

I think this ties into my other thread w/ Deen Casonovo and the Journey tune. We are dealing with the bare minimum to get the job done. Or maybe it's more like maximum efficiency.

It's taken me a LONG TIME and a lot of work...but eventually I found that really light place that feels easy and the volume sounds like 3-4 TO ME, but is actually 6-7 TO THE LISTENER. I believe this is what you are referring to, it almost feels too easy to be right, but when you hear it recorded, it sounds almost identical as the louder, blastier stuff.

It does seem like what a lot of rockers use where it sounds "belty" but is way lighter than a true belt. It's also extremely easy for me to overdo this sound and push into that louder voice, which is why I have always had such a hard time with the Perry type stuff.

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Off top of my head...

Dio in the studio:

Jorn Lande in the studio:

Probably the best place would be an acoustic environment ala Idol auditions or something. Just a few of the "rockers"

Lambert:

Casey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGmdQfLyfdE

Durbin: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K64yxa3lJc8

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Recently I've been experimenting with singing with the least amount of volume I can get away with, but still keep my voice fairly full.

By this I mean I sing with a good amount of twang, relaxed open throat, resonating vowels, decent cord compression and very little air. BUT I try to keep the volume as low as I can while I'm doing this - as long as I don't lose the twang, cord compression, etc. I could be fooling myself thinking that I sound as full as when I'm singing with maximum volume but I think not. Guys, do you have any idea if most of the best rock and pop singers out there are singing as loud as they can or if they are concious of not getting loud? And what do you think of this idea?

jonpall: You have intuited a profound wisdom: Free, rich tone quality is misunderstood by the listener as volume. It does not need to be loud... it just needs to be right.

Bravo. Rep point for you.

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Recently I've been experimenting with singing with the least amount of volume I can get away with, but still keep my voice fairly full.

By this I mean I sing with a good amount of twang, relaxed open throat, resonating vowels, decent cord compression and very little air. BUT I try to keep the volume as low as I can while I'm doing this - as long as I don't lose the twang, cord compression, etc. I could be fooling myself thinking that I sound as full as when I'm singing with maximum volume but I think not. Guys, do you have any idea if most of the best rock and pop singers out there are singing as loud as they can or if they are concious of not getting loud? And what do you think of this idea?

this is awesome you're mentioning this because i'm starting to realize something i calling "singing up and over" vs. "singing under and up."

next week i'll post an audio of what i mean. closing for the weekend.

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I wonder if it's a good idea to, when you sing, be concious of trying to sing with the least amount of volume you can get away with but still sound as powerful as you wish to. And I wonder if the best singers do this.

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(Although, probably a more important principle to keep in mind is to try to keep your throat as relaxed as possible at all times. To regularly check yourself to see if you can't release a bit of tension there. Interestingly enough, to be able to do this for high, powerful notes, you need increased tension in your abdominal region in order to support your larynx with just the right amount of air. Just rambling.)

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I wonder if it's a good idea to, when you sing, be concious of trying to sing with the least amount of volume you can get away with but still sound as powerful as you wish to

I've been practicing this idea for several months now and it works. In fact going for volume just for the sake of it has adverse effects.

All the "singing in a light non breathy voice" I've been talking about in my posts has one sole goal : to differentiate resonance and power

from "straining" for volume.

If for some strange reason I can't quite comprehend anymore loud is a goal, going only as loud as your body dictates I find acceptable.

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Jonpall,

I think what we're talking about here is simply "balanced" singing. This idea that you could increase the volume more, but would be riding the rail so to speak in danger of forcing the voice.

I also think this is why the "do it yourself" at home approach is risky. Without a trained pair of ears to hear what you're doing, it's very difficult to accurately interpret what's happening on the outside as you're singing.

A good example of this is CVT's modes, where you have to self-monitor and balance your volume with the modes . They tell you that you need a volume, in Overdrive f. ex. of 7-10, but they are assuming that your volume will be achieved with correct support, or the sensation of holding back the air, and that you will not be pushing. As obvious as this seems, it is extremely difficult to monitor this "objectively" while you are singing. Especially when certain vowels and parts of the voice practically BEG YOU to push and force the voice(at least in mine.) In other words, volume 10 is the maximum safe volume, but as Nigel might say, your voice REALLY GOES TO 11 :)

....just some random hungover thoughts :P

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Bob, does that "singing up and over" thing kind of feel like the sound settles in a hook shape in the area between, but behind, your nose and mouth? And never really drops below that? I know that must sound idiotic, but that's a feeling i've been working on developing for the last few months and it has really helped my singing, especially with my endurance

Kind of sounds like what I was saying about keeping the voice in the head, where the resonance is, having the note no lower than, say, the edge of the soft palate, regardless of the actual pitch. You know, that thing I keep hammering?

Some of my loudest notes in recording didn't take what seemed like a lot of effort to me. Because they were resonating so well. It was almost "easy." I know I am not supposed to say that. And when they are resonating well, I'm not pushing or straining. Which seems, to me, to confirm to me, that the brain is working. If your brain interprets the sound as being loud enough, it will trigger just the amount of air that you need to produce that note. I know I have said that a few times before. Much to the chagrin of some. :)

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Jorn's a beast! Another thing that might help some people w/ rock tunes is going on youtube and looking for a "vocals only" version of the song.

Here's Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. I was actually surprised because I thought he sang this song much lighter. Man...he was fuckin' pressurized.

Edit: you can just type in "vocals only" in the YT search field and it will pull up all tunes available. It's also a great way to work out harmonies!

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analog, don't forget it has reverb and compression on it. Also it sounds like some phrases were recorded by punching in and out, for example there is a slight break between "prayer" and "take" in the chorus. Sounds like a monster though!

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Here's Axl Rose's vocal tracks along with the drums for Welcome to the jungle:

I think analog was correct about "balanced" singing. The feeling that you COULD singer louder, but always having a relaxed throat. I think a lot of these classic rock screamers where using lot of curbing with distortion.

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Here is some of my thinking on the subject about using minimum loudness but keeping a full tone sound.

Most of us agree that loudness can be more of a perceived thing. For example intensity of sound can create the illusion of great effort and also it can appear as loudness.

So there are different ways to create loudness. Maximizing resonance is one of the easiest ways, as far as effort. You can also create a lot of pressure under the cords and resist it with thickness (heavy registration).

You can also use less pressure, but still more than just thin fold phonation, and keep the folds thick but not as much muscular contraction that the high pressure would require. Seems like this is what we are talking about. About the illusion of volume and/or intensity. I think when you combine within the same phrase for example, both thin fold and thick fold/lesser pressure phonation, this contrast in intensity can give an even greater illusion of loudness.

So being able to vary your cord depth at will can give you a whole new dimension of intensity and perceived loudness. I had read somewhere that our perceptions of sound and loudness changes rapidly. In other words if you make rapid dynamic changes, the perceived loudness is more noticeable vs. just staying at a level loudness.

The messa di voce exercise is ideal for training flexible shifts in cord thickness and breath pressure. I think also the more you do it, the better you become at coordinating that thick depth with the least amount of added air pressure.

That also reminds me of golf. A game I’ve played my entire life beginning as a little kid. One thing you finally realize is that trying to kill the ball (swing 100% full) ain’t worth it. Most pros swing about 80-85% on their full shots. They realize they can get almost as much distance as trying to swing out of their shoes. But the bigger trade off is consistency and accuracy goes up immensely when you throttle back just a little.

I still like to swing hard occasionally! :lol:

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Without getting too far off course...here's some more Jorn live stuff. Man, huge voice with seemingly effortless projection.

He does a Whitensnake medley on this DVD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9DBycu2t_c&feature=related

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You can see it on Jorn's face that he's not straining. He's keeping his facial muscles and throat relaxed. It reminds me of something Mark Baxter said - "How do you know if your straining or singing incorrectly? - The answer is written on your face. You should aim for a poker face when practising, meaning no clenching of facial muscles or making funny faces". Something like that.

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You can see it on Jorn's face that he's not straining. He's keeping his facial muscles and throat relaxed. It reminds me of something Mark Baxter said - "How do you know if your straining or singing incorrectly? - The answer is written on your face. You should aim for a poker face when practising, meaning no clenching of facial muscles or making funny faces". Something like that.

Rockin' post.

And props to the the lead guitarist for ending on a mix of phrygian and locrian, reminiscent of "Gates of Babylon," channelling a little bit of Richie Blackmoore (how's that for some obscure references?)

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IMO, Bon Jovi in his prime had few equals when it came to awesome rock sound. In that sense, he's a bit underrated. Or was, because he sure couldn't sing like that for very long.

Honestly I didn't know how good he is (was) until I heard this vocal only clip. He's got some serious rasp up at EB5. What a great rock tone. He's definitely pretty coordinated and letting CT take control to get up there while maintaining a "chesty" TA activity. That alone doesn't come easy.

Is he not able to sing like that anymore?

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