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Great explanation of Head / Chest

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gno
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The whole Head verses Chest subject comes up a lot on this forum, and I've been trying to understand it myself. I found this info on a link from SingingMastermind and it explains the difference so I thought I would share it. It basically comes down to TA and CT. Chest is TA and CT with TA dominant, while Head is the same but CT is dominant. It also shows that TA only is fry, and CT only is falsetto. The whole web site is chock full of great explanations of how the voice works.

Here is the webpage:

http://www.ncvs.org/ncvs/tutorials/voiceprod/tutorial/voluntary.html

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Could you please explain the terms TA and CT?

SH

SH - This page explains the CT and TA:

http://www.ncvs.org/ncvs/tutorials/voiceprod/tutorial/cover.html

A lot of what we do when we are learning to bridge Chest and Head is to develop coordination between these two muscles.

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I want to know where I find 50/50 = TA/CT especially between F#4=>C#5.

When I sing above my first bridge - F4 - I feel I use 20% chest and 80% head. When I add "h" to my vowels e.x. ah instead of a, eh instead of e I change ratio to 30/70 :/ I can not control it better.

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devaitis - that's a good question. I think most of us are trying to get head to sound like chest. What this article says is that Chest will have deeper vibrations than Head, and the folds are closed more than 50% of each cylce, where in Head the folds are open more than 50%. My question to Steven, Dante and other experts is this: As we train can we keep the same deep fold vibration in Head, and keep the Closed Quotient more than 50%? Personally, I can get head to sound the same as chest (I think), but am I doing this through increased twang or some other mechanism? Or am I actually maintaining deeper fold vibration and high Closed Quotient in Head? Is it possible to do this in Head?

What I found helpful in getting Head to sound like Chest is Ken's Glottil Compression technique. I beleive this keeps the folds closed more than open (closed quotient > 50%). The compression is very efficient requiring less air for the same loudness. It also may help keep deeper fold vibration in head.

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devaitis - that's a good question. I think most of us are trying to get head to sound like chest. What this article says is that Chest will have deeper vibrations than Head, and the folds are closed more than 50% of each cylce, where in Head the folds are open more than 50%. My question to Steven, Dante and other experts is this: As we train can we keep the same deep fold vibration in Head, and keep the Closed Quotient more than 50%? Personally, I can get head to sound the same as chest (I think), but am I doing this through increased twang or some other mechanism? Or am I actually maintaining deeper fold vibration and high Closed Quotient in Head? Is it possible to do this in Head?

What I found helpful in getting Head to sound like Chest is Ken's Glottil Compression technique. I beleive this keeps the folds closed more than open (closed quotient > 50%). The compression is very efficient requiring less air for the same loudness. It also may help keep deeper fold vibration in head.

geno, what is "fo"?

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Bob - I think you are right on that. I think that at the loudest, the CT and TA will probably both be very intense and equal in strength. That will give the thickest folds, which can resist higher air pressures, when blown apart by the high pressure will result in a loudest volume (at the folds), or highest amplitude. Of course you need the optimum vocal tract shape to amplify this signal.

I liken it to if you were holding your arm out straight, and someone was trying to push it down or up, you would engage your bicep and tricep very intensly to resist pressure and stabilize the arm. But if no one was pushing it down or up, the bicep and tricep wouldn't hardly need to be engaged at all.

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Bob - I think you are right on that. I think that at the loudest, the CT and TA will probably both be very intense and equal in strength. That will give the thickest folds, which can resist higher air pressures, when blown apart by the high pressure will result in a loudest volume (at the folds), or highest amplitude. Of course you need the optimum vocal tract shape to amplify this signal.

I liken it to if you were holding your arm out straight, and someone was trying to push it down or up, you would engage your bicep and tricep very intensly to resist pressure and stabilize the arm. But if no one was pushing it down or up, the bicep and tricep wouldn't hardly need to be engaged at all.

geno, we are studying the exact same things right now. you have to download that frisell book, it's so much on what we are working on.

when i get to the crescendo side or i engage for a really thick fold phonation, i feel like i've "dug down deep" in the folds and surrounding muscles and flexed them upward and outward, that's the best way to describe it.....

all the tension is situated and concentrated right in that area and (hopefully) everything else is relaxed. is that how it feels for you? is that how you would describe it?

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Bob - I downloaded the book finally! (Admittedly my first downloaded book!)

I can certainly feel the thick fold configuration - it is a very small area. As I go up and cross into what would normally be head, if I concentrate on the compression - and maintain air pressure with consistent support - it seems that I can keep the same sound higher and higher. The feeling is the same as chest, and there is a very gradual thinning of the folds as CT takes over. I think Lou Grahm must be using good compression technique to get that chesty sound way up high.

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Bob - I think you are right on that. I think that at the loudest, the CT and TA will probably both be very intense and equal in strength. That will give the thickest folds, which can resist higher air pressures, when blown apart by the high pressure will result in a loudest volume (at the folds), or highest amplitude. Of course you need the optimum vocal tract shape to amplify this signal.

I liken it to if you were holding your arm out straight, and someone was trying to push it down or up, you would engage your bicep and tricep very intensly to resist pressure and stabilize the arm. But if no one was pushing it down or up, the bicep and tricep wouldn't hardly need to be engaged at all.

The problem I had with the arm muscle analogy is that, with palm facing up, if someone is pushing down on your arm, primarily, your bicep is engaged. If they are pushing up, then you tricep is engaged. And this is shown in the exercises for each muscle group. You do barbell curls for the bicep. And inverted forearm extensions for the triceps. To different exercises in different directions.

What I value about the table you posted is that it graphically depicts, in a general way, what Frisell is talking aobut. With one proviso, that I must add, from his own words, not mine. (So, if you disagree, take it up with Frisell, not me. 'Ight?) The head voice muscles must be in control. That doesn't mean that you neglect chest muscles. But it does mean they are sublimated to the control of the head voice. And here is a direct quote (as near as I can recall in phrasing without quoting directly from my Kindle edition) : the tenor voice should have primarily head tones. And (paraphrased) the object of training is to have head tones with the volume and resonance associated with chest. This is important because it is a different weltanschauung than "chest up high."

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Ron - You're right about the arm analogy - if you knew that someone was going to push down. I didn't explain very well what I was meaning. I meant that you were to hold you're arm out as an immovable object, able to resist beign pushed up or down. Let's say someone was gripping you're hand and testing your arms rigidity by suddenly pushing up or down without warning. If you were to try to prevent any movement at any time, both your tricep and bicep would be engaged.

I was reading my Kindle version of Frisell's book last night (some of the graphics (figures that he refers to) in the book aren't showing up properly, are yours?) and he does places a great importance on head tones in the development of the tenor voice. I think he is totally right on with the development of the Tenor voice taking so long because of training required to blend the two registers. He says that it's a muscle building process and compares it to progressive weight lifting. I really like the book.

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yes geno, the damn kindle version blacks out the actual exercise illustrations....

yes he is saying as you read on how the chest has to be brought back in...

that's the tough part i.m.o.....this is the part that takes work and time.

thanks for the really helpful chart geno.

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lightbluesky - Check out the link - it shows more.

Here is a simple explanation:

The TA is the muscle that runs along the folds. If you activate it, it shortens the folds and thickens them. Thick folds -> Chest voice.

The CT is a muscle that pulls or stretches the folds to make them longer and more tense.

The TA and CT pull against each other - like your Bicep and Tricep. As you go up in pitch CT pulls more, and at a certain point (head voice) it becomes dominant over TA. At this point, if you let go of TA completely, you have Falsetto. If you keep TA active you have head voice. The more TA you keep active up high, the more you can get head to sound like chest. This last sentence is what a lot of us are trying to acheive.

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lightbluesky - Check out the link - it shows more.

Here is a simple explanation:

The TA is the muscle that runs along the folds. If you activate it, it shortens the folds and thickens them. Thick folds -> Chest voice.

The CT is a muscle that pulls or stretches the folds to make them longer and more tense.

The TA and CT pull against each other - like your Bicep and Tricep. As you go up in pitch CT pulls more, and at a certain point (head voice) it becomes dominant over TA. At this point, if you let go of TA completely, you have Falsetto. If you keep TA active you have head voice. The more TA you keep active up high, the more you can get head to sound like chest. This last sentence is what a lot of us are trying to acheive.

excellent explanation geno!

this is the holy grail of a unified voice.

like anthony frisell explains the chest voice and head voice is inherently antagonistic. the more diverse the tonal differences between one's chest voice and head voice the more difficult the "melding" process...it can take several years.

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  • 1 month later...

Geno,

This thread by itself isn't a bad idea, but the issue lies in knowing what the CT/TA are and more specifically, how to hear them in a sound. Also there are plenty of tonal changes that can't be explained in your post. For example the CVT modes, how do you explain the difference between overdrive and neutral w/o air on a C5? Or neutral w/o air and curbing? They are all compressed, so the TA is still engaged, and they all need to be light and thin at such a high pitch, so by that definition they are all head voice, even though they sound radically different.

Registers aren't a bad system for beginning singers to highlight the importance of relaxed, light singing on high notes, but for more advanced singers I just don't feel they're adequate. Is there some arbitrary point where you suddenly shift from chest to head, if those issues don't apply to you? What about singing chest on high notes? Or head on low notes? You can use a light timbre way down in your range, and a dark timbre quite high into your range, not to mention the volumes, vowels, tonality and other changes you can achieve on a single note. Registers don't explain any of this.

On the other hand, using terms like curbing etc, there is a physiological process for each mode if you want to get technical, but there is also a simpler way to explain them, with a thorough definition and a sound clip or two. It's also much easier to explain how to achieve that sound.

Just my $0.02.

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And I do get Geno's vision of balance of opposing forces, so to speak between TA and CT actions. And, in Frisell's system, one starts out totally CT. The "detached falsetto" he speaks of. After note placement and pockets of resonance have been established, then one slowly brings in some TA that is simultaneous with the intensified stream of air. But that the TA should never overpower or take over the control established by CT.

Which is why I liked Steven's analogy. Essentially, you are starting out light and then, you let the big dog out to play, a little.

People spend more time talking than singing. So, the TA muscles and controls get all the daily exercise and training they need throughout one's life. Personally, I don't speak to people at D5.

And the work can be tedious. One is trying to overcome habits that have been established for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. So, it can take more than one magic lesson to change that habit.

And the scales and exercises are not magic. All they actually do is develope a habit. And so, I would describe it as muscle and nerve training, rather than building. A muscle that becomes trained to do something becomes slightly denser, not bigger. So, there might be some muscle fatigue at the very beginning of training. Muscle tears down and rebuilds, either denser or bigger. If it's a repetitive motion with the same weight or load, it becomes denser, like walking tones the legs, rather than making them bigger. If the load becomes progressively greater (hence, progressive weight training) the cells become bigger. Like periodically increasing dumbbell weight for bicep curls. Each heavier stage results in bigger muscle cells. When a body builder reaches the size he wants, he then trades his higher weight, low rep for stable weight and highrep.

It depends on the sport, to continue the analogy. A surfer does not need to be big and heavy in the chest. it will raise his center of gravity too high. For him an overall supple body tone and flexibility in the shoulders is far more important.

In singing, coordination is the important thing. Granted, some people, for whatever reason, may not have adducted fully enough to even speak properly and they will undergo some muscle training. And others who have had little CT involvement may undergo some muscle density increase as those muscles were under-developed. But the change should be subtle, even if there is some initial fatigue.

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Spectrum - I like CVT and practice some of their exercises on a daily basis. CVT is great for explaining the different Vocal Track configurations above the folds for vowel formation. However, it never explained to me the feeling I get when entering into "head". It doesn't really get ino actual pitch production at the folds where the wave form is produced. With the help of Cuno Dante and Stephen Fraser and these web sites I was able to find the answers I was looking for.

All CVT modes except for Overdrive use both TA dominant (chest) and CT dominant (head) configurations. Overdrive requires TA dominance which is why it is unhealthy to carry it up above C5. I practice the "Neutral without Air" exercises everyday. You can hear the CVT singer flip into CT dominant in the last Fmaj arpeggio exercise. He flips into this at F4. This is a great exercise as if I my TA is too strong, I have a harder time at F4 on "ee".

Also, Head verses Chest is not agreed upon by all. Some experts (Fissel is one) define head at F4 no matter what. Others say head is when Vowel Modification starts taking place. The one I posted - the point at which CT becomes dominant - is what I like the best - it explains exactly what I'm feeling. It also explains why the timbre of the tone is different between chest and head.

It also explains the issue so many people have on this forum where they aren't satisfied with their head voice because it sounds like falstetto. The reason is because TA is throttled down too much. Learning to keep the TA active or gradually throttled down is how you keep the chesty sound in head. The stronger the TA, the stronger the 1st overtone, the more "brassy" the tone is. Using Twang is a good way to amplify the "weaker" 1st overtone in "head" which helps Head sound like Chest.

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