Jump to content

Total Beginner - constructive criticism wanted

Rate this topic


Sound26
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi all,

I'm 31 but only just started trying to sing about two months ago.

I've be practicing breathing, scales, keeping larynx down but I'm still having a lot of pitch and tonal problems.

It's hard for me to judge myself objectively as I cringe when I hear myself back so I'd appreciate some constructive input.

What can I do to improve my tone and pitch?

Here's a short clip of where I am today. The timing isn't great either as I'm also playing guitar at the same time. I did that because I just can't get comfortable any other way.

You can probably hear in my voice the lack of confidence. I do have a reasonably pitch accurate ear, and I can really hear my own pitchy-ness, which in turn make me waver even more.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10813900/nutshell.mp3

Any suggestions for improvements, practice tips etc. would be appreciated.

Edit: oh yeah, that's my creaky old computer chair that you can hear in the background!! :D

Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not bad - you've got lot's of potential. All you need is a vocal program to follow, or a teacher. If you want to excel there's a lot to learn. It doesn't sound like the breath is right, due to the waivering. You've got to breath in low, and while singing, press down on your diaphram and abs - don't pull up, and don' t breath with your rib cage. Just keep the rib cage energized the whole time - your ribs shouldn't move.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What Geno said.

Plus, it sounded like, to me, you drop breath before the end of the note. That is, your breath pressure starts out okay and then tapers off. Commit the breath all the way through the note or the phrase. And end the note strong by imagining that it will continue even as you stop. This will help prevent a note-crash, or sudden deflection in pitch at the end of a word or phrase.

It will help make the whole thing more legato.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your input guys.

Do you have any tips for good breathing technique and what you should be doing while producing a note.

I've found loads of stuff on-line but most of it is contradictory and unclear to me.

I'm an engineer by trade and so I respond much better to clear, precise and unambiguous instructions or diagrams.

eg. what specific muscles should be used to maintain the breath pressure etc.? A detailed description of what each part of the body should be doing while producing a note would be helpful.

Also, will breathing help with my tonality or is that a quality that you're stuck with?

I feel like even when I'm on pitch it still sounds very unmusical to me, as my voice sounds very dull and lifeless. There seems to be very little harmonic content in it compared to my favourite singers like Scott Weiland or Layne Staley.

Is that just me cringing at sound of my own voice, or is it an accurate description of what you're hearing in this clip?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, an engineer. Sweet. I am an electrician. In college, I majored in electrical engineering. And, I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.

The abs are involved in the breath pressure you need. Absolutely no strain in the throat. That is rule number one. Everything else supports that rule, forever, amen.

Once your breathing is correct, you will find it easier to maintain pitch. Tonality, however, is genetically controlled by the shape and character of your resonators, mainly, the upper throat, sinus, and maxilliary cavities. You like the physics part of this. A high note is a small wavelength and needs an appropriate sized resonator. So, your high notes will not resonate in your chest, no matter how "chesty" they sound. It's all in your head, figuratively and literally. Also, the higher you go, the less space for harmonics. Notes at the top have similar vowel sounds.

Don't use your chest to sing. Don't use your throat to sing. Use your belly and your head. It's just that easy. And just that difficult. Quit singing like how you speak. Instead, sing. And then, if you must speak, speak like you sing, with breath pressure and resonance.

As for being "stuck with" a tonality. First off, training may change it a little. But mostly, it's mental. Quit hating your voice and learn to judge it objectively, which is harder than I make it sound. Singing is mental and changing your mind is harder than any technique or magic pill.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sound26 - First of all there is nothing wrong with the tonality of your voice. We all have the potential to do amazing things with our voices. Its natural for us to cringe at our own voices when we hear a recording. I watched a video of Estil explaining that this is a psychological hangup dating back to when we were children and were frequently told to stop talking. The other thing is that your voice is capable of producing the same types of "musical" wave forms that all your favorite singers produce. There will be a lot of tonal differences due to shape of the cavaties and relative hardness and softness of the membranes, etc. But your voice has the same potential of being "liked" by others - depending on how you tune your vowels, pronouce your words, etc. which is all controllable by you.

Breath helps create the initial sound. The wave form is created at the folds, and then amplified by the vocal tract (above the folds). The folds get "blown apart" by mounting air pressure from below. Once the pressure gets to a certain point, the folds blow open to release the pressure, then close again and let the pressure build up again, hundreds or thousands of times per second. You can breath right or wrong and still get the same tonal result, however, it is much easier to control the consistency of the air pressure if you breath using "correct" breathing technique. A common mistake is "shallow" breathing using the rib cage to breath in and out. A much better way is to keep the rib cage energized - not exaggerated - just comfortable, and then bring in air by allowing the abs to move out. When singing, press down on your diaphram - tense up those abs like you are, well, pushing something out of your body as you are sitting on the toilet (sorry for this analogy but a voice teacher told me this and it really works!).

There is a ton more to learn, like how you shape the vocal tract to amplify the signal. You should consider purchasing an instructional DVD video or a skype lesson as it can really speed up the learning process.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Except that it is physically impossible to press "down" on the diaphragm, even if the image of that gets the singer where he wants to go. I know, bad ron, bad ron ....

The compression of dropping a deuce in the commode is the same motion as what is needed for driving air to sing. Essentially, the lower abdomen compresses, though evenly and consistently. One does not actually push "down" on the larger intestine. One compresses in, which in turn, compresses the larger intestine which, theoretically, only has one way to go. Like wise for air. The abdomen compresses on the internal organs which, in turn, press up on the diaphragm, which in turn, presses on the lungs to push out air. Kind of like billiard balls or dominos.

But, rock on with the psychology. Your voice is just as likable as maybe David Coverdale, even if you don't sound like him (and probably never will.) Your own voice is unique and beautiful. The hardest part of any of this is accepting that fact. And I am not exaggerating. There are some people who have been singing for many years and been through several "singing systems" and they still beat themselves up. Their parents told them they would never be good enough and they believed that. And I certainly can't fix that. I have my own psychological trauma from my parents but at least it didn't involve singing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No problem Ron. I'm usually the one that wants the scientific explanation as opposed to a ton of imagry. With breathing the pressing down image is from Tamplin, and it works. Prior to KTVA I would "pull up" with the abs, which you can do. If you pull up on your abs, your rib cage expands. If you push down, the ribs stay pretty much in one place. Pushing downward is much more solid and consistent for me, maybe because it is easier to do and it doesn't mess with the rib cage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...